As with his other enormously popular series, the first two novels in W. E .B. Griffin’s saga of World War II espionage in Germany and Argentina – Honor Bound and Blood and Honor – became immediate bestsellers and were hailed as “immensely entertaining adventures” (Kirkus Reviews). Now, in Secret Honor, Griffin creates his most rousing novel yet.
In Wolf’s Lair, a German general works toward the assassination of Adolf Hitler. In Buenos Aires, the general’s son, code-named Galahad, falls under suspicion by the SS after a Nazi operation suddenly goes bad. In the middle of it all is OSS agent Cletus Frade, who knows the identity of father and son and what they will do next…if they can survive that long. For not only are SS and Abwehr officers hot on their trails in both countries, but the OSS has branded Frade a rogue agent and is determined to shake the truth from him, at whatever cost. If Frade can’t figure a way to hold them all off, then the futures of all three men may be very short indeed….
Written with the special flair that Griffin’s readers expect, filled with high drama and real heroes, Secret Honor is further proof, in Tom Clancy’s words, that “Griffin is a storyteller in the grand tradition.”
About the Author
Date of Birth:November 10, 1929
Place of Birth:Newark, New Jersey
Read an Excerpt
[ ONE ]
Near Sidi Mansour, Tunisia
1530 7 April 1943
A solitary Afrika Korps staff car - a small Mercedes convertible sedan - moved as quickly as it could across the desert. It had of course been painted in the Afrika Korps desert scheme: tan paint mimicked the color of the Tunisian desert, and crooked black lines on the hood and doors were intended to break up the form of the vehicle and make it harder to spot at a distance.
Nothing could be done, however, to keep the dust of the Tunisian desert road from boiling up beneath the wheels of the Mercedes and raising a cloud scores of feet into the air. If anyone was looking, the dust cloud formed an arrow pointing to the Mercedes.
And someone was looking - an American pilot in a P-51 Mustang.
The North American P51-C and -D aircraft used in the North African campaign were powered by a Packard version of the British Merlin engine. They had a top speed of 440 knots, and were armed with four .50-caliber Browning machine guns. Hardpoints in the wings permitted the use of droppable auxiliary fuel tanks and could also be used to carry 1,000-pound bombs.
Even at 500 feet and an indicated airspeed of 325 knots, it hadn't been hard for Captain Archer C. Dooley, Jr., U.S. Army Air Corps, to spot the boiling dust and then the Afrika Korps staff car that had caused it.
"Oh, shit!" Captain Archer Dooley, Jr., said sadly.
Finding a Kraut staff car running unprotected across the desert did not please him. When young Archie Dooley first signed up to fly fighter aircraft, he expected to become a "Knight of the Sky" - flying mano a mano against other knights of the sky. He didn't expect to be killing people like cockroaches.
Fifteen months before, Archie Dooley had been the valedictorian of the 1942 class at St. Ignatius High School in Kansas City, Kansas. Six weeks before, he had been Second Lieutenant Dooley. He had come to Tunisia fresh from fighter school, looking forward to sweeping Nazi Messerschmitts from the skies with the four .50-caliber Brownings in the wings of his Mustang, much as Errol Flynn had swept the Dirty Hun from the skies over France in World War I in Dawn Patrol.
After which, with a little bit of luck, there would be a girl in the Officers' Club with an exciting French accent, long legs, long hair, and firm breasts, who would express her admiration for a Knight of the Sky in a carnal fashion.
It hadn't turned out that way.
For one thing, by the time Archie got to the squadron, the Allies had attained air superiority over the enemy. In other words, no German or Italian aircraft were left to be swept from the skies.
The day Archie reported in, the squadron commander had informed him that the 23rd Fighter Group had ordered the squadron to be engaged in ground support. That broke down into two missions: The first was to attack the enemy in front of American infantry and armor with either wing-mounted bombs or the .50-caliber Brownings. The second was reconnaissance and interdiction. This meant flying over enemy-held desert to see what you could see, and to interdict - which meant to shoot up - anything you found.
Second Lieutenant Archer Dooley, Jr.'s, first mission had been to fly wingman to the squadron commander on a two-plane reconnaissance and interdiction mission. At first, that had been sort of exciting . . . even fun.
They had raced across the desert close to the ground at better than 300 knots, a maneuver flatly forbidden in flight school. Here it was perfectly acceptable.
Like drinking in the Officers' Club, even if you were a long way from being old enough to vote.
They had come across a railroad engine, puffing along tracks in the desert, dragging a line of boxcars. The squadron commander had signaled to Archie that they should engage the target. "Take the locomotive," he had ordered. "I'll get the boxcars."
Second Lieutenant Archer Dooley, Jr., had gotten the locomotive, enjoying the sight of his one-tracer-round-in-five stream of .50-caliber projectiles walking across the desert, and - as he raised the Mustang's nose just a hair - moving into the locomotive's boiler.
As he flashed over the locomotive, the locomotive had blown up. His first kill. Then there was a ball of fire, from which rose a dense black cloud of smoke.
As Archie pulled up to make a second run at the train, he realized that the ball of fire was several hundred yards from the railroad tracks. What else had they hit, he wondered, even by mistake, that had exploded like that?
Then, as he lowered the Mustang's nose for his second run, taking care not to collide with the squadron commander's Mustang, he realized that the squadron commander's Mustang was no longer in sight.
And then he realized what the ball of fire really was.
At the time, it seemed probable that the squadron commander had been hit by ground fire. The squadron commander had told him that some of the trains were armed with antiaircraft machine guns and light cannon, mounted on flatcars. Because his attention had been fixed on the locomotive, Archie hadn't noticed anything on the cars behind it.
