A Shift in Priorities - Sequel

Worms have played a more important part in the history of the world than humans would at first suppose.
(Charles Darwin)

Even the outpost strategy didn’t work. One was forced to abandon one source of raw materials after another. The lines of communication had proven to be the weak spots. They were too long to keep them reliably open. Without resident population, the task was truly gargantuan. And – to be honest – Mexico, with its much reduced population, wasn’t reliant on them. President Cárdenas had reluctantly agreed to the new conception.

For Victoria Keller it meant her job was due to end once liquidation had been finalised. Cárdenas had told her he wanted her as new energy minister, but she was still wavering. Was that really what she wanted? Rather not… Okay, freedom was a delicate matter. Her present job provided her with freedom to act and to achieve something; being a minister in Ciudad de México would bode freedom from poverty, but leave hardly any window of action.

True, achievement had been missing lately, but nevertheless… Money never had meant much to her. Being bribed into oblivion by the oil and gas industry wasn’t her lifetime dream. Where was the next adventure? She was still young and healthy. Returning home was out of question; the family would kill her softly. The Panchists, however, weren’t any better. They were stiffs.

It seemed to be time to move on. The US – well, Texas – was enticing. They were sponsoring the Cuban adventure. An experiment to repopulate lost land, that was really interesting her. Not the Opaque Woodlands, down south; that had no power. The poor Indians and their project were past all hope. But Cuba was supported by Texan big money, there ought to be momentum…
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In politics, there is no use looking beyond the next fortnight.
(Joseph Chamberlain)

Johann Ludwig von Krosigk had been born in the last century. He had fought in the Great War and had celebrated victory as a highly decorated Oberleutnant der Reserve. His outfit, the 2. Pomeranian Uhlan Regiment No. 9, however, had had to surrender their horses in December 1917 and had fought on as ordinary infantry, mainly in quiet Upper Alsace, but at least participating in the final drive on Calais – as Kanobil-mounted riflemen.

Therefore, nobody would easily call him a wimp. Jupiter Colony Mania didn’t impress him a bit; it just bounced off his thick hide. The experts had told him it was utter rubbish. But the political dimension of Strauß’s move was keeping him busy nevertheless. One had to reel in the voters – without yielding to this gimmick. But how should one do it?

The easiest way would be to say yes and do nothing. But that wasn’t Krosigk’s style. You couldn’t embrace a stupid idea. You had to say no, loud and clear. His party, the GDNP, was supporting this stance. But the coalition partners, mainly Zentrum and SPD, were aghast. Riots! So what? This country had seen so many riots, why fear just another one? Let the youth riot. There had been no war since forty-five years, so riots were the best surrogate available.

Yes, he would declare it in the Reichstag: no colony in the Jupiter system. And let the storm break loose…
It is not the business of generals to shoot one another.
(Duke of Wellington)

The eruption of the riots surprised Doris Zülch in transit from Düsseldorf to Dresden. Her train just made it to Leipzig central terminal – and that was it. It took some time until Doris realised what was going on. Leipzig, with its ancient university and massive student population, was a proven hotbed for riots. Did she have a chance to find a hotel and sit out the calamity? Telephone was still working. Yes, the Hotel Stadt Rom, rather close to the station, would accommodate her.

It was almost midnight when she scurried out of the station and over to the hotel. She could see fires, but fairly far away, and hear the wail of many sirens. Indeed, it had started at about lunchhour, the desk clerk told her, after the noon papers had reported the chancellor’s no to the Jupiter Colony. The students, of course, but also many workers… It seemed the SPD and the labour unions couldn’t control them. The rail lines to Dresden and Berlin were cut. Well, you know, madam, the Saxon constables aren’t as efficient as the Prussian police.

