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Authors: Noel; Behn

The Shadowboxer

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The Shadowboxer

Noel Behn

T
O
L
EE

CONTENTS

PROLOGUE

The Intruder

PART ONE

The Webber Proposition

PART TWO

The Julian Proposition

PART THREE

The Spangler Proposition

EPILOGUE

Germany, 1949

About the Author

United States to Quit World War II in 90 Days

Exposure of Secret Anglo-Russian Treachery Reason for Withdrawal

Special to GPG

WASHINGTON,—1944—President Roosevelt announced today that the United States can no longer tolerate the illegal Russo-English mandate of unconditional surrender imposed upon the innocent people of Germany and that under the right circumstances his government was to withdraw its military forces from the European theater of war as early as 90 days from today.

The President states that this historic move was prompted by information just received exposing a secret Anglo-Russian pact to deliberately obscure and withhold the true facts concerning the outbreak and continuation of hostilities with the Third Reich as a subterfuge to lure and keep the United States in the war.

The President proclaimed that from this day forward he and his government were anxious and willing to enter into meaningful peace negotiations with any National Socialist or Wehrmacht officials other than Hitler, Goering, Bormann, Goebbels, Himmler, von Ribbentrop and Keitel.

Mr. Roosevelt expressed confidence that such negotiators would organize themselves along democratic representational government lines. He further announced the formation of a blue-ribbon panel and a secret survey to assure that the right of German citizens would be protected by the selection of approved representatives.

Washington rumors indicate such talk secretly began in Sweden late yesterday.

—Lead story from the
German Popular Gazette
, printed 2 January 1944, for release 1 May 1944

PROLOGUE

The Intruder

The intruder eased back into the shadows, his filth-crusted prison uniform melting into the dark. Tower II's search beam swung down, swept along the gray wooden façade of the windowless barracks, rose and disappeared into the midnight drizzle. He glanced around the side of the building. The patrol was crossing the roll-call yard. He tapped twice against the wall, then once more. Three tiers of boarding were pushed forward near the rooftop. Unseen arms lowered Martin Vetter through the opening. His scrawny form hung suspended for a moment. On the fourth tap he was dropped to the ground.

The intruder jerked Vetter to his feet, pushed him back against the building and again peered out into the yard. The guards were gone. Vetter's teeth began to chatter. The intruder slapped him sharply, then pulled him toward the corner.

Tower V's searchlight scanned the row of barracks opposite. Darkness was restored. The intruder pointed to the brick kitchen buildings at the far end of the roll-call field and shoved Vetter forward. The tattered figure ran frantically over the frozen mud, reached the cooks' billet and ducked behind it.

The intruder whistled silently to himself, his body spread-eagled against the wall, and waited. The Tower II light arced down and sped past. He dashed into the open, his bony legs pumping desperately as he zigzagged in a running crouch. His unshod toe caught a pothole. He stumbled sidewise, flailed his arms, partially regained balance, spun, staggered and pitched face down into an ice-flaked puddle. He jammed the side of his hand into his mouth and bit down until his breathing became regular. The hand withdrew. He wiped the mud from his eyes and blinked. The building was fifteen yards away. He lifted his head. The Tower V light was streaking toward him. Swallowing hard, he lay motionless. The glaring beam missed him by inches. He rose and scrambled forward on all fours.

Vetter sat huddled beside the locked garbage stall. The intruder motioned him to the chimney, felt along the base, found the right spot, pushed his fingers into the warm clay and began digging until he exhumed a pair of dirt-laden pliers.

The two men crawled along the rear of the second cooks' billet. The smell of soup and meat was distinct; the laughter from within, unnerving. The intruder pointed. Vetter was shivering, his head remained lowered. His companion jabbed him in the ribs and again indicated a direction. Vetter gazed up at the string of shielded light bulbs illuminating the west fence thirty yards beyond. He stared numbly at the thick, close lines of barbed wire rising twelve feet high on concrete columns which arched inward at the top. His eyes trailed down the barrier to the left, to the guard tower standing high above the junction of the west and north fences, to Tower II. A black-helmeted SS guard leaned casually against the Spandau machine gun mounted on the outside platform. Another guard could be seen standing in the booth behind. A third operated the revolving searchlight on the roof deck. Vetter tried not to look to his right, to Tower I at the southwest corner of the enclosure, but he did. The structure was distant, but three guards were visible.

