My name is Hans Dieter. It is December 24, 1945. I am a high ranking Nazi commander. And I am on trial for crimes against humanity.
They don't know who I really am. They only know that I am a member of Hitler's Third Reich, that I was in command of the entire Luftwaffe, that I was Hitler's right hand man. But what they do not know is that I am not who they believe me to be. No, I am much more. I am a human enigma, a complex puzzle; far more than they can ever hope to imagine.
Since it appears that my prosecutors are unwilling to believe that any of us are human beings and therefore are bent on having us all executed, I will share my story. You must learn to see that even in the darkest of us all, there is light, and behind every action is a purpose, one that cannot be explained until one knows the extent of the situation. So now I begin the decrypting of the covert code that is I, Hans Dieter.
July 22, 1942. I was meeting with the Horten brothers to discuss designs for a new plane that could fly faster, farther, and would be deadlier than all of the Allies' planes. The Messerschmitt 262 "Schwalbe" was performing beautifully, as she was equipped with two jet engines that were much stronger than the Allies' older propellor technology. But, we needed a new plane that would continue the air superiority that the Luftwaffe had established. So, I decided that it would be a good investment to fund the Horten brothers' project to build their Gotha 229, an all-wing airplane that would outperform the currently flying machines. It could also be modified to a bomber form that would allow Hitler to strike targets in America, including New York City. A splendid vision for the Führer; buildings burning as his planes bombarded the hated country. The planes would be built, and they would serve and prevail. I finalized the plans with a shake of my hand.
"Heil Hitler!" The crowd shouted in militaristic unison during the broadcasted speech as I walked towards my headquarters. It was the speeches of Adolf Hitler that gave him his influence over the German people. It was because of his speeches that people blindly followed him, that they reported the Jews that they have grown up alongside, that they turned their backs to the morbid truths and followed the path of the dark, the true evils in this world.
I had committed myself to his service, and he had made me his right-hand man. It was a title full of glory. I was in charge of the Luftwaffe, the highest honor to be given, as the German Luftwaffe had established air superiority over Europe. I was given the position that guaranteed me no harm, and nearly limitless power over my life.
It was at times like this when I wondered why I had to change everything. Then I would always remember. And I always deemed it worth the trouble. Always.
January 20, 1943. I was working in the code rooms, sending messages through the Enigma machines to organize Luftwaffe and submarine attacks on strategic targets throughout the English Channel and off the coast of England. With a final click of a key, I sent the last message out. We were told that we didn't have to worry about the Allies decrypting our brilliant code. They had already declared the task impossible, as the code changed every day at exactly midnight, and there were far over a one hundred and fifty million-million different combinations every day. No man could ever decode the messages alone, or even with a team. The task was simply too great. So when I noticed that the Allies seemed to be aware of several of our plans, I became the only suspicious Nazi in the Reich. They must've cracked the code in some way, but were making an effort to cover their tracks by allowing some of our attacks to succeed. This was evidently enough to convince the other members of the Reich that they battles the Allies had won were by chance. But I noticed that they seemed to win the battles that we planned to be crucial to our victory.
I never spoke on this notion, though. If the others were too dim-minded, then they would lose the war. I would not sink with the Nazi Regime if they pulled themselves under. No,I had a mission far more valuable than national glory to achieve. I would not let myself be killed before I completed it. Dying in the process of accomplishing it, now that was something entirely different. That I was willing to do.
November 24, 1943. The fighting grew more and more intense, as the Allies confirmed my suspicion of their successful breaking of the Enigma code. They won more and more battles that were essential for us to win. The thought that their slowly impending victory might interfere with my own motives haunted me. They could not win. No, they would not be allowed to interfere.
"Has it occurred to you, Herr Klaus, that the Allies might know our secret?"
My coder frowned and shook his head. "Nein, Herr Dieter. The Enigma is impossible to break, it changes every day. The Allies could not possibly discover how it works." I slowly walked towards him, coming to a halt as I towered over him while he sat facing the coding machine.
