Volume 4, Chapter 2
“Haha, this is too much. It suits you too well, haha!”
Lieutenant Colonel Harron was laughing so loudly, gasping for breath as he clenched his stomach.
“What’s so funny? We are not the same, yet you laugh at me? Hmph, General, you should at least stop Lieutenant Colonel Harron from continuing to mock me.”
Major Sanders, the commander of the 38th Reconnaissance Battalion, said angrily to Xu Jun.
Because of his outstanding performance during the French campaign, Sanders was promoted to Major. The two commanders had formed a deep friendship as the Reconnaissance Battalion reported directly to Harron’s 25th Panzer Regiment. But now he was wearing the Army uniform of a corporal.
“Haha, that’s ridiculous. Weren’t you once a corporal? Harron proudly showed off his new uniform to Sanders.
“Oh, come on. I really miss those days of being a second lieutenant. Those were some really carefree times. I was fearless, as if the whole world was under my feet. Haha, re-wearing this uniform makes me feel a lot younger.”
Both Harron and Muller perhaps spent too much time around those older officers. Both of them adapted to the strict and tense environment. Becoming the stereotyped experts of tank warfare. This was a rare chance for Harron to show his more cheerful side.
“Yeah, I remember back when I was a second lieutenant… Good times.” Muller said as he walked into the room. Also dressed in a second lieutenant uniform.
“Oh, Colonel Muller, are you nostalgic? Surely, you would fondly remember your days as a corporal. I’m sure you can experience some more sentimental memories if you switch your uniform with mine.”
Sanders cast a glance towards Xu Jun. However, the General was still feigning ignorance as Hans helped him put on his uniform.
“Step aside … Corporal Sanders. I became a Warrant Officer directly after graduating from the military academy. So, I did not have the experience of being a mere corporal. Muller smirked as he walked past Sanders.
“But, but I also started out as a warrant officer!”
“Now pay attention to your actions. You need to understand the General’s painstaking efforts.”
Colonel Dorgen walked in, but he was not addressing poor Sanders. Instead, Randolph that was following behind him. Dorgen was wearing a uniform of a Waffen SS lieutenant. Randolph was dressed similarly but with a helmet and an ordinary uniform.
“Well, I think I should explain why I’m having everyone dress the way they are.” Xu Jun finally turned around. Showing off his uniform of an Army captain.
“Hans, get the other officers here too. I will give you all a talk about the details of our holiday vacation.”
After a moment, the officers of the Cerberus Corps all crowded into the room. But instead of their usual uniforms, they all wore new ones. The mid-level officers soon became sergeants and others, low-level soldiers. The atmosphere was lively and filled with laughter as the officers joked with each other.
“Alright, everyone quiet down.”
Xu Jun waited a few moments before giving a quick cough. Silencing the entire room as all eyes became locked on him.
“I already said this on the plane. This holiday leave is my request to the Fuhrer. This was an opportunity for you all to spend it as you see fit. You officers could have returned home to your families. There is no obligation to spend it with me. And so, you are the group that volunteered to be with me. For that, I am very grateful. Especially Colonel Muller and Colonel Hans. I have been very moved by their dedication to be apart from their families to follow me here.”
“Do not say that, General. It is my responsibility as an adjutant to follow you anywhere you go.”
“Yes, it is my duty as deputy commander to follow you even in peacetime.”
“We came here voluntarily. Your safety can only be guaranteed if we came as well. You are the most valuable asset to Germany; any harm to you cannot be tolerated.”
“Yes, Lieutenant Siegel is right.”
“Yes, maybe we can learn something by following the General.” Those officers started to speak out.
“Since everyone has stated so, I feel relieved. As I said earlier, this time is very precious. Everyone has been tired fighting bloody battles on the front. Now that we have time to rest, of course, it cannot be wasted right?”
“Yes, General.” Everyone nodded in agreement.
“If we went to Berlin, we may very well enjoy ourselves. But we would also be surrounded by our admirers. I would not like my holiday to be spoiled by constant banquets with officials and politicians. So long as we stay in Germany, there will be no end to the harassment. Rather, it’s a bit embarrassed to say no to them. Especially, when you see the looks of admiration they have towards you…
As a result, I came up with this solution. I would disguise myself and come to this place away from Germany and have a peaceful break. And since you’ve decided to go with me on vacation, I certainly have to disguise you as well. Otherwise, if five colonels, five lieutenant colonels, and more than a dozen captains suddenly appeared on the streets of Warsaw, it would create a mess.
You also know how good the noses of the Gestapo are. My vacation cannot be allowed to be ruined by those guys. My current whereabouts are only known to the Fuhrer and the heads of the SS. Even Army high command has no idea where I went. We are currently in the Luftwaffe base near Warsaw. The base commander has been giving absolute orders to not reveal my arrival.
Now, we also need to pay attention to our new identities. We are lower-level regiment officers transferred from Germany for a holiday leave. The uniformed soldiers are to be our guards. We are affiliated with the 10th Corps of the Army. Wait a few minutes and I will give everyone a new set of identification documents. Once we leave the room, we can gather some weapons from the warehouse outside. Of course, in order to avoid unnecessary trouble, you have to bring your real documents as well. I’ve arranged with the best hotel in Warsaw. The luggage will soon be delivered from the Luftwaffe base. Do you have any questions?”
