Edited first chapter
Black Shark Valley
The distant sound of thunder was heard for miles. But Sepp knew this was no ordinary thunder. This was the Ferghana valley. Thunder here meant trouble and bombs. The Americans were coming. Finally! Sepp Dietrich smiled. Well we have a small welcome planned for you guys, thought Sepp grinning at the irony of the situation. Having fought the Americans in 1944-45 and here again in 2010, life seemed to come in circles. Well it keeps things interesting, thought Sepp. Naturally he had to take sides against the Americans, NATO and the “New Germany” which he felt was a sellout.
A couple of weeks ago he had found himself lying naked in a dusty village, under the winter sun with Afghan villagers mixed with Taliban wondering what to make of him. Sepp had been revived with food and water, given some clothes, and for the next few days had been tended to by some Afghan elders. When he was strong enough, he had been taken to a small hut for interrogation. He would have been laughing at these Afghans had it not been for their weapons and his weak situation that he found himself in. These guys seemed to be serious about their weapons as their Kalashnikovs hung around their necks like ornaments.
Sepp answered the bearded honcho Ahmed, who had fired off a barrage of questions, with the truth. He had nothing to hide and so far the Afghan villagers had been quite good-natured with him. He told them that he was a German General and gave them his rank as Obergruppenführer Joseph Dietrich of the Waffen SS. The Taliban grew quite excited at the mention of a General! A German NATO General. In broken English Hamza, another heavyset Taliban, told Sepp that he was going to pay for his country’s crimes against the Afghan people and that they were going to make a video of him and send it to the World to see.
“What’s a video?” asked Sepp innocently. “Listen guys I’m German and against the British Empire. I know you guys fought the British. I’m with the Afghan people.” The Taliban laughed riotously, and pointed at him.
“Do you think we are fools? The Germans are with NATO and America. They come here to destroy Islam and the Afghan people. You are Crusaders, Christian pigs and sons of dogs. You are with the Zionist swine,” hissed Ahmed Qassim, the senior bearded honcho. He was a tall man with a slight British accent, a Commander of the Taliban but somehow sophisticated with his mannerisms and a thick long beard that reached his chest.
At this Sepp bristled. Not at the slander against his religion but at this outrage, that he, Obergruppenführer Dietrich working with the Zionists.
“Do you know what we have done, to Zionists in our lands? We have made our lands Zionist-free. Anyways enough of this, you are all obviously fighting a war I don’t understand, and there is a lot of confusion here,” said Sepp and stood up to his full height. He was thinking how true the term “the fog of War” was.
Even in his filthy state, dressed in Afghan rags, Dietrich considered to be one of the most brutal looking men in the Third Reich, exuded a power that few Generals possessed. An immediate bonding of soldiers to their commanders. Sepp personified the power to make men do his bidding. The Taliban numbering five armed men under Ahmed Qassim backed down. A man to be feared.
“Where am I? And what’s going on? To treat an officer of the German Reich like this!” roared Sepp sweeping his left arm grandly around the room, trying to take control of the situation. Ahmed with fluency in English was puzzled why this crazy man was behaving like this. This was no way for a prisoner to behave! Ahmed thought disapprovingly. Damn fools these Europeans, but this one took the cake. Still there was something about him that made almost everybody feel that they had a very important find. Let’s see where it goes, he thought.
“Ok we have a laptop. Power up the Wi-Fi Hamza and let’s see what this guy is really about. Google him!”
Sepp stared blankly at these peasants who seemed to know something more than him. He watched them pull out an oblong device and it sprang to life with numbers and a color screen.
Magic, felt Sepp.
“So please, again, can we have your rank and name. If you say who you are then it shall be here,” said Ahmed with a grim look on his face as he punched in the Sepp’s name in the Google search engine. A few hundred hits starting out with Wikipedia. Obergruppenführer Joseph Dietrich, born 1892 and disappeared in April 1945 fighting the Russians in Vienna. He was rumored to have been arrested by Himmler for Treason. But no one had found any evidence or signs of him since then. The Waffen SS had listed the General as MIA or missing in action, and later presumed dead.
“So we have a dead man! Wallah! What is this trick!” cried Ahmed. The photo matches. “This cannot be. We have a dead man with us.” Mohammed, a Taliban fighter nervously looked back and forth from the computer screen to Sepp.