"Then please explain to me why they continuously win the battles that we both know are crucial to the Führer's victory." I articulated slowly and cooly. He shook his head, as if to chide my inquiry. The he turned his chair to face me.
"Herr Dieter. The Enigma code is designed to be unbreakable. I assure you—
I cut him off there with the slam of my fist into the table.
"Listen to me, Herr Klaus. There is no such thing as an impossible task. The actions of the Führer towards the innocent Jews of this nation would be seen as impossible by the people beyond the borders of the Motherland. The modern technologies that we possess would be deemed impossible from other standpoints. Our rise to this immense power from the ruins of the Great War would be seen as impossible from other nations. When I tell you that the Allies may have broken the mere code, you do not treat it as a concern not worthy of attention!" I spat at him. He sat there, stunned. As I slowly contained my sudden outburst of rage, I realized that I had provided him with information that would endanger my own tasks and identity.
"Herr Dieter, what exactly did you say about the filth that live in this pure land?", he said slowly, "and if you are so convinced that the Allies have discovered how to decrypt Enigma, then why haven't you told the Führer himself?" He paused, and rose from his chair. I glared at him in silence, while my mind roared as it calculated a solution to the situation. He walked towards the door, "I think that I will inform the Führer `of your true beliefs, and the information you have withheld, Herr Dieter. Good day, and Heil Hitler." My mission could not be sabotaged now, not by Klaus, not by anyone. I could get away with it. I was Hitler's right-hand man. That was the only power I would ever need. I pulled out my pistol, cocked it, and shot him in the head as he turned his back to me.
June 5, 1944
"Yes, Mein Führer?"
"The Luftwaffe. How is it doing?"
"The best it can, Mein Führer."
"Does it still have superiority over Europe?"
"Mein Führer, the Luftwaffe is constantly engaging the Allied enemies—
"Answer my question, Herr Dieter. Does the Luftwaffe hold air supremacy?"
"Nein, Mein Führer."
Adolf Hitler drew in a long breath.
"What has been done to regain the position, Herr Dieter?"
"The designs from the Horten brothers that we funded are at the prototype stage. Flight testing begins shortly, and they are optimistic about the outcome it can provide, Mein Führer."
"Herr Dieter, you need to understand that we cannot afford to lose any more major battles. I want air coverage of the entire northern coast of France, seeing as we have intercepted codes from the Allies. These codes show us that the Allies will be invading France several miles from Normandy."
"I will notify the Luftwaffe immediately. They will be flying over the Normandy area around the clock. Mein Führer, I will personally see to it."
Hitler smiled and nodded. "Good, Herr Dieter. This is why you are second in command. You get things done. I see results. All goes accordingly. If this war turns and goes well, I will see to it that you inherit the Motherland and all of her territories. Don't you dare fail me now. You are dismissed, Herr Dieter."
I snapped to a salute, turned and left the room.
Inheriting the bounties of war was irrelevant to me. No sum of land, wealth, or power could sway me. It had no matter; the only thing I lived for was my mission. I lived and breathed it, from the moment I turned 26 in 1938, before the abductions, before the invasions, before the firing, before the dreadful, powerful thing that is war.
June 6, 1944. I knew about Operation Overlord.
I knew that the Allies were going to attack the Normandy coast. I knew the extent of their forces, their tactics, their machines. Which is why I had the Luftwaffe stop flying over the Normandy coast shortly before the operation began. I decided to take matters into my own hands when I sent them to the decoy location the Allies intended us to strike brutally. I decided to engage them myself to put myself in a good light for the Führer, and to put a plan of mine into action.
I put the Gotha 229 into full throttle and roared down the runway. I had spoken, once again, to the Horten brothers, and after their first prototype's successful first flight on March 1, 1944, I decided that I would determine if the Reich had gotten their money's worth. I pulled back on the yoke, and cranked the landing gear up, as the flying wing climbed higher and higher through the French airspace.