That night, at the Officers' Club (empty, as always, of females - long-legged, firm-breasted, or otherwise), he learned about the Group's promotion policies: Everybody got to be a first lieutenant after eighteen months of commissioned service, which meant he had about ten days before that happened.
There were two ways to get to be a captain. If you lived to serve twelve months as a first lieutenant, then promotion was automatic. But promotion came a lot quicker in another circumstance. The senior first lieutenant was the squadron executive officer (senior, that is, in terms of length of service in the squadron, not date of rank). If the squadron commander got either killed or seriously injured (defined as having to spend thirty days or more in the hospital), then the Exec took the Old Man's job and got the captain's railroad tracks that went with it.
Four weeks and six days after Archie reported to the squadron, the squadron first sergeant handed him a sheet of paper to sign:
4032nd Fighter Squadron
23rd Fighter Group
In The Field
2 March 1943
The undersigned herewith assumes command.
Archer Dooley, Jr.
Archer Dooley, Jr.
201 Dooley, Archer, Jr. 0378654
Copy to CO, 23rd Fighter Group
He hadn't gotten to work his way up to executive officer. The young man who had become the Old Man and the Exec had both gone in on the same day, the Old Man when his Mustang ran into a Kraut antiaircraft position that had gotten lucky, and the Exec when he banked too steep, too low to the ground and put a wing into the desert.
That left Archie as the senior first lieutenant in the squadron.
The colonel had driven over from Group in a jeep, told him to cut orders assuming command, and handed him two sets of railroad tracks, still in cellophane envelopes from the quartermaster officer's sales store. Archie had pinned one set of captain's railroad tracks over the embroidered gold second lieutenant's bars still sewn to the epaulets of his A-2 horsehide flight jacket, and put the other set in the drawer of the squadron commander's - now his - desk. If he ever had to go someplace, like Group, he would pin the extras on his Class A uniform then.
Being a captain and a squadron commander was not at all like what he'd imagined. A lot of really unpleasant shit went with being the Old Man. Like writing letters to the next of kin.
He hadn't actually had to compose these, thank God. There were letters in the file that some other Old Man had written, full of bullshit about how your son/husband/brother/nephew died instantly and courageously doing his duty, and how much he would be missed by his fellow officers and the enlisted men because he had been such a fine officer and had been an inspiration to all who had been privileged to know him.
Not the truth, not about how he'd tried to bail out but had been too close to the ground and his 'chute hadn't opened; not that he'd been seen trying and failing to get out of the cockpit through a sheet of flame blowing back from the engine; not about how he'd tried to land his shot-up airplane and blew it, and rolled over and over down the runway in a ball of flame and crushed aluminum. Or that they really didn't know what the fuck had happened to him, he just hadn't come back; and later some tank crew had found the wreckage of his Mustang with him still in the cockpit, the body so badly burned they couldn't tell if he had been killed in the air or died when his plane hit.
He didn't have to type the letters, either. The first sergeant just took one from the file and retyped it, changing the name. But Archie had to sign it, because he was now the Old Man and that's what was expected of him.
And he was always getting bullshit pep talks from some major or light colonel at Group that he was supposed to pass down the line.
Like what he remembered now, staring down at the Kraut staff car:
"Dooley, what interdiction means is that you and your people are supposed to engage whatever you come across, like one fucking Kraut with a rifle, one motorcycle messenger, not pass him by to go looking for a railroad locomotive, or something you think is important, or looks good when you blow it up. The motorcycle messenger is probably carrying an important message. Otherwise he wouldn't be out there. You take out a Kraut staff car, for example, you're liable to take out an important Kraut officer. Interdict means everything that's down there. You read me, Captain?"
"And pass the word to your people, and make sure they read you, and read you good."
And Archie had passed the word, and gotten dirty looks.
And now there was a Mercedes staff car down there, and it wasn't like being in a dogfight, it was like running over a dog with your car; but you had to do it because you had told your people they had to do it, and Archie believed that an officer should not order anybody to do what he wouldn't do himself.
Archie banked his Mustang steep to the right, lined up on the cloud of dust boiling out under the wheels of the Mercedes, and when he thought he had him, closed his finger on the trigger on the joystick. When he saw his tracer stream converge on the Mercedes and he didn't have to correct, he thought he was getting pretty good at this shit.
The Mercedes ran off the road, turned over, and burst into flames. Maybe a couple of bodies had flown out of the Mercedes, but Archie couldn't be sure, and he didn't go back for a second look, because if he did and saw somebody running, he wasn't going to try to get him.
He leveled off at about 500 feet and started looking for something else to interdict.
And at 2105 hours that night, at Afrika Korps General Hospital #3, near Carthage, Tunisia, the chief surgeon and hospital commander, Oberst-Arzt (Colonel-Doctor) Horst Friederich von und zu Mittlingen, pushed his way through the tent flap of the tent euphemistically called "Operating Theater Three" and reached beneath his bloodstained surgical apron for a package of cigarettes.
The hospital's name implied something far more substantial than the reality. General Hospital #3 (which served the Tenth Panzer Division) was a sprawling collection of tents and crude sheds, most of them marked with red crosses to protect against bombing or strafing. The tents served as operating theaters, the sheds as wards. Both were covered with the dust raised by the trucks and ambulances - and sometimes horse-drawn wagons - bringing in the wounded and dying.
Von und zu Mittlingen was a fifty-two-year-old Hessian trained at Marburg and Tübingen. Before the war, he had been professor of orthopedic surgery at St. Louise's Hospital in Munich.
