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Chapter 7

Back in Mullins's office, Judge collapsed into a chair opposite his new commanding officer's desk. Taking a moment to polish his reading specs, he gave the office a quick once over. Parquet floors, battered desk, American flag in one corner, regimental flag in the other, and in the center of it all, flashing his leprechaun's smile, Stanley "Spanner" Mullins. The words to a favorite Gershwin tune played in his head: "Seems like old times just got new again."

Opening his satchel, he withdrew the UNWCC dossier and slid it across the desk. "You seen the file on this guy?"

Mullins brought it toward him, admiring its heft. "Looks as if Herr Seyss has been attracting the eye of our colleagues in Washington for some time."

"Yeah, too long."

Setting an elbow on the desk, Judge went over the file's contents. Seyss had first appeared on Allied radar in the fall of 1942, he explained, as a junior officer attached to Einsatzgruppe B, operating out of Kiev on the Russian front. The Einsatzgruppe, or " action commandos", were the bad boys. Professional murderers. Following in the wake of the German army's advance, they methodically rounded up Jews, gypsies, communists just about any minority deemed unsuitable for the incorporation into the Thousand Year Reich and killed them. He turned up a second time in Poland in the spring of 1943, just in time to lead a company of storm troopers on a raid into the Warsaw Ghetto. Eighteen months later, his shadow fell across Frankie's path in the Ardennes. Looking back, there wasn't much question of the outcome. Francis didn't stand a chance.

Mullins ran a cracked fingernail across the cover page. "Says here he's a local boy, born and raised in Munich. Twenty-one Lindenstrasse."

Judge had noted the address, too, and was anxious to visit the place. " Any idea where that is?"

"None. Jesus, lad, didn't you get a look at the place flying in? The city was eighty per cent destroyed. Even if he still had a home, odds are he won't go near it."

Maybe, thought Judge, but it was as logical a starting point as any. Helping Mullins flip the page, he continued where he'd left off. "Seyss's father was a factory owner. Nothing about the mother. No word if either of them made it through the war. He had one brother, a queer who got himself a one way ticket to Ravensbruck in thirty-nine."

"They killed him because he was a nancy boy?" Mullins gave a startled guffaw. " A bit rough, wouldn't you say?"

Judge simply shook his head. One more incomprehensible crime among a thousand others. What frightened him more was the allegiance Seyss continued to show his government after they'd killed his brother. " A true believer", he thought, and the recognition drew goosebumps up and down his arms. Rising from his chair, he circled the desk to better view the file with Mullins.

A color photograph of Erich Seyss taken upon his arrest was stapled to the inside cover. Seyss faced the camera squarely, dressed in a charcoal tunic with a pointed black collar, an identification board bearing his name held in front of his chest. He was almost handsome. A harder version of an East Coast blue blood, Judge thought. Bringing the mug shot closer, he memorized the features for the hundredth time: the line of the hair high on his forehead with a fragile widow's peak; the set of the lips thin and determined; the frank gaze, yes, especially the gaze. A man couldn't disguise his eyes. They were pale, almost translucent. Even in his prisoner's attire, Seyss looked sure of himself. Not cocky, like the hoods who worked for the Dutchman or Luciano, but resolute. And something else, too. A word popped into Judge's head. Remorseless.

A true believer.

Drawing the file toward him, he removed the photograph and set it to one side. He returned his attention to the stack of papers, choosing a two-page report and handing it to Mullins. It was a translation of the after-action report filed by the First SS Panzer Division, 17 December 1944. "Here's our evidence."

Mullins read the report without comment, pausing only to remove his half-smoked cigar from the ashtray and relight it. Judge read the report along with him. When he'd finished, he knew that like Francis, he, too, had a higher calling.

"Brutal bastard," sighed Mullins, chomping the cigar in the corner of his mouth. "If I were you, Dev, I'd take the general's advice. Kill him and be done with it."

Judge looked queerly at Mullins, as if he hadn't heard correctly. "That's against the law, Spanner."

