Dangerous Territory

BY : Rhov
Category: +. to F > Attack on Titan /Shingeki No Kyojin
Dragon prints: 2537
Disclaimer: I do not own “Shingeki no Kyojin” and do not make money from this fanfic.

Chapter 10

Overlord

 

It was the sixth of June, and nothing seemed different about this day compared to the day before. Eren looked at a calendar his group had been using in their cozy house. A Tuesday. He had never liked Tuesdays for some reason.

Armin walked up to him drinking some muckefuck coffee. "There's a lot of chatter on the radio. Sounds like something happened on the coast."

"There's always something happening somewhere in this world," Eren muttered to himself. "You're probably right, though. The captain called for a meeting of the officers."

Armin handed over a cup. "Drink up, then. Who knows how long the meeting will go!"

Eren nodded in thanks and took a deep drink of the muckefuck. "I never thanked you for helping out that one time with the Jew."

Armin held up his hand. "There's nothing to thank. I did what I wanted to do." He began to lift his own coffee mug but paused. "May I speak freely, Herr Leutnant?"

"If you think I shouldn't care so much about the Jews, I've heard enough on this matter from everyone else," he said in annoyance, not forgetting being reprimanded by Jean Kirschtein, of all people.

"No," he whispered. "Do you … ever…" He looked around the room sharply and listened, but there was a card game going on in another room that had everyone's attention. "…pity them?"

Eren jolted and looked down at the small soldier.

"I mean, I know what I was taught and all, but … have you ever seen a Jew from Israel? Like, one born there, a true Native Jewish man?"

"I doubt it. I've seen a few Black men, but I never saw an actual Jew at all until the war began."

"I met one once. He had been born in Nazareth, just like Jesus."

"Jesus was born in Bethlehem."

"Right. Well, raised in Nazareth. Anyway, that man and these Jews, they look nothing alike. I often wondered about that when I was taught in school about the Jewish race. European Jews and Palestinian Jews … it's like they're not the same race at all. So then I have to wonder, what are these European Jews? Where did they come from? Do they really even have the same religious beliefs, or is it like Protestants and Catholics, little differences? If we're supposed to see the Jewish Race as inferior, does that mean Jews from the Middle East, or Jews who have lived in Europe for centuries? What if they are pure Aryan, but their ancestors converted to that religion a hundred years ago? How can a religion make someone racially inferior? And in the end, aren't we all sons and daughters of Adam and Eve? Even if some evolved quicker, we're all the same at our roots, and if some evolved more, that means Adam and Eve weren't fully evolved, they were not truly perfect, which goes against the Bible. God made Adam and Eve perfect, which means all who descended from them have that divine perfection as a starting point. I don't know," he sighed. "I just can't accept it, and I know I never will, no matter how loudly you yell at me. God created animals, and then he created humans. Abraham, Isaac, and Israel all descended from Adam and Eve, so Jews are definitely humans. Just because God created one person with black skin, one with yellow skin, one with white skin, we're all still human. Jews were God's chosen people, they descend straight back to Noah and Adam, maybe more directly related than Aryans or anyone. Jesus was a Jew, and there's no way you can convince me that he was less superior to even the purest Aryan. So how … how are Jews subhuman? How was Jesus, the Son of God, a subhuman Jew? Or for that matter—"

Eren placed his hand on Armin's shoulder. "Enough," he whispered. "I don't think you're wrong, but speaking of this aloud is dangerous."

"Do you think I'm right, then?"

He thought about Levi's words. "I've spent my life preparing to be a soldier, studying about war, not about science or biology. You have a brilliant mind, Armin, far smarter than I'll ever be. I think if someone can disprove what German scientists have been saying, it's you. But later. We're at war, and there are friends and enemies in a war. If we make friends with our enemies, we end up being traitors."

His voice stayed quiet. "I don't think the Jews should be our enemies. I think treating them like slaves is wrong. Killing them just for believing a different religion is wrong."

"Then it's a good thing we soldiers only have to kill British and American soldiers, and not Jews."

"We're still expected to."

"I will never ask you to shoot a Jew, Armin. I promise." He began to turn to the door.

