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Authors: William Dietrich

Blood of the Reich

BOOK: Blood of the Reich
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Blood of the Reich

A Novel

William Dietrich

Dedication

To Holly, once more

Epigraph

The chief task of the Tibet expedition was political and military, not scientific. Details may not be revealed.
—REICH PROPAGANDA MINISTER JOSEPH GOEBBELS, IN A MEMO TO GERMAN NEWSPAPERS, 1940
My ambition is to see all of physics reduced to a formula so elegant and simple that it will easily fit on the front of a T-shirt.
—PHYSICIST LEON LEDERMAN, 1993

Author’s Note

This novel is inspired by a 1938 Nazi expedition to Tibet, its purpose debated to this day. The story is also based on a real quest. The complex philosophic tradition that gave rise to the Nazi Party included a speculative Vril Society and, in the 1930s, reports of a Wahrheitsgesellschaft, or Society for Truth, which sought Vril to power new machines. Heinrich Himmler’s Ahnenerbe, an SS research organization, existed as described. Himmler’s castle at Wewelsburg can be visited. The Tibetan legend of Shambhala is real. String theory, dark matter, and dark energy are all part of the theoretical framework of modern physics.

Contents

Dedication

Epigraph

Author's Note

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Acknowledgments

About the Author

Also by William Dietrich

Credits

Copyright

About the Publisher

1

Berlin, Germany

March 21, 1938

F
irst day of spring, and pregnant with the same expectancy that gripped Kurt Raeder at his unexpected summons from Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler. The Prussian sky was cold, ragged sunlight dappling the German capital with that glitter atop iron that promised an end to winter. So might Himmler be the pagan sun to part the clouds of Raeder’s stalled career. So might Raeder win his own expedition.

“We have read with interest your books on Tibet
,” the summons stated. With that simple missive the explorer had been yanked out of the ennui of his university teaching and the gloom of his wife’s death, the opportunity like the twin lightning bolts of the SS Rune.

As Raeder walked from the U-Bahn into the heart of Nazi power, Berlin seemed to share his anticipation. The city was its habitual gray, buds swollen but little green on the trees yet. The paving was bright from a night’s rain, however, and the capital seemed poised, purposeful, like one of the new steel tanks that had waited on the border for the
Anschluss
with Austria just nine days before. Now the two nations were united in a single German Reich, and once more public apprehension about a Nazi gamble had turned to excitement bright as the red swastika banners, vivid as a wound. All the world was waiting to see what Germany would do next. All Germany was waiting to see what
Hitler
would do next. His New Order was improbably succeeding, and on Wilhelm-Strasse, marble blocks and columns were stacked to the sky where the
Führer
’s imposing Chancellery was rising. Speer had promised completion in less than a year, and workers scrambled across the pile like frenzied ants. People watched, with pride.

Raeder secretly liked the theatricality of his black SS uniform and the medieval ritual of SS indoctrination. It meant brotherhood, the satisfaction of being one of the chosen. Entry into the new German knighthood in 1933, suggested by a politician friend, had been a way to establish Aryan ancestry and win a measure of grudging deference in a university system glacial in its advancements. But while appointments had come quicker with the exodus of the Jews, Raeder’s brief fame had not solidified into promotion.

University intellectuals were snobbish toward the Nazis. At school, Raeder had mostly avoided the costume, preferring to blend in with high starched collar and restricting tie through years of brief celebrity, dull instruction, and finally private tragedy.

But now the
Reichsführer
SS
had somehow taken notice. Here was the hinge of Raeder’s life. So the young professor had put on the
Schutzstaffel
uniform with its runic insignia, both proud and self-conscious. When his faculty colleague Gosling spied him from a café and joked about it, the zoologist managed the good humor to shrug.

“Even scholars have to eat.”

Life, the Nazis preached, was struggle.

Raeder knew he cut a fine SS figure. Brown hair a shade too dark to be ideal, perhaps, but handsome and fit from his explorations: erect, wiry, what a German youth might wish to be, the new man, the Aryan prototype. Crack shot, alpinist, university scholar, hunter, author, and scientist for the Third Reich. Lotte’s death had not been publicized, out of deference to his achievements. His self-doubt he kept to himself.

Almost unconsciously, Berliners swerved around his uniform on the crowded Wilhelm-Strasse, a caution he accepted as normal. The SS was not to be loved, Himmler had preached. But Untersturmführer Kurt Raeder, adventurer! His resolute gaze had been in magazines. Women swept by him and peeked.

Pedestrians thinned as he walked past the sterile, massive headquarters of Göring’s new Air Ministry, the power of the Luftwaffe implied by its modernist bulk. And then thinned still more as he turned left onto Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse and arrived at Number 8, the most notorious address in Nazi Germany. Here was the home of the Reich Security Ministry, which included the SS and Gestapo. Next door was Number 9, the Prinz-Albrecht-Palais Hotel, also subsumed by the growing security bureaucracy. To Raeder’s eye the home of the police was a more inviting structure than the plain severity of Göring’s headquarters. With classical arched entry and Renaissance styling, the SS buildings harkened back to the more refined nineteenth century. Only the black-clad sentries who flanked the door hinted at its new purpose.

There were rumors of Gestapo cells in the basement. There were always rumors, everywhere, of the very worst things. This was good, Raeder believed. Menace promised security to those who followed the rules. None could deny the Nazis had brought order out of chaos. While the democracies were flailing, the totalitarian models—Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan—were on the rise.

This building was the fist of the future. Raeder’s future.

There was a hush inside, like a church. A grand stairway with thick balustrade, steps carpeted in red plush like a movie palace, led up a flight to a vaulted entry hall. The only decorations were three hanging swastika flags and busts of Hitler and Göring. Public depictions of Himmler were rare; his power was his air of mystery. Bare wooden benches as uncomfortable as pews lined one side of the waiting area, glacial light filtering in from arched, frosted windows. At the far end three steps led to another entry (like an altar, Raeder thought, continuing the church analogy) with black-clad guards presiding instead of black-robed priests. Himmler had modeled his elite on the Jesuits, and SS zeal on the discipline of the Inquisition.

BOOK: Blood of the Reich
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