The cigarettes were Chesterfields. One of the nurses, who didn't smoke but knew the Herr Oberst-Artz did, had taken them from the body of an American pilot who had survived the crash of his fighter plane but had died en route to Afrika Korps General Hospital #3. The lighter, too, was American, a Zippo, found on the floor of one of the surgical tents. There had been no telling how long it had been there, or to whom it had be-longed, so he kept it.
He lit a Chesterfield, inhaled deeply, and felt with his hand behind him for one of the vertical poles holding up the corner of the tent. When he found it, he leaned against it, then exhaled, examining the glow of the cigarette as he did.
His hands were shaking. He willed them to be still.
It had been time to take a break, to leave the operating theater and step outside into the welcome cold of the night. And to light up a cigarette. And get a cup of coffee, if he could find one.
Though patients were still awaiting his attention, he had learned that he could push himself only so far. After so many hours at the table, his eyes did not see well, his fingers lost their skill, and his judgment was clouded by fatigue.
What he desperately wanted was a drink. But that would have to wait until later, much later, until there were no more wounded requiring his services. He would probably have to wait until the early morning for that. Then he would take several deep pulls from the neck of his bottle of brandy before falling into bed.
He took two more puffs on the Chesterfield, exhaled, and pushed himself away from the tent pole.
I will go to the mess and see if there is coffee. I will do nothing for the next ten minutes except smoke my cigarette and drink my coffee and take a piss.
His route took him past three tents on the perimeter of the hospital area. A medical team - a physician, a nurse, and stretcher bearers - stood outside the three tents as the ambulances and trucks brought the wounded to the hospital.
The physician categorized each incoming patient: Those who would most likely die if they did not go under the knife immediately, he ordered to be carried into the first tent, where a team of nurses would prepare them for surgery. As soon as a table was free, they underwent the knife. Those who had a reasonable chance of survival, but could wait a bit for surgery, were given morphine and moved into the second tent. As soon as the really critical patients had received attention, their turn in an operating theater would come. Those who stood little chance of survival were moved into the third tent and given morphine. When everyone in Tent A and Tent B had received treatment, an attempt would be made to save those in Tent C.
Oberst-Artz von und zu Mittlingen violated his own rule about never going into Tent C. The sight of dead men, and men in the last - too often agonized - moments of their lives, upset him. He knew it was better to be calm and emotionless when he was at the table.
There were six men on stretchers in Tent C.
The first two were dead. One looked asleep. The second's face was frozen with his last agony.
Von und zu Mittlingen covered their faces with blankets and went to the last man on that side of the tent.
He was surprised that he was still alive.
His entire head was wrapped in blood-soaked bandages. That implied, at the least, serious trauma to his eyes and probably to his brain. Both of his hands were similarly bandaged, suggesting to von und zu Mittlingen that he would probably lose the use of both hands, and might actually lose the hands themselves.
Another heavily blood-soaked bandage was on his upper right leg, and his torso was also bandaged; but the amount of blood on these last suggested to von und zu Mittlingen that the wounds on his torso were not as serious as the others, though internal bleeding of vital organs was of course possible.
It would probably be better if the poor bastard died; the alternative is living as a blind cripple.
He noticed that the patient was wearing U.S. Army trousers but an Afrika Korps tunic. That quickly identified him as an officer, someone in a position to ignore the rules forbidding the wearing of any part of the enemy's uniform.
Von und zu Mittlingen reached for the patient's ID tag.
"Who's that?" the patient asked, sensing the hand on the tag.
"I'm a doctor."
The tag identified the patient as Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel) von Stauffenberg.
Oh, my God! This mutilated body is Claus!
"You've got yourself in a mess, haven't you, Claus?" von und zu Mittlingen said.
"Horst Mittlingen, Claus," Horst Friederich von und zu Mittlingen said. "We're going to take care of you now."
"One of their Mustangs got me," Oberstleutnant Graf (Count) Claus von Stauffenberg said.
"Claus, what did they give you for the pain?"
"I decided I would rather be awake."
Oberst-Artz Horst Friederich von und zu Mittlingen stood up and walked to the flap of the tent and bellowed for stretcher bearers, then returned to the bloody body on the stretcher. "We'll take care of you now, Claus," he said. "You'll be all right."
"Really?" von Stauffenberg asked mockingly.
"Yes, really," von und zu Mittlingen said. "I am about to violate my own rule about never working on my friends."
Two stretcher bearers appeared.
"Put this officer on the next available table," von und zu Mittlingen ordered.
"Tell Sister Wagner I will want her beside me."
"Jawohl, Herr Oberst."
"If I could see, I would say I'm glad to see you, Horst," von Stauffen-berg said.
On 12 April, the Germans announced the discovery of mass graves in Poland's Katyn Forest. The graves contained the bodies of 4,100 Polish officers and officer cadets who had been captured by the Soviet army. They had been shot in the back of the head with small-caliber pistols. A week later, after refusing Polish Government in Exile demands for an investigation by the International Red Cross, the Soviet government said the whole thing was German propaganda.
On 17 April, in its largest operation to date, the 8th U.S. Air Force attacked aircraft factories in Bremen with 117 B-17 bombers, sixteen of which were shot down.
[ TWO ]
The Office of the Reichsführer-SS
1545 17 April 1943
The interoffice communications device on the ornately carved desk of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler buzzed discreetly.
Though he was wearing his customary ornate black uniform, the forty-three-year-old Reichsführer's round spectacles and slight build gave him the look of a low-ranking clerk. It would have been a mistake to act on that assumption.
Without taking his eyes from the teletypewriter printout he was reading, Himmler reached for the box and depressed the lever that allowed his secretary, Frau Gertrud Hassler, to communicate. The Reichsführer-SS had had the device rigged in that manner. He was a busy man, and could not afford an interruption every time his secretary had something to say. If he was busy, he simply ignored the buzzing and she would try again later.
