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Having Fun! / Re: Favorite Disney Movie
« on: July 14, 2020, 11:18:45 PM »
Snow White was my childhood crush.

Having Fun! / Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« on: December 29, 2018, 01:09:45 AM »
I know there is debate regarding alleged discrepancies in Lacher's testimony and his exact whereabouts during the execution, but from the Whites' point of view, if they knew he was a member of the guard and he was inside the house at the time of the murders, they probably wouldn't have examined the evidence against him with a magnifying glass.  After all, in real life, Letyomin and Starkov didn't take part but they were still executed by the Whites.

I also read on wiki that when Arkhangelsky was chair of ROVS he favored a pro-German policy.

Having Fun! / Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« on: December 18, 2018, 01:01:49 PM »
Thanks, Tim.

Having Fun! / Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« on: December 18, 2018, 12:10:35 AM »
Yep, and this is the end.  All good things must come to an end.  Looking back, I would change a few things in earlier chapters.  Thanks to all who advised and contributed.  If anyone else wants to start submitting their own revisions the way James was doing for a bit, feel free.

Having Fun! / Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« on: December 16, 2018, 06:37:59 PM »
According to my measurements, Steinach is about 240 miles from Vienna as the crow flies, but I measured the actual driving route as being about 300 miles.  It's possible I made a mistake.

Having Fun! / Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« on: December 16, 2018, 06:06:01 PM »
Both of them knew the deceased. Back in 1934, the two of them, in previous posts as officers at Intelligence Service headquarters in Hsinking, Manchukuo had erased his name from the Intelligence Service hit list. The removal had gone through all the proper channels. Samuil Muratov, the head of the Intelligence Service at the time, had approved the move. Yet someone had put Lacher back on the list and then led a covert operation to kill him on German soil. That someone was none other than Aleksei Smirnov—a brilliant tactician and professional, who had excelled at every post he held along the chain of command, and who had the ear and the confidence of every chairman he worked under.
   Early in 1938, Smirnov called a former protégé, the current head of Novgorod, to a short meeting. He asked him to check which of the Bolsheviks involved in the murder of the Romanovs were still alive. Smirnov was old-school, one of those who refused to close the book on Yekaterinburg. As far as he was concerned, the White movement had painted a well-deserved target on the faces of everyone involved in the planning or the execution of the massacre. They would all pay with their lives; when and where was of no consequence. Intelligence Service combatants were charged with carrying out the assassination orders, which had been passed down from Admiral Kolchak to each successive Supremer Ruler and chairman.
   Smirnov believed in the White movement’s responsibility to its members—he believed in the necessity of fulfilling this order not just because he saw it as moral and just, but because he knew that no one else would carry it out in his place. He would do all in his power to see the mission through.   
   A few months after the assassination, Smirnov was officially invited to meet the newly appointed head of the Gestapo. Forgoing pleasantries, the German intelligence officer fired his opening volley: “We know you killed Lacher. We’re still working on the proof. When it comes through, you’ll get what’s coming to you. In no way am I willing to allow you to turn the Reich into your stage for acts of war and assassinations. I will not allow it to happen,” he said, pounding his fist on the table.
   Smirnov was impassive. “Point taken,” he said coolly, running his hand through his thinning, slicked-back hair, and then sipping from a coffee he’d been served earlier. Smirnov knew there was no chance the Nazis would find anything that would tie the ROVS to the assassination. The mission had gone without a hitch. Without a flicker of emotion he bid his colleague farewell, and left the office of the chief of the Gestapo.

   Decision makers and heads of intelligence services the world over will vehemently deny succumbing to revenge’s ancient allure, with its biblical demand for an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.  Usually, “revenge” is not spoken of openly. Different, softer words are used, words that people can live with; phrases like “closing the circle.”
   In the case of Rudolf Lacher, revenge was served cold, twenty years after the crime. Lacher joined a list of more than a dozen people killed by the Whites in the wake of the murder of the Romanov family.  Lacher, the last of them, closed the circle.

