"Heil Hitler, Herr Peis," the professor said.
"I wasn't aware you are acquainted with Reichsminister Albert Speer, Professor," Peis said.
"I gather he's here," Dyer said.
The professor was not surprised, and this surprised Peis.
"You were supposed to meet him at the station," Peis said.
"No," the dignified academic said simply. "The telegram said only that the Reichsminister would be here and wanted to see me."
"I really have no idea," Professor Dyer said.
Is that the truth? Peis wondered. Or is the professor taking advantage of his association with the head of the Todt Organization and trying to impress me?
"He is at the Fulmar Electric Plant," Peis said. "I am here to take you to him."
Professor Dyer nodded, then rose and with difficulty put his tweed-and-sweater-thick arms into the sleeves of an old, fur-collared overcoat. When he had finished struggling into it, the two top buttons would not fasten. He shrugged helplessly, set an old and shaggy fur cap on his head, and indicated that he was ready to go.
The university was in the center of Marburg atop the hill, and the Fulmar Elektrisches Werk was about ten minutes north of town. It was an almost new, sprawling, windowless, oblong building with camouflage netting strung across it. The netting was intended to blend the plant into the steep hills around Marburg to make it invisible from the air.
The plant had no guards now, but that was to change, Peis knew, as of the first of December. (The coming change sparked considerable curiosity in Peis: What were they going to make in there that required all that security?) The local SS-SD office (that is to say, Peis) had been ordered to dig up before December enough "cleared" civilians to handle the security job. If he could not provide enough "cleared" civilians, the police would have to provide the guard force, at the expense of whatever else they were supposed to be doing.
Meanwhile, a substantial guardhouse had been built. And a nearly completed eight-foot fence, topped with barbed wire, surrounded the plant property. At hundred-yard intervals there were guard towers, with floodlights to illuminate the fence.
Peis found Reichsminister Albert Speer and his party by driving around until he discovered the little convoy of "borrowed" automobiles.
Speer was inside a work bay. The bay was half full of milling machines and lathes, and there were provisions for more. As soon as he saw Peis and Professor Dyer, Speer walked over to them. He was smiling, and his hand was extended.
"Professor Doktor Dyer?" Speer asked.
"Herr Speer?" Dyer replied, making a bow of his head and offering his hand.
"I'm very pleased to meet you," Speer said. "I've been reading with great interest your paper on the malleability of tungsten carbide."
"Which paper?" Dyer asked, on the edge of rudeness. "There have been several."
"The one you delivered at Dresden," Speer answered, seemingly ignoring Dyer's tone.
"That was the last," Dyer said.
Speer looked at Peis the way he would look at a servant.
"We will be an hour," Speer said, dismissing him, "perhaps a little longer. Could I impose further on your kindness and ask you to arrange for Professor Dyer to be returned afterward to wherever he wishes?"
"It will be my pleasure, Herr Reichsminister," Peis said.
"You are very kind," Speer said.
"I am at your service, Herr Reichsminister," Peis said.
Since there was time before he had to retrieve his car, Peis walked the new fence surrounding the plant. The professional cop in him liked what he saw. In his judgment, whoever had set up the fence knew what he was doing. It would be difficult for any undesirable to get into the plant area. Or to get out of it.
Reprinted from THE SOLDIER SPIES by W.E.B. Griffin by permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 1986 by W.E.B. Griffin. Originally published under the pseudonym Alex Baldwin. First G.P. Putnam's Sons edition 1999. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
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