A Short Story by Ernest N.Whitenack
The cedar lined room was cool and slightly humid and contained many boxes
of cigars along with large covered white buckets. Zimmerman sat one of
the buckets on a small table and removed the cover.
“How about this one?” Zimmerman asked, as he pushed the bucket
Clancy bent forward and smelled the contents and looked up at Zimmerman
and smiled. Reaching in, he pulled out a handful and examined the tobacco.
“Is this Sherlock’s Choice? It certainly looks and smells
“Not from Tinder Box”, it’s my own creation of
it and my private stock. It took me two years to perfect it and I think
I hit it dead on. Fill up and give it a try.”
Clancy lit up and took a couple of long, slow deep puffs, releasing
the smoke slowly.
“I would say it’s perfect. I sure can’t tell the difference.
Can you spare a pound or two?”
After breakfast Clancy drove to the car rental office and turned in the
white BMW for a yellow Porsche 356 C convertible and headed back to the
hotel to pack.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Samuel Fox, having important news for him forwarded
from Munich with Fox’s orders, walked around in the area of the
hotel hoping to catch Clancy when he came in,. He saw the yellow Porsche
pull into the parking area and was surprised to see Clancy at the wheel.
Fox stepped into a shadowed doorway until Clancy entered the hotel. After
waiting a reasonable time, Fox climbed the stairs and discretely knocked
on the door to room 15.
Clancy was trying to figure out just how to pack the two one pound tins
of Zimmerman’s private blend when he heard the knocking at his door.
He hurriedly stuffed them into opposite corners of his bag, stepped to
the door and opened it.
“Lieutenant Fox! Have you come to say goodbye. Or, is there
another reason you are here?
“Both”, Fox replied. ”May I come in?
Clancy waved him into the room and motioned that he should sit.
“There is fairly fresh coffee in the pot over there if you would
like some, Lieutenant.”
“Perhaps later”, Fox replied. “But first I have
important information for you from headquarters.”
“Along with my orders that arrived yesterday was a note asking
me to inform you about Erich Graff. Graff is the Bavaria supervisor
of all GDR secret service agents in that state and reports to Richard
Stahlmann, co-founder of the service, who in turn reports to Moscow.
Graff was a police sergeant in the Berlin Police when the war ended
and was recruited for the East German police force after a short internment.
Several years later, he was badgered into the GDR Secret Service, Stasi,
with the promise of serving in West Germany and being allowed to take
his family with him. Reports have it that Richard Stahlmann is very
unsatisfied with the recent lack of reports from Graff’s agents
including what is going on in Mittenwald concerning the treasure supposedly
hidden there; seems there are several of Graff’s people there
trying to find it.
Clancy interrupted with, “How does all this affect my efforts
“To continue, you are to avoid him if at all possible. A picture
of Graff will be waiting when you arrive. It will be with your contact
at the travel office. Other than that, play it by ear should avoiding
him be impossible.”
“Well, that doesn’t help much; but then that is par for
undefined circumstances” Clancy replied. “Thanks for telling
me, at least I’ll
know him should I encounter him.”
“There’s more. Sources indicate that Graff is a bit fed
up with Richard Stahlmann; his constant bullying and near impossible
demands. In a meeting of agent supervisors recently, Stahlmann strongly
ridiculed Graff who, by the way, is very happy living in Munich and
would not relish being recalled to the east.”
Fox poured himself some coffee and sat in the straight chair by the vanity
and watched Clancy as he packed.
Soon Clancy stopped to relight his pipe. Slowly and thoughtfully blew
out a large cloud of smoke and asked.
“Did your people mention the possibility of Graff defecting?”
“No, they wouldn’t do such a thing unless it is positively
going to happen.”
With that, Fox returned the empty coffee cup to the coffee tray and extended
his hand to Clancy.
“I want to thank you for the education. It has been a pleasure
meeting you and working with you. I wish I had been ordered to Mittenwald
with you, but that’s the way it goes. Perhaps we will cross paths
“You never know”, Clancy said. Should you ever find yourself
in New Hampshire, please look me up. I plan to be there for quite a
Fox nodded and turned to open the door, turned back again and said,
“Best of luck, sir. If I can help at all, get in touch with
me at Munich HQ. Your contact in Mittenwald can help you. He knows how.”