Having Fun! / Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« on: December 16, 2018, 06:04:41 PM »
A half-dozen combatants, two cars, and two motorcycles comprised the surveillance team. Throughout, none of the operation’s planners at Novgorod had any idea where Lacher would stay. Would he choose the apartment of a friend, or a hotel room?  Now they knew where they had to act.  Lacher was followed from his first moments in what had been the Austrian capital until the Anschluss eight months earlier.  A spear team, as Novgorod’s assassination squads were known, had been waiting for Lacher in the hotel lobby.  They had tailed him up to his room and waited while he unpacked, showered, and dressed for the evening.  The surveillance was so heavy Lacher realized he was being watched. He contacted an acquaintance within German intelligence and requested protection. Lacher was told there would be none available until the next morning.  He was on his own. 
   The Whites waited in ambush outside the hotel.  They assumed Lacher would go out for dinner. When he returned, tired and contented, they would act. The late hours of the night, when the streets are quiet and empty, were always best for covert operations. The final decision would be in the hands of the two assassins, “Peter” and “George.” The point man, Peter, would pull the trigger. Up until the last instant, he would have the authority to call off the operation: he would raise his weapon only when certain that his team would emerge unscathed.

   Rudolf Lacher was a target because he was the last surviving participant in the murder of the Romanov family, in 1918.  Even though it was twenty years after the Yekaterinburg massacre, the Russian All-Military Union had a long memory.  Aleksei Smirnov wanted him to pay the price for participating in the killings—he was determined to avenge the Romanovs, and anyone connected to the murders was, in his mind, a legitimate target.  Still, it was an odd distraction.  At this point, the NKVD had mounted numerous successful operations against the ROVS. Europe had seen a series of crises—the Anschluss, the carve-up of Czechoslovakia, the violence against Jews on Kristallnacht. The ROVS had far more pressing intelligence needs than killing people for atrocities they had been involved in two decades earlier. Nonetheless, ROVS chair Aleksei Arkhangelsky, who had himself led Operation Shimmering Light in Saratov back in 1919 to kill three of the regicides, re-endorsed the kill order for Lacher and gave the mission his blessing.  The ROVS was on the verge of closing its case against another one of the “bastards,” as they were known in the Intelligence Service, who took part in the murder of the Romanovs.
   Lacher did go out to dinner.  The Novgorod surveillance team shadowed him, undetected, the whole time.  Lacher and an unidentified Hungarian woman spent a pleasant night at the nearby Schweizerhaus beer garden.  It was after midnight when Lacher picked up the tab and returned to the Opel.  He sat in the front seat while his friend drove.  They had a very loud, animated conversation in German. A short drive brought them to the entrance of the Nordbahn. The Praterstraße was quiet; few cars passed by.
   Lacher got out and said goodby to his friend.  He took one step back, preparing to move in the direction of the hotel. A few seconds later, two “European-looking” young men in black open-collared shirts, striped blazers, and black casual trousers approached him.  Their walk was loose, casual. Peter, the point man, raised his hand and pulled the trigger while George kept guard.  The Browning 7.65mm issued its shots in silence, the retorts muzzled by a silencer. The five bullets hit Lacher in the head. He fell on the spot, next to his friend’s car, his final inhalation a gurgle. The hot cartridges were caught, along with the clues they held, in a small, sturdy cloth bag attached to the pistol. Within seconds, the assassin and his backup were rapidly retreating down the street, disappearing into the night. 
   “Sasha,” the commander of the squad, waited for them near the corner, 260 yards away.  He watched them cross to the other side of Rotensterngasse and, from the other side of the street, at a more casual pace, watched their backs. This standard procedure was meant to thwart a mishap during the escape phase of a mission—a highly unlikely scenario, since it takes bystanders many long seconds, if not minutes, to realize that an assassination has just taken place. Nonetheless, the possibility couldn’t be ignored. Within twenty seconds the point man and his number two were at the corner of a one-way street.  According to Intelligence Service procedure, the getaway car would always wait two 90-degree turns from the scene of an operation. The pair made a left onto Weintraubengasse, where the waiting car had kept its motor running.
   Sasha suddenly noticed two figures coming after his men. They were breathing heavily and speaking animatedly. This was a fast-approaching threat; they needed to be stopped. They could not be allowed to turn the corner and see the escape vehicle, or, even worse, commit the license plate to memory. Sasha started toward them, his quick pace authoritative and threatening. When he was within fifteen feet of the pair he pulled out his Browning. Holding it in front of their faces, he shouted: “Stop!” The weapon froze them in their tracks. They put their hands in the air, stumbled backward, turned around, and broke into a run in the direction of the hotel. Sasha pocketed his gun and walked down Rotensterngasse. He watched his men turn left onto the narrow street and got into a second car waiting for him. He checked his watch: fifty-five seconds had elapsed since the first shot was fired. He smiled to himself. The account was squared; the mission, a success. He pushed a button, sending confirmation to the commander of Novgorod. In less than two hours, the point man, his number two, the squad leader, the commander of Novgorod, his staff officers, and Aleksei Smirnov, had all left German soil.


