The Day of the Mission
It is November 1, 2023. Hans Barkhorn drives his electric Mercedes sports car to Berlin. He exits the autobahn just after he passes the fusion reactor. He drives past Tempelhof International Airport. The airport has a large hooked cross on its main terminal building. Tempelhof recently had its 100th Anniversary. Part of its celebration was the inaugural flight of the Lufthansa, Dornier Do-2000 from Berlin to Tokyo.
The news came on the radio. The news reports the first human mission to Jupiter’s Moon Europa will launch at 11 AM. The economy is doing well with unemployment and inflation both below 3%. Yes, 2023 is a great year for Germany. The news ends with the announcement the United States announced plans to send its first human mission to the moon in 2025. Hans chuckles to himself. Americans always come late and unprepared. Yes, they will send a couple of people to the moon and the Germans will have 2,000 people there to welcome them.
Hans drives to the front gate of the building where he works, The Headquarters of the Ministry of Historical Research. He enters his badge into the security scanner. The gate opens, he drives through. He drives to a marker on the street and enters the number on his security token. The street in front of him slides open revealing a ramp to the underground parking garage. He drives into the garage.
Hans proudly walks to the elevator. This is a big day for him. Others can go into outer space or explore the ocean depths. Hans knows the real adventure is in historic research. Traveling through air, water, or space is nothing. Traveling through time, that is an accomplishment. He enters the main lobby. It is a large circular hall. The phrase of Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás;"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” is etched around the hall in large Germatic lettering.
Hans steps into an alcove where he is given a facial and hand scan. Then the door to the operations area opens. Eva Novotny, a tall golden blonde haired woman with a gorgeous face and an athletic figure greets him as he steps inside the operations area.
“Today is the day Hans.”
“Yes, is everything ready?”
“Of course, get dressed and we will meet you in the ready room.”
Hans walks into the dressing room. He has a set of clothes laid out for him to wear. There is also some period cash, twice enough to get him what he needs for a planned week stay in the early 20th century. The extra money is in case something unexpected happens and he needs some extra cash.
As he changes into his period clothing he thinks back to when he was first brought into the Authentic Historical Research Program. When he was first told about traveling into the past he asked about the possibilities of inadvertently changing the present. Dr. Heinz Baltz spent the next 30 minutes writing physics equations that proved such an event was not possible. He summed it up by explaining if one were to flip a coin, then cover it, the coin could at that moment be either heads or tails. However, once the coin is revealed as being heads or tails that is as the coin will always be. That is why travel to the past is done without concern but travel to the future is prohibited. That is the reason for these security measures.
Hans steps into the ready room. The personnel give him a round of applause. That adds to Hans’s excitement. His mission is to meet the greatest German statesman in history. The man the Germans affectionately call “Uncle Adolph.” He made four previous time missions. This mission is different. He will get to see the great man as he stood with Germany at the precipice. He saved Germany and by doing so saved the world. Hans will be a part of that great moment in history.
Dr. Baltz hands Hans a gold pocket watch. The watch has the number 209714 on its back.
“This is your return device. Pull the stem if you have to get back in a hurry.”
Hans nods, he doesn’t want to think about that since a quick return would mean his mission had failed.
Dr. Baltz continues, “It will send out the return signal automatically at 1100 on 11 November.”
Hans gives a smile, “Eleven on the 11th of the 11th month. It seems appropriate.”
Eva interjects, “That is what we thought. Break your neck and your bones, Hans.”
Hans smiles, it’s that well known idiom that means the opposite of what it says. He gives the thumbs up and marches from the ready room to the Time Transport Chamber.
The Chamber is a dodecahedron shaped structure that is inside a room. There is an observation gallery above the chamber. There really is nothing for those in the gallery to observe. They will see some electrical charges but to them the time traveler would never leave the room.
Hans stands and waits for the chamber to spool up. He sees some electrical charges then he sees himself in an open lot on a cold night. The surrounding area looks as it is supposed to look in the 1920s. The Transport Chamber moves the occupant through time, not space. His first order of business is to get on a train to Munich.
An untrained time traveler would be tempted to waste time taking in the surroundings of this bygone time. Hans was chosen and trained for better. His mission is to find Adolph Frankl and to learn as much as possible about what he thinks and does in the days before his first move onto the main stage.
He forces himself to get some sleep on the train. That was quite a feat since he was so excited at what lies ahead. When the train stops in Munich Hans steps off and walks as quickly as he can to the soup kitchen Adolph Frankl ran in the early 20s. The rampant poverty strikes him. He realizes this shows how large an obstacle this poverty was to Adolph Frankl. The fact he could move the German people to make the right choices magnified his greatness. He will have to be sure to highlight this in his report.
Hans arrives at the kitchen as they are serving lunch. He looks around at the homeless men and women. Some of the men were missing limbs. Yes, this was the look of a beaten people. He hears a voice behind him, “Why are you here?”
Hans turns around and sees Adolph Frankl less than one meter in front of him.
“You are Adolph Frankl?”
“Yes, I am Adolph Frankl.”
“I come here to volunteer.”
Frankl looks at the serving line. Then he looks at Hans.
“Serving is almost over. You can help cleaning up.”
“Thank you, we are always glad to see people offer to help their fellow man.”