"Herr Reichsführer," Frau Gertrud Hassler announced. "Herr Korvettenkapitän Boltitz, from Minister von Ribbentrop's office, is here." Korvettenkapitän was the German Navy rank equivalent to major.
The Reichsführer-SS was not busy, but that did not mean he was prepared to be interrupted by the woman every time a messenger arrived in the outer office.
"And?" the Reichsführer-SS said impatiently.
"He insists that you personally sign for the message, Herr Reichs-führer-SS."
"Mein Gott! Well, show him in, please, Frau Hassler."
Himmler rose from his desk and walked toward the double doors to his office. A moment later, one of them opened; and a tall, blond young man in civilian clothing stepped inside. In his hand was a briefcase. He raised his arm straight out from the shoulder. "Heil Hitler!" he barked.
Himmler raised his right arm at the elbow. "Korvettenkapitän Boltitz, how nice to see you," Himmler said.
"Herr Reichsführer," Boltitz said. "I regret the intrusion on your valuable time, Herr Reichsführer, but I was directed to give this to you personally."
Himmler knew that Boltitz's assignment to the office of Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop meant that he was really Admiral Wilhelm Canaris's man - read spy - in the Foreign Ministry. Canaris was Director of Abwehr Intelligence. Neither he nor von Ribbentrop was really a member of Adolf Hitler's inner circle, and Himmler wasn't entirely sure either of them could be completely trusted. "I understand," Himmler said, and put out his hand for the message.
Boltitz opened the briefcase and took from it a clipboard, whose clip held an envelope. He removed the envelope, and then handed Himmler the clipboard and a pen. Himmler scrawled his name, acknowledging receipt of the message, and the young man then handed him the envelope.
"Thank you, Herr Reichsführer."
"Are you to wait for a reply?" Himmler asked.
"No, sir, but I am at your disposal if you wish to reply."
"Just a moment, please," Himmler said, then tore open the envelope and read the message.
Classification: most urgent
Confidentiality: most secret
Date: 15 April 1943 1645 Buenos Aires time
From: ambassador, Buenos Aires
To: immediate and personal attention of the foreign minister of the German Reich Heil Hitler!
Standartenführer-SS Josef Goltz requests that appendix one attached hereto be immediately brought to the attention of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler.
Manfred Alois Graf Von Lutzenberger ambassador of the German Reich to the republic of Argentina begin appendix one
To: Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler
From: SS-Standartenführer Josef Goltz
Subject: operation phoenix, progress report
The undersigned has the honor to report to the Herr Reichsführer-SS the following:
(1) all arrangements have been made to off-load the special cargo aboard the motor vessel Comerciante del Océano Pacífico early in the morning of 19 April 1943.
(2) all arrangements have been made to transport and store the special cargo under the highest possible security once it is ashore.
(3) all arrangements have been made to effect the transport of naval officers from the Graf Spee from their place of internment to Puerto Magdalena on Samborombón bay once the actions described in (1) and (2) above have been accomplished.
(4) the naval officers will first be taken aboard the Océano Pacífico and then repatriated to the fatherland as space becomes available aboard u-boats returning to European ports.
(5) while the undersigned has assumed personal command of operation phoenix since arriving in Argentina, he wishes to acknowledge the contributions made by ambassador Graf Von Lutzenberger and members of his staff, in particular first secretary Anton Von Gradny-Sawz, military attaché Oberst Karl-Heinz Grüner and assistant military attaché for air major FreIherr Hans-peter Von Wachtstein. their immediate grasp of the importance of operation phoenix and their dedication to the principles of national socialism and the Führer has earned my admiration.
Josef Luther Goltz
end appendix one
The Comerciante Océano Pacífico, a Spanish-flagged merchantman, had been sent to Samborombón Bay in the Argentine section of the River Plate estuary ostensibly with the clandestine mission of replenishing the increasingly desperate South Atlantic U-boats. Replenishment was not, however, its only secret mission. It was also charged with smuggling into Argentina equipment and supplies intended to aid the escape from internment of the crew of the German pocket battleship Graf Spee, which had been scuttled in the harbor of Montevideo, Uruguay, in December 1939, after a running battle with the Royal Navy.
The repatriation of the Graf Spee crew was especially dear to the heart of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, who had himself escaped internment in Argentina during the First World War.
There was a third, far more secret, mission for the Océano Pacífico. It had become clear to a number of Hitler's highest-ranking associates that the war might be lost - and probably would be - and that the life span of the Thousand-Year Reich was likely to be only a matter of years, perhaps less. With that in mind, it was deemed prudent to establish in South America a place of refuge.
"Operation Phoenix" was set in motion. Money was ob-tained, largely from Jews, either from the dead - jewelry, gold fillings, and the like - or from the living, by way of extortion.
The equivalent of $100,000,000 (in various currencies, including American dollars) was aboard the Océano Pacífico. Once smuggled ashore, along with the material for the interned Graf Spee crew, the money would be covertly placed in Argentine banks and used to establish a South American refuge for Nazis who not only hoped to escape punishment for their crimes, but who also sought a place where the Nazi philosophy could be kept alive for an eventual return to Germany.
Himmler raised his eyes to Korvettenkapitän Boltitz.
"Please be so good as to thank Herr von Ribbentrop for me," he said.
"Jawohl, Herr Reichsführer."
"That will be all," Himmler said. "Thank you."
Korvettenkapitän Boltitz rendered another crisp Nazi salute, which Himmler again returned casually, then made a military about-face and marched out of Himmler's office.
Since the door to the outer office remained open, rather than returning to his desk and using the intercom, Himmler raised his voice and called, "Frau Hassler!"