“Astaghfirullah, it really is him!” he cried.
Sepp looked ashen. He staggered around the table like he had been shot and looked at the computer date. “February, 2010”. I’m a dead man; Sepp realized for the first time, he was most likely dead. He saw his photo; yes there it was he had a grand one taken when he was in Poland. It showed him in full uniform and it had been taken 70 years ago. This could not be. But as he looked around the room that he was in, the reality of the present began to sink into him.
He felt cold and beads of sweat broke out on his forehead. His heart felt like someone was squeezing it like a lemon and he felt the juice drip out of him. He felt small. He felt fear after a long time. Fear of his mortality. But this was wrong; he was defending the city of Vienna with the Leibstandarte, his beloved Leibstandarte whom he had lovingly created! So finally this is what death felt like. Maybe he had died in his sleep. Maybe a Russian artillery shell took him out or maybe a Russian katyusha rocket. He could not remember! Sepp smashed his fist onto the wooden table, making the crude table tremble.
“Where am I?” shouted Sepp wildly. “Am I dead?” Is this heaven or hell?” At this Ahmed smiled.
“You are not dead. This is not hell, this is worse than hell. You are in Afghanistan!”
“I think he is CIA or something. Let’s shoot him now. He’s dangerous,” cried Mohammad weakly, at 16 feeling the rush of the situation overwhelm him. Sepp tried to say something, but no words.
“He looks too commanding to be a punk spy. They would not take such trouble on the internet websites and leave their spy lying naked in a ditch. We don’t really have a reputation for being kind to our enemies. Something is up,” mused Ahmed. “Men treat this man like our guest till we find out more. He is our “Mehman”. Allah has sent us a guest and he expects us to be honorable. Men we are Muslims. All four of you will be his companions. Yallah!” ordered Ahmed Qassim who had felt the situation ascend into the paranormal. “Keep up your guard and watch for anything funny. These are strange times indeed! Give him some clothes, black turban but first let him bathe. He smells.” said Ahmed. “Your nickname used to be Sepp and that’s what we are going to call you.”
Sepp looked distracted, death that he had meted out so often and so casually had seemed to have caught up with him. He did not believe in God or the fairy tales but something quite trans-physical had happened to him.
Sepp was dreaming. His wife in the South. He could see her clearly. A beautiful woman, his second after his earlier divorce. They loved living in the Bavarian South. Beautiful location with nature and green hills. Some of his happiest times were there. Then another dream flashed by. It was Vienna, 1945. The Russians were coming.
“Hold at all costs,” ordered Adolf Hitler. “This is our second national capital and I want the Leibstandarte to defend it to the last man!”
The Russians were coming at full steam with a million soldiers, 2000 tanks and unlimited artillery. Against this armada, Sepp had the 1st SS Leibstandarte “Adolf Hitler” Panzer division with 12,000 men and about 100 serviceable tanks of mostly the Mark 4 variety with a few of the newer Panthers. A death sentence for the division that he had so proudly built over the years, Sepp had thought at that time.
The Soviets came with almost a million katyushas whizzing into Vienna. Their terrible screams, till they smashed into buildings, roads, bridges or anything that stood in their way. A lot of Vienna, old historic Vienna was destroyed but Der Führer was greatly angered at the “light” German casualties. The fighting was severe but the city was lost. The Waffen SS fought hard but against overwhelming odds. Hitler wanted retribution against the Leibstandarte for not fighting well enough, but Sepp had prevented that with his authority that he had with Hitler. The battle was still not over at the western suburbs where Sepp had made his final stand. Near the “Ostbahnhoff”, the Soviets came in with the 155mm gun “Stalin” tanks. They plastered the area with a thousand shells an hour. That was the last thing he remembered. Then he had woken up in Afghanistan!
Death, death so familiar. He felt dead! Where were his men? His valiant Waffen SS Kamaraden. Where were they? Maybe those nightmares that he was having now in the Afghan village. Those dark figures in the night, so real. Could they be his dead men? Those animal sounds they made as they shuffled slowly in the dark, almost as if in despair.
