home | login | register | DMCA | contacts | help | donate |      


my bookshelf | genres | recommend | rating of books | rating of authors | reviews | new | | collections | | | add

Chapter 3

The Jeep sped down the Champs-Elysees, past outdoor cafes crowded with servicemen, and cinemas advertising American films. Flags of every color and nationality sprouted from parapets and doorways the length of the boulevard: the Stars and Stripes, the Union Jack, the Hammer and Sickle, and everywhere,le bleu, blanc et rouge the French Tricolor. Swatches of bunting, memories of VE Day, adorned an occasional balcony. the marcelled crepe was faded, perhaps, wilted by summer rain, but no less proud because of it.

Judge sat in the rear of the Jeep, one hand clamped to the chassis, the other atop a compendious olive file square in his lap. The open air was a tonic for his woozy head. Everyone knew you didn't mix booze and the same should be said for emotions, he thought. Anger, remorse, frustration, loss Christ, he'd downed a shot of every one. A glance at the file sobered him. Stenciled across its cover were the letters "UNWCC" United Nations War Crimes Commission and inside was every fact, rumor, and half-truth the commission had gathered about the wartime doings of Major Erich Siegfried Seyss, late of the Waffen SS. The latest addition had been made only an hour ago.

Crossing the Place de la Concorde, the Jeep rattled over a sea of cobblestones as it circled the Obelisk, the ancient Masonic symbol that celebrated Napoleon's victory over the British in Egypt, and later served as the model for the Washington Monument. An easterly gust carried a taste of the Seine: brine, moss and the hint of caprice. Les Invalides stood away to his right, a majestic stone armory seated at the head of a grass avenue five football fields in length. The "Little General" himself was interred somewhere inside its cool walls.

Everywhere Judge looked in this town he was surrounded by history and all of it had to do with war. He wondered if it was foolish to allow personal animosity to prevent his taking part in what promised to be a seminal historical event of his time. He shook his head. War. Empire. Revenge. Scale them down and what did you have? Anger. Avarice. Pride. History was only personal grievance writ large.

Two doormen clad in maroon top coats waited at the base of the steps leading to the Hotel Ritz. Judge jumped from the back of the Jeep, the dossier tucked high under one arm, and set off up the broad stairs. Bob Storey pulled him close as they entered the lobby.

"I've already spoken with Justice Jackson and made a plea on your behalf. He's as fair a man as I've met, but he can be brusque. Remember, we're damned lucky he's even here. Luckier he's seeing us. Let's take that as a good sign. Just be polite and let him do the talking."

Justice Jackson was Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Robert Jackson, chief American prosecutor for the coming war crimes trial and thede facto organizer of the International Military Tribunal. He was in Paris for the day, on his way to Germany to scout locations for the war crimes trials. Judge had met him once, a brief pow-wow in DC to give thanks for his appointment to the IMT. He remembered the firm handshake and the steely gray eyes, the softly spoken words and the sense of mission they had successfully imparted. It had been one of the proudest days of his life.

"Fair, I have no doubt," Judge said. "Reasonable, that's another question."

"These days you're a soldier first and a lawyer second," cautioned Storey. "Fair is more than you have a right to expect." His face softened and he winked. " As for reasonable, well, that's plain out of the question."

The lobby was marble and mirrors and velvet furniture encrusted with gold leaf. Judge spent a moment adjusting his tie and combing his hair. He pulled at each cuff, ensuring one inch of cotton protruded beyond the sleeve and no more. He was damned if he'd make a lousy impression. Only the Lord could see your heart, he'd been taught. Everyone else judged you by your appearance. His uniform was impeccable. Tailor-made from Brooks Brothers. Gabardine, and not the cheap stuff either: Super 100 all the way. It had cost nearly a month's salary after alimony. Giving himself a final looking over, he headed to the elevator.

A soldier, first, eh? If Jackson saw it that way, he didn't have anything to worry about.

"The war crimes trials are a watershed, Major," said Robert Jackson from his position at the head of a mahogany conference table. "A defining moment in history. For the first time, we are treating war as a crime and the aggressors as criminals. We are showing the world that waging aggressive war will no longer be tolerated. The trials aren't just a symbol of superior might but of superior morality."