Frau Hassler was tall, thin, and in her early fifties; and she wore her gray-flecked hair in a bun. When she appeared at his door moments later, she was clutching her stenographer's notebook and three pencils.
"Please ask Oberführer von Deitzberg to see me immediately." Oberführer was a rank peculiar to the SS that fell between colonel and brigadier general.
"Jawohl, Herr Reichsführer," Frau Hassler said, and pulled the door closed.
Manfred von Deitzberg, Himmler's adjutant, appeared in less than a minute. He was a tall, slim, blond, forty-two-year-old Westphalian; his black SS uniform was finely tailored, and there was an air of elegance about him.
He entered the room without knocking, closed the door after him, then leaned against it and looked quizzically at Himmler. He did not render the Nazi salute, formally or informally.
"We've heard from Goltz," Himmler said, and held the message out to him.
Von Deitzberg walked to the desk, took the message, and read it. When he'd finished, he looked at Himmler, returned the message to him, but said nothing.
"Comments?" Himmler asked.
"It looks like good news," von Deitzberg said.
"The Operation has not been completed. Either part of it."
"He seems confident that it will succeed . . . that both parts of it will succeed. You aren't?"
"There is an English expression, 'a bird in the hand . . .' "
" '. . . is worth two in the bush,' " Himmler finished for him. "I agree. Anything else?"
"I hesitate to criticize Goltz. I recommended him for this mission."
"When next I see him, I will have a private word with him and suggest that it is never a good idea to put so many details in a message."
"I saw that, but decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. He was obviously pleased with himself."
"And I think he wanted you and me to be pleased with him as well."
"Yes. Josef is not overburdened with modesty."
Von Deitzberg laughed dutifully. "I was a little curious about his fulsome praise for von Lutzenberger," he said. "And von Lutzenberger's people."
"Perhaps he really meant it."
"And he knew, of course, that von Lutzenberger would read the
"And that Grüner is one of us," Himmler said, smiling. "Do you think our Luther is becoming a politician, Manfred?"
"I think that's a terrible thing to say about an SS officer," von Deitzberg said.
It was Himmler's turn to laugh dutifully.
"What are you going to do about it?" von Deitzberg asked, nodding at the message. "Are you going to tell the Führer?"
"I thought I would solicit your wise counsel, Herr Oberführer."
"I have a tendency to err on the side of caution," von Deitzberg said. "I think I would wait until we have the bird in hand."
"If he hasn't already, von Ribbentrop is about to tell Bormann, knowing full well he will rush to the Führer, that there has been word from Himmler's man that Operation Phoenix will shortly be successful."
Party leader Martin Bormann was second only to Adolf Hitler in the hierarchy of the Nazi party and one of his closest advisers.
"You don't think he would wait until after we get the 'operation completed successfully' message, so he could say, 'Our man'?"
"I think von Ribbentrop would prefer to go to the Führer now, using 'Himmler's man.' Then, if something does go wrong, he could pretend to be shocked and saddened by that man's failure. On the other hand, if it does go well, it will naturally be 'our man.' "
Himmler looked at von Deitzberg for a moment, then continued: "I could, of course, get to the Führer first, either directly, or through Bormann -"
"The Führer's at Wolfsschanze," von Deitzberg interrupted. Wolfsschanze was Hitler's secret command post, near Rastenburg in East Prussia.
"- then through Bormann," Himmler went on. "And take a chance our friend - actually he's your friend, isn't he, Manfred? - is everything he - and you - say he is. Claim him as our man now, taking the chance that he won't fail."
"Were you really soliciting my wise counsel?" von Deitzberg asked.
"Of course. And your wise counsel is that we should wait until we see what actually happens, right?"
"On second thought, what I think I really should do now is call Bormann and tell him that we have just heard from Oberführer von Deitzberg's man in Buenos Aires. That way, if Goltz is successful, I can claim the credit because he is one of my SS, right? And if he fails, it's obviously your fault, von Deitzberg. You recommended him for that job." Himmler smiled warmly at von Deitzberg.
"May I suggest, with all possible respect, Herr Reichsführer-SS," von Deitzberg said, "that is not a very funny joke."
"Joke? What joke?"
He pressed the lever on his intercom, and when Frau Hassler's voice came, told her to get Reichsleiter Bormann on the telephone immediately.
One of the telephones on Himmler's desk buzzed not more than ninety seconds later. Himmler picked it up and said "Heil Hitler" into it, then waited impatiently for whoever was on the line to respond.
"Martin," he said finally, and with oozing cordiality, "There has been good news from Buenos Aires. Our project there, under Standartenführer Goltz, of whom I am very proud, is proceeding splendidly. We expect momentarily to hear that the special cargo has been delivered, and that the first of the officers from the Graf Spee are on their way home."
There was a reply from Bormann that von Deitzberg could not hear, and then Himmler went on: "The SS exists solely to serve the Führer, Martin. You know that." This was followed by another pause, and then Himmler barked "Heil Hitler!" into the mouthpiece and hung up. He looked at von Deitzberg and smiled. "That put our friend Bormann on the spot, you understand, Manfred?"
"Yes, indeed," von Deitzberg said.
"He doesn't want to go to the Führer with good words about the SS," Himmler added unnecessarily, though with visible pride in his tactics. "But he wants even less for the Führer to get his information from other people, such as our friend von Ribbentrop. So he will relay the good news about Argentina to the Führer, saying he got it from me, and the Führer will not only like the information but be impressed with my quiet modesty for not telling him myself."
"Very clever," von Deitzberg said.
"You have to be clever with these bastards, Manfred. They're all waiting for a chance to stab us in the back."
"I agree. Is there anything else?"