I could see the Allied ships approaching, and I knew I only had to drop a single bomb to give Hitler the impression I wanted. So, I flew towards one of the amphibious landing craft slowly making its way towards the shore. I flew low enough, and dropped a single bomb.
I could hear the blast, and on my bank to turn me back towards the airfield from which I came, I could see the ship flaming, soldiers jumping overboard, and masses of munition, supplies, and what appeared to be bodies floating in the water around it. I could see flashes from guns trying to shoot me down, seek their revenge, down the predator. But my plane was well adapted for speed and maneuvering, so I easily left them behind, lone flashes desperately trying to reach me. I radioed a distress signal to a receiver back in my office. I could use the Nazis against themselves, and it was their fault if they were dumb enough to not figure it out. I had taken the next step towards my goal.
By allowing the Allies to commence with their Operation Overlord, I got closer to reaching my ultimate motive.
"Mein Führer, I was informed by the squadron leader that the Luftwaffe was flying over the coast prior to the invasion, and that squadron did not notice any of the Allied Devils' ships or aircraft. There must've been a decoy set up by the Allies."
"Herr Dieter, you are to call the squadron leader here immediately."
"I will, Mein Führer."
The door opened a few minutes later, and the squadron leaders walked into the room, snapped to salute and with militaristic focus, called "Heil Hitler!".
"Herr Schwarz. I have been informed that you did not report any of the Allied ships that were approaching Normandy. Why is this? You understand that we might lose France because of your blunder!"
"Mein Führer, we did not see any of the approaching battleships. We saw smaller, weaker vessels several miles from Normandy, but not near Normandy at the time of our pass."
"And yet, you did not think to make a return pass?! Herr Schwarz, I cannot believe your incompetency!"
"Mein Führer, I was instructed to further the patrol range to the alleged decoy area by Herr Dieter."
"I did instruct you to do so, Herr Schwarz, but when I sent out a distress signal during the Normandy invasion, how many of you engaged the enemy? None! I even have the signal recorded on this tape from my cockpit recorder!" I held up the tape angrily, and pressed play on the controls. The message played out loud, and the blood drained from Herr Schwarz's face.
"Herr Dieter, we received no such signal."
"Really? I sent it, and one of your men must've gotten it, because he said that your squadron would be over to help! Where were you?!"
"He did not inform me of any transmission, Herr Dieter."
"Then I believe that your training discipline lacks effectiveness, if you cannot control a squadron to obey your command regarding transmission reports. Unless you are suggesting that perhaps this particular pilot was shot down?"
"No pilots were downed, Herr Dieter."
"Then I see we have reached the conclusion that your leadership is ineffective."
"Herr Dieter, who will replace Herr Schwarz?"
"Mein Führer, I have an idea. He is a well-disciplined pilot, and I believe that he will do just fine as squadron leader."
"Herr Schwarz, you are relieved from duty effective immediately. Call in Herr Schulze."
"Yes, Mein Führer. Heil Hitler!"
His eyes shot me a dirty glare, while he set his jaw, clenched his fists, and left the room.
"Yes, Mein Führer?"
"You are on your way to great things. Great things indeed."
August 12, 1944. The squadron leader that I had put into power was performing well. And by that, I mean was inexperienced, overstressed, and lacked authority. But his lack of judgment meant that he was slowly shrinking the number of good fighter pilots in the Luftwaffe, since I had placed the best in his squadron. Hitler trusted me, and I could do what I wanted. I was his right-hand man; nearly invincible. Every blunder of Herr Schulze's was covered up by an intricate lie I had fashioned. He got away with every mistake, and continued to lead his men into certain doom.
There were times I would take the Go-229 up in his squadron, and down every Allied fighter I came across. The Allies never saw me coming. They never knew about the flying predator that quickly picked off their fighters from behind, below, beside, and above. Even head-on fighting was too easy. They were in shock to see a flying blade pull up in front of them out of nowhere. By the time they got over the shock, I had sent them spiraling downwards in a ball of flame. I was responsible for the Luftwaffe's loss of supremacy over Europe.
