I’m working on two novels at once (again…), this is a section from my military sci-fi novel about Nazis and their hidden base in Antarctica. True story, in 1946-47, the US Navy and US Army performed Operation Highjump, a mission to dislodge the Nazis from Antarctica.
06 July 1945
Davis Sea, Antarctica
Oberleutnant Wermuth took a deep drag from the cigarette, relishing the heat in his frozen lungs. After a full month underwater, his boat had reached their objective and he’d ordered the signal sent to the waiting troops. Below decks, resting in the cabin that had once been his, the Führer continued to plan the war with his closest advisors.
In addition to the Führer, U-530 carried the sum total of Nazi scientific experimentation for the past two decades. Hundreds of boxes, filled with blueprints, plans and in some cases, prototypes of equipment filled the holds where the torpedoes would normally have sat. His boat carried the future of the party.
They were still two miles from the beginning of the ice, but if the Führer’s plan was to be believed, U-530 could show no signs of run-ins with the floating ice. So now they waited—for what, Otto had no clue.
He’d been shocked by the order to throw all but a few of their torpedoes into the harbor at Kristiansand, more so when they were ordered to dismantle the deck gun and shove it over the side. Shortly after those tasks were completed, the documents began to appear. A large contingent of Waffen-SS worked tirelessly to load case after case of paperwork and materiel.
Once everything was loaded, the crew was ordered to the dock. Otto watched in mute anger as eighty percent of his men and all the officers were sent off in trucks, replaced by SS men who reportedly knew how to sail. The remaining sailors, who held specialized positions that weren’t easily replaced, were directed to surrender their soldbüchers, which contained information on their identity, a photograph and pay information. All very strange, indeed.
Before he departed, the SS-standartenführer pulled Otto aside. The standartenführer ordered him to sail exactly twenty-four miles southwest into the North Sea and surface for an exchange at midnight. The final thing he said before leaving was that the crew of U-530 was not to record a ship’s log for the upcoming patrol.
The plane that landed effortlessly on the water beside U-530 had been something that he’d never imagined possible. It was hard to see against the dark ocean, even with the half moon above, but what he could see was a marvel of engineering. The plane resembled a kite, similar to what he’d flown as a child in Württemberg. It seemed impossible that something like that could fly, let alone operate as soundlessly as it had when he first spotted it in the sky above.
He’d almost ordered the men to open fire on it, but held the order as a light began flashing from the foundering plane. This was the rendezvous contact they’d been waiting on. It floated close enough to see several men standing on the top of it, although he hadn’t been able to see how they got there. Otto ordered the gangplank lowered and four men came aboard his boat—correction, three men and one woman.
He’d been shocked to see the face of the Führer, his hair soaked in the sea spray and his jacket crumpled from the trip. The man had returned his salute crossly and staggered toward the hatch to take him below decks. Rounding out the party was a dark haired woman named Eva, the Führer’s secretary, Martin Bormann and a Waffen-SS officer named Metzger.
The plane sank into the sea and U-530 followed suit, sailing around the British islands and commencing a few torpedo attacks off the coast of New York as a ruse before making way toward Antarctica. Now they were here.
Two lights appeared on the horizon and he brought the binoculars to his eyes. They were still too far to see what type of boats the men from ____ sent. He called below to tell the men that their mission was ending and they’d need to transfer the boxes to the boats. The order was repeated below and soon, the Führer’s face appeared at the hatch.
“They are here?” he asked.
“Yes, Mein Führer,” Otto replied nervously. “Those lights are the boats from Neu- Schwabenland.”
“Good.” The Führer slapped him affectionately on the back. “You must carry out the rest of your mission, Oberleutnant.”
“I will, Mein Führer.”
The shorter man squinted at Otto. “You do know why you were chosen for this mission, don’t you?”
“To be honest, no, Mein Führer.”
Hitler waved his hand to encompass the boat. “This boat has had limited success in the war. Did you know that it has only sunk two ships?”
Otto nodded. “Yes, I did. She’s been plagued by misfortune.”
“Bah!” the Führer chopped the air. “That misfortune as you call it will be the crew’s safety net. They haven’t taken part in the sinking of many ships, so they will not be punished upon your surrender.”
The young captain nodded once again. “You are correct, Mein Führer.”
“Of course I am. You were also chosen specially for this mission. You’ve been in the U-boat force for how long?”
“Six years, Mein Führer.”
“Yes, that’s right. In six years, you’ve never sunk a boat while in a leadership position. This will serve you well when they try you in court. You can claim innocence, ignorant of the war’s ending, and you will be released shortly. Take a woman and remain faithful to our cause.”
“Yes, Mein Führer.”
“The key to making this work is that every member of your original crew pleads ignorance and remains silent about the nature of this patrol.”
The task is much easier since only eight of my original men remain, he thought wryly. “I will ensure that it is done, Mein Führer.”
“Good. I knew you were the right man for this mission.”
The lights had gotten much closer and Otto could make out two large flat-bottomed craft that had giant fans in the rear to propel them. They didn’t appear to be touching the water underneath; it was almost as if they rode on a cushion of air instead of their rubber hulls. What an odd contraption, he thought.
Once the boats were beside the U-boat, they settled down onto the surface of the water and the sound of hidden fans underneath the skirting ceased. Men from the craft scurried across to secure lines and used their own gangplank instead of the U-boat’s to begin offloading the boxes.
“Remember, Oberleutnant, you chose to ignore the order of surrender from Dönitz. You and your men continued the fight. It is of utmost importance that you not mention the Antarctic expedition.”
“Yes, Mein Führer.”
Hitler clapped him on the back once again and then followed a man in a snow-white uniform wearing the rank of an SS-standartenführer. It was an odd sight compared to the normal, deep black fabric of the SS uniforms he was accustomed to.
The Führer and the other three special passengers disembarked to one of the boats and it then the strange fan noise resumed, raising the boat about a meter off the surface of the water. The large fan in back engaged and the hovering craft shot off across the sea toward the ice shelf.
Unloading took the rest of the night and U-530 had to sacrifice one of her lifeboats because the remaining craft was full and could hold no more.
By morning, U-530 was alone in the sea. Otto ordered her back under the waters and began a slow trip to South America. He’d been told to surrender in Uruguay, but he knew that if they did that, they’d be executed in the public square.
Oberleutnant Otto Wermuth exercised his first and only act of rebellion against the Nazi party and the Führer’s orders. He directed his crew to sail to Argentina instead of Uruguay. If everyone kept their mouths shut, the port of surrender wouldn’t matter.