Himmler shook his head, "no," and von Deitzberg walked to the door.
"Manfred!" Himmler called as von Deitzberg put his hand on the knob.
Von Deitzberg turned to look at him.
"Are you, in your heart of hearts, a religious man, Manfred?"
"You know better than that," von Deitzberg replied.
"Pity," Himmler said. "I was about to say that now that the die has been cast, Manfred, it might be a good time to start to pray that Goltz is successful."
"Are you worried?"
"I'm not worried. But if I were you, I would be. You're the one who selected Goltz for this."
"I recommended him," von Deitzberg said. "You selected him."
"That's not the way I remember it, Oberführer von Deitzberg," Himmler said. "Thank you for coming to see me."
On 18 April, more than half of the 100 heavy German transport aircraft attempting to resupply the Afrika Korps in North Africa were shot down by American fighters.
And across the world, in the South Pacific, over Bougainville, P-38 Lightning fighters shot down a transport carrying Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, chief of the Japanese Navy, and Japan's principal strategist. American cryptographers, in one of the most tightly guarded secrets of the war, had broken many high-level Japanese codes, and had intercepted messages giving Yamamoto's travel plans and routes. The decision to attack his plane, which carried with it the grave risk of the Japanese learning the Americans had broken their codes, was made personally by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
On 19 April, the Argentine government of General Ramón Castillo was toppled by a junta of officers, led by General Arturo Rawson, who became President.
On 22 April, the U.S. II Corps, led by Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, began a major attack against the Germans in Tunisia. Another attempt by the Germans to supply the Afrika Corps Korps by air resulted in the shooting down by American fighters of 30 of 50 transport air-craft.
From Secret Honor, by W.E.B. Griffin. (c) November 1999, W.E.B. Griffin, used by permission.
Table of Contents
W.E.B. Griffin is clearly the leader on the military-thriller front. His latest adventure, SECRET HONOR, continues the story of half-American/half-Argentinean OSS agent Cletus Frade (HONOR BOUND, BLOOD AND HONOR). In SECRET HONOR, Clete is thrust into a desperate attempt to keep a German general's plan to assassinate Hitler secret and those most involved hidden from the Gestapo's probing, always suspicious, eyes. Heaped with fascinating historic detail and supercharged excitement and intrigue, SECRET HONOR offers spellbinding insight into the workings of the OSS, the German High Command, and the deadly, behind-the-scenes chess matches that were fought between, and within, the Axis and Allied superpowers during World War II. Scroll down for our exclusive interview with W.E.B. Griffin, the commander in chief of American military fiction and the man Tom Clancy calls "a storyteller in the grand tradition."
A Conversation with W.E.B. Griffin
barnesandnoble.com: What inspired you to base a series of novels on Argentine's involvement in, or influence on, World War II? Do you enjoy writing about this lesser-known dimension of the war?
W.E.B. Griffin: I always wanted to write about "good Germans," as opposed to the Nazis, but I never could find the vehicle until I came down here (I'm currently in Buenos Aires, where I now live part of the year) a dozen years ago to shoot duck; Argentina has the best bird shooting in the world. Cutting a long story short, I now have an Argentine wife, an Argentine step-son, Ignacio (who attends Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama,), a father-in-law who is a retired Argentine cavalry colonel who spent most of his career fighting Perón and communists, and an enormous collection of other Argentine in-laws and friends.
I came down here expecting to find Mexico South. Like most Americans, my ignorance of Argentina and the Southern Cone (Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay) was appalling and near total. The facts are that we Americans are more like them, and they like us, than any of the South and Latin American countries in between. The joke is (my wife hates it) that Argentines are Italians who speak Spanish, buy their clothes in Brooks Brothers, eat like the French, swear like the Germans, make sausage like the Poles, and are really the Lost Tribe of North Americans.
HONOR BOUND got started when I looked out the window of my Sheraton hotel room in downtown Buenos Aires and saw a field of pup tents in a small park and a bunch of guys, who looked like GIs, hammering at a statue with sledge hammers. I went down to see what was going on. The statue was of Almirante (Admiral) Brown, an Englishman who helped found and was a hero of the Argentine Navy. A statue was erected to him near "the English Tower" and was supposed to be a symbol of Anglo-Argentine friendship.
The guys knocking his statue down were veterans of the Malvinas (never, in Argentina, the Falklands) War, and the reason they were knocking it down was that Argentina was in the process of erecting, across Avenida Libertador (the main street), a memorial wall to those who had fallen in the war; it looks just like our Vietnam Memorial in Washington. It is guarded around the clock by soldiers and points right at the English Tower. Admiral Brown was in the way, so he had to go. The Argentines know how to hold a grudge.
The first thing I thought was that I would do a book about the Malvinas War, and I started to do some basic research. Two things happened. First, I realized I couldn't start with the war, I had to go back further in Argentine history to have the story make sense. Then an old pal of mine, doing research in our National Archives for a project of his own, came across a wealth of now-declassified, top-secret material dealing with the OSS operations here during World War II.
We (the OSS and the FBI, which was also here) really did a job on Perón, who did his best to have Argentina (and Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay) join the German/Italian Axis. We didn't do it alone. There were many thousands, hundreds of thousands in total, of German refugees (not all of them Jews) from Nazism and Italian refugees from Mussolini's fascism, here. Plus, of course, some who thought Mussolini was just wonderful and Hitler a great man. Perón didn't get to declare war on us, but he didn't get around, either, to declaring war on the Axis until two weeks before the Germans surrendered. So, with that material available to me, World War II was the place to start the Argentine series. I'm really having a ball writing it, because so much of this is new to me.
