Dangerous Territory

BY : Rhov
Category: +. to F > Attack on Titan /Shingeki No Kyojin
Dragon prints: 2485
Disclaimer: I do not own “Shingeki no Kyojin” and do not make money from this fanfic.

Chapter 2

Nazis Have Mothers Too


It was May 1944. Europe was scarred by years of war. For many, it felt like the fighting would never end. For four years, Germany had controlled France. Some French people accepted the change and the new government set up in Vichy rather than Paris.

Not all, though.

Lately, the French Resistance had been growing bolder, and military action was occasionally needed to stop these anti-fascists who fought the new government. Eren acknowledged the pride in these people—he certainly would have joined a movement if it was France who invaded Germany—but he had a duty to do, and that was to restore order. Germans were methodical, and such chaos would not be tolerated. Besides, he had hoped that after four years, these people would accept what he deemed were rather generous terms that Germany provided to France in their armistice.

Under the command of Captain Kitz Woermann, a company of Germans took over a small village in northern France where the Resistance rebels had congregated. It was only three platoons, barely a hundred men, yet Berlin had sent the captain to oversee the interrogation of any Resistance leaders they could capture alive.

Eren Jäger was in charge of one platoon. He was only nineteen, yet considered a military prodigy by many. He had bravely led his platoon through a brutal bombardment in Italy, where out-manned, out-gunned, and more than half of his men died. Yet thanks to his fierce fighting and unflinching command, they were not completely wiped out and held the beachhead for four months. France was supposed to be a retreat after the hellish nonstop fighting, yet here they were, guns in their hands and blood on their boots.

Eren's right-hand man was Jean Kirschtein, who held the rank of Unteroffizier. He was a lanky soldier whom Eren thought had a horse's face, reliable with innate leadership skills and a sixth sense that had saved them numerous times.

Armin Arlelt was small, scrawny, yet he had volunteered for the army, not drafted as many of the younger soldiers were. He was the strategist in their platoon, and he made up with brains what he lacked in brawn. His brilliant tactics in Italy helped him to rise to the rank of Obergefreiter after just a few months of service.

Connie Springer was young, small, and always sarcastic. When there was fighting to do, he was one of the best sharpshooters Eren had ever worked with.

Thomas Wagner came from a family who owned a restaurant in Berlin. With his love for cooking and ability to make something delicious on scant rations, he had become a bit of the mother in the group.

Franz Kefka was new to their platoon, a reliable soldier born in Czechoslovakia, which Germany annexed back in 1938. His family were Germans by heritage and gladly accepted Hitler's troops. Franz recalled having soldiers living in his home when he was a child. Urged by his father, he joined the Wehrmacht, leaving behind a sweetheart in the Sudetenland. This was his first post, and his friendliness led to him being immediately accepted among the veterans who had fought together in Italy.

After a two-week rest in Paris and new soldiers to replace what they lost in Italy, they were sent to this small, rustic village. After five days of bombardment and three days to thoroughly sweep the village and examine the ruins for evidence or survivors, they were told to remain there to dissuade further rebellion. The soldiers were happy to settle in among such rustic beauty, a welcome reprieve after endless travel and soul-aching weariness.

Eren managed to commandeer a two-story house with a full kitchen and not much bombing damage. One wall upstairs had a hole, but downstairs was intact. It was nice to get out of the sun and sleep on a real bed. The rest of his platoon were either in other houses left abandoned, or staying in a château that had been converted into a barracks.

Eren patrolled around the house, checking on his men. A group of the new recruits had come over to play cards. Connie rambled off jokes. Thomas busied himself in the kitchen cooking stew, humming happily at the chance to use real spices. Armin sat at a table pouring over a map (he always seemed to have maps) and Jean looked over with reserved interest as he polished his gun. Franz chewed on a pen as he wrote a letter. Eren paused by the soldat, and Franz quickly hid the note.

"Who is she?" he asked with a knowing smile. When a soldier hid a letter that quickly, it was not some message to friends or family back home.