"Would you?" he shouted out, but the small soldier cringed back as those sharp, teal eyes gazed down in surprise. "Kill one, I mean."

Warily, he answered, "If I was ordered to."

"But if it wasn't an order, and you just found one. If you had been alone that day and found those Jews hiding there, if Jean wasn't right there with you, if you weren't pressured by anything else and could have made the call alone, would you have shot them, or simply let them escape?"

Eren held back on answering, although he already knew the truth. If it had been just him, if Jean had not followed him into the house, if he had opened that closet door, saw the huddled group, and had the choice to look the other way, pretend he saw no one, and call the house as empty…

He could not answer out loud, but the answer was clear in the regret darkening his eyes. He silently pulled on his cap and marched out the door, leaving Armin with a tiny smile as he realized that this war had not yet thrashed the humanity out of Eren.

Armin's question rang through his ears. If it had just been him that day, he would have protected Levi's group, if possible. At the very least, he would have let them continue hiding. Maybe they could have escaped on their own during the night, a quick dash into the forest under the cover of darkness. The Belgian border was not that far away. Levi probably could have kept them alive in the woods.

However, if he had been alone that day, if Levi's group could have escaped, he never would have gotten to know the tiny Jewish man. He would have continued blindly believing all he had been taught. Now, he was starting to question everything.

"Jäger!"

Eren paused and saw Reiner trotting up to him. "Guten morgen, Untersturmführer Braun. Congratulations on the new platoon."

"Guten morgen. I'm glad we finally got new recruits, what with all the bombings of the rail lines. Shame none speak French. I bet you can't wait to shoot that damn Jew."

Eren's jaw tightened. Reiner was often called the ideal Aryan, and Eren saw why. Not just his blond hair, light blue eyes, and bullish build, but even his way of thinking was a perfect model of Nazi education.

"Do you know what this meeting is about?" Eren asked instead.

"I've heard rumors. It seems Americans have landed in France."

Eren jolted. "What? Americans? Aren't they busy fighting the Japanese?"

Reiner scowled. "That's what I thought too. Then again, they use everyone they can in their military: Negroes, Latinos, Orientals the Natives. I bet they even let Jews and fags fight! Maybe they sent all of their fags to Europe to fight us. If that's the case, they should be easy to defeat, and we can slaughter them all without any sort of guilty conscience."

Eren chuckled awkwardly and wished any other officer besides Reiner was there to talk with him.

In the captain's office, the officers gathered. After some bread was passed around and wine was served, Kitz Woermann began his speech.

As Reiner had said, the Allies were on the move. Not only had they wormed their way up Italy and forced Rome to surrender, but at 6:30 that morning, a massive invasion began on the Normandy coast. British, American, and Canadian troops were at that very moment pushing over the sand and trying to secure a beachhead to begin what was sure to be a massive invasion of the continent.

"This is where things stand as of half an hour ago," the captain ended, his wild eyes bulging out with indignation. "I've been asked to send reinforcements. Braun!"

"Jawohl!" Reiner shouted stiffly.

"Your SS troops are ready, correct?"

"They are green but they are eager, Herr Hauptmann."

"This will be their first taste of battle. You and Schmidt are to head for Normandy. You leave this afternoon."

"What of the rest of us, Herr Hauptmann?" asked Eren. He had hoped to fight some British to put all the moral dilemma out of his mind, but Americans or Canadians would be good substitutes.

"Until further ordered, we are to keep this location secure. This town is still tied to the French Resistance. With this attempt by the enemy, it's possible the French civilians will grow bold. Therefore, we are to secure the town and be on the watch for partisans." He clasped Eren on the shoulder. "I know you're eager to fight the British, Jäger, being the hunter you are. You'll have your chance, but hopefully not anytime soon. Braun will push these bastards back over the channel."

Eren nodded firmly. "If it's Reiner Braun, they don't stand a chance. He alone could probably defeat an entire battalion of tommies."

"You hear that, Braun?" laughed Kitz. "We expect you to shove those American and British bastards back over the water."

The bullish man grinned at Eren. "I'll send you the Webley of the first tommy officer I kill."

Eren smirked back at him. "I bet you couldn't tell the difference between a yank and a tommy."

