The man who called himself Klaus Altman stood in a grove of pines, fifty feet from the end of the paved road. He was staring at the entry to a bland little house blessed with a lovely view over the rooftops of Heidelberg. The owner of the home was inside, as were two of his guests. But they did not interest him so much as the man who had not yet arrived… the man whose shadow he'd been tracking for over a day.
Altman removed his jacket, and folded it neatly before laying it on a patch of grass. Settling into a crouch, he pulled a hankie from his pocket and wiped his balding crown. The day was warming up quickly and the heat was making him uncomfortable and, if he were honest with himself, nervous. Since meeting with Major Devlin Judge, he'd been working hard to find a trace of Erich Seyss. The little voice every police officer possessed told him that Seyss would be his ticket to bigger things within the counter-intelligence section of the United States army, for whom he now worked. Tracking down your former comrades was a surefire way to demonstrate your loyalty to your new masters. Altman was nothing if not adaptable.
During the past thirty-six hours, he'd made a tour through the nightspots favored by former members of the SS – the Haifisch Bar in Heidelberg, the Red Door in Darmstadt, Mitzi's in Frankfurt – keeping a not so casual eye peeled for men who had served with Seyss in the First SS Panzer division. He'd also peppered his contacts in the black market with questions about the White Lion's whereabouts. A man on the run left a trail. He needed new identity papers, a safe spot to stay, a woman, and a way out of the country. There were only so many places to obtain such goods and services in post-war Germany and Altman knew them all. When Otto Kirch telephoned reporting that he had seen Erich Seyss, Altman was pleased, but not altogether surprised.
Kirch had proposed a trade of sorts. A guarantee that his operations run undisturbed for the next six months in exchange for information about where Seyss could be found. (Naturally, Kirch had refused to reveal where or when he had seen the wanted man.) Altman agreed and Kirch gave him the name and address of one Hans-Christian Lenz, domiciled in Darmstadt.
A stream of sweat ran into Altman's eye, interrupting the recounting of his latest triumph. Damn this heat! One day he'd move someplace cooler. Somewhere in the mountains, maybe South America. He'd heard Peru and Bolivia were lovely. Many of his friends were there already. He dabbed an eye with his hankie and soon his good mood was restored.
This Lenz was a stubborn sort. At first he'd tried to deny even knowing Seyss, let alone where he could be found. Naturally, Altman had methods of persuading him otherwise. Seven years in the Gestapo had taught him all he needed to know about making a man talk.
And Lenz's informationwas invaluable. He'd revealed where Seyss was staying in Heidelberg, as well as the names of his associates. He'd admitted that he did not believe Seyss was leaving the country. A man with his skills could be in Tokyo by now. So why, Altman had asked, did Seyss need a thousand US dollars if not to escape Germany? The answer had required a little cajoling and a very stubborn thumbnail. Lenz had overheard Bauer and Biederman discussing a buy they were going to make from a crooked American officer. He did not know what exactly they were purchasing, except that it was located at an armory in Wiesbaden. Another nail and Lenz had revealed the mother lode. Saturday night, he'd croaked. Midnight.
Altman grimaced at the memory. It was distasteful extracting information from a kamerad. He counted himself fortunate to have been stationed abroad during the war, in France, where he'd been spared such unpleasantries. He'd had no qualms about questioning the French. In fact, he'd rather enjoyed it. None more than an agent of the maquis, or underground, known as "Max". Max was a tough nut to crack. First they'd worked on his hands. Then his feet. Then his teeth. Not a word. Altman had been forced to drastic measures. Fourteen inches of hose inserted into the man's anus followed by twenty gallons of ice water had done the trick.Desolé, mon pote.
Max's real name was Jean Moulin. During the war, he had been chief of the resistance in Vichy France.
Altman's real name was Klaus Barbie. As chief of the regional Gestapo, they'd called him "the Butcher of Lyons".
Barbie settled down for a long wait. He fished in his jacket pocket and drew out a sandwich wrapped in wax paper. Liverwurst on white. Taking a bite, he mashed the soft bread in his mouth. Delightful! He was suddenly very happy with himself for having spared Lenz's life. Fingernails grew back. He'd done the man no real harm.
Smiling, Barbie balled up the wax paper and stuffed it in his pocket. He had not yet told his superiors at CIC Augsburg a thing about what he knew. They'd rush over, storm the house, and go home with an empty net. First, he wanted to see Seyss. He wanted to lay his eyes on the White Lion. Once he knew that the most wanted man in Germany was staying at Rudolf Krehlstrasse 61, he'd go to his superiors and present his plan. Not to Augsburg, he decided, but to Bad Toelz. To Major Devlin Judge. Clearly, Judge was a man of importance. Just as important, he was respectful. He would be sure to reward Herr Altman generously for his travails.
The Butcher of Lyons was sure of it.