As soon as the officers heard Xu Jun’s words, they began to speak among each other. At least they seemed satisfied with their general’s intentions.
“Ah, long live the general.”
“It’s thoughtful how much the General planned this out. It looks like this vacation will be fun.”
“It’s like a masquerade, haha.”
“A vacation with another identity, sounds interesting. Thank you, General, for this opportunity.”
“Haha, Lance Corporal, you have to protect me well.”
“Pah, I’ll be sure to leave you open.”
“Major Ralph, get these two commanders out of here. They are simply a disgrace to the Army, haha.”
“God, I really miss the days of carrying rifles.”
“You really miss it? Then you can carry mine for me as well.”
“Quiet! Although you are on vacation, how dare you so presumptuous in front of the General? Do not forget, you are all still German officers, no matter your uniform. Too outrageous. Perhaps the General can tolerate such ruckus but I will not.” With Muller’s roar, the entire room descended into silence once more.
“Well, Colonel Muller, we are indeed out on vacation. No need to be so harsh on them. But you are not wrong. A German officer must restrain his behavior to strictly adhere to the military discipline at all times. Any act that does not represent your identity, it should not be displayed by you. Keep that in mind as the responsibilities and obligations of being a German officer.
But today’s actions were nothing much. Most of the junior officers here were recently promoted after the Battle of Arras. A month ago, you all were only non-commissioned officers. Your dedication and discipline perhaps have not had time to develop. So, for these past few days, I have been very lenient.
Since Colonel Mueller brought it up today, I will say a few words. For now, I can forgive the mistakes you made unintentionally. But, I will give you three months’ time. During these three months, you will go to your commander and learn from your superiors on how to become a true German officer. How else would you know the good qualities that an officer should display? After that time, I will select some of you for assessment. By that time, if anyone fails to become a qualified officer, there is not much hope for you left in the military. Understood?”
“Yes, General.” The low-level officers answered neatly and loudly.
“Now, I’ll give you each some identification. However, I specifically made those experts in the intelligence department create these overnight. They are complete documents but they are not archived in the Army records. Everyone will be giving one of these. No guy will be able to doubt the authenticity of these documents, haha.
Once everyone is ready, I will arrange for a good vehicle for everyone to use. We should drive to downtown Warsaw and find the best restaurant to celebrate the beginning of our vacation. To spend a whole month in Poland, it makes me very excited. Oh, one more thing. You would need to blend into our new identities. For example, you must start calling me Captain Reinhardt. Do you understand?”
The officers nodded and everyone took the new documents one by one as they exited the room.
“General, although you explained it to them like this, you should still have another motive for choosing this place.” When the junior officers walked out, Hans whispered to Xu Jun.
“I also think that you must have chosen this city for another purpose.” Muller agreed with Hans’s words. Dorgen and Randolph also nodded.
“Now that you have all seen through it, I’ll tell you. I thought of it for two days, but… who let me wield such power?” Xu Jun said, his words seemingly holding a cryptic meaning. But the four pairs of puzzled eyes were still showing great confusion. Continuing: “I chose Warsaw for a personal reason. I’m here for a secret task that must be done. Forgive me for not revealing anything more than that. However, besides the task, I really did want to take a good look at this famous city. The last time I came, I was too hasty. I didn’t have time to appreciate the Polish scenery. Also, don’t forget Hans. I’m a captain now, not general.”
“I see, sir. Is your job very confidential? If that is the case, we will refrain from asking. In fact, I also really wanted to take a good look at Warsaw. The last time I was here it was only for three days and then I was transferred away.”
“Colonel Muller, oh no. Second Lieutenant Muller, you’ve been here?”
“Yes, November of 1939. It was quite hot then. But now it’s not so bad.”
“Muller, no, Second Lieutenant Muller, I have reminded him three times to stop asking useless questions.” Dorgen shook his head.
“But sir, why would you need us to wear SS uniforms. Wouldn’t a mixed group of Army and SS officers be even more conspicuous? Also, why was I made into a soldier? Randolph blurted out.
“It’s very simple. Dorgen is the team leader and tour guide for our vacation visit. This city is run by the SS. I certainly want to be accompanied by two SS members. Oh, it’s already afternoon, we have not had lunch yet. Come on. Let’s see what food Warsaw has.”
Xu Jun stood up with a smile, then strode toward the door. Muller and the others quickly followed.
As they walked outside, the officers were already arranged into a row according to their new identity. The officers who were wearing infantry uniforms stood in a separate row, each carrying a rifle and the standard equipment. More than a dozen military cars were parked nearby.
“Now I order every two soldiers and two officers to get into a car. We are going to Warsaw for lunch.”
With Xu Jun’s order, the group hurried towards the cars. Xu Jun sat between Muller and Hans in a special limousine. This car is specifically used to receive important people while also not being too extravagant on the outside. Just arrived from Germany, never used before. Luckily, it also meant no one would recognize the car and its occupants.
Then the convoy exited the base and sped towards Warsaw’s downtown.