Chapter 13: Wall Street Swastika: Putlitz to the Rescue
The German Embassy in London, otherwise known as Prussia House, seemed to be a seedbed of sedition and intrigue. They took up temporary residence at Winston’s London town house, Morpeth Mansions, to attempt to unravel what was going on. There was an uptick in activity there around the clock since the Wall Street Crash. That much was obvious.
After they had crashed the gambling party they had to be more cautious. No more would they be invited to the more Nazi-leaning events. They needed to find somebody who could slip in and out unimpeded and get information for them what the Nazis in London were up to, what their communications with Germany were like, and what was going to happen next so they could try to avert it or combat it.
Winston made a point of reaching out for contacts among his own contacts. He had the Prof down from Oxford to lunch one day. He suggested an old college chum of his name Putlitz. He had recently attended an Oxford alumnae event. Putlitz, an employee of the German Embassy in London, had been at the cocktail party. He had done nothing but complain about the rising power across the North Sea.
Winston, always a treasure trove of ideas, had another brilliant one. He summoned his wife, Clementine, down to London from the family estate at Chartwell in Kent. She was to arrange a dinner. The only guests were to be Colonel Sir Edward Ware, Mrs. Byrne, the Prof from Oxford, and this man from the German Embassy, su Putlitz. In other words, he invited only other members of the Lawrence map plot. He was clearly going to discuss business.
Putlitz shook his hand heartily and told Winston he had heard about him as a backbencher MP who almost all alone among the government and the British upper class was an enemy of the Nazis. Putlitz was dressed in the old style in a rather fussy fashion. He was a member of the German nobility, thus the “su” in his last name. He was from an old Prussian family with an estate in the country not far from Berlin, in fact situated about halfway between Hamburg and Berlin. He had always been proud to serve at the German Embassy since his family had much business and London and had spent much time there. He had a townhouse not far from Morpeth Mansions. But recently the German presence in England had been corrupted by Adolf Hitler, who was some sort of upstart from Austria who had appeared in Germany not long after the Great War. He had been imprisoned in Bavaria after the Putsch in 1923. Putlitz had thought he would never heard about the bastard again. And now here he was during the past few weeks creating an uproar all over Germany.
“Yes, and holding gambling events in the German Embassy in London of all things!” shuddered Clementine as she directed the server to present another glass of vintage wine to Putlitz.
“Edward always told me that the German Embassy was a staid place full of respectable people!” Dora agreed.
“That was under the old ambassador!” Putlitz cringed visibly. “But these days no one has any manners or sense of tradition anymore, least of all this Adolf Hitler character. He would not be above turning the Embassy into a brothel if it would provide enough money for his nefarious political activities.”
“Especially since the German government has been forced by Hitler to appoint Herr von Wessel as the commercial attache at the German Embassy,” Edward added. “That man has financed Hitler since before anybody ever heard about him. He goes back to 1918 and 1919 before Hitler even knew he was going to be a Nazi, Herr von Wessel had joined the party.”
“And that awful wife of his, Frau von Wesel, is even worse,” Winston wriggled his nose.
Clementine shook her head and sighed.
“This is why we need you to work for us,” Winston leaned closer to su Putlitz. “I can’t really pay you much for all the danger you will be risking, but we need the information badly if we are to do anything to counteract this rising star of the Nazi Party.”
Putlitz agreed. “That is why I came here tonight. I want to do something about it even if it costs me my family fortune.”
“That is the sort of fellow we need to hear from!” Winston called for his box of cheroots and offered one to su Putlitz. They toasted to Putlitz’s success.
“My family has always backed the old traditions,” Putlitz assured them. “And England has always been our greatest friend.”
Dora and Edward were having dinner with Winston and the Prof at Morpeth Mansions about one week later when su Putlitz sent a message by a trusted messenger to Winston. Winston tore it open and read it through silently first. Then he read it aloud as Dora leaned as close as she could to hear better:
“I want to warn you that Herr von Wessel and his wife, Frau von Wessel, are up to something big. And this is particularly heinous. Herr and Frau von Wessel are inviting the Prince of Wales to a private dinner to meet Nazi Party officials being sent there from Germany. The Prince is known for his lack of discretion and can be easily influenced and in addition has a big pocketbook. This private dinner at the Embassy is scheduled for this Friday. Sorry not to give you more notice. But we don’t want to involve a crowned head in what should be a major scandal.”
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Chapter 12: Wall Street Swastika: Nazi Party In London:
Now that Dora, Edward, and Churchill along with the Prof had evaded the onslaught of the Nazi spies at the British Museum and at Studland Beach and had finally deposited the Lawrence maps where no one could find them for now, they could finally concentrate on Hitler. Winston invited them to stay at Chartwell for several days. At Winston’s estate in Kent they received almost hourly reports about Nazi activities in London and back in Germany itself.
The cook was serving lunch when Churchill opened a missive from one of his spies on the ground in Germany. He read it through first to himself while he was smoking a cheroot, mumbling and exclaiming. Edward leaned over his shoulder to see what was what. Dora waited in suspense to find out what strange turn was next.