Judge nodded, saying "Absolutely, sir." He was seated to Jackson's right in the drawing room of a palatial suite on the hotel's second floor. Storey sat next to him and Judge could sense his hand poised above his arm, ready to calm him should the verdict go against them. He was trying hard to heed Storey's advice and let Jackson do all the talking. Normally it would have been an easy task. He wouldn't have dared interrupt a man of Jackson's stature. Head of Anti- Trust at Justice, Attorney General under FDR, then a slot on the highest court in the land. It was the career Judge had dreamed about. Today, though, it took his every power of restraint to stop from reaching across the table, grabbing the old man's tie and telling him to hurry up, goddammit, and get on with it.

"When you joined our little outfit, Major, you made a commitment," Jackson continued. "Not just to your fellow members of the IMT, but to your country, and dare I say, the entire civilized world, to see our view of morality driven home. Walk out and you'll be doing us all a disservice."

Judge didn't miss the threat tucked inside Jackson's words. There was no question but that his own career would be at the highest risk. His request had been simple enough: an immediate transfer to the unit charged with tracking down Erich Seyss; command of the investigation, if possible. The prognosis didn't look promising.

"I appreciate your concern, sir," he said. "Naturally, I'll take up my position again as soon as I've located Seyss and returned him to custody."

"Will you?" smirked Jackson from the corner of his mouth. "Kind of you to let me know. Tell me, do you have the vaguest idea when that might be?"

"No sir." Judge had forgotten that a Supreme Court Justice could be sarcastic, too.

"And any notion where Seyss has gone?" Again Judge said no. Storey had given him the details of the escape earlier. Seyss had killed two men, including the camp commander, then traipsed out of the front gates in full view of the camp guards two sentries on the ground, two in the towers, each manning a.30 caliber machine gun.

Twelve hours later, no information had been received about his whereabouts.

"I phoned the military police unit up in Garmisch earlier this morning," Judge volunteered. "The preliminary investigation is just being finished up. Counter-intelligence is being brought in and so is CID, but Third Army HQ hasn't assigned the case yet. The officer of the day stated they're looking for someone properly qualified."

Jackson took the news skeptically, shifting his gaze to Storey. "That so, Bob? From what I understand, Janks is the first officer to be killed by a German since the surrender. You'd think George Patton would have had a dozen men assigned to the case by now. Third Army, that's his command, isn't it?"

"Manpower's tight," said Storey, shoulders bunched in apology. "We're losing a ton of GIs every day. Half are shipping out for home, half to R amp;R depots on their way to Japan. On top of that, CIC is getting set to run an important operation in ten days' time. A real big deal called 'Tally Ho'. Funny the names they come up with."

But Jackson wasn't smiling. He darted his eyes between Storey and Judge, as if trying to guess what kind of scheme the two of them were working. "Tally Ho?"

"It's a zonal effort," continued Storey, "a big shindig cooked up to pull in the Nazis who've eluded our nets to date. Most are SS men slated for automatic arrest who never got around to turning themselves in. All in all seventy thousand troops in four army groups are scheduled to take part. Like I said, it's a big deal."

Judge was impressed by the depth of Storey's knowledge. The chief of the Document Control Division was privy to more information than he'd imagined.

"And Goering?" asked Jackson, returning his crocodile eyes to Judge. "Who's to handle him in the interim?"

For once Judge had an answer prepared. "Begging your pardon, sir, but the trials won't start for a few months. If I'm gone for a week, I'll still have plenty of time to conduct a thorough interrogation of the prisoner."

"And what exactly makes you think you'd be of assistance, Major?" Judge cleared his throat, encouraged by the opportunity to plead his case. "I spent ten years as a police officer before coming to the bar, first as a blue jacket, then as a detective. My last four years were with homicide."

"In Germany?" Jackson cut in, raising his head. He was smiling.

"No sir," Judge answered, matching the friendly expression. "In New York. Brooklyn, actually."

"Ah, no doubt that explains why you're familiar with the geography of southern Germany. Know your way around Bavaria, do you? Have you ever been to Garmisch, Major? Or to Germany at all, for that matter?"

