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FOUR

In his mind March had built a wall. Behind it he placed Charlie in her speeding car. It was a high wall, made of everything his imagination could collect boulders, concrete blocks, burnt-out iron bedsteads, overturned tramcars, suitcases, prams and it stretched in either direction across the sunlit German countryside like a postcard of the Great Wall of China. In front of it, he patrolled the ground. He would not let them beyond the wall. Everything else, they could have.

Krebs was reading Marchs notes. He sat with both elbows on the table, his chin resting on his knuckles. Occasionally he removed a hand to turn a page, replaced it, went on reading. March watched him. After his coffee and his cigarette and with the pain dulled he felt almost euphoric.

Krebs finished and momentarily closed his eyes. His complexion was white, as always. Then he straightened the pages and laid them in front of him, alongside Marchs notebook and Buhlers diary. He adjusted them by millimetres, into a line of parade-ground precision. Perhaps it was the effect of the drug, but suddenly March was seeing everything so clearly how the ink on the cheap fibre pages had spread slightly, each letter sprouting minute hairs; how badly Krebs had shaved: that clump of black stubble in the fold of skin below his nose. In the silence he actually believed he could hear the dust falling, pattering across the table.

Have you killed me, March?

Killed you?

With these. Krebss hand hovered a centimetre above the notes.

It depends who knows you have them.

Only some cretin of an Unterscharfuhrer who works in the garage. He found them when we brought in your car. He gave them directly to me. Globus doesnt know a thing -yet.

Then that is your answer.

Krebs started rubbing his face vigorously, as if drying himself. He stopped, his hands pressed to his cheeks, and stared at March through his spread fingers. What is happening here?

You can read.

I can read, but I dont understand. Krebs snatched up the pages and leafed through them. Here, for example what is Zyklon B?

Crystallised hydrogen cyanide. Before that, they used carbon monoxide. Before that, bullets.

And here Auschwitz/Birkenau. Kulmhof. Belzec. Treblinka. Majdanek. Sobibor.

The killing grounds.

These figures: eight thousand a day

Thats the total they could destroy at Auschwitz/ Birkenau using the four gas chambers and crematoria.

And this eleven million?

Eleven million is the total number of European Jews they were after. Maybe they succeeded. Who knows?I dont see many around, do you?

Here: the name Globocnik

Globus was SS and Police Leader in Lublin. He built the killing centres.

I didnt know. Krebs dropped the notes on the table as if they were contagious. I didnt know any of this.

Of course you knew! You knew every time someone made a joke about going East, every time you heard a mother tell her child to behave or theyd go up the chimney. We knew when we moved into their houses, when we took over their property, their jobs. We knew but we didnt have the facts. He pointed to the notes with his left hand. Those put flesh on the bones. Put bones where there was just clear air.

I meant: I didnt know that Buhler, Stuckart and Luther were involved in this. I didnt know about Globus

Sure. You just thought you were investigating an art robbery.

Its true! Its true, repeated Krebs. Wednesday morning can you remember back that far? I was investigating corruption at the Deutsche Arbeitsfront: the sale of labour permits. Then, out of the blue, I am summoned to see the Reichfuhrer, one-to-one. He tells me retired civil servants have been discovered in a colossal art fraud. The potential embarrassment for the Party is huge. Obergruppenfuhrer Globocnik is in charge. I am to go at once to Schwanen-werder and take my orders from him.

Why you?

Why not? The Reichfuhrer knows of my interest in art. We have spoken of these matters. My job was simply to catalogue the treasures.

But you must have realised that Globus killed Buhler and Stuckart?

Of course. Im not an idiot. I know Globuss reputation as well as you. But Globus was acting on Heydrichs orders, and if Heydrich had decided to let him loose, to spare the Party a public scandal who was I to object?

Who were you to object? repeated March. Lets be clear, March. Are you saying their deaths had nothing to do with the fraud?

Nothing. The fraud was a coincidence that became a useful cover story, thats all.

But it made sense. It explained why Globus was acting as state executioner, and why he was desperate to head off an investigation by the Kripo. On Wednesday night I was still cataloguing the pictures on Schwanenwerder when he called in a rage about you. Said youd been officially taken off the case, but youd broken in to Stuckarts apartment. I was to go and bring you in, which I did. And I tell you: if Globus had had his way, that would have been the end of you right there, but Nebe wouldnt have it. Then, on Friday night, we found what we thought was Luthers body in the railway yard, and that seemed to be the end of it.

When did you discover the corpse wasnt Luthers?

Around six on Saturday morning. Globus telephoned me at home. He said he had information Luther was still alive and was planning to meet the American journalist at nine.

He knew this, asserted March, because of a tip-off from the American Embassy.

Krebs snorted. What sort of crap is that? He knew because of a wire-tap.

That cannot be

Why cant it be? See for yourself. Krebs opened one of his folders and extracted a single sheet of flimsy brown paper. It was rushed over from the wire-tappers in Charlottenburg in the middle of the night.