The room was all right. Now, working for Telefunken had its advantages. There was a wireless. The local news services were all reporting about the ‘battle for the university’. Okay, so everybody was busy somewhere else. Maybe she could sleep in peace…

But no, it wouldn’t happen. At 03:18 – as the clock on her bed stand told her – the noise of breaking glass and fiery glow ended her slumber. Was the hotel under attack? The wireless said it was the ‘battle of the opera’. But the opera was only a stone’s throw away. Yep, the park opposite the hotel – and adjacent to the opera building – was swarming with people. What might they do next? Attack the central terminal? Or the hotel?
Really, after the pandemic and all the climatological upheavals and all the tensions with the neighbours ? Are people not subdued to riot like that over a space project ? Are not most people still rearranging their life, too busy with surviving ?
Really, after the pandemic and all the climatological upheavals and all the tensions with the neighbours ? Are people not subdued to riot like that over a space project ? Are not most people still rearranging their life, too busy with surviving ?
Pretty sure it was that Strauß fellow trying to discredit the current government by orchestrating the riots.
There are two different types of people in the world, those who want to know, and those who want to believe.
(Friedrich Nietzsche)

Yes, riots! Egon Schagalla was hepped up. And this time, the DVP folks, yesterday’s inept hooligans, were allied with the true rioters. Well, everyone was in league with everybody, it seemed. A pity, though, that Gerdi was pregnant. One didn’t see it yet, but had to be careful nevertheless. Okay, it was Gerdi who had to be careful – and Egon had to watch out with whom he got into a brawl.

The local cops weren’t in top form, however. Many officers ought to clandestinely be sympathetic to the rioters and their cause. They surely were as fed up with everything as was the rest of the country. But rumour had it that riot police from Münster had arrived. Egon knew the guys. They were good, really good. This evening’s drive might become a hit…

It was a matter of pride, of self-respect. This country was leaden. You had to do something. Nothing was ever changing. And when a window seemed to open at last, one of the hoary muppets stood up and said no! One had to sweep them away. Voting didn’t change anything. True, Egon knew it only too well, rioting too had never changed anything. But it made you feel better…

Would a chancellor Strauß be any better? Most probably not; politicians were just politicians… And the DVP dudes hereabouts were no specimen of progress, rather the contrary. But they were good pals. Well, and the rest – the commies, the pinkos, or whosoever – weren’t any better. Okay, let’s knock over the old order. The future must be liberated from the rule of the old geezers.
Savage peoples are ruled by passion, civilised peoples by the mind.
(Carl von Clausewitz)

It was an outrage! The military had confined him! Riots! Monkey business! Professor Sigbert Ramsauer’s blood was up. His appointment here at the OKW at Wünsdorf had been cancelled, because of the riots. And he was forbidden to leave the barracks complex, because of the riots. Muppets! – Okay, they had given him a general’s accommodation. That showed the soldiers were at least appreciating his scientific rank. But how long were these shenanigans going to last?

It was not so that the military had any active role to play during the riots. One of the first initiatives of the socialists after the peaceful take-over of power in August 1918 had been to restrict the soldiers to foreign defence. Domestic issues were a matter for the politicians and the police. Only in greatest peril could the military be committed in country – like had been the case during the pest. So, why was OKW so nervous? Wünsdorf wasn’t under siege, was it?

His room had television and wireless. As usual, TV was good for nothing. But on the wireless he could find a lot of information. Downtown Berlin seemed to be in flames. That explained perhaps why the soldiers had become so agitated. Yeah, Wünsdorf was the strategic HQ; they controlled the German nukes. That required extensive protection. But why the dickens cage him? He had work waiting for him on the Isle of Sheppey.

The riots, he was sure, would fizzle out – like all past riots had. The rabble had no perseverance. After the shops had been looted and everybody had got drunk, the party would swiftly end. A colony on Jupiter, what a ludicrous nonsense! Why on earth should people rampage for such a bullshit? Ramsauer shook his head and switched off the wireless.
There’s only two things you can start without a plan: a riot and a family, for everything else you need a plan.
(Groucho Marx)

Franz Josef had lost control. Events were now spinning off in all directions, or rather: could be assumed to do so. One didn’t know. Hanne Zülch could only shrug her shoulders. Information flow had become a matter of happenstance. Some party cells had ceased reporting altogether, others had obviously lost their reporting schedules. And the rest weren’t really useable either, because in most cases the emergency situation wasn’t exactly reflected.

Franz Josef had only muttered something like ‘decentralised assault’ and had left Berlin for Munich and his wife. Hanne and the staff had switched to watching TV, listening wireless and reading those newspapers that were still published. It at least provided a rough sketch of what was going on in country. Issuing orders was out of the question. One could only sit and watch.