“Ha! So Hitler is trying to populate the government of Thuringia with his Nazi thugs!” Churchill exclaimed. “He is trying to nominate Wilhelm Frick as the head of both ministries, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of the Interior, and the German People’s Party, the DVP, complains that the man was a man convicted of high treason for his part in the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. Good for them!”
Edward nodded, “I remember the man. We were in the streets fighting the Nazis to the last man during the Putsch,” Edward brought back an unpleasant memory. Dora had been there, too. “That man was one of the worst, the most unprincipled, bastards.”
“Does Hitler have the power to make the party accept his nominees?” Dora asked.
Winston sighed as he looked up from the letter from Germany. “Not by himself. But apparently he is lobbying industrialists in the area. And they are bringing pressure upon the heads of the German People’s Party to make Wilhelm Frick their man.”
“What exactly does Hitler want Frick to do?” Dora was puzzled.
“Frick is supposed to purge the Thuringian government of leftists and liberals and replace them with Nazi ideologues who believe in racism to the last man, including all the police and all the members of the civil service,” Edward said.
Churchill read on, practically crushing his cheroot between his teeth. “So here is something we can act upon right away!” he looked up hopefully at Edward. “The gall of the man! He is holding a fund raising event right here in London.”
“What!” Edward practically exploded.
Churchill nodded. “At the German Embassy in London. They are having a grand ball and banquet and getting English aristocrats to contribute to the Nazi cause.”
Edward rolled his eyes toward the ceiling. “I can see it now! They would be idiotic enough to do it, too. Nazism is the latest fashion in London.”
“Hitler is using this money as bribes to industrialists and party officials in Thuringia to start molding Germany to his Nazi vision.”
Edward was to appear at the ball that Saturday night. Dora was to be his guest visiting him in London. But she had to go in disguise. They could not have the newspapers reporting Mrs. Byrne to be where she was not supposed to be. After all, according to the excuse she sent to her parents and Michael, she was staying with her friend Rita Jolivet in New York to help her put her finances back together after the Crash.
Dora entered the ball on Edward’s arm. She was dressed to the hilt in the latest Elsa Shaparelli gown, but since it was a costume ball she was wearing a mask. There was a gaming table in the next room. It was presided over by that spy of spies, Herr von Wessel, Hitler’s right-hand man, and his evil wife, Frau von Wessel. Dora and Edward had encountered them many times before on other missions. They were bad news.
Frau von Wessel was dressed in a Coco Chanel original, a black dress with silver sequins that clung to her curves. She beamed with a wicked smile at the English aristocrats that she greeted by name and escorted them over to the gaming table where Herr von Wessel was presding like a Master of Ceremonies. All this occurred under the big Nazi flags that decorated the ballroom, turning the German Embassy into a kind of circus. To make things even more wicked, there was an open bar on the other side of the room with the gaming table. Drinks were on the house.
Dora and Edward split up according to plan. Edward headed for the gaming table. He pretended to be paying attention to the game, though the von Wessels were immediately on alert. What they did not watch and were not supposed to watch was Dora. She took up her position at the free bar and ordered a drink which she pretended to sip and really poured out in special container she had brought with her in her evening bag. While they were not watching her, she slipped a sleeping potion into the punch bowl. She smiled as a server immediately dipped into it and filled drinks to be taken over to the gaming table. Edward alone knew not to drink anything at the event.
Soon other gamblers were starting to nod off around Edward. Edward complained loudly that no one was taking the game seriously, and it was getting boring around here. Frau von Wessel whispered to her husband. They both frowned severely.
Edward extended his arm to Dora. She took hold of it. Smugly they both left the room resounding with snores.
“Very clever!” Herr von Wessel shouted after them. “But Hitler will answer you all too soon.”
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Chapter 10: Wall Street Swastika: Nazis at Studland Beach
Dora stared at the belligerents on the other side of the room. How had they gotten here? Edward, Churchill, and Dora had sneaked off the ship earlier than the crew. No one had followed them, had they? At least Dora had not seen anybody. Maybe the Germans had a clue where Edward and Winston Churchill —- and even Lawrence when he was in Southampton! —- liked to eat in Southampton. The Pig was one of their frequent haunts. They should clearly have gone somewhere else this time. But then Churchill had made arrangements ahead of time to meet the Prof here. He did not have that flexibility.
If Dora, Edward, Churchill, and the Prof leaped up and ran out of the restaurant the thugs would follow them. So they had to face them down right here right now at the Pig and eat ther midday meal, their lunch, as if they were unconcerned about the enemy presence on the other side of the room.
Winston was good at playacting. Dora got a strong sense of it. He called the waiter and summoned him to his table with a bold wave of his arm. He wanted the special and he wanted it for everyone at his table right now. Soon he had everybody in the restaurant scurrying about. Another functionary he tipped to run and fetch him a cigar next door.
Dora got the idea and asked another waiter to fetch her postcards from the stand across the street. She would sit at the table and pen messages to her parents back in Pittsburgh .
The Prof sent his roast beef back to the kitchen to be cooked a little more. He claimed he liked it well done. They were all putting on quite a show except Edward who quietly ate his meal and watched everything that the enemy did.
