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Chapter 8

A walk in time

It was time for my morning stroll. Maria had already begun her day by going to the lodge, making sure that the kids were running it in strict Von Trapp style, but with the friendliness of a small Austrian town. I, on the other hand, enjoyed these morning walks, not precisely a Wanderung or hike as you might call it, they just cleared my head for the day. For forty years, I had been able to forget about my former life in Austria, not that it was all that bad. I had lots of wonderful memories; it was just the ending that soured it. My Austria had changed so much from when I was a boy. My parents would take us to the coast, to watch the ships and feel the cool breeze off of the sea, before Austria lost its coastline.

JULIAN STRATENSCHULTE/AFP/Getty Images)

We enjoyed many beautiful summers there by the sea. My wife and I had a wonderful life before her death. I wasn’t always so stern. Life had toughened me up. The loss of my wife’s inheritance by me trying to help a banking friend and then having to find a governess to raise our seven children was a lot to handle. Pushing away the emotions of it all just seemed easier to do, rather than deal with the disappointments that life had handed to me.

There was a part of me that I hadn’t shared with my family, at least not my children. I had always hoped that I would take that secret with me to my grave. The family thought I had stayed with the Navy, and they were right, they just didn’t know what I was actually doing with the Navy. I had to find a way to support them. Maria and I added three more to our brood, for a total of 10 children. It took a lot of Schnitzels to keep them full! I knew that there were those who didn’t want me to leave Austria. I had secrets that they did not want me to share with others in the world, but I had to leave that life behind. Opening a lodge in Vermont and getting into the hospitality business was a far cry from my vocation in Osterreich. The lure of being handed our old home on a silver platter from the previous owners was very tempting. I had always wanted to visit, but to be able to live there was more than I could have ever hoped for.  von trapp home sepia mgm

Somehow, I wish I could travel back in time and change some of the decisions that I had made, but that wasn’t possible. As soon as that mental statement left my mind, I was instantly reminded of why Herman Richter and I were working on Xerum 525. It was Hitler’s fascination with things that were not quite reality. Die Glocke was basically a cyclotron, a way to make enriched Uranium 233. I did not want to be part of that research, but I didn’t have much of a choice at the time. Everything that I had knowledge of, I had kept to myself. I didn’t even know that Herman was still alive. The number of coincidences was now becoming evident that they were not coincidences at all. Someone wanted me back in Austria, but who?

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Read Chapter 1
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Read Chapter 5
Read Chapter 6
Read Chapter 7
Read Chapter 9

Chapter 7

You can’t unring a bell

“Let me know what you find out Larz,” Brigitta shouted from the top of the stairs as I headed out to the car. “You know, I will,” Larz replied as he closed the door and almost tripped over their golden retriever Max who wanted to play. “Sorry, Max, not today. I have some investigating to do.” Larz settled into his trusty Mercedes that had seen a good amount of miles. “This just doesn’t make sense. Why would the embassy and Rolf both contact us within two days of each other? Rolf had to know that Georg would find out about his involvement with the NPD.”

The traffic was heavy this morning on I-89, heading to  Burlington. The leaf peepers as we called them, were out in force, trying to experience the beautiful colors of the changing leaves in New England. I had to admit that the brush strokes that God used to paint the forests with, crimson red, golden orange, and bright yellow hues were pretty breathtaking, even if I had seen it every year for the past 40 years.
fall leaves in Vermont with car on road
I finally reached the city and headed into the parking garage to find my designated parking space. Parking garages were essential in the city during the cold Vermont winters. As I got out of the car, I noticed that my boss Bob Adler was just pulling into his parking space, a couple of spaces down from me as well. As I headed to the elevator, he called out to me, “Hey Larz, glad we arrived at the same time, I wanted to chat with you a bit about this whole property settlement with your father in laws old home in Austria. I have been thinking about this whole thing over the weekend and did a little digging. You know that Austria lost their coastline after World War 1 and the captain wasn’t needed to sail a sub with their being no need for a Navy. “I know, he has told us that he missed being on a submarine, that he had always been fascinated with them,” Larz replied. “Right, but did he ever tell you what he did after that?” Adler said with a slight grin. “No, he said that his first wife died shortly after that and that the family had to sing to help earn money after the Austrian bank went belly up with most of his deceased wife’s inheritance,” Larz responded. “Have you ever heard of Die Glocke?” Adler asked.  German bell“No I haven’t,  and my German isn’t too good. It sounds like The Clock. Am I close?” I said.  “You are close, but don’t feel bad, I didn’t know either. It’s like Glockenspiel, you know, a bell. It means The Bell.” Adler admitted. “Great, now that we have had our German lesson for the day and we are almost at our floor, what does all of this mean Bob?” I inquired. “Well, your father in law had a background in physics and was offered a chance to help a young physicist, Herman Richter develops Xerum 525, a code name for something called red mercury. Georg had no idea what it was for or why he just knew that he needed income for his family. Of course, this was before the war. Scientists are always looking to advance their fields of study. Georg agreed, and he and his fellow physicist made a good amount of progress developing the stuff. Supposedly the substance allowed for some pretty far out claims. Even though Germany which needed naval commanders told Georg that they wanted him to command a U boat, my friend within the intelligence community said that the Nazi’s probably wanted to commandeer him to work with the rest of the scientists that were coerced to work on Hitler’s secret projects.” Adler said as the elevator doors opened up. “I’ll get with you later in the day to tell you what their old home in Austria has to do with all of this,” he said as he walked down the hall to his office.

I couldn’t believe that he was just going to leave me there wondering. What the heck was Die Glocke, and what did it have to do with inheriting a house? I walked into my office just as the phone began to ring. It was Brigitta. “Hi Larz, I just got off the phone with my dad. He said that he had just been contacted by an old friend, Herman Richter. Does that name ring a bell?” she asked.  I stared at the phone speechless.

Miss something? Start at the beginning of the story.
Read Chapter 1
Read Chapter 2
Read Chapter 3
Read Chapter 4
Read Chapter 5
Read Chapter 6
Read Chapter 8