In 1968, a couple of KGB agents in Germany wanted to defect. Too bad for them that the CIA and the U.S. Army wanted no part of this action. A group of U.S. soldiers decided to facilitate these defections without any official coordination. What could possibly go wrong? More things than you can probably imagine.

Almost everyone who reads Dead by Christmas asks the same question: How much of this is true? This book reads as if it was lifted out of some classified espionage file, but Dead by Christmas is a fictional account based on real events that happened in Germany. The author's 33-year Army intelligence career allows him to write with authority on this topic. The names and places have been changed to protect the guilty, so one should not try to determine what is true and what is legend. If you think you know, don’t tell. If you don’t know, don’t ask. Just enjoy the story.

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Disclaimer:  The views expressed are those of the author and don’t reflect the official policy or positions of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government. This material was reviewed by the U.S. Government to prevent the disclosure of classified information and cleared for open publication December 18, 2012, by the Office of Security Review, Department of Defense.

    The use of very offensive language and attitudes concerning race and gender discrimination in this book do not reflect the opinions of the author but are representative of the time this story takes place. Historical realism might be hurtful to sensitive readers.

Excerpts follow:

At their initial meeting, Schwartz learned firsthand about von Stein’s attitudes concerning blacks and it was not a pleasant experience for either. Colonel von Stein met Schwartz at the May picnic sponsored by the local U.S. Army community commander. Art Watkins organized the event. Von Stein knew of Schwartz, a tall German-speaking black warrant officer, from his soldiers, and more out of curiosity than malice asked, speaking in German, “Tell me, Mr. Schwartz, is it possible that a black officer like you can command white soldiers in the U.S. Army?”

“There are problems sometimes due to racial prejudices,” Schwartz replied in his Pennsylvania Dutch, “but black officers receive an equal opportunity to command. Their skin color makes no difference when the Pentagon gives command assignments.”

“How did you get your family name? Where did you learn your interesting German? You talk as if you stepped out of Martin Luther’s Bible.”

“I grew up in Pennsylvania where German is still widely spoken by the Amish people,” replied Schwartz, now speaking English. “I learned German from my Amish neighbors. My family received the name Schwartz when they arrived in America 250 years ago. Kind Christian people who opposed slavery bought my ancestors as they got off the slave ships and later gave them their freedom. My great-great-grandfathers fought in our War of Independence against the British.”

“I think it might be difficult for a black officer to differentiate between the white soldiers in his command,” rejoined von Stein, also in English. “I believe the average white soldier can’t tell one black person from another.”

Schwartz bristled slightly at this but replied coolly, “Some people also have the same problems with Germans, believing all Germans were Nazis.”

Von Stein, feeling his honor imperiled and his political past vulnerable, said very haughtily, “I wasn’t a Nazi. I spent almost a year in a prison because of my involvement in the plot to assassinate Hitler.”

Schwartz, realizing he had the upper hand and being a bit steamed up at the arrogance of his opponent, tore him apart with the following logical assessment: “If you were imprisoned due to some role in the plot to assassinate Hitler, you must have been very important to somebody. However, the fact that you’re alive today indicates to me that whatever role you played in that plot, if any, was so insignificant no evidence could be found by the special prosecutors to convict you. This leads me to the conclusion that although you may have been acquainted with those men who plotted against Hitler, they didn’t trust you enough to include you in their plans. Therefore you must have been a fairly dedicated Nazi, if not a first-rate Hitler fan.”

Von Stein was livid at this exact assessment of his past that he believed to be an inviolable secret.

“No white officer would dare speak to a NATO ally like this,” he hissed. “You will be punished.”

Schwartz smiled as von Stein stormed off, yanked his driver off his picnic bench, and left without any farewell to the host. Captain Armstrong observed von Stein’s hasty departure and hurried over to Schwartz.

“Why did von Stein rush off like that?”

“He remembered something important.”


* * * *

Many who visit Freudenfelsen, or any place in Germany for that matter, believe the sun never shines on that green landscape. This late July morning, the sun was making up for all those rainy days and had warmed the area uncomfortably before seven in the morning. Schwartz and Shelby met Hermann Neues at his office at the back of his house at 0730 and picked up some tools Neues had agreed to loan them to clear their newly rented garden plot. Armed with a scythe and a mattock the two new gardeners marched forth to do battle against the results of years of sloth and neglect. Engrossed in their own thoughts they crossed the mud patch and approached the hut, enjoying the warmth and fresh air.