Churchill ordered several rounds of drinks as if having a party and celebrating something. He ordered rounds of drinks for all the other customers, too. Of course Dora paid for everything very quietly. That was always her role —- to remain in the background and consult her pocketbook. But they were putting on a good show.
The waiters even offered the drinks to the enemy on the other side of the room. The thugs stared down at the cups in doubt as if they wondered if they should drink it. Was it poison or what? Was it all a trick? Winston waved at them to confuse them even more. The thugs looked at each other and whispered low, wondering what the Wares, Churchill, and the merry Prof were up to. They certainly were not used to this! Usually they ditched and fled at the first approach of the German spies!
Apparently the spies were not used to thinking for themselves. They were accustomed to obeying orders, and no one had thought of a surprise like this. While discussing what to do, one thug and then the next succumbed to the temptation to drink the wine and spirits. Before long, they were confronting a table of drunken Germans.
“Let’s get out of here now!” Edward rose to his full height.
Everybody sprang to their feet. They were only too anxious to leave. Dora did not even want to tabulate the bill. She took out a wad of hundred pound notes and tossed them on the table. It was clearly more than enough. The spare amount could be a big tip.
The waiters were eyeing the money and the spies hiccuping as they hurried out the door onto the street as quietly as possible. They leaped into the getaway car and were out of town before they knew it. Edward took the liberty of passing everybody in sight.
Instead of going back to Ware Hall which right now would no doubt be crawling with spies, Edward decided to head for his family beach house at Studland Beach. They drove west along the coast to a semi-wilderness area. Dora got chills in the shady areas where they drove through what looked like tunnels of trees covering the road. This beach was certainly out of the way.
No sooner did they enter the cottage and try to unpack their scant luggage, than Dora looked out the kitchen window onto the beach. The waves crashed against the shore. There stood the Commercial Attache from the German Embassy himself, the one who was responsible for hiring all those German spies, Hitler’s right-hand man and financier, Herr von Wessel. He looked up at just that moment and met Dora’s horrified gaze. There were Nazis at Studland Beach!
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Chapter 9: Wall Street Swastika: Nazi Pigs in the Wall:
Dora could hardly believe it when the ship finally docked in Southampton and they could disembark. They had made it all the way across the Atlantic! Finally!
Churchill, Edward, and Dora had room service breakfast in their cabins before they disembarked. They did not want to appear in public in the first class dining room. The last couple days of the voyage after the Prof had gotten the maps they had stayed secluded in their cabins and had not attended any social events. Nor had they dined in the dining room. They remained incommunicado with the Prof who had his strict instructions from Churchill about where to meet them on land. Churchill did not so much as pick up the cabin phone to talk to his friend. It was too dangerous. As far as Hitler’s spies were concerned when the Prof had bumped into Dora in the Queen’s Room and briefly danced with her it was supposed to be a chance encounter with another passenger who was in his cups. Nothing more. They did not want to make the Germans suspicious.
Edward had driven to the cruise terminal when he came to America. He remembered where the car was parked. They had disembarked early, earlier than anyone else on the ship. When the crew told them the gangway was not yet open, Dora tipped the man generously before he had finished objecting. Then the three of them were able to sneak off the ship undisturbed.
As soon as they pulled out into the traffic on the main road in Southampton, Churchill insisted that he needed refreshment. They had not partaken of the breakfast offered on the ship this morning. They were in too much of a hurry to depart. Edward proposed going to the PIg in the Wall nearby. That made the MP smile as mysteriously as the Mona Lisa if not more so.
Dora was beginning to get the idea that there was more to this than met the eye when they entered the old, medieval-looking establishment located in a building attached to the old stone walls that surrounded the city built after a pirate raid hundreds of years ago. There across the room she saw a familiar figure whom she had last seen on the dance floor aboard the ship. He had his pointed nose stuck in a copy of the Times of London.
Churchill shook the hand of the Prof as they were seated in a dark corner in the back of the wood paneled room with sconces everywhere for illumination even in the middle of the day. Here they were nearest to the kitchen. It was impossible for them to be seen from the entryway door.
“I think it went flawlessly,” Churchill remarked. “All those days acting in student dramas when you were at student at Oxford all those years ago stood you in good stead a few days ago. You looked just like a drunken, womanizing lout.” Churchill complimented him as he called for a glass of grog for everybody.
Dora told the waiter to bring her hot tea with cream and sugar instead.
“How did you get off the ship before we did?” Dora asked. “I had to bribe the cabin boys as it was to let us off.”
The Prof shrugged. “I just saw some men putting up a ramp. I walked down it before the cabin boys were manning it, that’s all. I knew it was better if I did the unexpected. Really nobody said a word.”
“You have that air about you that your students have appreciated for the past generation.,” Winston sipped his grog by the roaring fire.
Dora felt somebody staring at her. She turned to look back across the room. There at a table by the window sat the German thugs from the ship. No doubt they had been hired to follow them. They were genuine Nazi pigs in the wall, so silent they had not been heard until now.
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