Mullins beckoned him close with a curl of his finger and a crooked smile. "This is Germany, lad. There is no law."

Start at the beginning, Mullins had taught him. So he did.

"What about the murder of this Colonel Janks?"

"I'm afraid General Patton didn't tell you some of the seamier details surrounding the murder. Seems our man Janks was not the straightest of arrows. Word is he had an operation going on the side. The second man killed, this Czech fellow, Vlassov, was his partner. The two had a sweet deal running: Nazi souvenirs for victuals."

"You're telling me Janks was starving the prisoners to line his own pockets?" Judge supposed he shouldn't be surprised. For the past two years, Manhattan had been overflowing with souvenirs from the Pacific samurai swords, Japanese flags, family photographs taken from the wallets of the emperor's dead soldiers. It figured that sooner or later wares from Germany would make it back to the States.

"But mum's the word," said Mullins. "This sordid business doesn't make the late Colonel Janks any less the patriot. Our job is to teach Jerry not to mess with his American overseers."

Judge cracked a wry smile. Agree or not, he understood the harmful effect of negative public relations. "You been up to that camp? Easy to sneak out of?"

"Not yet," said Mullins. "But, it's not Sing Sing, if that's what you mean. A few of Seyss's comrades are still vacationing there. Brace them, if you have to. Maybe one will have some interesting news for you."

"Bracing" was cop slang for physically intimidating a suspect to make him talk. Basically, it meant beating the crap out of a man until he confessed. Under Mullins's tutelage, Judge had become a master practitioner. But after a few years, he's sworn off it. He'd always harbored the quaint notion that a man was innocent until proven guilty, and that brains were more powerful than brawn.

"That's a start, anyway," he said. "What kind of help can you throw my way?"

"Last count we've got twelve teams fanned out over our zone of occupation, two hundred officers and three hundred enlisted men whose primary mission in life is to hunt down these Nazi bastards. Officially, they're part of CIC counterintelligence. Only ten were policemen back home and fewer than that speak the lingo. Why do you think I'm so glad to see you?"

Before Judge could offer a sarcastic aside, a short, prim officer bustled into the room. Sporting a pencil-thin moustache, hair doused in witch hazel, he looked like a poor man's Errol Flynn a little fatter, without the dashing chin and a right eye that wandered aimlessly.

"Afternoon, Mullins," he said, before turning to Judge and offering a hand. "Hadley Everett, division G-2. I coordinate the intelligence ops around here. MIS. CIC. SIS. Glad to have you aboard."

Judge spotted the twin stars pinned to each epaulet and rocketed from his chair to a position of rigid attention. "General Everett. It's a pleasure, sir."

"At ease, Major." Everett eyed him up and down, as if he were a bum asking for a dime. "Not many men wangle a transfer from Ike. Impressive. I just hope you're up to the task."

News spread quickly, thought Judge. He couldn't help noticing the oversized ring on Everett's finger. A West Point grad. Ring knockers, they were called. The military's equivalent of a "Harvard man" Judge's natural nemesis in the US Attorney's office. Summoning his powers of equanimity, he smiled. "Well, sir, I certainly wouldn't want to disappoint General Eisenhower."

"Good thinking. Still, if you need any help finding your way, don't hesitate to shout."

"Thank you, sir, but I think I can manage."

Judge's work gathering information about Hermann Goering's activities had brought him into contact with members of each of the branches Everett had mentioned.

MIS stood for military intelligence, the group responsible for gathering information about the strength and intentions of enemy forces. Their goal was to determine who would attack, where and when. Interrogation of prisoners, behind the lines espionage, the photo reconnaissance fell into their bailiwick. Now the war was over, they were out of a job.

CIC, or counter-intelligence, was concerned with the security of American forces in the field. Their mission was to identify all organizations or groups of people among the civilian populations who might be hostile to American forces. In occupied Germany, that meant tracking down war criminals and other Germans targeted for automatic arrest.

SIS stood for signals intelligence the eavesdroppers and code breakers.

