The Silver Mosaic: a Winston Churchill 1930s Thriller

The Silver Mosaic: a Winston Churchill 1930s Thriller

by Michael McMenamin, Patrick McMenamin

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781506904504
Publisher: First Edition Design Publishing
Publication date: 07/25/2017
Pages: 454
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.01(d)

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CHAPTER 1

Albert Einstein

Chartwell Kent, England Tuesday, 14 March 1933

WINSTON CHURCHILL TOOK the proffered brick from the proud hand of his eleven-year-old daughter Mary. It was a bright, crisp day in the Weald of Kent at his beloved country home, Chartwell, about which he felt that a day away from it was a day wasted. His youngest child, Mary, was a pretty girl with curly blonde hair and a sunny disposition. She was made more precious to his wife, Clementine, and him because of the tragic death of their fourth child, Marigold, from meningitis at age three in August 1921. The birth of Mary twelve months later had helped heal their broken hearts.

Churchill placed Mary's brick on top of two other bricks that had received freshly applied mortar from Churchill's hand. At his present rate of bricklaying, the unpredictable English weather permitting, he calculated he would be finished by mid-July with the walls of the summer house he was building in the walled garden adjacent to the main house. Of course, he would have to run those calculations past the Prof, his good friend Frederick Lindemann, who would be visiting Chartwell in a few days where they would discuss how to make the future of Nazi Germany a short one.

Churchill was quite proud of his brick laying skills and the fact that he had been made a member, albeit as an adult apprentice, of the Bricklayers Union. Bricklaying, like his painting, gave him a respite from the rigors and pressures of politics and, like his painting, required a high level of skill. Contrary to the falsehoods spread by his Socialist political adversaries in the Labour Party, Churchill had always supported the rights of trade unions to strike and bargain collectively with oppressive owners, especially coal mine owners in Wales.

Churchill's thoughts were interrupted by a breathless female voice behind him.

"Mr. Churchill, Mr. Churchill," the voice said, "your luncheon guests have arrived."

"Thank you, Mrs. P," Churchill replied, turning to face his secretary Violet Pearman, known to him fondly as 'Mrs. P'. "Please escort them to my study after they have had an opportunity to freshen up from their journey. Pray tell my guests I shall be with them in a moment, just as soon as I finish this last brick. Also, please advise Miss Johansson of their arrival and ask her to join us there," Churchill said as he sliced off the excess mortar with a trowel and deposited it in the bucket beside him.

"Come, Mary," Churchill said to his daughter, extending his hand which she eagerly grasped, "bricklaying will have to be postponed for today as I have important guests who have just arrived." Father and daughter then walked hand-in-hand back up the hill to the main house.

Ten minutes later, having changed from his bricklaying overalls into a three-piece, navy blue pinstripe suit and blue bow tie with white polka dots, Churchill walked into in his study one floor above the ground floor. It had a high cathedral ceiling with two large wooden beams crossing the room from one side to the other. A fire blazed in the fireplace at the end of the room. He placed his cigar on a nearby crystal ashtray, walked over to a sideboard and poured a small measure of whisky into a crystal tumbler. He added a splash of water, retrieved his cigar and stood before the wide window in his study overlooking the weald of Kent. He thought it was the most beautiful view in the world.

His guests had not yet arrived and, alternately taking a sip of whisky and a puff on his cigar, Churchill thought about all that had happened in Germany in the past seven weeks since Adolf Hitler had become its Chancellor.

Churchill's 23-year old journalist son, Randolph, had covered Hitler's two unsuccessful election campaigns in 1932 to defeat the German President Hindenburg and had predicted that, if Hitler ever came to power in Germany, war was inevitable. He tended to agree with his son who had met Hitler while Churchill had not. The closest Churchill had come to meeting the man was last year in Munich where he had been conducting research for a biography of his relative John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough. Hitler's foreign press secretary, the half-American, Harvard-educated Ernst "Putzi" Hanfstaengl, thought he had persuaded the Nazi leader to join Churchill's party at dinner. He was wrong. Hitler stood them up.

Though Churchill had been out of government office since 1929 when his last post as Chancellor of the Exchequer ended, he maintained a network of intelligence sources throughout Europe, including Germany, who kept him as well informed on developments there as the British Prime Minister or Foreign Secretary. From them, he knew that in the last two months, Germany literally had become a gangster nation. The police made no effort to interfere with the SA, the 'Brownshirts' who served as the Nazi Party's private army. Scores were settled with impunity. Robberies, rapes, beatings and murders were commonplace. Their victims were Communists, Social Democrats, Jews and anyone else who had ever offended the brown-shirted Storm Troopers of the SA.

The violence against the Jews and Hitler's failure to rein it in were, in Churchill's opinion, his first two big mistakes. He had told Hanfstaengl last year to pass on this advice to his boss:

"Tell him from me that anti-Semitism may be a good starter, but it's a bad sticker."