What really pleases me is that the books have been successful, that my fellow Americans are apparently interested in what happened down here. There was considerable worry about this by my editor, Neil Nyren, at Putnam, and both of us were surprised when the first one (HONOR BOUND) made the New York Times bestseller list.
bn.com: You do an excellent job depicted the German side of things in SECRET HONOR. Do you enjoy writing German characters? Do you find that writing German characters is more challenging than writing American characters in any way?
W.E.B. Griffin: When I was a very young soldier in the Army of Occupation in Germany, I worked for General I. D. White, who had commanded the 2nd Armored "Hell on Wheels" Division to the outskirts of Berlin. He's one of our great generals. One of my jobs was quietly taking food packages and other assistance to German generals, and their widows, who in General White's opinion did not deserve to be treated with the contempt the Nazis had earned for themselves. General White got together with one of his best opponents, General Hasso von Manteuffel, and wrote a book, ALTERNATIVE TO ARMAGEDDON, about how to deal with post-war problems. And I got to meet Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg's widow and family. Von Stauffenberg gave his life in a failed attempt to blow up Hitler, but I met others of his ilk, and learned about the good guys, too.
Is it hard to write German characters? My mother was a Pennsylvania Dutchman (they're really Hessians) whose maiden name was Schnable, and I was both a soldier in Germany and went to university there, both of which probably make it easier for me to write about Germans and Germany.
bnc.om: How do you go about transforming a historical figure into a character in your books? Do you find this more or less challenging than creating a character from scratch?
W.E.B. Griffin: It's much harder. An author's characters do what he wants them to do. You have to really think about how an actual person would behave in a given circumstance. I've been very lucky all along in either knowing the character myself (which is rare) or being with people who knew them intimately and have been willing to tell me about them and their behavior in private. This is true, for example, of both MacArthur and Perón.
bn.com: Is Cletus Frade based on a real OSS (Office of Strategic Services) agent, or is he derived from more of a culmination of real people?
W.E.B. Griffin: I knew that I had to interest my American readers in Argentina, and I suspected the only way I could do that was to have an American character in Argentina. Making him an OSS agent was the way I decided to do that. He is a composite of people I have known in that business, not patterned after any one guy.
bn.com: As Erich Maria Remarque draws out in his ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, many of the men, or boys, who battle each other in war are really not at all different from one another. Is this a point that you like to stress in your war novels as well? I noticed this quality in the relationship between Peter and Clete.
W.E.B. Griffin: That was easy. Peter and Clete were fighter pilots. If you want proof that all fighter pilots are brothers, hang around the officer's club bar at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas. There are usually fighter pilots from eight, ten different countries there. In their flight suits, it's damned near impossible to tell them apart, and the only foreigners to be tolerated are those who are not fighter pilots.
bn.com: One aspect of SECRET HONOR focuses on a group of German officers who secretly help wealthy Jews travel to Argentina in return for hefty payoffs. Did such an activity actually take place?
W.E.B. Griffin: Yeah. The point here is that "German officers" didn't do it. The SS did it. In addition to being mass murderers on a hard-to-believe but absolutely true scale, the truth is that the SS (not the Waffen-SS) was heavily larded with common criminals who were in it for what they could steal. And steal they did.
bn.com: What about Operation Phoenix: the insurance plan for the protection and extradition of high-level German officers in the event that the Axis powers fell to the Allies. Did such a plan exist? If so, to your knowledge, did it at all succeed?
W.E.B. Griffin: It had several different names, but hell yes, it existed. I saw just a couple of weeks ago -- in the Paris Herald Tribune, I think, that Goebbels sent $40,000,000 to Argentina. I think Perón probably wound up with most of it, and I'm trying right now to check that out.
The plan didn't work too well for the really highly placed Nazis, but it worked well for the middle level. The day I started to write the second Honor book (BLOOD AND HONOR), the newspaper carried the story of the arrest in San Carlos de Bariloche (Argentina's Vail; a little nicer, I think) of a guy named Pripke (I'm not sure of the spelling) who had been the number two SS guy at the Ardeatine Caves massacre outside Rome. He had been there since 1946, where he owned an hotel.
bn.com: Talk a bit about the OSS. What was its primary purpose? In your opinion, how vital was the OSS's contribution to the Allied war effort?
W.E.B. Griffin: The original idea (Director William J. Donovan's first title was Coordinator of Information) was to have one agency through which all (Army, Navy, State Department) information would be filtered. That didn't work, as (with good reason) nobody wanted to give up their own sources, nor pass everything they knew around. The OSS did a hell of a job in Europe, but MacArthur kept them out of his theatre of war. For some reason, Truman hated it and disbanded it. And shortly afterward, recognized his mistake and restarted it as the CIA under the Dulles Brothers, who were heavy hitters in the OSS in Europe.
bn.com: Have you ever had the pleasure to meet or speak with an actual OSS agent?
W.E.B. Griffin: I have met one or two, over the years, yes.
bn.com: Because of its secret nature, is the OSS a difficult topic to research?
W.E.B. Griffin: That depends on the questions you ask.
Not too many people are aware that former CIA Director William Colby was an OSS lieutenant who twice jumped behind enemy lines in Europe in World War II. He was a Life Member of the Special Forces Association. I'm proud to say that the last time Bill had three drinks in a row, I was privileged to be in his company. He went home from the Norwich University Seminar on Military, Intelligence, and Political Affairs and fell out of his canoe two days later. It's now called the William Colby Seminar on MI&P affairs.
bn.com: What is your own military background? You write so convincingly and thoroughly about so many aspects of the U.S. Armed Forces, your personal experience must be quite extensive.