Jackson wasn't just sarcastic. He was mean. "No sir. This would be my first trip. However, my German is fluent. I'm familiar with German customs."

"I know all about your Teutonic heritage, Judge. However, the quaint tales your mother told you as a child have little application to the tracking down and capture of an accused war criminal. Seyss is an experienced combat officer and, I see from his file, a native of this particular region." Jackson sighed deeply and Judge could feel the meeting coming to a rapid and unsatisfactory conclusion. "Naturally, Major, I know of your personal interest in Seyss. It was one of the reasons we took you onto the IMT in the first place. What happened to your brother was terrible. And Iam sorry. But tragedies like these occur all too often in war. If they didn't, none of us would be sitting here today, would we?"

Judge had heard the last few words coming and had whispered them under his breath along with Justice Jackson. "No, sir."

"Good. Then you'll understand when I turn down your request for a transfer. Hermann Goering must be convicted on all counts. He's far more important than some two-bit SS hoodlum. We're not set to prosecute Seyss and his colleagues until next year. He's a small fry in the scheme of things. Surely, your brother would understand that. He was a Jesuit, after all. It's a question of logic, pure and simple. Love Aquinas, the Jezzies do." Jackson leaned forward and tapped Judge's forearm. "Do a good job with Goering and I'll make you a lead prosecutor on the secondary trials. I'm certain Seyss will be in custody again by that time. How's that?"

Judge bridled at the touch. What did Jackson think? He'd trade his brother for a promotion on the IMT? "Sir, I beg you to reconsider."

"The decision is final. A transfer is out of the question." Jackson slammed his hand on the table like a gavel, then rose, tugging the pickets of his vest. "Give my regards to Hermann. Did you know they call him 'Fat Stuff'? I hear it drives him crazy."

Judge rose with him and when he spoke his voice had lost its harness of respectful reserve. "This morning we received irrefutable evidence that Erich Seyss ordered the massacre of our boys at Malmedy. It's the kind of proof a prosecutor kills for: a report written by his own men implicating him at the scene of the crime. Of course, I'm aware of my responsibilities to the court and to my country, but Francis was my brother. My responsibilities to him come first."

"Please, Major, let's not make this more difficult than it has to-"

Finally, it was Judge's turn to interrupt. "I've spent my entire adult life as an officer of the law," he argued. "I've been trained to pursue those who break the law and taught to use my brains and my reasoning to ensure they don't do it again. For the first time, I can use what I've learned to provide some measure of justice to someone close to me. If I don't do everything within my power to bring in the man who killed my brother the animal who murdered seventy American boys in cold blood all my years as a cop, all my time before the bar will have been for nothing."

"Hogwash," continued Jackson, calling his tone and raising it a note. "With all due respect to you, Major, and your brother, you don't have a snowball's chance in hell of finding Erich Seyss. You'll be wasting everyone's time, especially yours. Now if that's all, you're excused."

"No sir," Judge retorted. "That isn't all. If I do not receive this transfer, I plan to resign my commission, effective immediately."

"And do what precisely? Find him yourself? Alone you won't get out of Paris for a week. And if you did, what then? Do you have a car? Gasoline?" Jackson laughed gruffly. "Read your enlistment papers, son. You joined the United States Army in time of war. You serve at your nation's leisure. You don't have the power to resign."

Judge looked to Storey for backup, but his older colleague had moved to the window, and stood looking down upon the Place Vendome, shaking his head. Suddenly, Judge knew he'd gone too far, that he'd let his desire to serve his brother's memory overrule his common sense. This was, after all, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court he was talking to. Still, he couldn't give up now. "Damn it, sir, all I'm asking is to give Erich Seyss the chance to learn the full and proper measure of the law. You said you wanted me to help drive home our new morality. Fine. Let me start with him. If it was your brother who Seyss killed, wouldn't you want to do the same?"

Jackson's eyes widened with anger, surprise, and maybe, Judge hoped even understanding then he turned and stalked out of the drawing room. "I'll be back in a minute, Major. Sit down and try not to make a nuisance of yourself. Bob, come with me."