They almost stumbled over a sleeping Fraeulein Helga Neues, lying nude on a blanket in a spot she had cleared in the tall grass. Shelby choked up, having never experienced such a situation before. Schwartz coughed politely and signaled Shelby to step back. Shelby was frozen to the spot, staring at the lovely bronze creature at his feet.

Schwartz grabbed Shelby by the arm and said, “Snap out of it, Shelby, she’s not that enchanting.”

Helga sat up with a start, smiled innocently at the two men, and said with her perfect British accent, “Ah, the new gardeners have arrived earlier than I expected. You must excuse me for occupying your land, but it has become my habit, and I did not expect you so early. I’ll leave quickly.”

Shelby regained his voice, if not his senses. “Oh, don’t let us disturb you.”

Helga laughed as she pulled on her baggy shorts and tight tank top. “You expect me to lie quietly like a little mouse while you mow grass and bushes over me? No, no, that is much too dangerous. I believe I might be a distraction to your work and you have plenty to do.”

“Miss Neues, I presume,” said Schwartz, “my name is Schwartz and this is Mr. Shelby. You may certainly continue to use this plot on weekday mornings when we are not here.”

“Why thank you, kind sir. I accept your generous offer.”

There are probably many articles in serious medical journals detailing the effects of visual stimuli on the chemistry of the human body. Marvin Shelby could have entered those studies as he watched Helga carefully pick her way across the mud flat and disappear into the hedges of the gardens.

“I think she is the most beautiful and desirable woman I have ever seen,” he said with absolute conviction.

“Remember your Sunday school lessons and the fate of King David,” replied Schwartz.

Shelby did not even hear the admonishment. “Do you think she’ll come back while we are here? Do you think I could get a date with her? What a body! What a tan! I must be in love.”

Schwartz grumbled, “Shelby, I think she may be out of your class for a first love. Why don’t you try dating some modest American girl who shares a similar background, and not go for the major leagues until you have played with the minors?”

Shelby replied, “Did you see the way she looked at me? Those eyes are the bluest. Her smile the most inviting. Chief, are we in a dream?”

“Damn it, Shelby, I’m going to walk right back to Herr Neues and cancel the lease on this plot and tell him you have immoral designs on his daughter if you don’t snap out of this stupidity right now. And I mean it, Shelby!”

That communication reached through the fog of infatuation. “You can’t cancel the lease. We need this place. Where else are we going to find a deal like this? It’s almost free. Let’s get started on these weeds before it gets any hotter.”

Schwartz grunted, handed the mattock to Shelby, and said, “Cut out everything that looks like it was not planted and keep your mind on your work so you don’t hit your foot.”

Schwartz had learned as a boy to use a scythe from an Amish neighbor. He soon had the proper swing back and was cutting grass and weeds like an old farmer. Shelby worked like a man possessed. The volunteer elderberry and blackberry bushes were falling left and right.

After about thirty minutes work, a noticeable improvement was already evident. Both men were perspiring profusely and very thirsty. Schwartz called for a break. “We need something to drink or we we’ll have a heat stroke,” he puffed as he leaned on his scythe handle.

“I’ll run up to the manager’s office and see if he will sell us something…,” offered Shelby.

“Oh no you won’t. You stay right here and see if you can clean out the dirt and cobwebs in the house. That old broom will still get the walls and floor clean. I’ll go into town to get us something to eat and drink. Don’t you dare leave! Do you understand?”

“Why are you talking to me in that tone of voice?” said an astonished Shelby, now sitting on the ground. “What’s the matter with you?”

“You’re the matter with me. Whoever started that rumor about your sexual preferences should be here today to get their story straight. You’re not a flaming homosexual; you’re acting like a lovesick heterosexual teenager in an infatuation frenzy.”

Shelby was shocked at such harsh words from a man he respected and jumped to his feet. “Didn’t she have any impact on you at all?”

“Oh what?”
“Maybe we should start a rumor about your sexual preferences.”

356 Porsche

1963 Opel Kadett