It had been a week that he had been in these idyllic surroundings. Afghan village children playing in the snow covered plains of Northern Afghanistan and the snowy hills of this valley were as beautiful as he had seen in Europe. The people, a light skinned Semitic Islamic people with their hooked noses were a friendly lot if you came to them in peace.
Good for them that they weren’t in Europe back then in his time. Those dragnets. The Racial commissions. The millions herded away never to be heard of again, Sepp thought. He was not proud of the Allegemeine SS. Sepp had helped create the Waffen SS a strict paramilitary organization along with Himmler. The Waffen SS had a distinguished record as political elite shock troops, known for soldiering and not butchery! Well atleast most of the time.
He turned his thoughts to the Afghans again and he felt he was not averse to them. The women were covered, tucked away but the children were free and beautiful with their brown hair and lovely blue green eyes of which he saw quite a few. The men were a hardy muscular lot and they looked quite good at being soldiers.
In the one week gone by, apart from analyzing the people, Sepp had also been reading up on that strange magical looking typewriter called the “Kamputar”, that was how the Afghan accent pronounced the Computer. A new god called “Google”. And what an oracle, it knew everything. Even his children and his most intimate life details till his disappearance. But then who was he? An impostor! A sham! Was this a nightmare, a dream? Was there a way out of here or not? Was this Purgatory? Was he in a Faustian nightmare? Had he made a pact with the devil? Sepp had done quite a few things to assume the devil was more part of his life than God.
He had read the Americans winning the Second World War, no surprises there, the Korean War, defeat in Vietnam, the Gulf war, 9/11, and now this ridiculous “GWOT” or the global war on terror. Wow, Sepp was like he lived through the “Great War”, “The Thousand Year Reich” and now this “Global War”. He knew when he smelt a fake. Hey, this sounded just like the Reichstag fire. And he was one of the few still alive who knew of Hitler’s Reichstag fire. The truth! How Hitler had seized unlimited power on the basis of that national threat. They had said the Communists were taking over!
Actually he played a bigger role than he cared to admit. He had planned the burning of the Reichstag and had the SS pin it on a Dutchman caught at the scene who was there at the wrong time and wrong place. The Dutchman was incarcerated and executed by the Gestapo at a later stage.
Then that infamous night in 1934. “The Night of the Long Knives”. The Purge. The thousands of SA and SS men who were shot that night. He had drawn the lists. “Dead Men tell no Tales”. He had ordered Ernst Roehm to be shot. He had ordered the pistol suicide option for Roehm. He had handpicked his most trusted SS men. And then after the deed most of them received promotions and their futures assured. For his role Hitler gave him his highest level of gratitude and trust.
He was so in with the SS that Hitler decided to entrust him with the “Waffen SS”. A unit of the SS but separate from the “Allegemeine SS” or the General SS. The Waffen SS was answerable only to Der Führer. Sepp lovingly created the Leibstandarte as Hitler’s premier bodyguard unit. The recruits were pure Aryan physical specimens. The myth of the SS man was born under Sepp’s gimlet eye.
Now Sepp the military man focused on the hopeless Afghan guerrilla units. They were fighting a war but disorganized. Sepp’s military brain was already analyzing the possibilities and he knew a way he could turn this situation to his benefit!
Only Sepp could have ever hoped to turn the Afghans into Waffen SS soldiers.
Over the next week Sepp had become closer to Ahmed with whom he thought he could do business with. The rest of them were simple country men, good foot soldiers. Hamza the fool, Mohammed the 16 year old tough guy, Hekmatyar the 45 year old veteran of many wars. Hekmatyar had fought the Soviets and fellow Afghans with similar ferocity and now he was a holy warrior again.
Sepp had been surprised to find that these very Afghan guerillas had defeated the Russians in a protracted murderous 15 yearlong guerrilla war. Amazing. His respect for the Afghans went up a few notches.
He had seen the Soviet military might on the internet. The MI-Hind gunships and the rockets that it carried. Impressive weapons. Then the Soviet Air force, MIGS and SUKHOIS, breathless achievements. Sepp had learnt the right things on the internet, had seen enough of modern weapons being used on the internet mostly on YouTube.
“YouTube” was like a second god. It had everything on it. Everything imaginable. What power technology had accumulated over time. What they could do. Sepp was seduced by technology and he began to view the Afghans and Muslims as Asiatics, averse to European and American progress. This had to change. The Asiatics had to become a viable techno-centric people if they were to be helped with anything. This was the only question but the Afghan ingenuity at bomb making and “gun-smithing” did confer them with a low level technical skill.