"My girl, Hannah," he answered.

"That's a pretty name. Are you going to marry her?"

Franz blushed almost to burgundy. "We … We married in secret after I joined the Wehrmacht. She's pregnant now and finally had to tell her parents about the marriage."

"You're going to go home to a strong and healthy baby," Eren promised, clapping him on the back.

Thomas looked over fro the kitchen. "You're going to be a father, Franz?"

"Ah, y-yeah," he said bashfully.

"We should celebrate," declared Jean.

Eren chuckled and shook his head. "You take any excuse to get drunk on some French wine."

Jean could hardly disagree with that. "Sure, but I'd rather have a French woman."

Connie laughed loudly in agreement. "I'd even take a Jewish woman at this point."

Jean glared. "That's sick."

"What about you, Herr Leutnant?" asked Franz. "Do you have a girl back home?"

"Me?" Eren asked in amusement.

"Here we go again," Armin muttered with a chuckle.

Proudly, Eren declared, "Germany is my mother, my wife, and my lover. I need no other woman."

Jean confided to Franz, "He would say that to all the Paris girls who used to flirt with him when we were stationed there. And don't try telling him Germany is the Fatherland, not the Motherland. He's sticking to it like an idiot."

Eren let them be a little unruly this time. "Some men dedicate themselves to raising the next generation. That is a high honor and the duty of any good Aryan. Some prefer to dedicate themselves to fighting so that the next generation does not have to. I'd rather forgo the comforts of a wife and family if it means Germany is victorious."

"What about after the war?" asked Franz. "You could raise a family, a miniature army of little Jägers."

Jean burst out in a laugh at that. "A bunch of tiny Eren Jägers squeaking Heil Hitler! That's a terrifying thought. One is enough."

Eren shook his head. "There will always be fighting. When Germany conquers all of Europe, there will still be resistance, like this town. Partisans must be dealt with swiftly and effectively." He patted Franz's shoulder. "But you never know, right? Perhaps one day I'll fall in love, but lately there hasn't been much opportunity."

Jean leaned back with dreamy eyes. "I need a good woman."

Connie joshed, "Is your hand not enough?"

The group burst into laughter.

Eren was happy to see how their small platoon got along so well. They had all been through so much, seen deaths, buried comrades in mass trenches, and marched together, days of marching through snowy hills and summer heat. They were closer due to it all. Eren wanted to hope that things would never change, this camaraderie would last beyond the war, and one day they would be like those old men who sit around smoking pipes and musing idly about the old days. It was a nice dream, but he knew the chance of all of them surviving was slim. He had buried enough of his platoon to no longer think they were beyond the scythe of Death.

Jean's instincts made him look out the window. "Waffen-SS," he warned. "What are they doing here?"

Armin muttered, "I heard two platoons arrived this morning."

Franz scoffed and shook his head. "A little late for the fighting."

Two men in black uniforms came up to the door and knocked with a heavy hand. Eren opened it and burst into a grin.

"Reiner! It's been a while."

A tall blond stepped in. "Since Napola."

Everyone could see, he was the ideal Aryan, from his blond hair to his square chin and keen blue eyes. The lightning-like double-S runes on his collar showed he was part of the Schutzstaffel, the SS, the armed wing of the Nazi Party, racially pure and dedicated to Hitler and the Nazi ideals.

"Guys," he called out. "Untersturmführer Reiner Braun, former classmate of mine."

They politely nodded or saluted him.

Reiner looked around at the group. "Good to see you have your own platoon. Looks like you're missing a few."

Eren stiffened. "Italy was hard, but we fought harder."

"Same here. Eastern Front. I was shot three times, but it'll take more than that to stop me. Still, I got lucky. Half of my platoon was wiped out in the first week, the rest were sent home, some missing a limb or two. Only Bertholdt managed to leave that hellhole in one piece."

The other man with Reiner stepped in, and Eren had to raise his head to look up at him.