Martin Vetter had not cried for eight years, not since the last day of interrogation, not since he had been led from the city hall, paraded into the square, stripped of his mayoral robes and chain and proclaimed a traitor—not since he had entered a camp. Now tears flooded his eyes again.

“Let me go back,” he whimpered.

The intruder continued staring out at the woods beyond the fence.

“Let me go back. I can't do it. It's impossible. The wires are electrified. We'll never—”

One hand clamped over Vetter's mouth, the other behind his neck, the intruder drew Vetter's head close to his lips. “Listen, comrade,” he whispered, “Kuprov himself is out there. He's in the trees, waiting. So are the others from the old Kerensky Circle. They haven't forgotten you, comrade. They've come all the way from the Soviet, from Mother Russia, just to help
you
. Think about that, comrade, think about it. We can't let Kuprov down, can we?”

The drizzle turned to rain. The cooks' laughter grew louder, more drunken. Vetter lay clutching his scrawny arms to his chest. He tried to control the trembling, fought to restrain the chattering teeth; struggled to regain confidence. He mustn't disappoint Kuprov, he told himself. Kuprov was an important man now. A soldier. A general who had won many victories. Kuprov had taken the time to seek him out, to contact him, to arrange the escape.

No. He could not let Kuprov down. But why couldn't they have given him more time? Why couldn't the escape have taken place a week from tonight, as the messages had first stated? Vetter began trembling more violently than ever.

The cooks broke into raucous song.

Of course he was still important, Vetter repeated to himself. Why else would Kuprov leave the battlefield? Why else would Kuprov take the risk of coming halfway across Germany? Martin Vetter was still important. What other German Communist had ever won a Bavarian election with such a majority? What other German Communist had such a following that the National Socialists had waited three full years before arresting him? These were not facts to be forgotten, he told himself. He must still have a following somewhere.

His companion motioned. The two men crawled forward and stopped beside the locked iron potato shed. The singing was still audible behind them.

Vetter began to wonder what it would be like in Russia, whether he would be sent to Moscow. Then he saw the lights flicker. Along the south fence, the string of light bulbs dimmed, blazed bright, dimmed again and went out. The north and west lines plunged into darkness. Vetter looked to his right, to his left, over his shoulder. The guard towers were also dark. He started to rise. The intruder pulled him down.

Shouts could be heard. A match flared briefly in Tower II. The wick was lit. The flame grew stronger. Soon all the tower houses were illuminated by kerosene lanterns. Vetter tried to rush forward. Again he was restrained.

His trembling returned. Perspiration beaded his face. The fence bulbs glowed a faint orange, then lit up as brightly as before. Vetter knew the emergency electrical system was operative—they had missed their chance. He did not know if he was relieved or disappointed.

Vetter saw the flash before he heard the explosion. His head jerked to the side in time to see the guardhouse on Tower II rise slowly a full two feet from the platform and shatter into flame. A second explosion spun his head to the right. Tower I was ablaze and collapsing. More noise came from the direction of the south fence. Two additional explosions were followed by three in quick succession. The line of electric bulbs flickered. A moment later the entire camp went dark. Flames were the only source of light. Hand sirens began to sound. The cooks had stopped their singing.

The intruder pulled Vetter to his feet. They raced through the rain, leaped into the “death strip” ditch, scrambled up the fifteen-yard incline and dove to the foot of the fence. More explosions could be heard on the opposite side of the compound.

The intruder snipped the barbed wire and bent the strands back. Vetter scurried through the opening, turned and waited.

“I won't be joining you, comrade,” the intruder said quietly.

“But—”

“You'll see a light coming from the woods in a moment. Head straight for it. You'll find white rags tied to the trees. Follow them. They'll mark your way to the truck.”

“You
have
to come. I can't make it alone.”

“I would like to, comrade, believe me I would like to—but I can't. Kuprov's orders. He's waiting for you in the truck. Look, there's the signal. Hurry.”

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