This had to be enhanced. Sepp in his mind knew his choice was made. America and Europe were supporters of Zionism. Israel an entire Zionist state modeled on the Nazi state with similar laws for the conquered peoples, namely the Palestinians. Sepp was most distressed with this world order and disgusted with Germany’s alignment with Israel. This is what “Der Führer” had feared and it had become a reality. International Zionism now dominated the World. Only the fellow Semites, the Islamic peoples stood in Israel’s way to world domination.
The Muslim people must not lose this war became an imperative in Sepp’s political mind. The current world situation boggled Sepp’s mind. The Führer had been a genius. He had foreseen these things that had come to pass. How could he ever have doubted his beloved Führer? In the last days of the war he had doubted the Führer. He felt ashamed and a hot wave of emotion came over him. For the first time he realized the Führer was dead! Adolf Hitler was dead! The suicide. His beloved leader for whom he would have given his life.
Sepp had gone into a week’s mourning and had the Taliban fire a 21 gun salute in Adolf Hitler’s memory with an internet photo printout in black and white sized at 10 by 5 inches. He had shouted “Sieg Heil” 3 times as tears sprang into his eyes. The only time he had ever cried as far as he could remember. So this is how it ends, he thought in the valley surrounded by the snowy Afghan mountains, with the bearded Islamic people in shawls with AK-47s pointed to the sky and a wretched fallen Sepp. Oh why am I not dead? Sepp thought mournfully.
Ahmad Qassim was amazed to see Sepp cry in the valley where everything looked beautiful and perfect in the evening chilly breeze. He had known of Hitler and understood Sepp’s attachment. But to the Afghans a grown man crying was deeply unsettling. Hamza, Mohammad, Hekmatyar and Amar had fired their weapons into the twilight sky and stared in amazement as Sepp stretched his right hand forward and shouted “Sieg Heil!” It didn’t sound like a religious war cry to them. On top of that he was crying.
“Relax men he is not from here,” said Ahmed. “That’s for sure. But he really isn’t from here or anywhere. He is a Djinn,” warned Mohammed. “He is a wicked spirit, a dreaded fire demon. A devil. We should kill him and thank God for his death.”
“Shut up Mohammed. He is here as an “Ansaar”, a Helper. He is here to win this war for us. He is an Angel from heaven. Only God could send a man like this,” counseled wise old Hekmatyar. “God will not forgive us for killing him. A gift he sent us and we killed him? Hellfire for us then!”
“Hekmatyar is right. We must let this play out. We are but slaves of destiny. Let’s see where this leads to. Have faith in what God ordains for us. Sepp is a good man. He grieves for his commander. But he should not cry as only God is the true Master and Commander of Man,” said Ahmed.
Amar, a Pakistani talib of 22 years from Lahore was not impressed. “Ok guys what are we doing? We are like his soldiers now. We have been here for 2 weeks with this white guy. I feel like his servant, more than his captor. He treats me like a dog. He is turning into our commander. Can’t you guys see what’s happening? Ahmed you are our designated Emir. What’s going on?”
“All I can say is if you knew anything about this guy, as I have seen on the Internet, then it will be an honor to serve under him,” said Ahmed grimly. “I’m actually hoping he stays and joins us. Becomes a fighter. He cannot die because he is already dead. What an asset to have. The Undead with us!”
At this the group huddled around in hushed silence. The wind grew colder in the meadow as the evening darkened into an Afghan night. Soon they would have a long journey through Northern Afghanistan into Tajikistan and then into the Ferghana valley in Uzbekistan which was going to be their new home.
“This is Zulu Bravo team. Come in,” crackled the radio. Sergeant Mike Anderson of the United States Marine Corps swung his legs off the desk and grabbed the headset. “This is Papa-Dog. Come in. Are you guys coming in or what? Zulu team was supposed to be here like yesterday. Today would be nice,” said Mike grinning. Boy he would be glad to see some company at forward base “Camp Delta” perched high up in Northern Tajikistan, overlooking the Ferghana Valley in Uzbekistan.
“Nate-dog about to pass out and Papa-dog needs R and R,” continued Mike.