"Well, he's tall," Eren muttered.

"Bertholdt Hoover," the man introduced, shaking Eren's hand. "Untersturmführer Braun has praised your dedication to the Führer."

"That's the best compliment a German can get," Eren said dutifully. "I didn't think you would even remember me, Reiner."

"Who can forget a suicidal idiot like you? I still remember what you did on your last exam."

Eren rolled his eyes. "It worked, okay!"

"And you nearly got killed."

Jean let out a laugh. "Sounds like him. I want to hear this story."

"No," Eren said sternly.

Reiner gave Eren's shoulder a heavy pat. "A story for another time. You should have joined the Waffen-SS, Eren. You were one of the top students in Napola."

Eren's face grew pensive. "You know I wasn't allowed."

"Ah … do you mean that thing with your mother?"

Eren turned sharply away from that issue. "How would you like some stew. Thomas, do we have enough?"

"Smells good, but no thank you." Then his jovial face fell into solemnity. "I'm not here to reminisce. Hauptmann Woermann wishes to speak to you about the Jews."

Jean scoffed and focused back on polishing his gun. "Why did you rescue them? What are we going to do with people like that?"

"I must agree," Reiner stated. "It's pointless to defend a Jew's existence."

Bertholdt muttered, "They should be shot on sight."

"You don't have to shoot them," Jean countered. "There are camps where they work. I say we ship them there, make them useful for Germany."

Armin muttered to himself, "They work them to death in those camps."

Franz added in, "Better worked than shot."

Eren looked around at the group. "They are being put to work. Would you rather be the ones cleaning the latrines and scrubbing pots? We should be thankful Thomas is a good mother and can spice up the rations."

Thomas laughed from the kitchen. "I plan to take most of these herbs and spices before we move on."

Connie groaned and leaned against the couch. "I don't want to move on. I want to live here. France isn't so bad."

Reiner stoically replied, "France can fall into the ocean, for all I care. Germany is the only place to be called home."

"Agreed!" Eren said proudly. "But Germany will be much bigger once the war is over."

"Exactly," said Bertholdt. "The armistice is temporary. Once we deal with England, we simply abolish the Vichy Régime. What are they going to do, fight us?" he asked with a laugh. "Then France will be Germany. None of this French State silliness. Give them a few more years, the idea of a Resistance will die away, they'll all be forced to learn German, and they will fall in line."

"That would be nice," Jean said dreamily. "I'd like to actually talk to the girls I bed."

The others laughed in agreement.

"Personally," Armin said in a softer voice, "I wouldn't mind living in a village like this. Berlin was too crowded. The French hills are lovely in the spring."

Eren shook his head. "Always a dreamer, Armin. Well, better not keep the captain waiting. Reiner, we really must catch up over drinks."

"If you find beer, let me know. French wine does something to me. I'll escort you to where we've set up a command post. Men," he said to the others, "you're fortunate to have this man as your lieutenant. He's got the luck of the devil himself." Then he added with a smirk, "I almost pity you all."

Eren followed the two Waffen-SS soldiers through the streets of the small French commune. Horse-drawn carts full of supplies and military trucks gouged deep ruts in the muddy streets. The few vehicles their platoon had needed to be repaired. The mechanics would be busy in the following days.

Eren walked on, saluting some, being saluted by others, until he came to a small castle, not much more than a rustic château built next to a medieval watchtower. They had designated the building as the company's headquarters. There were gardens that were being ransacked for food, and the stables were now filled with the horses most of the infantry rode in on. Even damaged from the war, the building was impressive, with the affluence of the owner shown in a glittering chandellier and Baroque paintings hanging on the walls.

Inside, he saw a large table with a massive map that Armin would drool over. Eren glanced and saw markers for armies: German, British, American, Italian, Russian. He saw the movements of German troops, their aggressive push across Europe. At a nonverbal warning from Reiner, Eren moved away from the table and over to two guards in front of a large set of doors.