I was also entirely responsible for the tremendous loss of life in the Luftwaffe, and in the Allied forces. I was hated by both sides, and they didn't even know it.
There were times when I saw myself as a monster, and I could not recognize my face in the mirror. But then, I would always remember why I allowed the darkness to envelop me. I questioned its worth. And I always found my cause to be true, to be of light that would overcome my darkened soul.
January 21, 1945. The Luftwaffe had entirely lost control of the European skies. Hitler had grown restless and angry. He plotted desperately, but I had already won. He could not hope to unravel the complex labyrinth-like system I had used to intentionally weaken the Reich from the inside. We had already lost to the Allies, who were now seeking their vengeance.
March 27, 1945. We had received word that the Soviets and Americans were racing towards Berlin to end the war. My time was running out, and the Reich's days were numbered. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I had to act fast.
April 29, 1945. All of the high-ranking Nazi officials, myself included, were all hiding in a secure safe house that we all thought we would never have to use. I was in the most secure sector, along with Hitler and his new wife. They had just been married, as the impending Soviet advance threatened to keep them apart by certain death. It was late at night, and we could hear faint sounds of yelling officers giving commands to soldiers.
This was my chance. I had waited 7 years. I would wait no more.
"Mein Führer, may I speak to you in private about a plan I have just devised regarding our safe relocation?"
"Herr Dieter, this better be good."
We left the room and walked into an office on the other end of the upper floor of the safe house.
I locked the door.
"Herr Dieter, what is your plan?"
"Do you remember how you have stressed the importance of leaving behind the weak? I propose we do the same, Mein Führer."
"Herr Dieter, that is a brilliant notion. Where would we go?"
I turned to face the lone window in the office, watching the full moon silently judge me. It was so pure, so clean, so innocent. I longed to see the glimmer of that beauty within me, but I only saw the eternal dark surrounding the pearl in the sky within myself. A never-ending mass of suffering, of pain, of anger and hate.
My hand lingered on my hip, ready to play its part in my brilliant scheme.
"I will be going to Nuremberg, but that is far more than I can say of you, Mein Führer."
"What do you mean, Herr Dieter?"
I turned around and fired.
November 9, 1938
The pure moon's gentle light allowed the street lamps to cast shadows, giving them the appearance of reflecting upon their dark halves through the mirror of the street. I hurried home from school, ready to help my family prepare for our late dinner. We always ate late, because my parents worked all day, and I went to university all day, in hopes of gaining enough education to get a job that could support my family. We had moved a while ago, and our income was not as anticipated. I crossed the street, and passed the one street lamp that always seemed to flicker when I walked by it, almost as if its light sensed a darkness that rattled it. I reached the far corner of my street, and turned to face my house.
All of the lights were out.
All of the windows were broken.
And I could not hear the sounds of my mother and father happily working away, anxiously awaiting my arrival.
It was dead silent.
I walked up to the front door, which had been broken inwards, and found a formal notice from the Third Reich.
I read it quickly and dropped the paper when I reached the formal signature at the end. They had taken my parents for being Jewish. They were to be executed for religious "crime" against the Motherland. They would take me as well if I didn't join the Reich and denounce my family's religion.
The moon's pale light cast my shadow in front of me, and I could see the dark half of myself staring up at me from the floor. I could see the form that the brightest object in the sky gave to me through its gentle brilliance. It was pure darkness.
I wondered how something so bright could give rise to such hurt and despair.
I could see the anger within me on my front room's dusty and beaten floor. It mirrored my every move, clenching and unclenching its fists.
I could feel the emotion drain from me as it was replaced with a dead, empty feeling that hollowly rang with the desire for revenge.
As I turned to face the moon, I saw my dark half rise from the floor and merge with me.
And I embraced it.