Now, Churchill was planning to make Hitler pay. The Jews were key. In the short term, with a little luck, what Churchill knew to be a very weak German economy could collapse and with it the entire odious Nazi regime. If not, then in the long term, Germany's ability to re-arm and wage war would be dramatically weakened.

Churchill may have been out of power and out of influence, but he was not out of ideas. He had a multi-faceted plan for dealing with Hitler and the threat to the peace of Europe he posed. He hoped that the first, but not the last, step would be taken in a few moments.

"MR. CHURCHILL," MRS. P SAID, "Professor Einstein and Rabbi Silver are here. And Miss Johansson, of course."

"Thank you Mrs. P," Churchill said as he placed his drink down and walked forward to greet his three guests. "Please ask Inches to bring us a chilled bottle of Pol Roger and four flutes."

"Professor Einstein, Rabbi Silver," Churchill said, "I'm so pleased you both were able to join me today for luncheon. Have you met our other guest, Miss Johansson?" he asked as he shook their hands.

Ingrid Johansson was a statuesque blonde in her early 30s. She wore a dove gray business suit cut to flatter a figure that needed little flattery. She was the owner and publisher of Freedom House Press, an American book publisher specializing in pro-liberty, pro-democracy, anti-fascist and, most recently, anti-Nazi books. She had engaged Churchill to write the Introduction to an American edition of Adolf Hitler's autobiography, Mein Kampf. Churchill had agreed because it was to be heavily annotated with footnotes correcting all the book's many inaccuracies and downright lies.

Albert Einstein, a Nobel Prize winner and professor of physics at the Berlin Academy of Sciences, was a short man in his early 50s with bushy gray hair and a broad, black mustache. He offered a vivid contrast to the much taller man, several inches over six feet, who towered beside him — Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, the chief rabbi of The Temple in Cleveland, the largest Reform Jewish congregation in the United States. Silver was a vigorous 40 year old whose dark hair, graying at the temples, was swept straight back from his forehead. Both men wore dark vested suits, but Einstein's was rumpled and creased, looking for all the world as if he had slept in it. Silver's suit, in contrast, was immaculately tailored, the crease in its trousers sharp and precise.

"Yes, we have," Einstein replied in a high-pitched voice. "We were talking with her a moment ago about the two books her publishing company will be putting out later this year and early next year — the annotated Mein Kampf and Hitler's less than heroic service in the Great War."

"Indeed, we must thank you for bringing us together with such a bright and courageous young woman," Rabbi Silver said in a golden baritone voice that immediately reminded Churchill of his own mentor, the Irish-American statesman Bourke Cockran. "I have already placed my order for both of the books and I've promised to mention them favorably in one of my Sunday morning sermons to our congregation at The Temple in Cleveland. I also plan to send them to my rabbinical colleagues throughout the country." "And I thank you, Winston," Ingrid said as she greeted him with a kiss on the cheek, "for allowing me the honor of meeting two such distinguished gentlemen. I fear I am out of my league with a Nobel laureate and the man who has taken Bourke Cockran's place as America's greatest orator."

"Thank you for the compliment, Miss Johansson," Rabbi Silver said. "I had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Cockran speak on several occasions and it is an honor to be mentioned as one of his successors."

Churchill motioned for his guests to join him at the far end of the room where a chintz-covered sofa and two matching armchairs faced each other. As pre-arranged, he and Ingrid took the armchairs with their two guests facing them on the sofa.

"Cook says luncheon will be ready in 45 minutes," Churchill said. "She found some fresh 'Dover sole' this morning. I thought, in the interim, I would summarize my understanding of what each of you propose to do to weaken, if not bring to a swift end, the odious new regime in Germany."

Churchill's butler, Inches, arrived and he paused while the champagne was opened and each guest took a proffered flute. Churchill then raised his flute.

"To the early demise of Herr Hitler and his Brown-shirted thugs!" "To the demise of Hitler," the other three said in unison and leaned forward in their seats to touch Churchill's extended flute.

Churchill commenced a monologue that lasted for the next 30 minutes. He began with Ingrid's publishing schedule, the annotated Mein Kampf with a Churchill Introduction this year as well as Rear Area Pig next year, the untold story of Hitler's less than heroic wartime service where he had repeatedly refused battlefield promotions above corporal so that he could remain a headquarters runner and not be sent to the front lines. Moreover, Churchill told them, Hitler's temporary blindness near the end of the war had not been caused by exposure to poison gas. Rather, it had been psychosomatic hysterical blindness for which he was treated in the hospital's psychiatric ward, not its ophthalmology ward.

Both men said they had never heard that about Hitler.

"It's true, all right," Ingrid said. "We have a certified photostat copy of Hitler's hospital records."

