John Ringo: Watch on the Rhine

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John Ringo Watch on the Rhine
  • Название:
    Watch on the Rhine
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Baen Books
  • Жанр:
    Боевая фантастика / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2005
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    978-0-7434-9918-7
  • Рейтинг книги:
    4 / 5
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Watch on the Rhine: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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In the dark days after the events in the book , but before the primary invasion, the Chancellor of Germany faces a critical decision. Over the years, with military cutbacks, the store of experienced military personnel had simply dwindled. After the destruction of Northern Virginia, he realized that it was necessary to tap the one group he had sworn never, ever, to recall: the few remaining survivors of the Waffen SS. is perhaps the most unbiased, and brutal, look at the inner workings of the Waffen SS in history. Meticulously researched, it explores all that was good, and evil, about the most infamous military force in history using the backdrop of the Posleen invasion as a canvas.

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Watch On The Rhine

(Die Wacht am Rhein)

by John Ringo and Tom Kratman

For Anna Glinberg and Mania Halef… and all the others whose names and faces we will never know.

Part I

Mögen andere von ihrer Schande spreche,

Ich Spreche von der meinen…


O’ Deutschland bleiche mutter!

Wie haben deine Söhne dich zugerichtet

Dass du unter dem Völken sitzest

Ein Gespörtt oder eine Furcht![1]

— Bertolt Brecht, 1933

Prologue

Villers Bocage, 12 June 1944

The soldier wore black. Silver lightning bolts flashed on his right lapel; the three rosettes of a Hauptsturmführer — or captain of the Schützstaffeln, the SS — shone on the left.

He stood in the hatch of a Tiger I tank, peering with binoculars through the gloom of the battlefield. Arising out of the gloom he saw the rising smoke from the engines of an enemy armored column halted on the road below. The soldier counted twenty-five or so enemy vehicles, mixed half-tracks and tanks. There were likely more, unseen. So much he suspected, in any case. He was unimpressed.

Though he stood alone, and though his tank was alone, the black-uniformed soldier knew no fear. If he had ever known true fear there were no witnesses to tell of it. His comrades had never seen it and few of his enemies could have detected it, even had they lived.

Neither, so far as the soldier could tell, had the enemy detected his tank.

It took him scant moments to reach his decision. With a roar hidden by the mass of the enemy’s idling engines the driver started the engine and headed for a cart track to the left of the enemy column. Already the gunner, Wohl, was swinging his turret to the right.

“Take the first one, Balthazar,” ordered the soldier, the commander.

“The half-track?” asked Wohl, incredulously. “It can’t hurt us.”

“I know. But by blocking the road it can help us.”

“Ahhh… I see, Herr Hauptmann,” answered Wohl, returning his attention to his sight. He whispered, “Come on, baby… just a little more…” then shouted into his microphone, “Target!”

“Fire.”

The eighty-eight millimeter, L56, gun belched smoke and flame. Downrange, at the head of the enemy column, a British half-track was thrown violently across the road, blocking it. The half-track caught fire and began emitting great plumes of smoke of its own.

Onward the Tiger roared, its gun belching death and destruction at a fantastic rate. Tanks, Bren Carriers and half-tracks were smashed with each round. At this range Wohl couldn’t miss. The enemy, blocked by the wrecked half-track, could not advance. Neither, given the narrowness of the road and its border of trees, could they easily retreat. Instead, they simply died.

A lone enemy tank swung into the path. In a race against time the two hostile turrets and guns swung towards each other. Though Wohl trembled slightly, the commander did not. The Tiger proved the faster of the two and yet another British machine went up in smoke and fire.

The way into the town was clear. Though built-up areas were death ground to a tank, the commander felt no fear. He directed his driver into the town. There the Tiger met three more British tanks. Boom… Boom… Boom… and they were reduced to charred, bloody scrap.

The road and the town littered with ruined fighting machines and dead and dying men, the soldier, the commander, withdrew to refuel and rearm. The Seventh British Armored Division had been stopped cold by a single tank, more importantly, by a single man’s will and daring. Soon, the commander would return with reinforcements to finish off the point of their armored spear.

Though he had a month more to live, it was on this day, by this obscure town, that Michael Wittmann entered immortality.


In the recent past:

Though the smoke in the room came not from tobacco but from incense burnt upon the Altar of Communication, and though shimmering tuniclike garments covered the beings attending the meeting, and even though those beings were elfin, with pointed ears and needlelike teeth, any human corporate CEO would have recognized instantly that here was an assemblage of unparalleled economic and political clout.

The beings — they were called “Darhel” — were seated around the low boardroom table. All were senior leaders of most of the leading clans which formed that species. The table, a rare and precious iridescent hardwood from a little known or settled planet, spoke well of the wealth of the assembly. Each board member’s chair was individual, crafted by a group of Indowy master craftsmen to suit that member’s size and body shape alone. An Indowy servant — given the nuances of the galactic legal and economic system one might as well have said “slave” — stood behind each of the Darhel lords, ready to cater to their every need and whim. Though some Darhel were perhaps aware of it, most were blissfully unaware that these servants, never comfortable with their status as slaves, were one of the prime sources of intelligence to the Bane Sidhe, the galaxy-spanning plot to unseat the Darhel as lords of creation.

Holographic projections stood before each chair, visible to that board member alone. Though information was available concerning things like loss of life among the inhabitants, mostly the green-furred, humble Indowy, of the planets falling one by one into the fanged maws of the invaders, few Darhel cared to look at them. This was not squeamishness on their part. The Darhel were simply indifferent to loss of Indowy life. With eighteen trillion Indowy within the Federation, the loss of a few billion, or a few hundred billion, was a matter of no moment.

But profits? Losses? These were the key and critical bits of information played out on the holographic projections.

Studying his hologram intently, one Darhel burst out, “Lords of Creation, the loss of capital to this invasion is unsupportable! Factories lost? Profits squeezed? Trade imbalanced? Staggering! Intolerable! It must not be allowed to continue.” Almost overcome by his own unseemly and even dangerous outburst, the Darhel then lowered his head, forced his breathing into a calm, steady, measured pace while reciting a mantra to fight off lintatai, a form of catatonia inevitably resulting in death to which the Darhel were uniquely susceptible.

The Ghin, first among equals of those present, silently tsk-tsked, thinking, These young ones, and especially of the Urdan clan, are so emotional. They must spend half their lives bringing themselves to the very edge of lintatai, the other half recovering from that. Not for the first time the Ghin regretted the system of galactic control which allowed even third-rate Darhel to amass power and wealth, at the inevitable expense of the Indowy. Not that he cared a whit for the Indowy. But the Ghin was not without some sympathy for the plight of the Urdan. He knew they were very heavily leveraged. And they tended to produce far too many third-rate minds.

Whatever his thoughts, the Ghin knew that a Ghin must lead. “Fear not about losses of capital. Fear instead the extermination of our people if this plague of Posleen is not contained.”

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