Judge poured himself a glass of water from the crystal carafe, then collapsed on a yellow couch, exhaling deeply. Taking a sip, he could hear Jackson and Storey's voices behind the bedroom doors, raised in a not altogether friendly conversation. A frank exchange of views, as the papers would say. He just hoped Storey was arguing in favor of his transfer, not against a court martial. Someplace back there, he'd passed insubordination in a hurry. His only consolation was that Francis would have done the same for him.

Closing his eyes, he remembered the last time he'd seen his brother, 2 August 1943. Frankie's departure to England. The two of them saying goodbye, alone among a crowd of ten thousand packed onto pier 4B at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Francis was wearing a GI's olive drab fatigues, captain's bars pinned to one lapel, the Savior's cross the other. He was staring at ten days of rough seas, tight quarters, and lousy chow, not to mention the Nazi wolfpack breathing down his neck, and he'd never looked happier.

"Hey, kid, don't go being a hero," Judge said, mimicking Spencer Tracy's rough-and-tumble voice while patting his brother on the arm. Francis couldn't get enough of Tracy.Boys' Town, Woman of the Year, Captain Courageous they were his favorite films.

"That's God's decision," Francis replied, stoically. "Not mine."

"Hey, Frankie, I was joking. Whatcha gonna do, anyway? Throw Bibles at Hitler?"

Finally, a smile. "If it would stop the war a day sooner, I surely would." Francis was taller by four inches and outweighed him by a good seventy pounds. If the Roman Catholic Church had mandated a vow of hunger, he'd have never made it through seminary. Judge came in for a last hug. He kissed his brother's cheek and let himself be drawn close. He knew he should be the one going. Francis was forty-three years old. He couldn't see past the hem of his cassock without his glasses, and he cried like a baby at the pictures. This was him all over. Drawing the hardest duty and smiling about it.

"I love you," Judge said.

Francis stared at him long and hard, confused by his brother's sentiment. The fact was, the two had never been especially close. Too much sermonizing on Francis's part. He'd been talking fire and brimstone since he was twenty-three and Judge thirteen. Repent all sinners, lest ye be cast into the abyss. Love was couched threefold behind expectation, responsibility, and since Judge's divorce, indignation. Like Jackson had said, he was a "Jezzie." One of Ignatius Loyola's soldiers of Christ. What could you expect?

"Don't worry about me, Dev. I'll be just fine." And then, as if to prove his point, or looking back, maybe his invincibility, he'd removed the leather lanyard from his neck, yanked off the crucifix and handed it to Judge. "Remember, Dev, the Lord looks after his own."

Judge opened his eyes, calling back the photographs he'd seen that morning. Francis lying prostrate in a muddy field, a dozen bullet holes his final benediction. Seyss's boot in a soldier's back. No, Frankie, not anymore he doesn't. Nowadays, you have to look after yourself.

Jackson and Storey re-entered the drawing room an hour later. If a solution had been reached, their grim demeanor gave no clue of it. Judge stood, wanting to make a final plea, but Jackson spoke before he got a chance.

"Believe it or not, I do appreciate your dilemma. You made a persuasive case for yourself. And if I don't recognize the law behind your argument, I do recognize the sentiment. Never underestimate the value of emotion on a jury. Or passion. Sometimes a tear is all it takes to topple the soundest defense though I'll thank you to leave my brother out of it, if there's ever a next time."

Judge no longer had a problem following Storey's advice to keep his mouth shut. Any lawyer could recognize the preamble to good news. One thing bothered him. Why the hell did Storey look so glum?

A knock came at the door and Storey rushed to open it. A messenger wearing sand-colored puttees, crash helmet under one arm, handed over a yellow envelope, asking Storey to sign a receipt. Storey scribbled his signature, then handed the envelope to Jackson, all the while avoiding Judge's inquisitive glare.

"I believe this is yours," said Jackson, thrusting the envelope towards Judge.

Judge tore open the telegram. It read: "Per Verbal Orders Supreme Commander Armed Forces Europe. Major Devlin Parnell Judge, JAG, is forthwith and immediately transferred on temporary duty to the office of the Provost Marshal, United States Third Army, General George S. Patton commanding. The duration of the transfer shall last no longer than seven days and will end at 00:00 hours, 14 July 1945. Every member of this command is to provide this officer with all assistance he requests. Signed, General Dwight D. Eisenhower."