December 24, 1945
I sit down. The room is quiet. I can feel the shock from the Allies prosecuting me, and the shock of the Nazis who thought that I was their last honorable symbol from the former glory of the Third Reich. The shock lasts momentarily before the stares turn into heated glares of utter hatred. Both sides unknowingly hated me during the war. And now they are aware of exactly who they hate. The prosecutor opens his mouth to try and address me. He closes it, for no words come out.
"Is their something bothering you, Mr. Jackson? A question you are dying to ask? A statement that is burning a hole through your tongue?"
He looks at me with the foulest gaze I have ever been given, and I can feel his eyes try to penetrate my mind. But no soul could ever make it into the twisted wreck that lies within me.
"Mr. Dieter, what you testified is true?"
"Every word of it."
"You fought both the Allies and Axis Germany? Simultaneously? From within the heart of the Third Reich?"
"I thought that I just made it clear that every word I spoke is true. Deduce from it what you will, but for the sake of making this easier, yes, I did."
"Your ultimate goal was to kill Adolf Hitler?"
"Was the part where I shot him not clear?" I snicker sarcastically, both embracing my cynical temper and hating myself for it.
"I just fail to see why… how…"
"Mr. Jackson, I have already pointed out that I am an enigmatic person with a complicated and controlling past. You will never understand. Your beloved America and her people haven't faced the suffering the Germans have, much less the suffering my family endured. I suggest you try not to take it in all at once." I am getting bored now, and I think that he can feel it. I look over at the Nazis, and the looks of disbelief mixed with rage fills me with a satisfaction. I am satisfied that we will all be dead, and that we will no longer compromise the peace of this world.
The judge stands up after an several hours of discussing the charges, and clears his throat.
"It has been decided that the remaining members of the Third Reich will be executed for crimes against humanity at exactly 10:00 tomorrow."
I will be dying on Christmas. The thought strikes me, and I almost laugh bitterly. I knew this was coming, and yet, hearing it makes me want to think that it's not true. But I am ready. If I was ready to go up in flames while shooting down Allied fighters and bombers, I am ready to burn for an eternity in hell. It is what I get for choosing to embrace the evil within, reducing the light to a mere drop of neglected hope.
December 25, 1945. The man introduces himself as Joseph Hawkes from England. He opens the door to my cell and tells me to get out. I give him a fleeting glance and get up. I walk through the door, and he shuts it behind me. He tells me to walk down the long corridor. So I do.
"You know, I listened to your trial."
"I was shocked. I didn't think that you Nazis were that complex."
"You say that as if you aren't one of them."
"Oh." Silence for a few seconds then;
"I thought you were Hitler's right-hand man."
Joseph and I reach the end of the corridor. We turn left and continue walking.
"You know, I almost wanted you to walk away with just jail time. You did kill Hitler and shorten the war. They think that you may have shortened it by several years."
"Isn't that what they're saying about Alan Turing and his Enigma machine?"
"How do you know about Alan?"
"It's really rather a long story."
"I have time. You don't have to be executed yet. I'll be the last person you tell. And I won't tell anyone."
"Alan and I went to school together in England."
"Really? You are an English Nazi?"
"I'm not a Nazi."
"You were a Nazi."
"Okay, fine. Continue."
"Alan was a very unpopular kid who got bullied everyday for being strange and different. I felt bad for him and befriended him."
"But Nazis aren't compassionate."
"How many times am I going to have to tell you I'm not a Nazi?"
"I apologize for your annoyance, but the more I dehumanize you in my mind, the easier it will be for me to let you die."
"Please continue with your story."
"Well, as I was saying, I befriended Alan. I taught him about math and ciphering. He quickly rose to the top of his classes, and we could communicate entirely in code, just for fun."
"Is that why he was able to design and build Christopher?"
"The machine he built that decoded every Enigma code."
I stop walking. Joseph stops walking as well.
"What is it? Was it something I said?"