Churchill continued his monologue. Knowing Churchill's reputation as a friend of the Jews, Einstein had asked him to assist in getting Jewish scientists out of Germany and placed into comparable positions in Great Britain, something he had readily agreed to do. He explained he had already enlisted his friend Professor Frederick Lindemann, an Oxford scientist, to begin making plans to accomplish this.

"But, there is more to be done on that score, Professor Einstein," Churchill said, took a sip of champagne and continued. "Rabbi Silver has a weapon that, if properly used, may be just what we need to put an end to Hitler and the Nazis."

Churchill then recounted how Silver had been on holiday in Germany earlier in the year when Hitler became chancellor and observed first hand the unrestrained violence by the Brownshirts of the SA against Jews, the extent of which was mostly understated in American and other foreign newspapers and reported not at all in German papers. Once back in Cleveland, Silver helped create The League for Human Rights Against Nazism with a view to conducting a local boycott against German imported goods. To his surprise, 12,000 people attended a rally in Cleveland in support of such a boycott. More importantly, in many other major cities throughout America and Europe, there were similar spontaneous boycott rallies. Perhaps, Silver thought, they could be coordinated. He had come to England to seek Churchill's assistance for much the same reason Einstein had — his reputation as a friend of the Jewish people.

"THE DOVER SOLE WAS EXCELLENT, Mr. Churchill," Einstein said as the dessert course of poached pears was placed before them.

"Thank you, Professor," Churchill replied. "As one of my close friends once said, my tastes are simple. I am easily satisfied with the best."

The others chuckled. They sat around a circular table in Chartwell's dining room in pale armchairs upholstered with a flower print. Ingrid was at Churchill's right, Einstein to his left and Silver directly opposite. Located at the rear of the house, the dining room was light and airy with arched floor to ceiling windows, nine in all, on three sides, each window offering a view of the grounds and the landscape beyond.

"Professor, pray allow me," Churchill said, "to expand upon my earlier comments. Professor Lindemann will indeed be travelling to Germany in the near future to meet with those Jewish scientists whose names you furnished. But there is much more you can do. I want the names of all German scientists, engineers, mathematicians, musicians, artists, writers and actors — Jews and Gentiles alike — who have no sympathy for the Nazi regime and who might be persuaded to emigrate. I know you have close friends in all these areas that you can call upon to help. Plainly put, I want to drain Germany of its most talented people until the rest of the country comes to its senses and throws those gangsters out."

Einstein gave him a skeptical look. "It will be difficult to recruit anyone who is not a Jew unless you can promise them a comparable position outside Germany."

"I agree entirely," Churchill said. "I am not without influence in Great Britain myself to arrange these positions, but more importantly, America is a vastly larger country with many more positions than Great Britain can offer. Miss Johansson has many contacts who can assist in finding positions for any German émigrés. Moreover, my good friend William Randolph Hearst owns the largest newspaper, magazine, radio and motion picture empire in America and he has agreed to help as well. Does that answer your question?" Einstein nodded his great gray head affirmatively.

Churchill paused, took a sip of brandy, puffed briefly on his cigar, and continued before anyone could interrupt. "Rabbi Silver, I believe Miss Johansson has managed to obtain something you will find quite useful in ensuring the success of your boycott. Ingrid, if you would be so kind as to explain?"

Ingrid then recounted how she recenty received an overseas telephone call from a young Jew she had met in Germany last month. Benjamin Boldt was an incredibly fit, bull-like young man who had saved her life when assorted Nazis had been trying to keep her from leaving Germany with the manuscript and supporting documents for Rear Area Pig. Ben, who had read of the spontaneous anti-Nazi boycott rallies in the foreign press, had an idea. Based upon the experience he acquired working for his Gentile father, Erich, who was Germany's biggest black market gangster, Ben understood market economics and supply and demand as well as his father and better than any of the other gang members who worked for the Boldts.

Ben knew, instinctively, that an international boycott of German exports could never succeed unless the foreign customers for the German exports could be provided with an alternate source of supply at or below the cost of German exports. To do that, the alternate suppliers would have a distinct advantage if someone could furnish them with the customer lists and terms of sale being offered by the German exporters to their foreign customers. If he could locate and compile information of that type, he wanted to know if Ingrid could see that it ended up in the right hands, specifically, someone who could make good use of it.

"Why would this gangster contact you?" Silver asked.

Ingrid smiled. "Two reasons. First, I believe I'm the only American he knows very well. I mean, he knows my lawyer, but he's spent a lot more time with me than him."

"And the second reason?"

"Well, I'm fairly sure," Ingrid said as she blushed, "that Ben has a secret crush on me."

Silver and Einstein both laughed. "I can certainly see why," Silver said. "The lad obviously has good taste even if he is a gangster. So, has he managed to acquire all this commercially sensitive information?"

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "The Silver Mosaic"
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