Big Bertha

Big Bertha
Circa 1940, on the streets of Rochester New York, Bertha does her work.
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Monday, November 09, 2009

Is This The End For Little Willy?

"Your abdication has become necessary to save Germany from civil war and to fulfill your mission as a peace making emperor to the end...
The great majority of the people believe you to be responsible for the present situation. The belief is false, but there it is."


Willy's
cousin Prince Max, in a phone conversation taking place during the earlier, gentler stages of the push for Willy to step down.
November 8, 1918.

The tough old bird to the left is neither Willy nor his cousin. That would be the lovely and talented Paul Von Hindenburg, the last one to get the oportunity to persuade Willy.
Willy was in Belgium at the time, in the city of Spa and, although delusional to the end he did recognize that Germany was getting their pants pulled down on the front.
The near anarchy back home he dismissed as amounting to "...a few hundred Jews and a thousand workmen."
His belief was that, after this ugly, armistice business was settled, he'd gather his loyal troops and lead them home to restore order.
So, they hauled in the big guns.
The lot fell to his loyal old general, Hindenburg.
The next morning (91 years ago today) he and Ludendorf's replacement General Groening showed up at the Kaiser's hotel.
In tears, Hindenburg let Groener tactfully tell Willy that he was out of options.
The home front is in revolt and the front is collapsing.

Willy: "I shall remain at Spa, and lead my troops back to Germany."

Groener: "Sire, you no longer have an army for it no longer stands behind you.

Hindenburg added that he, personally couldn't vouch for the loyalty of the men under him either.
The light started to come on in Willy's melon.
He told them that, if they could prove that he could no longer command his army, then he'd abdicate.
Twenty-four senior officers were summoned and asked if their troops would follow the Kaiser home.
With one lone "yes-man" dissenting, twenty-three said "no".
In the end, it didn't matter that Willy had finally made up his mind.
His cousin in Berlin, panicking at the thought of a rebellion, had already announced that the Kaiser was stepping down.
Now, loyal old Hindenburg got to lead Willy by the hand on why it was not a good idea to sit in his hotel and wait until the British came to capture him.
Neutral Holland was only sixty miles away, he should go there.
He had to go there.

And so it came to pass, that on the morning of November 10, Willy and four cars full of entourage showed up at a Dutch border crossing.
The guard - and this must have absolutely made his week - examined the passports of everyone on each car - taking his time, being thorough - and he let no one through until one of Willy's aides finally managed to phone a Dutch official willing to let them in.
All the while - Willy had to wait in the car - for a long time.
Once over the border Willy was recognized even though he'd dressed in civvies which was not - with four cars worth of gold braid and medals accompanying - the most clever of disguises.
He was welcomed into the land that was to be his home for the rest of his life with greeting such as:
"Ah, Kamerad Kaputt!" and "Vive la France!"
Home at last.

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