Reiner opened the doors and saluted the man inside. "I brought him."

"Good job, Untersturmführer Braun."

Eren marched in, saw Kitz Woermann, and immediately saluted. "Herr Hauptmann!"

"Jäger, thank you for coming."

Eren privately disliked this man. With his sunken, wild eyes, he looked constantly paranoid, and Kitz Woermann was known to be trigger-happy. There were rumors that he had even killed an officer at his last post. His gaunt eyes showed a man who had been at war for far too long, and if he survived, he would be permanently scarred in his soul from the horrors witnessed and atrocities committed.

Eren wondered if he would one day look like this.

"You mentioned using this thing as a translator," Kitz said, thumbing aside, "but it's useless."

Eren only then saw the tiny Jewish man. His eyes were opposite of the captain's: narrow and calculating, yet equally suspicious of all around him. Levi gave a look of not giving a shit, whereas Kitz Woermann looked ready to burst into flames at a wrong word.

Eren explained, "He speaks English, Herr Hauptmann. So do I. I can get him to translate for us."

"English!" Kitz boomed, and his eyes looked insane. "Why should I trust English words? How do you know if he's saying things right?"

"Even if it was directly from German to French, we would have to rely on him being honest in his translations. We can only use Gunther's German-to-French translation book so much."

Kitz slammed a finger down to a piece of paper so hard, Eren was honestly shocked he did not break a knuckle. "This! Tell the rat to translate this."

"Wie Sie wollen, Herr Hauptmann." As you wish, Captain. Eren approached and looked down at the paper sitting on the desk. He then looked over to Levi, and in English he asked, "Can you read this?"

Levi replied with an arrogant attitude, "Yes, I can read, thank you very much. I'm sure my teachers were rather proud to get some stupid Jew like me to read. Go to hell, you Nazi piece of shit."

Eren's hand snapped forward and grabbed the man by the collar, hoisting him up to his toes until his face cringed. He sternly commanded, "Read it, and tell it to me in English."

Kitz grinned at the roughness, and both Reiner and Bertholdt chuckled softly. Levi glared at the three of them, then up at Eren.

"Don't make me get rough," the young officer shouted. "Do it, or he really will kill you. Prove you're worth keeping alive."

Although he was shouting, Levi saw that Eren's eyes held no malice. He was warning him, but doing it in a way that played along with his role. With reluctance, Levi nodded. Eren released him, and the small man picked up the paper.

"It's a poem. Chanson d'automne, Autumn Song, by Paul Verlaine. It's quite famous in France."

"Recite it," ordered Eren.

In a deep, sonorous voice rich with the verbal erotica of the French language, Levi intoned the poem, hardly needing to look at the writing. It was a poem he had memorized as a boy in school.

Les sanglots longs
Des violons
De l'automne
Blessent mon cœur
D'une langueur

Tout suffocant
Et blême, quand
Sonne l'heure,
Je me souviens
Des jours anciens
Et je pleure;

Et je m'en vais
Au vent mauvais
Qui m'emporte
Deçà, delà,
Pareil à la
Feuille morte.

"I could translate it, but it's probably a code. The Resistance uses famous quotes and poems to communicate. The only person who knows what it means is the one with the key to break the code."

Eren thrust a piece of paper at Levi. "Write it in English, word for word to the best of your ability."

"The code is likely unique to the French language, not the meaning of the poem itself. Replace one letter for another, that sort of thing."

"Just do it," Eren barked.

With a scowl, Levi took a pen and hunched over to write. "A chair might be nice," he grumbled.

Eren pulled out his Luger and pointed it to Levi's head. "I don't think comfort should be your concern."

"Takhshet," Levi sneered in Yiddish, and he continued to write. After a long and tense few minutes, he was done. "There. The best I can do."

Eren read over the page. He then read it in German to the captain.

"A poem, huh? Is this truly what it says?" asked Kitz.