   Major General Dmitry Kriuchkov, Chairman Aleksei Arkhangelsky’s military aide, lay awake in bed waiting for the red, top secret telephone to ring. He picked it up quickly and heard a familiar voice say, “Dmitry, it went according to plan.” He recognized “Sergei,” Aleksei Smirnov’s chief of staff, on the other end of the line.
   “Thanks, I’ll pass it on.”
   Kriuchkov sat up in bed and dialed Arkhangelsky’s number. The chairman picked up on the first ring. “Your High Excellency, I just got word from Smirnov’s office, the Vienna affair went smoothly.”
   “Thank you,” Arkhangelsky said, and hung up.
   Kriuchkov put down the phone.  Arkhangelsky, he thought, had nerves of steel. He and Smirnov were two of a kind. Kriuchkov went back to sleep thinking about how Die Presse’s headline might read the next morning.
   Officers at the Intelligence Service’s Berlin station were shocked.  “Aleksandr,” a high-ranking officer in Novgorod, hurried up the stairs to see “Ivan,” his superior. 
   “Didn’t we take this guy off the list?” Aleksandr asked.
   “We took him off. I don’t know what’s going on.” Ivan shrugged.

Having Fun! / Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« on: December 16, 2018, 12:30:15 AM »
November 28, 1938

   The red Opel P4 with the dented front bumper hurtled down Reichstrasse 12 on its way to Vienna.  The driver was alone in the vehicle. He stopped twice, to buy food from a vending machine and gas from a pump. Five hours later, his surveillance tail almost lost him in the swirling rush-hour traffic of a Vienna afternoon.  On Czerningasse the trackers watched the P4 with the Austrian license plates, IL- 686Y, make a sudden left  turn. The driver of the surveillance car floored the accelerator and caught a glimpse of the Opel as it crossed through an archway into a carpark.  A quick look at the sign by the entrance explained the unexpected move: the carpark belonged to the Hotel Nordbahn, an old, quiet, quality establishment in the heart of the Leopoldstadt district, with eighty-one rooms and suites.  The visitor walked back through arch, turned right onto Mayergasse, and walked around the block to the hotel entrance on Praterstraße.  He registered, paid cash, and went straight up to room 36 with a small suitcase in his hand.
   The hotel guest was Rudolf Lacher, a mustached, handsome forty-five-year-old Austrian who had driven from his home in the small town of Steinach am Brenner, where he had been living a quiet bourgeois existence.  He had stayed at the Nordbahn before and favored it.
   Lacher was drained from the drive—he had covered the three-hundred-mile journey in four hours flat.  He made plans to go out to dinner.  He showered and got dressed.
   Aleksei Smirnov, the head of the Russian All-Military Union’s Intelligence Service, received a brief message in the operation’s war room, located in a safe house in the Margareten district of Vienna: “He’s in the Nordbahn.  We’re getting ready.”   Smirnov leaned back in his chair. The operation was in high gear.  Smirnov, in his early fifties, had run the Intelligence Service for the past three years, and was well acquainted with undercover operations. He had served for six years as commander of the Intelligence Service’s Novgorod unit, which was charged with special operations and with running undercover Intelligence Service combatants in enemy territory. He was in Vienna on a borrowed identity: a different name was on the passport in the pocket of his striped blazer.  None of his peers in the Gestapo, or any other branch of the Nazi intelligence services, knew he was in the country. His gut told him the mission would go well. He had complete confidence in the professionalism of Novgorod’s combatants.
