Thursday, July 14, 2022

Leutnant Bär

Schütze Matthias Scheidel burst into the headquarters office, out of breath and near panic, "Herr Unteroffizier! Becker is dead! We found him down by the harbor!"

Two things immediately occurred to Schülze. First, Becker had been on sentry duty down by the warehouse where the villagers kept their fish oil, spare nets, and various other necessities for a small size fishing fleet. Second, had Scheidel left Becker's body unattended?

"Is there anyone with the body?" he barked at Scheidel.

"Jawohl Herr Unteroffizier! Schütze Heitz is there, Richard, er I mean, Schütze Heitz ordered me to report to the Leutnant. Where is he?"

As Schülze donned his greatcoat, strapped on his ammo pouches and reached for his rifle and helmet he said, "The Herr Leutnant isn't available right now. You stay here and man the office, tell anyone who asks that I'm down at the docks. Only that and nothing else, understood?"

"But Herr Unteroffizier ..."

"NOTHING ELSE!!" Schülze roared. The last thing he needed was a panic within the small garrison. Gott sei dank¹ that the lieutenant was too hungover to be on duty, he thought.

As he approached the harbor, he could see Schülze Heitz standing near what had to be Becker's body. As he walked onto the dock Heitz started to speak, Schülze gestured at him to be quiet. He noted blood and other matter on the piling near where Becker's body was, his first thought was that somehow Becker had fallen and struck his head on the piling. But how?

It was still bitter cold out, cloudy with intermittent flurries passing through. He looked around and saw what he was looking for, a patch of ice. But something seemed off, he had to think about it for a minute. Perhaps ...

"What is going on Schülze? Why did Scheidel get me out of bed on this shitty morning?"

Schülze turned, it was Leutnant Bär. Damn it!

"Herr Leutnant ..." Schülze began, then paused, at the same time resolving that Scheidel could expect extra duties for the rest of his natural life, he had deliberately disobeyed orders by leaving his assigned post to notify the lieutenant, whose quarters were a block away from the headquarters.

Collecting himself, Schülze began again, "Herr Leutnant, from all appearances Schütze Becker slipped on a patch of ice, then hit his head on this piling, dying as a result of that blow. Whether immediately or some time thereafter, I don't know, I haven't had a chance to examine the body yet. But the circumstances are a little suspicious, to me at any rate."

Bär was well aware of Schülze's previous experience as a police detective in Berlin, but he himself had been a senior police official in Potsdam. Though his position had been more political than investigative, he felt that he knew a thing or two about police work.

"This looks pretty straightforward to me, Unteroffizier, a cold night, icy conditions, the man was bundled up and not paying attention. He slipped, he fell and bashed his head, now he's dead. What's suspicious about that?" Bär managed to sound even more arrogant than usual when he said that.

Schülze took a deep breath, "Herr Leutnant, normally when people slip on ice, they fall backwards. Becker should have hit the back of his head, not his face."

"Perhaps he tried to regain his balance and he twisted around and fell face first." Bär made it sound like the most logical explanation, implying that Schülze was wasting his time.

Schülze knelt down next to the corpse, which was face down on the dock. He looked it over for a few long minutes before he pointed at the collar of Becker's greatcoat. "Perhaps you can explain the footprint on the back of his neck, Herr Leutnant?"

Bär leaned over the body, there was indeed a mark which could be interpreted as a footprint, but it could also be a measure of the late Becker's own slovenliness. "Perhaps Becker dropped his greatcoat on the floor and stepped on it himself? It's a smudge of grease Schülze, it's not like we've got a smoking gun pointing to foul play."

"This needs to be reported to Oslo, Sir." Schülze could tell that Bär didn't want to bother with this, he wanted to write it off as an accident.

"No, Becker was careless. Becker died because he was careless. Write it up that way." Bär started to go, then stopped, turning back to Schülze.

"And Unteroffizier, that's an order. Understood?"


"I asked if you understood."

"Yes sir, I understand."

As Bär headed back up to the village, Schülze resolved to call in a favor. He suspected foul play in Becker's death, whether from the villagers or from Allied commandos he wasn't sure. Reports were starting to come in from up and down the coast that the British were landing small teams in Norway to cause mischief.

There was also the matter of the fish oil, Becker had been guarding the town's supply of that item, then he winds up dead. This smacked of something beyond coincidence. He would have to report this in such a way that Bär wouldn't suspect him. He didn't have the people to investigate this himself, Bär would notice. The man was so damned lazy, Schülze growled under his breath.

He would go to Oslo and talk to the nephew of his old boss, the Police President of Berlin. Johann Streicher owed him a favor, he would know what to do, and his uncle still had enough pull to make things happen.

He looked down at Becker, then looked over at Heitz, who had been standing there the entire time. "Richard, go get a couple of the boys and some of the townspeople to take poor Becker here up to the Apothecary. Enke Otness will understand, understood?"

"Jawohl Herr Unteroffizier. Do you think this could be the work of partisans?" Heitz said, nodding at the body.

"Keep that to yourself boy. But yes, it could be, tell the lads to stay especially alert, their lives just might depend upon it."

As Heitz walked up to the village, Schülze sighed. He had seen many dead bodies over his career, he had a sixth sense when it came to foul play. Becker's death was no accident, he felt it in his bones.

¹ Thank God (German)


  1. The game is afoot Herr Unteroffizier!

  2. Schulte is a good cop, and, I think, probably a good man, despite his uniform.

    1. A lot of good men have worn the wrong uniform over the centuries. Place and time and where one was born, no escaping that.

  3. Guard duty can be one of the most boring times, right up until it isn't.
    The story continues & it's a good one!

    1. For some reason your comment went straight to spam, while a bunch of actual spam comments made it through. Not one of Google's finest hours there.

      Guard duty, been there, done that. What you say is oh so true!

  4. Streicher, Johann Streicher? Hmm. not a relative of Julius (Der Stürmer) Streicher, was he? guess the name's just a coincidence.

    1. Streicher is not that uncommon a name, no relation. Not sure why that name popped into my head.

  5. Leutnants know everything.....
    Good work, Muse, and her scribe.
    John Blackshoe.

  6. A good one, once again, Sarge! And a bit of mystery along the way, at least for the Unteroffizier....
    --Tennessee Budd

  7. A WW II Mystery! You should totally write this!

    I have met people like Leutnant Bär. They are at best a hindrance and at worst, useless.

  8. Schülze may feel it in his bones, but Becker sure felt it in his face…


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

NOTE: Comments on posts over 5 days old go into moderation, automatically.