Reiner gave a laconic shrug. "There is one?"

The group laughed in agreement.

Reiner exclaimed over the laughs, "If they speak English and they love Jews, that's more than enough reason to kill a person. What flag is on their uniform doesn't matter."

Eren's laugh began to fall softer. He looked down at his own uniform. He spoke English … and as for Jews … well, one certain Jew…

"There will be another meeting at 0900 tomorrow. Tell your men to be on alert. We may be getting new orders at any time. Dismissed!"

Eren stepped out and patted Reiner on the shoulder as they separated. He wondered if he would ever see the huge man again.

He took a detour to the town's castle and down to the dungeons. The Jew named Moses was just finishing with changing Levi's bandages protecting his flogged back.

"You look like shit," Levi greeted Eren flatly.

"I bring news. You might like it."

"Paris is liberated?" he guessed mockingly.

"Not yet, but a coalition of British, American, and Canadian forces have landed in Normandy."

Levi's eyebrows shot up. "Vont-ils libérer la France?" Are they going to free France?

Moses grabbed Levi's arm. "L'armée?" The army?

"Les Américains, les Canadiens, et les Britanniques." The Americans, the Canadians, and the British.

"Merveilleux! C'est une très bonne nouvelle." Wonderful! This is very good news.

Levi stroked his chin, trying not to show how much hope this gave him. Then he looked up to Eren in concern. "Is the army leaving this town?"

Eren shook his head. "Two platoons only for reinforcements."

"That's good," he sighed. "Then we might live a little longer."

Eren jolted. "What? I figured you'd want us gone from this town."

"I want you gone from my country," he shouted. "However, as the German army pulls away from this town, do you really think a group of Jews will be allowed to escape and wander about Europe however we like? We'll either be shipped off to a concentration camp or—more than likely, since you'll be in a rush to leave—we'll simply be rounded up and shot before you drive down the road."

Eren had not thought about what would happen to the Jews if the army left. He had figured they would be treated as French civilians and simply left alone. Levi was right, though. They were still Jews, and that made them enemies.

"Armin," he muttered.

Moses and Levi had been talking quietly in French, but they paused when Eren spoke. "What was that?"

"The soldier who was with me to stitch you up, Armin Arlelt. If … If you ever have problems and I'm not around, he's sympathetic to Jews. I wouldn't go so far as to expect the two of us to break all of you out of here—although with his brilliant mind, he'd probably think of a way—but … if there's trouble in the days to come—"

"We'll handle it on our own," Levi cut in. "If we start to rely on Germans, those kind enough to give a shit will be discovered and punished. No, we'll handle trouble on our own."

"But just in case," Eren cut in. "If you need to get me, or even just to send a message to me … I may be in more meetings from now on. Armin can help you."

Levi hesitated, but he finally gave a stiff nod. "I will tell the others to trust him."

Eren sighed with a grin. At least these people now had two sets of friendly hands amidst all the fists that would rather beat them. "I should go now. I still need to tell my men about Normandy. Be safe, and lie low for a few days. Nerves are on edge."

Levi nodded in understanding and watched the soldier leave back up the stairs.

Moses scratched his head. "He came all this way just to tell you that France could be liberated soon?"

"And another possible friendly German. The boy who stitched my wounds, Armin Arlelt. Let others know he is friendly to Jews."

Moses sighed. "I don't get him. Is he a traitor to the Germans or not?"

"He's a conscientious soldier, rare these days. He'll fight enemies of his homeland, but he'll also decide whom to consider as friend or foe."

Moses clasped him on the shoulder. "Baruch Hashem, he considers you to be a friend."

Levi dropped his eyes and muttered, "Oui … Baruch Hashem." Thank the Lord.

The risks, the bathing, the medicine, even the fake coffee … was this how Eren wanted to make friends? He had told Eren so many times, he was an enemy. All Nazis were enemies. So why did he feel so happy to see the young German? Why did he know so strongly that he could trust this man?

Eren's question echoed again in his ears. Why did he care?

Were they friends, or enemies?

