The chapters which are numerical are factual. The chapters which are alphabetical are fiction, though in some instances the fiction modestly drapes what is factual. I will post one chapter a week, alternating factual and fiction.
As the Second World War was drawing to a close, many Germans could see that defeat was inevitable. Those who held positions of authority in the government or the National Socialist Party knew that if/when the Axis powers were defeated, they and their families would both be vulnerable to arrest by the ruling power installed by the conquering armies and to revenge by disgruntled fellow Germans.
Some of them sent their families out of Germany to Switzerland or to Turkey or Morocco. From there they made their way to Uruguay and Argentina. Some of the fathers were subsequently killed in the waning months or weeks of the War. Others used that time to collect as much money, gold, jewels, or other portable booty and then fled themselves. Whether any high ranking Nazis evaded arrest and made their way to these two South American countries has been material for many articles, documentaries, and stories. The undisputable fact is that following the War there were large colonies of Germans and Ukrainians in Argentina and Uruguay.
In Baltimore there were many first, second, and third generation German-Americans. Before the War started, the German Bundt brought together thousands of Germans who supported Hitler. Their building in downtown Baltimore was a classical Greek structure whose auditorium held at least 2000. Many dropped their support when they found out what Hitler was doing to the Jews or when their own sons were being killed in the War. The Bundt was outlawed after our country entered the War. There were still a sizeable number who silently maintained their allegiance to Nazi Germany.
Several of these Nazi sympathizers secured jobs in the Rental Office and the Maintenance Office in Armistead Gardens. They worked hard and gradually worked themselves into supervisory positions. Mr. Wieneger became the Manager of the Rental Office. Mr. Schwartz became the Supervisor in the Maintenance Office.
During the War good workers were being bled away by the draft. Every time there was a job opening Mr. Wieneger and Mr. Schwartz hired only men or women who were supporters of their cause. By the time the War ended, all of the workers belonged to their Cause.
They recognized that the column of duplex houses which ran along Pulaski Highway might be useful to them some day because a road running parallel to Pulaski Highway was an innocent and unobtrusive passive barrier to the other residents of the project.
When the project was turned over to the Baltimore City Housing Authority there were some anxious weeks and months worrying about whether the Authority might send in some of their own people. As time went by their worries were laid to rest, because Armistead Gardens was run more efficiently than any of their other projects.
Mr. Schwartz had a short-wave radio in his office. There was a sophisticated antenna array on the roof of the garage where the trucks and equipment of the Maintenance Department were stored. In the evening after the offices were closed, Mr. Schwartz was occupied with his amateur radio. The radio hams he was contacting were in Argentina and Uruguay.
Now that wealthy ex-pat Germans had reached the relative safety of South America, their next goal was to reach the United States and settle there under a new identity. There were many less wealthy German immigrants who would have to adjust and content themselves living in a Latin society that was less developed, less modern, less cultured than Germany had been before the War.
The leaders of the Noble Cause had decided to establish Kamp Armistead in that row of duplexes along Pulaski Highway. The duplex facing Armistead Way was unsuitable for their use because of the heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic- too many people with too many eyes and too many brains and too many mouths.
As for the other duplexes, if a family moved out, the Cause sent one of their followers, who had an apartment or house elsewhere in Baltimore, to occupy that unit until it was needed by the Cause. Other families were gradually moved to units in the new section with the excuse that the State wanted to widen Pulaski Highway. In six months they had control of all the duplexes except the one facing Armistead Way. Kamp Armistead was ready to open. There were twenty three-bedroom units.
Mr. Schwartz kept in communication with the Noble Cause each evening. When encryption was necessary, they used some book with 365 pages or more. This year it was Moby Dick. The page for that day was ruled off in rows and columns. The first 26 lines stood for letters, the 27th line was space and the 28th line was “period.” In this manner Mr. Schwartz communicated to Argentinian and Uruguayan collaborators that Kamp Armistead was ready to receive twenty families.
These families could not fly to Baltimore or travel by commercial ships because they did not have valid passports and visas. Travel was on yachts. The amount of baggage they could take with them was limited. The captains of the yachts were cautious concerning the weather. It was a long trip to travel by yacht in the Atlantic Ocean. They had to stop often to refuel. Most of the passengers were seasick at least part of the time.
When the yacht reached the Chesapeake Bay, it steered for Back Creek. There was a yacht club there with some members who were loyal to the Cause. One of them would take one family and its baggage to Kamp Armistead at night. The next night he would take another family. In six months’ time, only ten families had been moved into Kamp Armistead. Then winter halted any further travel.