After everyone is served Adolph Frankl steps onto the stage:
Welcome. I know you are all here because you are suffering more than most people are suffering in this time of great poverty. I know most of you have been unable to find work. I know most of you have no place to live. I also know there are voices out there. These voices say there is a way to have a new order. These voices say there is a way for Germany to become a great country again. All it requires is for people to listen to one voice, to obey that one voice, to act with one voice. I tell you these voices are only partly right. Germany will become a great country. That is if Germany remains a free democratic country. Yes, these last few years for Germany have been horrible. Listening to these voices of rebellion will give the illusion of a better future. However, it is just an illusion. If we listen to these voices we will feel the German situation is improving. Posters and slogans would be all around to tell us so. When we become aware of it being an illusion only then would we know we have things that have gone from very bad to much worse. Then it may be too late to change matters for the better. The best of us may have gone to other countries, or have been put to death by a government that promised a better life. Don’t think of today, or tomorrow, or even next year. Think of the next decade, or the decade after that. Think of what wonders lie ahead. In the future mankind will learn the secret of the atom, send men to the moon, will learn how to better grow food, cure diseases, and develop marvelous inventions we can’t even dream about. That is mankind’s future, your future, our future.
Hans has heard similar speeches of Adolph Frankl in recordings he has listened to since he was a schoolboy. It’s not the words but Frankl’s voice, mannerisms, and those eyes that are so moving. Even the best re-mastering doesn’t do justice to Frankl’s speeches. During the speech Hans had to force himself to take notice of the audience. A few people seem impressed by Frankl’s speech. Most were indifferent. A few seemed annoyed as if listening to Frankl was the price they had to pay for a free meal.
Hans helps with the cleanup. He made sure to work harder than any of the others. It was especially difficult because Hans wanted so much to have a long talk with Frankl. Hans knew if he didn’t do his share of the work Frankl would not want to talk to him. Frankl is known for being dismissive of people who were big on words but small on actions.
As Hans was washing dishes Frankl approached him, “How late can you stay?”
“I can stay as late as you want me to stay.”
Frankl smiles, “Wonderful.”
After they finished cleaning they prepared for dinner. They fed themselves first. The portions were small and the food was bland. Then it was time to serve dinner. Hans took his place on the serving line. Here he saw the faces of poverty in the early 20th century. After serving there was the speech. This speech was better than the lunch time speech in words and delivery. The reaction of the audience was the same as it was for the lunch time speech. Hans felt he had worked hard enough to have a moment to tell Frankl how great he believed he was. He makes his way over to Frankl. Adolph Frankl is looking at his watch.
“That was a wonderful speech Mr. Frankl.”
“Thank you Mr. Barkhorn. My watch has stopped, do you know the time?”
Hans takes out his pocket watch and shows the time to Frankl.
A man at a nearby table notices the gold pocket watch. He casts his eye to two other men and then flashes his eyes at Hans and the gold pocket watch.
There will be an insurrection on November 8, it would be put down on November 9 and Adolph Frankl would march through the streets with an “Appeal to Sanity” on November 10. This would launch Frankl’s political career and Germany’s democracy would quickly mature and its economy would rebound.
Frankl knows he is now part of this history but he knows since there is no record of a Hans Barkhorn in the events of these days any attempt for him to assert himself in these historical events would be futile.
Frankl helps clean up after the soup kitchen closes. He stays until he and Frankl are the only two people in the kitchen.
“Mr. Frankl, you will, I know you will be a great man someday. It is an honor to meet you.”
“Are you a mystic?”
“No, it’s just a feeling I have judging on how you act, what you do, and those great speeches you have given today.”
“I don’t aspire for greatness. I don’t believe anyone should. I believe everyone should do whatever they can to improve the world in which they live. Will you be back tomorrow?”
“Yes, yes, I will be. What time should I be here?”
“Can you be here by the eighth hour?”
“Yes, I will be here.”
Hans walks down the street with a big smile on his face. One of the men who saw his gold watch charges at him with a club. Hans punches the man and knocks him down. He spots a second man charging at him with a knife. Hans grabs the man’s knife hand and trips him. A third man stabs him from behind. Hans screams in pain. The other man with a knife stabs him. Frankl rushes out of the soup kitchen. He shouts. The three men set upon Frankl. They stab and club him. Hans shouts, “No!” Hans struggles to get on his feet. The man with the club and a man with a knife turn their attention to Hans. The other man goes through Frankl’s pockets. Hans gets hit over the head with a club and gets stabbed twice. Hans dies saying, “This can’t happen.” One man takes the pocket watch. The other man takes Hans' money and flashes it at the other man.
“Look at this. I knew he was a good mark.”
The third man runs past.
“Let’s get out of here.”
On November 11, 1923 at 11 PM the return device sends it signal through time. With no receiver the watch goes nowhere.
It is November 1, 2023. Hans Barkhorn drives his Volkswagen to the museum where he works. In a few days it will be the 100th Anniversary of the Hitlerputsch. It’s an anniversary of shame. His museum isn’t going to make any special exhibits to mark the anniversary but he is training the docents in case any visitors ask about it. He spends some time before the museum opens giving the docents some information about the Hitlerputsch. Then he catalogues some minor artifacts. He catalogues some early 20th century watches. Among the items he catalogues is a gold pocket watch. The number on the back is 209714.