"You would need a loyal German fluent in French to answer that," Eren admitted, "however, I don't see why this Jew has any reason to lie. The code is likely unique to French. Translating it may be pointless, but I'd rather be thorough."

Kitz smiled proudly. "This is why you're an officer, Jäger."

"As for the translation's accuracy," the young soldier continued, "the words do seem to match up. I know these words, mon cœur, is the same as our mein Herz. My heart, in English, which is what he wrote. It seems accurate."

Kitz glared over at Levi. "I suppose this thing is useful after all. Make sure it's fed. There are more papers to translate. We also have a spy to interrogate, and we need someone who speaks French. Jäger!"


"When we need this thing, we will also need you. Exactly how good is your English?"

"It's like a second language, since many of their words come from our own."

"Yes, a language of mongrels, half-German and half-French," the captain said with a sneer. "I trust you to get this thing to translate swiftly and accurately." He smiled, and it was like a crocodile about to eat a child. "I've read the reports about you in Napola. You should have no problem getting this thing to cooperate."

Eren swallowed bitterly. "Jawohl, Herr Hauptmann," he said, but softer this time, his face filled with self-loathing.

"Escort the Jew back to its cell. Apparently this pathetic castle actually has a dungeon, and we're keeping them down there. An appropriate location for some rats. Make sure they understand that they are to work without complaint or the officers have permission to shoot them, or find other ways to entertain themselves, if they wish. Ah, maybe don't tell them that part," he added with a chuckle. "It would be fun to peg them off one by one."

The two others joined in with soft chortles, but Eren's face remained unmoved.

"I will inform them of what they need to know in order to obey." Eren turned to Levi and motioned for him to follow. Silently, they walked together, Eren's boots clopping over the wooden floors, while Levi's worn out soles shuffled along.

Once they were in the hallway, Levi asked, "What was that about?"

Eren shifted to English. "A test, and you just barely passed. You will work as a translator. Our last one was killed."

Levi sneered. "So I'm conscripted?"

"You're not that lucky," Eren said stoically. "Your group will most likely be treated like slaves."

"To hell with that!"

Eren glanced over to Levi with a pinched brow. "It's not ideal, but you get to live. For your sake, and for the sake of your comrades, you should obey orders swiftly in the future."

"I'm not a soldier," Levi said softly. "Not anymore, at least."

Eren raised an eyebrow in surprise. "You were?"

Levi gave a curt nod. "French Cameroon, 1928. Some religious prophet rose up, attacked traders and French posts. France fought the Kongo-Wara for three years. They needed someone to quell the insurrection swiftly and effectively. They sent me."

Eren chuckled softly. "Are you saying you were a strong fighter?"

"People thought so," Levi said, and his eyes drifted with old memories. "I can still fight."

"Your knife thrust earlier had strength behind it, but you hesitated."

"I realized there were two people in the room, not one," Levi explained in a quiet, distrustful voice, glaring around at the soldiers they passed. "If you had been alone, I would have slit your throat before you could scream. With two, I would have been shot, and my companions as well. I couldn't stop the strike in time, which is why you managed to disarm me. That's all there is to it."

"Is that so?" laughed Eren. "You speak as if you think you could beat me in a fight."

Levi looked up, and his eyes shined murderously. "If it was you and me, takhshet, and we had only knives or our own fists, you would be dead. I'm better with a blade than a gun."

Eren subconsciously brushed his fingers over his Luger and across the gun's trigger. "Well, you better not think of fighting here. The whole company is around you."

"I'm not stupid, takhshet."

Eren's brow tightened. What did that word mean? It did not sound like French. Yiddish? It sounded like an insult.

"I'll do as you order," Levi said, "but I ask for two things in return."

Warily, Eren asked, "What?"

"My book returned to me, and some cleaning supplies. That prison cell is filthy."

Eren could hardly help but laugh. Cleaning supplies? Really! "I'll see what I can do about soap and a scrub brush, but your book is safer with me than with you."

