«The Afrika Reich 27/10/10 10:43 Page i The Afrika Reich HS134 - The Afrika Reich 27/10/10 10:43 Page ii HS134 - The Afrika Reich 27/10/10 10:43 Page ...»
HS134 - The Afrika Reich 27/10/10 10:43 Page i
The Afrika Reich
HS134 - The Afrika Reich 27/10/10 10:43 Page ii
HS134 - The Afrika Reich 27/10/10 10:43 Page iii
The Afrika Reich
HS134 - The Afrika Reich 27/10/10 10:43 Page iv
First published in Great Britain in 2011 by Hodder & Stoughton
An Hachette UK company
Copyright © Guy Saville 2011
The right of Guy Saville to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
All characters in this publication are fictitious or are historical figures whose words and actions are fictitious. Any other resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library.
Hardback ISBN 978 1 444 71064 9 Trade Paperback ISBN 978 1 444 71065 6 Map drawn by Martin Collins Typeset in Monotype Sabon by Ellipsis Books Limited, Glasgow Printed and bound in the UK by Clays Ltd, St Ives plc, Bungay, Suffolk Hodder & Stoughton policy is to use papers that are natural, renewable and recyclable products and made from wood grown in sustainable forests. The logging and manufacturing processes are expected to conform to the environmental regulations of the country of origin.
Hodder & Stoughton Ltd 338 Euston Road London NW1 3BH www.hodder.co.uk HS134 -The Afrika Reich 27/10/10 10:43 Page v HS134 - The Afrika Reich 27/10/10 10:43 Page vi HS134 - The Afrika Reich 27/10/10 10:43 Page vii
Burton hesitated, then got to his feet and followed. His jackboots pinched with every step.
Hochburg was already on the veranda. Above him hung a silent wind-chime. He spread his arms with a messianic sweep.
‘Magnificent, isn’t it?’ he declared in a baritone that sounded raw from cognac, even though Burton knew he was a teetotaller.
‘A thing of wonder!’ The official headquarters of the Schutzstaffel, the SS, may have been in Stanleystadt – but this was the real powerbase of Deutsch Kongo. Burton had arrived through the front entrance, past the cranes that were still erecting the imperial façade. The quadrangle below him was at the rear, the hidden part of Hochburg’s fiefdom, used for ceremonial occasions. No one but the SS were allowed here.
It was the size of a parade ground with several storeys of offices on all sides and, according to Ackerman, cellars that went as deep below as the floors above. Bureaucracy and torture: two pillars of Nazi Africa. There were guard towers on each of the corners; a patrol stalking the perimeter with a Doberman. Enough barbed wire for a concentration camp. But it was the ground that most caught Burton’s attention. Searchlights dived and soared over it. For a second he stood dumbfounded at the sheer scale of it. The sheer barbarity. His father would have wept at its sight.
Then his stomach curdled.
‘A wonder!’ repeated Hochburg. ‘You know, when the Reichsführer first saw it he clapped his hands in delight.’ ‘I heard that story,’ said Burton. ‘I also heard he filled two sick bags on the flight home.’ Hochburg stiffened slightly. ‘The man has a poor constitution;
we gave him a sumptuous dinner.’ Burton glanced at the square again, then turned his eye to the murk of the jungle beyond. Somewhere out there, concealed among the symphony of cicadas and tree frogs, were the rest of his men.
He imagined them: hearts jumpy but mouths set, faces thick
Burton’s fingers curled around the handle of the knife. Very slowly he withdrew it from the pouch, all the while keeping it out of sight.
Hochburg blinked, then leaned forward. Held out a grasping claw. ‘My diamonds, Sturmbannführer.’ He offered no threat, yet there was confusion in his eyes.
Burton spoke in English, his mother’s language; it seemed the most appropriate. ‘You have no idea who I am, do you?’ Hochburg’s brow creased as if he were unfamiliar with the tongue.
‘Do you?’ ‘Was?’ said Hochburg. ‘Ich habe nicht verstanden.’ What? I don’t understand.
In those restless nights before the mission Burton’s greatest anxiety was that Hochburg might recognise him. It was twenty years since they’d last seen each other but he feared that the boy he’d been would shine through his face. Throughout their whole meeting, however, even with their eyes boring into each other, there hadn’t been the slightest tremble of recognition.
Now something was creeping into Hochburg’s face. Realisation.
Alarm. Burton couldn’t decipher it. Hochburg glanced at the portrait of Hitler as if the Führer himself might offer a word of explanation.
Burton repeated his question, this time in German, revealed the knife as he spoke. The blade caught the lamplight for an instant – a blink of silver – then became dull again. ‘My name is Burton Cole. Burton Kohl. Does it mean anything to you?’ The faintest shake of the head. Another glimpse towards the Führer.
‘My father was Heinrich Kohl. My mother—’ even after all this time her name stumbled in his throat ‘—my mother, Eleanor.’ Still that blank look. Those empty brown eyes.
If the bastard had hawked their names and spat, if he had laughed, Burton would have relished it. But Hochburg’s indifference was complete. The lives of Burton’s parents meant no more to him than those pitiful, nameless skulls on the square outside.