W.E.B. Griffin: My own military background is wholly undistinguished. I was a sergeant. I was, however, incredibly lucky to be around some truly distinguished senior officers, sergeants, and spooks.
bn.com: As word of Hitler's horrible humanitarian crimes spread among the Nazi ranks, did this create dissention among Hitler's upper brass? To your knowledge, did German officers ever plot Hitler's assassination?
W.E.B. Griffin: With the exception of Admiral Canaris, most of the people in Hitler's intimate circle were toadies. Canaris was into assassination plots from the beginning but was never really suspected. He was shot, specifically, I think, for "defeatism," but really on general principles (like Rommel was forced to commit suicide) toward the end of the war.
Hitler made all officers take an oath of personal allegiance to him (rather than to the German State) and this was very difficult for many officers to break. Those who did break it (von Stauffenberg, for example) often did so for religious reasons. Stauffenberg was a devout Catholic.
Usually, the resistance came from ignoring, or outright disobedience to, orders that (a) made no sense and/or (b) the execution of which was repugnant (Von Choltitz, for example, refusing to obey Hitler's direct and personal order to destroy Paris as the Allies (actually, my general, I. D. White) were about to take it back.
bn.com: When can we expect the next Honor Bound novel?
W.E.B. Griffin: There will be another Honor novel, but I don't know yet when.
bn.com: Have you ever considered writing a novel about Desert Storm?
W.E.B. Griffin: What I'm writing now started out to be a Desert Storm novel. The officer who commanded the ground forces, the largest tank battle ever fought anywhere, in which he really clobbered the Iraqis, is General Fred Franks, our first one-legged general since the Civil War. Freddy is an old friend, who, as a major, lost his leg in Vietnam dragging another old friend, General Donn Starry (then Col.), out of the line of fire after Starry had been wounded leading the Cambodian Incursion.
But the same thing happened when I started to write this story that happened when I started to write HONOR BOUND. I realized that, to tell the story, I had to go back farther in time, so what I'm (just about finished) writing now picks up where the last Brotherhood of War novel left off, after the Belgian jump on Stanleyville in the Belgian Congo.
Not many people are aware that Che Guevara went to the Congo, after Stanleyville, with 200 black Cubans to try to take over first the Congo, then Africa, and then South America. He was a miserable failure in the Congo, in large part due to some Green Berets who frustrated everything he tried to do. He then went back to Cuba, got some more "volunteers," and tried to take over Bolivia, and failed again, in large part due to some Green Berets who had escaped from Castro.
I'm having fun with this one, too.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Having read almost all of Griffins series, the Honor series is closest to The Corps... Please bring back Cletus and Peter again and again...
A great sequel to 'Blood and Honor', this is a book you won't want to put down even though it may be 4 A.M. Griffin puts you in the middle of the intrigue, action, and suspense. I'm anxiously awaiting the next in this series.
I have read every one of Mr.Griffin's novels and enjoyed them a great deal. But this last series seems to be getting less and less like all his other work. I wish he would concentrate on his other series like The Corps or The Badge Of Honor Or Men At War groups
William E. Butterworth is a most enjoyable author, whatever his nom-de-novel may be. This is yet another typical Griffin novel. The continued use and overuse of complete names and titles amounts to overkill and is a writer's method of filling a page with really saying too much. Do away with this problem and also do away with the overuse of dispatches and letters that eat up space and this 497 page novel is reduced to 300 pages. At 497 pages, or even at 300 pages, Butterworth is a superb storyteller and I will continue to read and enjoy his books
I have been a rabid fan of Mr. Griffin's prior series', having read all of his books twice. I find the 'Men at War' books have far less interest for me. His descriptions of characters have always been vivid but those from other countries have little appeal for me. I hope for the resumption of the 'Badge of Honor' and 'The Corps series'.
THE ZING IN GRIFFINS LATEST HONOR SERIES IS GONE. I WOULD LIKE TO SEE HIM GO BACK TO THE CORPS SERIES AND CONTINUE WHERE HE LEFT OFF WITH GETTING GOLD AND WEAPONS INTO THE PHILLIPINES. THIS SERIES IS 5 STAR AND SHOULD BE CONTINUED...I OWN EVERY ONE....
Compared to all of W. E. B. Griffin¿s published novels, I found his most recent effort, disappointing. Too much of Secret Honor, is concerned with the events surrounding the wedding of Clete Frade and Dorotea Mallin and the inconclusive efforts of the German government to identify the traitor responsible for the assassination of two senior SS officers which was described in the previous book. Secret Honor seems to be a transition between the author¿s last book set in Argentina, Blood and Honor, and his next intended volume in the Honor Bound series. We are introduced to a series of important historical figures including Count Claus von Stauffenberg, Evita Duarta and General Adolf Galland, each of whom one hopes will figure prominently in the author¿s intended sequel. We also are familiarized with one of Germany¿s most important secret weapons of World War II, the ME-262 jet fighter aircraft. Except for target practice, only one shot is fired in this book by or at any of the main characters. But many important events occurred the period covered, April through June 1943, including: the fall of North Africa to the Americans and English, Allied preparations to invade Sicily, the first Warsaw Ghetto uprising, the siege of Leningrad, preparations leading to the Battle at Kursk (the largest tank conflict in history), the introduction of escort carriers and advanced radar in the battle against U-boats in the Atlantic, and MacArthur¿s attack up coast of New Guinea. I hope that W.E.B. Griffin¿s next effort is more exciting.
One more to keep you up late reading just one more chapter
Yes, the soap opera continues. Talk about your guilty pleasure. But then what else am I going to do, its not like I'm going to fence here.
Great book and story. Problem was that the transcription from hard copy to electronic is pathetic. Don't know who does the transcribing of the e-books but I believe B & N needs to find someone else.