"You'd probably burn it," grumbled Levi.

"If it was in your cell, someone else almost certainly would burn it. So far, no one knows I have it. I can keep it in the bottom of my pack for now."

"For how long? If you're caught with it—"

"I'll tell them I'm keeping it as a threat to hold over you in order to get your obedience."

Levi's eyes narrowed. "That's not much of a lie."

"Oh? Is it that precious?"

"It was my mother's and is the last thing I own of hers. So yes, it's precious, more precious than anything else I have left in this life."

Eren looked over in surprise. His mother's holy book! "I see. Then I'll take care of it."

Levi sneered but also looked curious. "Why would you?"

"Because you'll want it back, so you'll do what I say." He kept his eyes focused ahead. "Also, I know what it's like to want to cling onto something belonging to your mother, only to have it all stripped away."

Levi glanced over, seeing a distant sadness in Eren's eyes. He scoffed and muttered, "I guess Nazis have mothers too."

"Not all of us," Eren said solemnly.

Levi's brow pinched. Motherless? This young man must have been through a lot before this war thrust him onto foreign soil.

Eren brought Levi through a wing of the castle and down some stairs to the dank chamber. As he saw the black mold on the walls and covered his nose against the reek of rot and human waste, Eren thought to himself that, if Levi wanted to clean this place, he would need more than just a bucket of soapy water.

"Maybe some Borax," he muttered to himself.

"If you can find it, that would be even better." Levi wrinkled his nose at the dilapidated prison cells. "I've been in worse shit-holes, but this one is … dégoûtant! Disgusting. Quelle crasse!" How filthy! "I never wanted to be in a place like this again."

His gaze shifted over cautiously to the small man. "Again?"

Those dark, narrow eyes slid over and met him. "Don't think you're the first German soldier to capture me. You probably won't be the last, either."

"You say that as if you know you will escape," Eren noted, and his hand drifted to his Luger again.

Levi snorted an unamused laugh. "I know how to survive. If I can live long enough, I can find a way to leave any shit-hole."

"You know some interesting English slang."

"I know how to fuck your ugly sister."

That made Eren chuckle. "Sorry to disappoint you, but I don't have one, ugly or otherwise."

Eren took an ancient, heavy key ring off a hook on the wall and opened the door to one of the cells. Inside was a tiny cot for a bed, a bucket for a latrine, and nothing else. Sneering yet having no choice but to obey, Levi walked into the cell, turned around, and held his hand out.

"My book."

"I don't have it on me, and it would be confiscated," said Eren.

"That book is precious to me. I don't trust you with it."

Eren closed the cell door on him and turned a clunky iron key. "I can come back with it, but leaving it in this room, especially given what it is, it would definitely be taken away."

"I want it for Sabbath."

"Then I will bring it on Sunday."

"Idiot. Sabbath is Saturday, the seventh day, not Sunday."

"Saturday, then. We'll be in this town at least two weeks to flush out the last of the Resistance. I can bring the book on Saturdays."

Levi nodded in satisfaction. "Of all the Nazis I've met, you're one of the least shitty ones, takhshet."

"What does that word mean?" he blurted out.

Levi smirked in amusement. "It means brat. Now give me privacy so I can take a shit."

Eren rolled his eyes at the surly attitude and left back up the stairs. "You sure did master English profanity."

"So I can talk shit to fucking Germans like you, bastard!" he shouted at the retreating soldier. He watched as Eren merely waved casually in farewell. Then Levi collapsed onto the cot and slouched over. "Merde!" he cursed under his breath.

He looked down to his hand and traced where once a ring had left an indent still visible as a pale line on his skin.

"Tu m'as dit de vivre. Je t'ai juré sur ma vie que je le ferais. Veille sur moi encore une fois." He folded his hands and put his head down to pray. "Veille sur moi, Petra."

You told me to live. I promised your soul I would. Watch over me once more. Watch over me, Petra.

# # #

# #


So many terms for non-WWII-history-nerds!