Hanne had thought Franz Josef would keep talking big and whooping the masses. But that hadn’t happened. Well, a riot was a riot, controlling it would morph it into something else. Franz Josef had an excellent feeling for such issues. Let the mob rage – and pray that the old order collapses. He had no intention of becoming the tribune of the rioters. He wanted to be the saviour of the nation, stepping in for the fallen Krosigk – and ending the emergency.

Hanne had ample rioting experience of her own. She wasn’t sure his plan was going to work. Once public order had collapsed – and supplies were running out, the situation would quickly deteriorate into utter chaos, at least in the urban centres. How could a proper transition of power occur under such circumstances? Storming the Reichstag and planting the flag of the movement might work, but anything else?
He who thinks with difficulty believes with alacrity.
(Ambrose Bierce)

Protecting the Space Monument at the Alexanderplatz was a suicide mission. The rioters seemed to be hell-bent on seizing the huge shaft. It was per se the symbol of their soggy dreams. And of course, controlling the communication facilities placed in the top of the 405 metre bolt would enable them to flood all of Berlin with their propaganda. The Kaiser had ordered to abandon the City Palace – or at least not to defend it. The imperial household had left – well, fled – for Rheinsberg.

There was no danger that the massive ferro-concrete structure might catch fire – or be damaged otherwise by the primitive weapons of the rioters. However, should they capture the basement, they would at least be able to wreak a lot of damage – cut the utilities and communication lines, for example. But incessantly cordoning off the attackers was wearing down the strength of the protective force. And the rioters were active all over the city.

The department store operators were crying for police protection because their shops were being looted. The Reichstag and the Wilhelmstraße had to be shielded as well – and quite a lot of other sensitive locations. And the rioters were constantly reinforced from all over Prussia – without that rioting stopped at other places. The police force was quickly running out of men. The other states were reporting similar circumstances. One would have to apply for the release of the armed forces to take over police functions.
Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.

Unblinking, Zissa, his secretary, dumped another stack of reports on his desk. Josef Dembitzer glared at her; he hadn’t yet finished reading the stuff she had dumped half an hour ago. Zissa sneered at him. “Want more? I’ve three more big piles waiting for you.” – “Bring me more coffee. And spare me the paper!”

Yeah, the Germans were messing up their country, and he was snowed under with reports about it. And these were only the summaries, diligently submitted by the various divisions of the Seichl. Undoubtedly, these riots were the severest ever. They were rocking the whole country, not just Berlin and some other big cities.

Would Germany collapse into utter chaos? Experience told that wasn’t going to happen. Basic services had never really been interrupted. The rioters generally would not attack the garbage removers – not even the fire fighters. It was a big battle against the police – and an epic looting party in the downtown shopping areas.

Private homes were usually not assaulted, although defacing and spraying were frequent. But private motor vehicles were fair game for arson. Indeed, German rioters were orderly people, it seemed. – So, what was going to happen, most probably? The police would be overwhelmed, within few days. They didn’t have the personnel to ride the perennial riots out.

Would Krosigk call in the armed forces? Yes, definitely. Normally, that should end the riots. But this time? What would the conscripts do? This army had no war experience, neither among the officers, nor the NCOs, and much less the men. If the army broke, would that topple Krosigk? Yes, definitely…
The right way to go easy is to forget the right way.

Dihua was a pathetic hole. Whatever luxuries there might have existed during Uyghur times had vanished without a trace. The Zhyoltozhopi were busy importing new luxury goods by rail, but it would take time until this showed overall effect. Well, the palace of the Qong Tayiji, the prince of the Dzungars, was already displaying some comfort, but not on the outside.

Vladimir Aleksandrovich Kryuchov had been inside, despite the Zhyoltozhopi who were all over the place. The Dzungars had smuggled him in to bow low before the Qong Tayiji. Sayin Dhondup was a friendly guy, as far as Kryuchov could tell from seeing him for ten seconds. It didn’t matter. The kowtow had just been a door opener.

The talks with the proxies of the Dzungar leaders, the real power wielders, were taking place outside Dihua, in a yurt settlement. The Zhyoltozhopi mustn’t know that he and his small staff were here. Of course, there was no question of any official business. These were strictly informal talks. The Dzungars had to be made aware that there were alternatives to Zhyoltozhopi domination and Muslim mastery.