   Andrei K, Novgorod’s intelligence collection officer, placed the thirty-by-forty-centimeter pictures of the facade of the Hotel Nordbahn on a table in another room in the Intelligence Service safe house. The new pictures had been shot from a variety of angles and included the streets surrounding the hotel. The surveillance team had taken them as soon as Lacher checked in.  The operational plans, drawn up in advance by Novgorod officers, took a number of hotels into consideration, primarily the Hotel Imperial, an elegant hotel situated on the Ringstraße—but not the Nordbahn. Lacher’s unexpected choice forced them to revise their plans accordingly. The work was done quickly and efficiently. In less than an hour a new plan was brought before Smirnov. Time was tight, and Smirnov, never garrulous under even the most relaxed circumstances, kept it brief. He asked Novgorod’s commander and the head of the assassination squad a few questions about the operation. He honed a few key points, and then, satisfied, approved the mission.
   The surveillance team had followed Lacher for three days.  Indeed, it was the Intelligence Service who had caused Lacher to come to Vienna in the first place.  Steinach had a population of about two thousand, so assassinating Lacher there was out of the question; the presence of outsiders in a small town would be noticed in the aftermath of a murder.  That had been one of the lessons of the Gus-Khrustalny affair.  Therefore a plan was needed to lure Lacher to a big city where strangers would be less conspicuous. 
   Lacher’s most precious possession was his Opel.  There was only one mechanic in Steinach, and he was not a specialty mechanic.  It was therefore that four days previously, a large car had made its way into Steinach during the night and deliberately sideswiped the Opel as it lay parked outside Lacher’s home.  The collision severely dented the front bumper and created a crack in the grille.  The next morning, Lacher had taken the car to the local mechanic, who had informed him there was no choice but to replace the entire front bumper.  This would have to be done by a specialized garage, and the Steinach mechanic recommended a place in Vienna.  So Lacher made an appointment with the Vienna garage and sprinted there two days later, with the surveillance team on his tail.

Having Fun! / Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« on: December 14, 2018, 01:59:21 PM »
Ok, apologies for the long hiatus, but RL is finally easing up and I've started writing again, so expect something soon.

Having Fun! / Re: Yurovsky brought to today?
« on: December 09, 2018, 08:52:34 PM »
I think Yurovsky and all the other Bolsheviks would be less dismayed about how the Romanovs are viewed then they would about the fall of the Soviet Union in general.

Having Fun! / Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« on: December 08, 2018, 03:38:31 PM »
Probably I'll start writing again after next week.

Also it describes Riza Kuli Mirza as a "Caucasian Muslim"; he was actually a prince of the Qajar dynasty.

The Russian Revolution / Re: Kerensky Hero or Villlian of the Revolution
« on: November 12, 2018, 03:38:49 PM »
Paul Johnson once asked Kerensky in a BBC TV interview why he did not have Lenin shot.  Kerensky replied, "I did not consider him important."

An addition to the errata: on the map, the capital of Sweden is labeled thus: Christiania (Stockholm).  This was the old name for Oslo, not Stockholm.

Having Fun! / Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« on: October 13, 2018, 12:02:40 PM »
Things have gotten quite hectic of late, so unfortunately I probably won't start posting the last chapter until the holidays.  Apologies

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