England, 1940. Following Dunkirk, it is only a question of when Hitler will invade, not if. Hermann Goering convinces him to prepare for possible failure, but he has a backup plan: an atomic bomb.
The Reichsmarschall enjoyed the sound his beautifully shined shoes made upon the spacious, marble-paved hallways of the New Reich Chancellery. He enjoyed the familiar tightness of his crisply-pressed uniform, the dignified weight of the medals pinned to it, the heavy ivory baton—as long as a man’s thigh—he carried to mark his rank. Glancing out the many stately windows that lined the hallway, he enjoyed the way the golden May sunshine glowed along the street that bore his name. He paused outside a particular door and checked his watch: he was precisely three minutes early.
His scientists and hand-picked commandos were already inside: they knew better than to keep the Führer waiting. The Reichsmarschall had a trickier balance to maintain. He used thirty seconds to mentally review the briefing he had received on the Führer’s plan: air strikes against Britain would cripple the Royal Air Force, paving the way for an amphibious invasion—if the Brits held out that long. Probably they would beg to sign an armistice. But the Angles were a stubborn race, and their new Prime Minister might not know the difference between audacity and suicide. A good backup plan, the Reichsmarschall reflected, would be wise.
He spent another thirty seconds choosing the words in which he would introduce Direktor Schumann’s intriguing device and the stratagem he and Oberstleutnant Cordesmann had woven around it. The Führer would be skeptical, but he was a reasonable man—or at least a rational one. Yes. The Reichsmarschall could reason with the Führer; that was a certainty he would stake his life on.
Finally, the Reichsmarschall spent thirty seconds thinking of nothing at all. He took the spring air into his large sturdy lungs and let it out again. He squared his big square shoulders and stiffened his ramrod spine. He ran his thumb over one of his baton’s diamond-inlaid gold-and-platinum end caps and let a sense of his own power and importance suffuse him like the warmth from an excellent Eiswein. Thus fortified—and still ninety seconds ahead of schedule—the Reichsmarschall opened the door. With a nod to pretty Frau Schroeder, he crossed the anteroom, opened the inner door, and did one more thing he enjoyed: he made an entrance.
The Führer’s office was virile, imposing: four hundred marble-lined square meters. The Reichsmarschall didn’t have long to spend on his admiration and envy, though: “So kind of Herr Göring to join us,” the Führer murmured in that voice, which though quiet, somehow carried crisply across the fifteen meters between them and silenced the soft conversations of the other five people in the room.
The Reichsmarschall silently noted that his watch was still synchronized with the enormous built-in wall clock over the door he had just entered. Then he saluted and the room came to order, saluting back. The Führer did not invite them to sit; he occupied the room’s only chair. The Reichsmarschall cleared his throat. “Gentlemen. Thank you for joining me today, and I appreciate your patience.” He looked around the room and made eye contact with each man.
He saw that Erich Schumann had set up a series of diagrams on an easel.
“Mein Führer, my heart swells when I read of your plans for the destruction of the British Royal Air Force and the subsequent invasion of that island which owes so much of what is best in it to its Teutonic heritage. Nothing would give me greater joy or pride than to see Mein Führer ascending the steps of Westminster Abbey to be crowned King unless it would be to see Winston Churchill being marched up the same aisle in chains to kiss Mein Führer’s boot.”
The Reichsmarschall paused here. There was still time. He hadn’t said anything yet to which the Führer could possibly object. Still, he reflected, fortune favors the bold—and so he pressed on. “However, we here are all well-read men; we know that history is made in the howevers. The weather over the English Channel is notoriously treacherous. And the English are a famously unreasonable people—a condition arising, no doubt, from the insidious admixture of Celtic blood over the centuries with the noble Anglo-Saxon. They may refuse to surrender. Even after our Luftwaffe has demonstrated its superiority, the R.A.F. may cling to cowardly guerrilla measures and continue to pester us. In fact, no one is more aware than we are of just how much of his brilliance Mein Führer owes to his masterful habit of preparing for every eventuality.” There—the first hurdle was past. The Reichsmarschall could see tension in the Führer’s face—and was that a nigh-imperceptible twitch of displeasure in the Führer’s mustache?—but no alarms had gone off, no axes had fallen. The Führer was still listening.
About the Author:
Daniel O’Rourke is a WWII history buff and nationally recognized, award-winning corporate lawyer with over forty years of professional experience. Göring’s Gamble is his first novel. To purchase the book, please visit Amazon.