There were some families who tried other ways to get into the United States: through Mexico and into Texas or Arizona or through Cuba flying to Canada and from there into Detroit or New York. None of them made it without being arrested. The location of Kamp Armistead was kept secret, even the fact it was in Baltimore. It was thought that they might be followed and the existence and location of Kamp Armistead would be discovered.
When a family arrived, the person who had been house-sitting would stay with the family a week, helping them get settled. They all had learned basic English beforehand. He showed them the Acme Market and went with them on their first trip. They were encouraged to walk up the sidewalk along Pulaski Highway so as not to be noticed by the residents of Armistead Gardens.
Mr. Schwartz would buy a car for them (with their money). A Cause volunteer would coach them in learning the highway laws. Most could drive but they needed a few practice drives before taking their test. A driver’s license was an important identity document. A volunteer also took them on the city bus. They would go with them to the center of Baltimore and go through the department stores with them. They showed them the German neighborhoods.
The whole elaborate set-up was almost shattered. One of the German undocumented immigrant families in Kamp Armistead, the Krachts, had a teen age son. He was in Fox’s 5&10 when Mr. & Mrs. Fox were heatedly arguing about something. Mr. Fox used some rough language in Yiddish. The boy may have thought Mrs. Fox was Aryan because of her blonde hair.
That night the boy returned with a can of black spray paint. He sprayed a giant swastika on one window and KIKE in giant letters. He probably would have put more, but a young man driving by saw him and yelled. He stopped his car and gave pursuit but the offender got away. Mr. Schwartz had a good idea who had done it. The family was put into a station wagon, driven up into the mountains and left to fend for themselves and die. Too much was at stake.
The enforcers for the Cause did not reckon on “mountain people.” A man in an old pickup truck came upon the family huddling in a shelter of snow and fir branches by the side of the road. He picked them up, took them home and his wife fixed them a hot meal of cornbread and beans. She gave them old ragged blankets with which to wrap themselves. The foreign people did not know where they had been living. Their teenage son was sick with a bad fever. The mountain folk had no extra beds and no telephone but they made the people as comfortable as they could.
The next day the mountain man drove into town and told the storekeeper who called the sheriff for him. The sheriff took the three foreigners to the hospital. Since they could give no address and had no identity papers the sheriff called the FBI.
The wheels of justice grind slow but exceedingly fine. The family was kept as long as questioning them was yielding useable information. Just the names “Fox’s 5&10”, “Kamp Armistead” and “Mr. Schwartz” helped to pin down the location of this camp for undocumented aliens. When the FBI was finished with them, the family was sent to their last legal residence, which was now in East Germany. The entire staff at Armistead Gardens was sent to various other projects and was replaced by other Housing Authority employees. Mr. Schwartz was fired and was indicted on several Federal charges. The remaining residents of Kamp Armistead were deported to Germany.
Mr. Schwartz was able to warn two important residents before the authorities arrived. Mr. Karl Bruning and Mr. Eisen Schultz had been in high administrative posts at the Dachau death camp. If they were arrested and deported they would face prosecution at the Nurenberg War Crimes trials. Both men took off on foot for Horners Lane. They entered the National Bohemian Cemetery. One of the graves had a concrete covering on the grave. The concrete had cracked. It was only an inch thick. Its purpose was to disguise a metal door the size of the “grave.” They lifted the door. Its hinges were rusted and protested with a loud squeak.
This bunker had been put in place about five years before America became involved in World War II. The Bundt had built it as a refuge for spies who might be sent from Germany. There were a number of attempts during the War to infiltrate spies into the U.S.A. but they were all unsuccessful and the bunker had been unused for its original purpose.
When it was built, the bunker contained a shortwave radio which had a telescoping antenna which used the metal cover to reflect its signal while transmitting. It had half a dozen beds with wool blankets. Storeable food and water in sealed cans, and a cache of American money were all part of the bunker’s contents. There was a latrine connected to a septic tank.
When Bruning and Schultz entered the underground retreat, they discovered that it had been plundered. The radio was gone. The mattresses and blankets were gone, all the food and all the money had been taken. Someone who had been involved in building and stocking the hideout, and knew how to get into it, had returned at a later time and liberated the contents.
They were in a real jam. They would have to remain in the bunker at least until tomorrow. Maybe the authorities would be gone by then. They could go back to their now vacated homes and scavenge whatever food or clothes remained in them. If their cars were still there, they could get away in them.
They spent the night lying on metal cots with no mattresses, shivering in the cold. The next morning, they broke open a couple cans of water. It tasted awful. They used the latrine and then lifted the hatch to exit. As they did, they found themselves facing two Federal marshalls.
“We knew about this hideout. When we saw the broken pieces of concrete scattered on the ground we knew for sure you were inside. We have been waiting here for you. There are some people in Nurenberg who want to hold you accountable for your roles in killing hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children.”