March read:


Forschungsamt Geheime Reichssache

G745,275

23:51

MALE: You say: What do I want? What do you think I want? Asylum in your country.

FEMALE: Tell me where you are.

MALE: I can pay.

FEMALE: [Interrupts]

MALE: I have information. Certain facts.

FEMALE: Tell me where you are. Ill come and fetch you. Well go to the Embassy.

MALE: Too soon. Not yet.

FEMALE: When?

MALE: Tomorrow morning. Listen to me. Nine oclock. The Great Hall. Central Steps. Have you got that?


Once more he could hear her voice; smell her; touch her. In a recess of his mind, something stirred. He slid the paper back across the table to Krebs, who returned it to the folder and resumed: What happened next, you know. Globus had Luther shot the instant he appeared and, let me be honest, that shocked me. To do such a thing in a public place I thought: this man is mad. Of course, I didnt know then quite why he was so anxious Luther shouldnt be taken alive. He stopped abruptly, as if he had forgotten where he was, the role he was supposed to be playing. He finished quickly. We searched the body and found nothing. Then we came after you.

Marchs hand had started to throb again. He looked down and saw crimson spots soaking through the white bandage.

What time is it?

Five forty-seven.

She had been gone almost eleven hours. God, his hand The specks of red were spreading, touching; forming archipelagos of blood.


There were four of them in it altogether, said March. Buhler, Stuckart, Luther and Kritzinger.

Kritzinger? Krebs made a note.

Friedrich Kritzinger, Ministerialdirektor of the Reich Chancellery. 1 wouldnt write any of this down if I were you.

Krebs laid aside his pencil.

What concerned them wasnt the extermination programme itself these were senior Party men, remember it was the lack of a proper Fuhrer Order. Nothing was written down. All they had were verbal assurances from Heydrich and Himmler that this was what the Fuhrer wanted. Could I have another cigarette?

After Krebs had given him one, and he had taken a few sweet draughts, he went on: This is conjecture, you understand? His interrogator nodded. I assume they asked themselves: why is there no direct written link between the Fuhrer and this policy? And I assume their answer was: because it is so monstrous, the Head of State cannot be seen to be involved. So where did this leave them? It left them in the shit. Because if Germany lost the war, they could be tried as war criminals, and if Germany won it, they might one day be made the scapegoats for the greatest act of mass-murder in history.

Krebs murmured: I am not sure I want to know this.

So they took out an insurance policy. They swore affidavits that was easy: three of them were lawyers and they removed documents whenever they could. And gradually they put together a documentary record. Either outcome was covered. If Germany won and action was taken against them, they could threaten to expose what they knew. If the Allies won, they could say: look, we opposed this policy and even risked our lives to collect information about it. Luther also added a touch of blackmail -embarrassing documents about the American Ambassador to London, Kennedy. Give me those.

He nodded to his notebook and to Buhlers diary. Krebs hesitated, then slid them across the table.

It was difficult to open the notebook with only one hand. The bandage was sodden. He was smearing the pages.

The camps were organised to make sure there were no witnesses. Special prisoners ran the gas chambers, the crematoria. Eventually, those special prisoners were themselves destroyed, replaced by others, who were also destroyed. And so on. If that could happen at the lowest level, why not the highest? Look. Fourteen people at the Wannsee conference. The first one dies in fifty-four. Another in fifty-five. Then one a year in fifty-seven, fifty-nine, sixty, sixty-one, sixty-two. Intruders probably planned to kill Luther in sixty-three, and he hired security guards. But time passed and nothing happened, so he assumed it was just a coincidence. Thats enough, March.

By sixty-three, it had started to accelerate. In May, Klopfer dies. In December, Hoffmann hangs himself. In March this year, Kritzinger is blown up by a car bomb. Now, Buhler is really frightened. Kritzinger is the trigger. Hes the first of the group to die.

March picked up the pocket diary.

Here you see he marks the date of Kritzingers death with a cross. But after that the days go by; nothing happens; perhaps they are safe. Then, on April the ninth another cross! Buhlers old colleague from the General Government, Schongarth, has slipped beneath the wheels of a U-bahn train in Zoo Station. Panic on Schwanenwerder! But by then its too late

I said: thats enough!

One question puzzled me: why were there eight deaths in the first nine years, followed by six deaths in just the last six months? Why the rush? Why this terrible risk, after the exercise of so much patience? But then, we policemen seldom lift our eyes from the mud to look at the broader picture, do we? Everything was supposed to be completed by last Tuesday, ready for the visit of our good new friends, the Americans. And that raises a further question

Give me those! Krebs pulled the diary and the notebook from Marchs grasp. Outside in the passage: Globuss voice

Would Heydrich have done all this on his own initiative, or was he acting on orders from a higher level? Orders, perhaps, from the same person who would not put his signature to any document?

Krebs had the stove open and was stuffing in the papers. For a moment they lay smouldering on the coals, then ignited into yellow flame as the key turned in the cell door.


THREE | Fatherland | c