Judge didn't like this showboat telling him what to do, so he went over to the offensive. "I take it Seyss's photo has been wired to all police units around the zone."

"Not all of them, I'm afraid," replied Everett. "Wires are still down in some places and it's an extremely busy time for us. Tally Ho and all. But I've been instructed to provide any resources we can muster."

That was double talk, if ever he'd heard it. Only time would tell if Everett was as good as his word. "I'd like to suggest that we dispatch couriers with copies of the photograph to every CIC unit and military police detachment in our zone. We'll start at the army level and work our way down through regiment, division, and so on. Enough copies should be made to give to our counterparts in the British, French and Russian zones."

"You can forget about the Russians," said Mullins. "Ivan doesn't play ball."

"Rather," said Everett, running a finger along his mustache. "Best to steer clear of our Soviet comrades. Go on, then, Major. I'm keen to hear what else you have in mind."

Judge relaxed a notch, happy to see Everett was receptive to his plan. "Seyss is no different from a criminal on the run. He may be on his home turf but if we get the word out that we're after him, and if we offer some kind of reward, someone, somewhere is going to recognize him. As General Patton pointed out, he was an Olympian. That can work for and against us. On one hand, a good proportion of the population may recognize him. On the other hand, if he's considered a hero, they may be hesitant about turning him over to us. Regardless, we get the word out that we're serious about catching this bastard."

"Oh, we're serious, boy-o," chimed in Mullins, and Judge knew lack of support from that quarter wouldn't be a problem.

He continued. "Let's put the picture on the front page ofStars and Stripes,Yank and every German language newspaper that's being printed right now. How much can we offer as a reward?"

Everett rubbed his chin, one eye on Mullins, the other drilling a hole in the floor. "What do you think would do the trick, Colonel?"

"Five hundred would do nicely."

"One problem," Everett countered, "Germans aren't allowed to hold our currency. I'd say give them cigarettes but that would make us appear to be condoning the black market."

"Five hundred's too much," said Judge. "Everybody and his uncle will be saying he's seen Seyss. Make it a hundred bucks worth of goods at the local PX."

"Done," said Everett.

"What's the status of the local constabulary?" asked Judge. " Any help in getting the word out?"

"It varies town by town," responded Mullins, "but don't expect much. Nearly every policeman was a Nazi. The men who've taken their place are hardly your Elliot Nesses."

"Part of the glories of de-Nazification, Major," explained Everett, who had taken up perch in the doorway on his way out of Mullins's office. " All the qualified men we need to rebuild this damned country are off limits. Nazis one and all. We're left with the dregs."

Judge frowned. They might be "the dregs", but they were certainly preferable to the alternative.

"Good luck, then, Major," said Everett, gifting him with a lazy salute. "Remember, General Patton wants some good news about Tally Ho to tell the President when he arrives in Berlin next week. I'm sure he'd enjoy informing him that Seyss is under arrest. Or dead. I do hope seven days is sufficient."

It wasn't, but Judge didn't have a say in the matter.

"Off your duff then," said Mullins, slipping on his jacket and making a beeline for the hallway. "I'll show you to the armory, pick you out a nice.45 like we carried back home in the mighty two-zero. Your office is downstairs. You have three peckerheads all your own to boss around. We wouldn't want Ike to think we're not helping you our utmost."

There it was again, the edge to his courtesy. "And my driver?" Judge asked, following close behind. "I'd like to get out to Lindenstrasse this afternoon."

"Coming tomorrow morning at six. As I recall, you're an early riser." "Tomorrow?" Judge swore under his breath. His seven days had been cut to six.

Mullins shot him a nasty glance over his shoulder. "I'll hear no complaints, thank you very much. It's no easy task finding someone who knows his way around this part of the country on such short notice. Besides, you should be pleased. Your chauffeur's got himself a Silver Star. We got you a hero to make sure you don't get into any trouble."

Judge gritted his teeth and picked up his pace. You had to run if you wanted to keep up with Spanner Mullins.

Chapter 6 | The Runner | Chapter 8