"No. It's just a bit… touching? Yes, touching, that he would name his beloved machine Christopher."
"How do you know it was beloved?"
"Joseph, how do you knowAlan?"
"I worked with him in Bletchley Radio Park."
"So that's were he was."
"I'm confused. Why do you care about why he named his machine Christopher? And how did you know he loved that box of wires and dials?"
"My real name is Christopher."
"You're… No, that can't be… He said you were dead."
"No, I am very much alive. But not for long."
"Your name is Hans Dieter! Not Christopher!"
"I moved from England suddenly when my parents decided that we would be better off in Germany for financial reasons. I never told him, because I found out while on a trip. I knew he would be heartbroken and would try to come after me, so my mother told the headmaster I had died. I changed my name to Hans so that I would fit into the German society. I didn't want Alan to leave his family and his future."
"That man is in love with you!"
"I may have suspected it."
"So you told him you were dead?!"
"No, I did not. My mother did."
"That doesn't make anything better!"
"It does, because he has helped me, without knowing it, to shorten and win the war."
"Yes. If I had stayed there, he would've lost his inspiration. Since I left, he obsessively pursued the art of ciphering, because that is what we used to do together. That lead him to crack Enigma, and help me shorten the war."
"I cannot understand you."
"Did I not point out the fact that I am an enigmatic person?"
"I don't know what you are. A Nazi? An Ally? An Englishman? A Commander? A traitor? A double-agent? What are you?!"
"All of them."
"You said you aren't a Nazi."
"But you just said you are!"
"I was a Nazi, and when you are something, Joseph, you never truly stop being that thing."
"I still don't understand."
"You don't have to."
"Okay, well, what else is there to know about you?"
"Lots. But you know the important things."
"I can see where Alan gets his character."
"That is also touching."
Joseph shakes his head. He, like so many others, will never understand me. He checks his watch, and glances up toward me.
"It's time for you to go."
Joseph leads me down the last corridor and opens the door to an empty room with a single window. I walk in, and he comes in after me, locking the door. What a cynical turn of events. I sit in the empty chair in the middle of the room. He picks up a small handgun that had engravings on it surprisingly similar to mine.
"They insisted I use your own gun. Something about dark irony you may find humorous."
"The prosecutor must've hated my attitude."
"Want a few more minutes?"
"Please hand me my gun."
"I can't, because you might shoot me."
"There are several guards outside this door looking in through a peephole, and they will immediately kill me as soon as they think I might shoot you. Also, I'm not a Nazi."
He hesitates, and I think he senses that I sincerely have no intentions of shooting him. He hands me the gun slowly, as if testing to see if I will rip it out of his hand and fire it. I don't. I trace the engraving running along the grip. Four specially encrypted letters, each in a circle. Alan.
I turned the gun over, deep in thought. Joseph regards me with a sad, confused, and thoughtful expression.
"I never told him why I left for another reason."
"And what's that?"
"To make it easier for me."
Joseph looks startled for a split second then half-heartedly nods in an attempt to understand.
"You are making this harder than I had anticipated. I almost want you to just go to jail. What last thing can I do for you, so I can feel like I gave you a shard of kindness for the spark of light within you?"
I close my eyes, and knowing that it will not change my fate now, slowly begin to speak.
"Tell Alan that I say hello… and that I'm sorry for all these years… all this lost time… that I'm proud of him…to take care of himself… and… and that I might just love him." A sob escapes my throat, and a tear that had filled my eye while I asked for my one last favor, rolls down my face, tracing a dainty path before falling onto my lap. He nods, his concern rising as he senses what I'm about to do. But he doesn't stop me. Instead, he gives me one last, understanding and what I interpret as sympathetic, look and turns to face the window, crossing his arms behind his back, and bowing his head.
I am a Nazi, an Ally, a traitor, a hero.
I was never truly on either side.
I fought a war on two fronts, and I won.
I inhale slowly.
I lift the gun up to my head.
And I fire.