Special Forces team Zulu was coming in for a clearing assignment of suspected Taliban activity in the mountains near the border of Tajikistan with Uzbekistan. “SOCOM” or United States Special Operations Command was in charge of this Green Beret operation
“The Ferghana valley”.
Special Forces Zulu team leader Colonel John Kilgore was bringing in two squads of 50 men in giant Chinooks. These guys were packing “High Ordinance”. As “SF” they were coming in with 70 lbs. of backpacking gear each, weapons being an assortment of the famous “SAW” or M-249 light machine guns mixed with the “FN SCAR-H 17s” or Special Forces Combat Assault Rifles modified with under barrel grenade launchers. Extra-large “Mags” with 7.62mm of 30 rounds each for the “SCARS” along with 3rd generation FLIR optics. Glock 36 as standard sidearm issue mixed in with Heckler and Koch “SOCOM” pistols. Claymore mines and C4 explosives packed in the transport cargo. “Destroy anything suspicious” had been the order given to Colonel Kilgore by SOCOM or Special Operations Command.
And by golly he was going to do just that, any Taliban there were going to get pawned, thought Kilgore grimly. This week was not going to be forgotten either by the Taliban or the Americans, Kilgore’s gut feeling told him. The Taliban were going down!
High up in the Choppers, Chinook pilot James Spoegel wondered when this flight mission would be over. This was unknown territory. No “Recon” or “Sat” images had been studied of the area. As far as the Army was concerned these rugged mountains and the Ferghana valley was “No man’s land”. Spoegel hated these desperate SOCOM flight missions and the trigger happy fools on board. It was all up to him to get their asses to the “LZ” or Landing Zone safely. Spoegel’s biggest fear was a punk assed Taliban fighter with an RPG. That sucker hits and we are toast, he thought. The RPGs were every NATO pilot’s worst nightmare. A Soviet designed simple Rocket Propelled Grenade which saturated Afghanistan. Many a Chopper had gone down this way.
Inside Spoegel’s chopper, Captain Angelino sat reading a porn magazine, one of those nameless faceless colorful rags that saturated all US army bases. Damn, I’d do her, he thought mechanically as he went from one feature to another. Pity he was stuck here chasing ragheads instead of boning some hot tail in NYC. His uncle had a restaurant in little Italy. Man there was some great talent he’d nailed there. If only he could be there with high class tourist babes rather than chasing mountain goats!
Fuck, he thought. There wasn’t even any R and R for thousands of miles. Damn Army brothels weren’t even allowed in Afghanistan. Though he’d managed to find a few closed doors, “no questions asked” houses in Kabul run by the Chinese. But no chance of some Afghan “tail”. Though he’d heard some of his buddies boasting of some great local talent that they had scored. Well next time in Kabul!
Angelino was second generation Italian. He was thin and wiry with dark hair and olive skin. At 5’11” with a decent build he was proud to serve his country as part of SOCOM or Special Operations Command. Man it had been a slog. Basic training and then SF selection had almost killed him. The Taliban were no match for his Sergeant who seemed more intent on killing him than keeping him alive, he thought. He had hated his Sergeant more than the Taliban. Somehow he had graduated.
But now he had made it and he was with his buddies. Cole, an African American packing a SAW or a light machine gun. That guy had some serious muscle but bald giving him a Hollywood bad-assed kind of look. Jeff was a 20 year old Southerner from Alpharetta, Georgia. A white boy. Angelino loved his southern drawl and made fun of him whenever he could.
“Hi yawl!” mimicked Angelino and Jeff scowled. This guy was “gettin’ on my tits”, thought Jeff. This was going to be a long ride.
Colonel Kilgore looked at his men. A decent bunch and he was happy to command them. This job was way below his paygrade, but Kilgore had insisted on this mission. His last field mission and he wanted in! Besides, it seemed pretty straight forward. There had been some excited Taliban chatter on the radio in the last few weeks. “Taliban planning something big. We go clean ’em out before they go critical,” reasoned the General Staff.
“Fine by me,” Kilgore had said to them. “Just get me my men and gear.”
Authorization and requisition had taken a week. Kilgore was disgusted. He wanted speed. The U.S army sometimes left him wondering if they were really in the business of fighting.