Judge wanted to smile. He'd gotten his transfer to Patton's Third, and with Eisenhower's blessing, no less. But something in the telegram bothered him. Reading it a second time, his eyes tripped over the words that left his excitement stillborn. "The duration of the transfer shall be seven days." Seven days! It would take him a day just to travel to Bad Toelz and get acquainted with the set up. The transfer was hardly better than being turned down altogether. If ever he'd won a pyrrhic victory, this was it. So much for Storey's downcast look.

"I can't have you traveling all over Europe at your discretion," explained Jackson. "This will put a rush on things. Do your work, find him, and get back. I hope I'm making you happy." Judge kowtowed as decorum demanded. "Yes sir, I appreciate your efforts on my behalf. Thank you."

Jackson ambled to a dresser and poured himself a tumbler of scotch. "By the way, you should feel right at home in Bad Toelz. The Provost Marshal is a fellow named Mullins. Ring a bell?"

"Would that be Spanner Mullins, sir?"

"If Spanner is some kind of nickname for Stanley, yes it would. Your former precinct commander is delighted to have you aboard. Said Tally Ho is pinching his resources in a terrible way. He asked if you might be granted a longer stay, but I had to turn him down. Told him you were too good a man to lose indefinitely."

Judge mumbled "thank you," again. He was happy to be reporting to Mullins but hardly surprised. Half of New York City was in Europe. His commanding officer at interrogations was John Harlan Amen, the former district attorney for Brooklyn. Telford Taylor, a prominent Park Avenue attorney who'd recruited him out of law school was also working under Justice Jackson, and now, who should turn up but Spanner Mullins, commander of the twentieth precinct during his ten years as a New York City cop. He'd heard his former boss was attached to Patton's staff. He should have figured it would be in the Provost Marshal's office.

"I'm flying to Nuremberg tomorrow morning," said Jackson. "If you want to hitch a lift, be at Orly Airport at nine o' clock. Seven days, Major. Next Monday, I want you at the Ashcan in Luxembourg beginning your interrogation of 'Fat Stuff'. Is that clear? Oh, and, Judge, one last thing. You're going to Patton's command. Make sure your shoes are shined."

Back in his office at 7 rue du Presbourg, Bob Storey locked the door and rushed to his desk. Unlocking a cabinet near the window, he removed a scuffed black telephone, pulling the cord behind it so he could set the apparatus on his desk. Lifting the receiver, he dialed a nine digit number in London.

A woman answered after three rings. "Personnel."

"I need to speak to Walter Williams, please. It's his nephew, Victor."

"Thank you. I'll put you right through."

Two minutes passed until a deep, gravelly voice came onto the line. "That you, Bob? We secure?"

"Yes, Bill, the line's clear," said Storey. "We've got a rather interesting situation developing over here. A war criminal's escaped and one of Jackson's boys wants to go after him."

"A lawyer? You're kidding?" "I believe we all practiced the trade at some time in our life. Unlike us, this one did the exciting stuff before joining the bar."

Storey had spent the first part of the year on a mission for his friend "Bill". Traveling behind Russian lines, he'd accompanied a team of Red Army jurists as they dealt with suspected war criminals. Usually, the accused were brought before the court at dawn, tried by lunch, and shot by dusk. It wasn't the exercise of justice. Just power.

"Is that right?" asked Bill. "Don't leave me hanging."

"This man happened to be a peace officer in his other life."

"We call them policemen outside of Texas," Bill laughed. "Give me the details."

Storey relayed the news of Seyss's escape, Judge's interest in the German officer and his success in obtaining a transfer to Patton's Third Army, office of the Provost Marshal. He even recited the text of Eisenhower's orders verbatim. A photographic memory was one of the attributes that had made him such an attractive find.

"And when is Judge leaving?"

"Tomorrow morning," said Storey.

"Well, you were right to let me know, Bob. Many thanks. I'll make sure we keep an eye on him. After all, we wouldn't want the boy causing us any trouble."

Chapter 2 | The Runner | Chapter 4