May 1944 one month before Operation Overlord, AKA "D-Day," when the Allies landed in Normandy and began an offense against the Nazis.

In German unit formations, a company is 100-200 men, headed by a captain, and made up of 3-6 platoons. A German platoon has 20-40 men and is led by a lieutenant.

The Vichy Régime – In 1940, Germany invaded France, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, taking control of northwest Europe. In an armistice between the countries, it was agreed that southern France would be "free." Paris fell within the occupied zone, so the French governmental capitol moved to the southern city of Vichy. While claiming to be free and neutral, the Vichy Régime worked closely with the Nazis, obeying their commands for curfews, strict censorship of the media, and broadcasting Fascist propaganda. They required all Jews in France to register with the authorities, then banned Jews from professions such as the law, medicine, teaching, and public service. The Vichy Régime also worked with the Gestapo to round up Jews. Of the 73,853 French Jews sent to death camps—including 11,402 children—only 2,260 adults and 300 children survived.

The French Resistance opposed the German occupation. It was made up of small cells of activists, nationalists, socialists, and anarchists, who engaged in acts of sabotage, intelligence gathering, disrupting telecommunications networks, publishing underground newspapers, and guerrilla warfare.

Unteroffizier ("subordinate officer") – equivalent to a sergeant.

Obergefreiter ("senior lance-corporal") – one of the most common ranks in the German Army during World War II.

Soldat – German term for a soldier, the lowest rank in the Wehrmacht.

Wehrmacht ("Defense Force") – the armed forces of Nazi Germany, comprised of the army (Heer), navy (Kriegsmarine), and air force (Luftwaffe).

Schutzstaffel (SS) – the armed wing of the Nazi Party. The Waffen-SS often worked alongside the Heer (regular army). They were the foremost agency of security, surveillance, and terror within Germany and German-occupied Europe, and committed many atrocities.

Napola – short for "Nationalpolitischen Erziehungsanstalten" (National Political Institutes of Education). They were basically preparatory schools for entry into the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS. Only those who were "racially flawless" could enter, and the education was intensely militant and political, deliberately working to make the cadets fervent believers in the Nazi regime and its ideology.

Untersturmführer ("junior storm leader") – the first commissioned SS officer rank, equivalent to a second lieutenant in other military organizations. Becoming an officer in the SS was challenging, with physical screenings, written examinations, perfect vision, no more than six tooth fillings, a height requirement, papers proving racial purity going back to 1800, as well as serving in the listed ranks and getting a commission recommendation by a superior.

Chanson d'automne – "Autumn Song," a French poem that played a vital role in the success of D-Day and the liberation of France. Broadcast by the BBC, the lines were a code that indicated precisely when Operation Overlord was to begin, signaling to the French Resistance that they should begin sabotage operations on the railroad system.


Music Nerd Time!!! – “Chanson d’automne” was made into a song by French jazz singer Charles Trenet. Many American “standards” were actually translations or reinventions of his songs, including one of his most popular songs, "La Mer" (The Sea) which English speakers know as "Somewhere Beyond the Sea" used in the movie "Finding Nemo." Here is his version of “Chanson d’automne” – https://youtu.be/743VHvGDzV8

Levi says he fought in the Kongo-Wara Rebellion of 1928-1931, in French Cameroon. A Gbaya religious prophet named Karnou had a following of 350,000 people spanning many tribes. They held peaceful protests and boycotts to make a statement about the abuse their people suffered under the French. Followers of Karnou were spurred into bravery through a deep-rooted belief in mysticism, including that they could not be hurt so long as they carried a sacred stick. Unfortunately, that meant some tribal people fought recklessly, and the French managed to suppress the uprising. Karnou was killed (my idea was Levi assassinated him), the rebellion was crushed in a few years, but it still brought about changes to the way the French used—and abused—their colonies. Today, the Gbaya people keep Karnou's memory alive through folktales and songs, and there is a Central African airline named in his honor.

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