For All Nails #2: Paris is Burning
17 July 1970
General Eric von Gellmann looked through his office window at the surging sea
of angry Frenchmen beyond the walls of the German Embassy. Even from this
distance, he could hear their chant of "Deutch raus! Deutch raus!" Very
likely, it was the only German most of them knew.
Gellmann's First Secretary, Gerhard Müller, joined him at the window. "Do
you want me to try to get Monseiur Lebrun on the line?"
Gellmann shook his head. "Even if you could get through to him, he would
only say that he could do nothing. Nobody in France can ever do anything."
He sighed. "Including us."
When Chancellor Markstein had first appointed Gellman Ambassador to the
French, he had considered it an honor. It had taken some time for Gellmann
to realize that Herr Markstein had played a particularly cruel joke on him.
Theoretically, France was an independent republic, allied to the German
Empire, and had been for the last 23 years. In fact, there had always been a
large garrison of German troops to make sure the French stayed allied. At
first, a war-weary French populace had been willing (most of them, at any
rate) to accept the compromise. However, a new generation had grown up in
France, and now anti-German agitation had risen to its greatest level since
the end of the fighting.
"Sir," said Müller, "all I need is a company of troops, and I can send that
mob howling back to its den."
Gellmann shook his head again. "Do that, Müller, and the whole country will
rise up against us. Bruning tried to terrorize them into submission, and in
the end it cost him his career and his freedom. All we can do at this point
is try to keep the lid on, and hope for the best."
Müller was still unhappy. "If Monseiur Lebrun is unable to keep order, then
we should find France a Premier who can."
"There, Herr Müller, I agree with you," said Gellmann. "If Monseiur Lebrun
thinks to make himself popular in France at our expense, then he must be
taught the folly of his ways. I shall include such a recommendation in our
next--" Gellmann broke off. Outside, there had been a sudden change in the
sound coming from the French mob. The chant had changed from German to
French, and it had grown wilder.
"Müller, do the words 'mort' and 'Boche' mean what I think they do?"
"I'm afraid so, sir," said Müller.
Gellmann swore, then picked up his telephone. "Greta, get me Captain
Blucher. Captain? This is Gellmann. Things are starting to get ugly
outside. If the mob tries to force its way into the compound, have your men
open fire. I'll join you on the roof directly." Hanging up, Gellmann said
to Müller, "Get on the line to Berlin. Advise them of the situation, and
tell them I intend to take defensive measures."
As Müller hurried out of the office, Gellmann glared at the photograph of
Chancellor Markstein on the wall. "Adolph, I'll get you for this if it's the
last thing I do!" Then, checking that his pistol was loaded, Gellmann left
for the roof.