For All Nails #2: Paris is Burning

by Johnny Pez

"Anti-German riots erupted in Paris, Moscow, and Jerusalem in 1969, and more capitals were hit by demonstrations in 1970."
--Robert Sobel, For Want of a Nail ..., p. 399

German Embassy
Paris, France
17 July 1970

General Eric von Gellmann looked through his office window at the surging sea of angry Frenchmen beyond the walls of the German Embassy. Even from this distance, he could hear their chant of "Deutch raus! Deutch raus!" Very likely, it was the only German most of them knew.

Gellmann's First Secretary, Gerhard Müller, joined him at the window. "Do you want me to try to get Monsieur Lebrun on the line?"

Gellmann shook his head. "Even if you could get through to him, he would only say that he could do nothing. Nobody in France can ever do anything." He sighed. "Including us."

When Chancellor Markstein had first appointed Gellman Ambassador to the French, he had considered it an honor. It had taken some time for Gellmann to realize that Herr Markstein had played a particularly cruel joke on him. Theoretically, France was an independent republic, allied to the German Empire, and had been for the last 23 years. In fact, there had always been a large garrison of German troops to make sure the French stayed allied. At first, a war-weary French populace had been willing (most of them, at any rate) to accept the compromise. However, a new generation had grown up in France, and now anti-German agitation had risen to its greatest level since the end of the fighting.

"Sir," said Müller, "all I need is a company of troops, and I can send that mob howling back to its den."

Gellmann shook his head again. "Do that, Müller, and the whole country will rise up against us. Bruning tried to terrorize them into submission, and in the end it cost him his career and his freedom. All we can do at this point is try to keep the lid on, and hope for the best."

Müller was still unhappy. "If Monsieur Lebrun is unable to keep order, then we should find France a Premier who can."

"There, Herr Müller, I agree with you," said Gellmann. "If Monsieur Lebrun thinks to make himself popular in France at our expense, then he must be taught the folly of his ways. I shall include such a recommendation in our next--" Gellmann broke off. Outside, there had been a sudden change in the sound coming from the French mob. The chant had changed from German to French, and it had grown wilder.

"Müller, do the words 'mort' and 'Boche' mean what I think they do?"

"I'm afraid so, sir," said Müller.

Gellmann swore, then picked up his telephone. "Greta, get me Captain Blucher. Captain? This is Gellmann. Things are starting to get ugly outside. If the mob tries to force its way into the compound, have your men open fire. I'll join you on the roof directly." Hanging up, Gellmann said to Müller, "Get on the line to Berlin. Advise them of the situation, and tell them I intend to take defensive measures."

As Müller hurried out of the office, Gellmann glared at the photograph of Chancellor Markstein on the wall. "Adolph, I'll get you for this if it's the last thing I do!" Then, checking that his pistol was loaded, Gellmann left for the roof.

Forward to FAN #3: The Ivory Tower.

Forward to 19 July 1970: Someone in Nancy.

Forward to Yvette Fanchon: The Hero of Paris.

Return to For All Nails.