Russia was treating the Mongols well. The two delegates of the Mongolian Khanate in his company could testify that. One had no interest in acquiring real estate; one was just looking for good relations. – And, without mentioning it, one was aiming at recruiting some potent agents. Not spies, that was the business of the Okhrana, but reliable partners who would promote mutual friendship.

You never knew how international relations in this part of the world were going to develop. The Dzungars might quickly discover they didn’t like Great Qing aegis. And the return of the Uyghurs certainly wasn’t an option. So, the staunch friendship of Mother Russia could only be beneficial…
The doctrine that all men are, in any sense, or have been, at any time, free and equal, is an utterly baseless fiction.
(Thomas Huxley)

What did you do with a deserter? And what with a whole cohort of them? After the police had been beaten, they had sent in the soldiers. But the lads hadn’t obeyed orders – or at least a good portion of them. They had bolted. And the officers, seeing their men desert in droves, had withdrawn the troops. Hence, the rioters had become the masters of Dortmund, for the time being.

At close of day, Egon and Gerdi had ended up with a deserter sharing their flat. Klaus Holtrup was a farmer’s son from the border region to the Netherlands up north, where the pest hadn’t killed off everyone. For Egon’s taste he was too soft, but Gerdi thought he was all right, just a flustered half-grown kid. Yeah, a half-grown kid who was now threatened by court martial and execution.

Well, perhaps not. The new government might pardon the deserters. Not only in Dortmund had the soldiers run away – or even sided openly with the rioters. It had been a nationwide miscarriage. After this failure, Krosigk had finally resigned, and the Kaiser had asked Franz Josef Strauß, the leader of the strongest fraction in the Reichstag, to form a new government. Negotiations had already begun.

Right now, there was no danger for Klaus. The Dortmund police had disappeared from the scene. Egon was the elected leader of the city patrol that the rioters had appointed. It felt like a little revolution. Egon, the chief constable, wasn’t it funny?
A government must not waiver once it has chosen its course. It must not look to the left or right but go forward.
(Otto von Bismarck)

A triumphant Franz Josef had returned to Berlin. His scheme had worked. Power had come within close reach. Well, Hanne Zülch knew the figures. The matter wasn’t over and done with yet. He needed at least two coalition partners to form a new government. The DVP had 157 seats; ordinary majority in the Reichstag was at 235 seats. The AFV, Herbert Weller’s old outfit, who already had signalled readiness to join, had only 30 seats.

The left, SPD and KPD, wouldn’t be at Franz Josef’s disposal. Neither could the GDNP, Krosigk’s lot, be expected to enter talks. That left the liberals and the papists. The LDP was kind of fractured; the nationalist portion, the descendants of the old NL, might be swayed to sign in. But the left-liberal chapter, the heirs of the old FVP, would rather join the left in denial.

The papists, Franz Josef’s old crowd, were quite renowned for their flexibility when it came to seizing and exerting power. Hanne thought he was going to focus on talking them into a coalition. – It wouldn’t be easy though. The Zentrum would bargain hard. What price was Franz Josef ready to pay? – Or was he clandestinely aiming at new elections?

That would mean taking another gamble. The voters were a devious lot. But in the current situation it might in fact work…
Victory is not always winning the battle… but rising every time you fall.
(Napoleon Bonaparte)

The army had failed! Consternation was ruling in Wünsdorf. How could that have happened? Why had this glorious instrument proven to be blunt? Professor Sigbert Ramsauer hadn’t fought in the Great War; born in 1909, he had been far too young for that. But after his studies, he had served his term as conscript staff surgeon with a battalion of infantry. Therefore, he knew a lot about the mindset found in modern conscripts.

Okay, that had been thirty years ago, But already back then, the lads had been mollycoddles. Neither in school, nor in vocational training was there any of the traditional rigour left that Ramsauer had still had to go through. Nobody was beaten or maltreated. Everything was love, peace and harmony. How could that proceeding produce tough soldiers? Nobody had ever experienced true violence. How should it be that these good lads suddenly turned into thugs?