* * *

That afternoon, Eren and his group shook hands with Reiner and Bertholdt as two platoons of SS soldiers headed off to the Normandy coast to reinforce troops meant to stop the invasion. Although they had not actually fought together, Eren still considered Reiner to be a battle buddy, or at least an old classmate one meets up with again in adulthood. It was sad to see them roll off in a convoy of trucks.

Jean watched as the convoy kicked up dust on the French road. "I'm not sure if I should say they're so lucky or thank God it's them and not us."

Connie nodded in agreement. "I, for one, am glad to be keeping the peace here rather than heading back to the front lines."

Armin looked relieved. "I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels that way."

Franz looked over to Eren. "What do you think, Jäger?"

Jean barked out a laugh. "Eren will probably be sulking for the next few days because he doesn't get to fight."

Eren watched the group fading off to a speck with only dust in the air to mark their passing. "I won't be sulking, but you're right. I would rather be in a battle where I know who my enemies are."

"What confuses you here?" asked Connie. "If they're civilians and going about their business, you leave them alone. If they're acting suspicious, you question them. If they're with the Resistance, you bring them in."

"And if they're Jewish, you shoot them," Franz added with a blasé shrug.

"That's my point, though," said Eren. "You can't know at a glance who is friend or foe. Out there, the uniform will tell you whom to shoot and whom to defend. I prefer knowing for certain. One army pitted against another, as warfare should be."

"You just want to kill British," Jean laughed, slapping his back. "Come on, let's go drink our comrades off to victory. With any luck, that beanpole and bull will be back with us soon, and we'll get to hear Reiner sing again."

"Oh, that was amazing," Armin agreed wholeheartedly as their group turned to go.

"We could always have Eren sing," Connie teased, smacking the lieutenant's cap off from behind.

"Hey!" Eren shouted, dipping down to pick up his cap. "For that, you get to procure the alcohol."

"There's not enough beer in this country," Connie whined. "It's all wine, wine, wine!"

Their group laughed as they headed back, optimistic that their friends would take care of the invasion.

# # #

# #

#

June 6th was the beginning of Operation Overlord … D-Day. To cue members of the French Resistance, the BBC played Chanson d'automne, Autumn Song, by Paul Verlaine. Different parts of the famous poem were clues to when precisely the invasion was coming. "Les sanglots longs / Des violons / De l'automne" meant the Allies would attack in two weeks, depending on the weather. The next three lines "Blessent mon cœur / D'une langueur / Monotone" told the French Resistance that they have 48 hours, and to begin attacks on railways and other key targets, in order to cut off German supplies to the northwest beaches.

Reiner uses racist terminology that were common in the 1940s and highly inappropriate today. I tried to write this story thinking about how people back then talked. I know people 70+ years old who still call anyone from Southeast Asia "Orientals."

"a yank and a tommy" – slang for American and British.

War Trophies It was common in WWII for soldiers to take the guns of fallen enemies. The German Luger was especially popular with Allies, since they usually were issued to officers and higher ranked people. (And they were really good quality weapons.) Germans, meanwhile, wanted to snag a British Webley or American Colt M1911.

What does the D in D-Day mean? It's a simple question with no straight answer. Just days after the landing, Time Magazine said the D meant "Day," and it went along with the H in H-Hour meaning Hour, so rather redundantly, they claimed that D-Day meant "Day-Day." Years after the war, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, and now President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower claimed it means Departed Day, since it was the day they departed from England. Neither of these fit into military parlance, though. During WWII, there was an R-Day, Registration Day, when all men ages 21-35 had to register for the draft. Leading up to Operation Overlord, there was an M-Day, Mobilization Day, when the army began to mobilize and take shape. So one would think D-Day had a real meaning, and not simply Day-Day. Usually, it meant Disembarkation Day. Disembarkation means to go ashore from a ship, so an amphibious landing, like at Normandy. There were MULTIPLE "D-Days" throughout World War II. Any time troops disembarked from a ship to the shore, the planned day of the landing was referred to as "D-Day." So it's probably a safe bet to believe the actual military parlance, not the media and not an aging general who had a lot on his mind as President. Plus you all get a new vocabulary word: disembarkation!

Just a reminder, I have a new novel, "Dodatrad Heiress," the second book in my medieval fantasy series. Links to vendors are on my website: http://shadowstrider.net



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