"Martin," he said finally, and with oozing cordiality, "There has been good news from Buenos Aires. Our project there, under Standartenführer Goltz, of whom I am very proud, is proceeding splendidly. We expect momentarily to hear that the special cargo has been delivered, and that the first of the officers from the Graf Spee are on their way home."
There was a reply from Bormann that von Deitzberg could not hear, and then Himmler went on: "The SS exists solely to serve the Führer, Martin. You know that." This was followed by another pause, and then Himmler barked "Heil Hitler!" into the mouthpiece and hung up. He looked at von Deitzberg and smiled. "That put our friend Bormann on the spot, you understand, Manfred?"
"Yes, indeed," von Deitzberg said.
"He doesn't want to go to the Führer with good words about the SS," Himmler added unnecessarily, though with visible pride in his tactics. "But he wants even less for the Führer to get his information from other people, such as our friend von Ribbentrop. So he will relay the good news about Argentina to the Führer, saying he got it from me, and the Führer will not only like the information but be impressed with my quiet modesty for not telling him myself."
"Very clever," von Deitzberg said.
"You have to be clever with these bastards, Manfred. They're all waiting for a chance to stab us in the back."
"I agree. Is there anything else?"
Himmler shook his head, "no," and von Deitzberg walked to the door.
"Manfred!" Himmler called as von Deitzberg put his hand on the knob.
Von Deitzberg turned to look at him.
"Are you, in your heart of hearts, a religious man, Manfred?"
"You know better than that," von Deitzberg replied.
"Pity," Himmler said. "I was about to say that now that the die has been cast, Manfred, it might be a good time to start to pray that Goltz is successful."
"Are you worried?"
"I'm not worried. But if I were you, I would be. You're the one who selected Goltz for this."
"I recommended him," von Deitzberg said. "You selected him."
"That's not the way I remember it, Oberführer von Deitzberg," Himmler said. "Thank you for coming to see me."
On 18 April, more than half of the 100 heavy German transport aircraft attempting to resupply the Afrika Korps in North Africa were shot down by American fighters.
And across the world, in the South Pacific, over Bougainville, P-38 Lightning fighters shot down a transport carrying Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, chief of the Japanese Navy, and Japan's principal strategist. American cryptographers, in one of the most tightly guarded secrets of the war, had broken many high-level Japanese codes, and had intercepted messages giving Yamamoto's travel plans and routes. The decision to attack his plane, which carried with it the grave risk of the Japanese learning the Americans had broken their codes, was made personally by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
On 19 April, the Argentine government of General Ramón Castillo was toppled by a junta of officers, led by General Arturo Rawson, who became President.
On 22 April, the U.S. II Corps, led by Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, began a major attack against the Germans in Tunisia. Another attempt by the Germans to supply the Afrika Corps Korps by air resulted in the shooting down by American fighters of 30 of 50 transport air-craft.
Excerpted from Secret Honor, by W. E. B. Griffin. © January 10, 2000 , W. E. B. Griffin used by permission of the publisher. No part of this book can be reproduced without written permission from the publisher
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