Even worse, the NCOs and the officers were made of the same stuff. None of them had combat experience. The tough jobs in the NED crisis had been performed by the air force. It had been remote killing, often by gassing, without looking into the eyes of the opposite numbers. The ground forces had rather been busy collecting the survivors and dealing with the debris. What had the generals thought the men would do when confronted with the population at large?

Well, the generals… He was still kept in lockdown at OKW. All traffic had been suspended. The armed forces were in a state of shock. Would the revolution advance? Or might there be a peaceful settlement? Did one have time to re-train the troops? Would the rioters seize the barracks? They had already taken over the tasks of the police in many places. What was Strauß, the strong man of the day, going to do? He was remembered as an able minister of war, but that had been ages ago…
Citizens, did you want a revolution without a revolution?
(Maximilien Robespierre)

Hammerhorst was safe, of course, no riots, no collapse of the security force, no nothing, not even wildmen outside. Nevertheless, paralysis had already arrived. It was evident that those supplies arriving just now were going to be the last for some weeks – at least. Everything and everyone in Germany had come to a standstill, once again. One would thoughtfully process the stuff at hand – and then wait, in humble endurance.

Jochen Zeislitz didn’t mind the break, in principle. But what was the future to hold? Was this a revolution? The authority of the government had been fractured. Would Strauß restore it? Or would he proceed to something new? And what was going to happen to RRA – and the Feuerdrache project – this time? Another lockdown? Or Jupiter Colony?

Although the RRA brass was vehemently fighting the colony proposal, Jochen thought it was quite a funny idea. It could be done. With five Feuerdrachen it would be easy. – Well, not for him. His active time in space was over. The joint physicians and scientists had finally reached a verdict: no more space journeys for him. His body was showing a strange reaction to the radioactivity absorbed. One was still puzzling over it.

But until one had eventually identified was happening inside him, he better avoided absorbing more radioactivity. That also meant he couldn’t ride on the Feuerdrache, but had to sit back and direct pilot training from his office. That was a pity, yet somehow consistent with his rank. He was supposed to command and supervise people as they did what he had ordered, but not to do everything himself, he had been told.

Well, he would get used to it. After all, he had had his share of space – Moon, Mars, Jupiter. It was more than enough for a lifetime. However, would he really be able to lead the second life he had earned? Or would the revolution sweep everything away? Old structures were prone to be abolished in such events. And many Germans of his generation were loath of those old structures.

Jochen had an inkling that the process had just begun – and that nobody, including Franz Josef Strauß, knew right now how things were going to evolve. The rioters had beaten the police and the military. What would they do next? Was Strauß truly in a position to control them? Or was he just a sorcerer’s apprentice, unable to direct the beings he had created?
Any cook should be able to run the country.
(Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov aka Lenin)

Being leader of the Dortmund city patrol wasn’t exactly fun, but Egon Schagalla liked it. Sure, being a renowned ruffian didn’t solve the problems cropping up, but it helped getting along with the staff. The boys – and the two handfuls of tough girls – knew him since years. His reputation was seamless. They were in fact respecting him. And that had enabled him to forge an efficient organisation.

Who would have thought that Egon, the ordinary steel worker, had got what it took to be a successful chief? The city patrol was a substitute for the police, but in the eyes of many, it was better than the original. And Egon was also a decisive voice in the council, the rough-and-ready local government. Well, he always had been a do-it type. And there was a lot to do…

No, he wasn’t a politician, and would never become one. These guys, however, had run away, fearing the wrath of the people. So, the people were now forced to govern themselves. And it worked! You didn’t need those parasites. It was tedious, sure. But the factories were working, the shops were open, and public transport was rolling. Yeah, even the civil servants were submissive. And the tax officers were eagerly collecting money.

Gerdi thought it couldn’t go well. It was a revolution, and even the DVP couldn’t tolerate that. Strauß would see that his party occupied the corridors of power. A people’s government wasn’t foreseen. – She was right, most probably. Egon knew it. But that lay well in the future. He never had worried about the future. One had to master the present day. And then the next day. And so on…

The DVP folks had fought bravely in the riots, but only in the second row. After all, they were bloody amateurs, when it came to close combat. There was no reason to hand over the town to these windbags. No, the council was in charge, and the city patrol was getting things in line.
Problems worthy of attacks, prove their worth by hitting back.
(Adam Smith)

Franz Josef looked like a walking corpse. Under normal circumstances, one would immediately call an emergency physician upon seeing him. Well, Hanne Zülch had got used to it, more or less. His strategy to let the riots slide had been spot on. Krosigk had resigned – and he had been tasked to form the next government. Negotiations with the Zentrum were still under way. But now, the rioters wouldn’t oblige.