Munich, 6:20 P.M. the same day.
The special telephone, in a secret compartment in Erich Graff’s
desk, uttered its distinctive ring. Graff, in the kitchen of their modern
reproduction of a seventeen-hundred’s Alpine Chalet, dropped the
carrot he was peeling and moved quickly. He retrieved the phone from its
hiding place and flipped the switch on the attached scrambler.
“This is Stahlmann. What have you learned from Mittenwald, Graff?
We are getting a lot of pressure here to either confirm or reject that
a Hitler treasure is hidden or buried there.”
“So far that is not possible. I have told our people working
on the treasure question to put more effort into finding out. I’m
told more searchers are showing up weekly and it is difficult to be
discrete or to camouflage our efforts.”
Stahlmann’s manner changed abruptly along with the volume of his
“This cannot go on forever, Graff. I must have results soon
or we are both in serious trouble. I think you probably have the head
to get this moving and for your benefit you better find out something.
I want you to go to Mittenwald and personally take charge of this problem.
That is not only an order, but a warning as well.
One more thing, Graff. It has come to our attention from Moscow;
that there is the possibility an American is in the country specifically
to investigate the possibility of Hitler’s diamonds being secreted
at Mittenwald. The understanding is, he is a highly trained agent and
was very effective in the war while working in Germany and France. He
has a great deal of combat experience as well.
Above all, we do not want to cause a disturbance or attract attention,
but should it become necessary or even expedient, eliminate this man.
Lastly, Make sure you absolutely have the right person. Should you make
a mistake, hell will break loose and it will be the end for both of
us. If you don’t have the stomach for it, find someone who does.”
Graff gently sat the phone on its cradle and slowly returned to the kitchen;
picked up the peeler and a carrot and stared blankly out the window above
the sink. His wife turned to him, noticed that he was an ashen color and
“Are you all right, you look terrible; like all the blood has
drained from your face?”
Graff turned to face her while supporting himself on the sink.
“Now he wants me to murder a man. I have shot men when I was
a police officer but only when I had to protect someone or myself.
I’m not a murderer nor will I order it done. I would give anything
to get away from this whole mess; forget the GDR and Stasi, stay in
the west and have a quiet life.”
“Could we do that”, she asked?
“I don’t know – perhaps if I worked it just right
with the right people and we could get protection. Stahlmann would undoubtedly
be after my skin. We would have to go into hiding or even leave the
country. I wouldn’t want to leave my mother behind for that pig
to use as a hostage to get us back. I’m thankful she is here with
us, I would have to arrange for her to be with us. That should not be
difficult where she is alone and old. I can plead hardship on her behalf.
I’ll work on it and try to figure a way, starting with Mother.
Now, I must pack and get on my way to Mittenwald first thing in the
“Go ahead. I’ll finish preparing dinner and then we can
talk some more.”
Later that evening they sat near the fireplace to continue the conversation.
“I think it wise if you pack your and Mothers belongings. I
have packed lightly so you will have to pack the remainder of my clothing.
If this plan works, I will have to return to transfer funds, or withdraw
them. Then sort out papers and files and destroy those not wanted. It
is regretful but we must leave this home and furnishings. Pack only
our most cherished possessions; pictures, small items, etcetera and
wait for me to contact you.”
Clancy retired early that night and rose at five the next morning. At
six he pulled out of the parking lot and turned the Porsche in the direction
of highway B18. He looked forward to the four to five hour drive, part
of which skirts the Austrian border and affords a great view of the mountains.
About nine o’clock he stopped for breakfast. It was warming a bit
when he left the roadside restaurant and promised to be a great day. Clancy
put the top down on the Porsche and was thoroughly enjoying himself.
Erich Graff backed his Mercedes out of the garage but he was not looking
forward to his drive at all. He was nervous and frightened. What he was
planning could end in summary execution should he not be able to pull
it off. To say the least, defection is frowned upon. His only hope was
to make contact with the right people and get the whole thing settled
before he had to report to Stahlmann or Stahlmann contacted him.
Copyright © Ernest N. Whitenack 2016
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Ernie Whitenack was born in 1928 in Springfield,
Illinois and moved to Massachusetts in the mid 1930's. He is a Korean
War veteran, worked as a photographic illustrator for 43 years and is