Hanne could see what had happened. They had won; they were the masters of the universe. Why should they obey the commands of this strange fellow from Bavaria? But if Franz Josef couldn’t control them, his bargaining platform opposite the papists – and the AFV – was rather dicey. Of course, he was trying to bluff them, but the papists were sly. They knew what was going on. Their agents were all over the place.

He wasn’t aiming at new elections; she knew that now. Too risky, he had said, corrobating her concerns. Yes, indeed, with most of the big cities – and the whole Ruhr area and the Saar and Upper Silesia – beyond control, staging new elections was calling for failure. No, he wanted to be elected Reichskanzler by a coalition of DVP, Zentrum and AFV. Legal advent to power, he was calling it. Once elected, he would jump off…

Anna Brieske, little Oskar’s child minder, had close connections to the local rioter milieu. She had told Hanne what was going on. The blokes were getting organised. A council republic… – without the political parties… Could it work? Rather not, in Hanne’s appreciation, but it could ruin the existing system. Well, local leaders would soon emerge, Anna had predicted. A national council would be formed eventually.

Hanne had told the story to Franz Josef. He had only shrugged his shoulders. His path was set. He couldn’t sway the rioters anymore. They had done the job he had wanted them to perform: bring down Krosigk. Unfortunately, they hadn’t gone up in smoke afterwards. So, his was closing his eyes – and ploughing ahead…
To minds of a certain cast there is nothing so captivating as simplification and generalisation.
(Thomas Malthus)

The Nieuw Hoogeveen city council was in session. One had sat down at a round table – Mayor Anne Robbins, Councillor Ton Snells and Councillor Bertje Jagtenberg. Anne was providing delicious coffee; Ton had brought along biscuits and Bertje caramel candy. Boardroom was Anne’s small house, a wooden shack the size of a monastic cell. Item number one was the situation in Germany. Nieuw Hoogeveen was producing for the German market. One would be done if that market collapsed.

But it wouldn’t, maintained Ton, the Moffen were still there, all of them. And they needed to eat. He had just returned from the central market at Enschede. The Ruhr area markets were buying like always. And they were paying like always. No need to worry. They had councils now – just like Nieuw Hoogeveen. So what? Ton had been a merchant in Utrecht, before the pest. He generally knew the ropes when it came to economy. Today, he was growing cabbage and turnips.

Nay, objected Bertje. The big crunch was still to come. The central government against the councils. It was going to take some time until the government had rallied its host, but the conflict was unavoidable. One should prepare for the coming German civil war. Bertje had been a violinist, before the pest. She was raising rabbits and poultry these days. It was rumoured she was sympathising with leftist ideas.

Well, said Anne, the warring factions had to eat as well. Hadn’t the Great War and German hunger boosted Dutch agriculture into modern times? She had learnt this in her language course. Yeah, that was true, boasted Ton. Armaments might become critical, when one side controlled the border. But foodstuffs? Everybody needed foodstuffs. Even if Strauß imposed a hunger blockade on the Ruhr area, one still could sell to the regions controlled by Strauß.

Maybe, answered Bertje, or may not be. The rural areas in Germany hadn’t rioted. They would still produce food. Strauß might not need our stuff at all – and just deny its entry. Yeah, but what could one do – in such a case? It would be a temporary affair, reasoned Bertje, perhaps months, perhaps a full year, but hardly more. What was needed were storage space, cold-storage warehouses, and food processing facilities. Canned cabbage could be stored until the Moffen would buy again…
If 90% of the Netherlands has died from the plague, and all the existing houses are not destroyed and empty, why do people live in small wooden shacks ?
Amd why does Germany not annex the country outright ? If the climate gets colder the eastern areas of Germany will lose productivity while the Netherlands will stay milder close to the North Sea.
And control of the Rhine estuary and the Rotterdam port and railways and roads to the East woud help Germany enormously, shorter shipping routes.