[Transcript of interview with Prisoner N-7832, December 22, 1944. Interviewer, Maj. A.D. Swindler, U.S. Army Intelligence.]
I am indeed Count Otto Von Sturmann. I see that my name speaks for itself. With the possible exception of two others, who are mediocre aviators at best, I have the highest kill total of any fighter pilot in the Luftwaffe. Need I tell you how many Allied airmen have succumbed to the sweet music of my machine guns? Judging from your expression, I do not. They hated me, too. Their emotions clouded their reasoning, fogged their wits, slowed their reflexes, and so they died in the skies above Germany, even those who leapt from their blazing aircraft. Yes, I shot the parachutists as they drifted helplessly toward the ground. Their lives were mine to take, for I had already defeated them in combat. And what is victory, if there is no... coup de grace, as the French would say? While you continue to fly your B-17s and B-24s and other elephants of the air, my Kampfgeschwader [Transl. Squadron. -ADS] is now flying the latest Messerschmitt jet fighters, far superior to any of your aircraft. We will shoot you down until the skies again belong to us. That time is not far away, as I suspect you already know.
It is obvious from your name and your bearing that your family is of German origin. Is this not so? You are of Aryan blood, denial of which is pointless. For this reason alone I will speak to you of certain things, the better to convince you why America must join with us and help us defeat those who are descended from bestial stock. I refer of course to your swine allies, the Bolsheviks. How your Mr. Roosevelt can bring himself to deal with Stalin is beyond understanding. You will soon discover, to your cost, that Stalin is a monster.
Our Fuhrer, by contrast, is a gifted visionary who can see one thousand years into the future. He has personally mapped out the destiny of our Reich for the next ten centuries. Does this fact astound you? It should. To possess the smallest fraction of his total knowledge would leave you quite bewildered. You should know that since the early 1930s, the Fuhrer has sent expeditions to the far corners of the planet, with orders to bring all the knowledge and treasure they discovered back to Berlin for analysis. Ah, if you only knew some of the things those expeditions found. There is evil in the world that makes even the Bolsheviks appear civilized. Evil that is older than anything we can imagine. Evil that sleeps, and then awakens. I see doubt in your eyes. I also doubted once, but since then, I have witnessed the unspeakable.
You see this? [Prisoner N-7832 indicated medal & ribbon worn at the neck, the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. -ADS] It is the highest honor any German soldier can hope for. The Fuhrer presented it to me personally at Berghof [The so-called "Eagle's Nest" -ADS] only recently. The weather that day was not all it could have been. It grew dark very early in the afternoon and we retreated inside rather than risk being caught in a thunderstorm. The presentation ceremony continued as planned. Three other airmen accompanied me. I did not know them but they were fellow fliers, and so we enjoyed an easy camaraderie. However, we could not help but notice how nervous the Fuhrer's Black Guards appeared. These hand-picked soldiers are renowned for their courage and loyalty to our leader, yet the slightest noise startled them. Sometimes a door opening or closing would cause them to react, raising their weapons or shifting their positions. At first we smiled at this unusual display, but our humor vanished when we realized the strangeness of their behavior.
Reichsmarschall Goering arrived before the Fuhrer. He welcomed us and told us how proud he was of our achievements. He especially singled me out and thanked me for my contribution to the defense of the Fatherland. [Prisoner N-7832 became highly emotional at this point. -ADS]
But even Goering, the fighter ace of World War One, the bravest of the brave, evidenced unusual behavior. Often he would stop talking in mid-sentence, his gaze would go to the windows, and he would study the billowing black clouds that raced across the sky, saying nothing for long periods of time, ignoring our comments and questions. We all agreed it was filthy flying weather, but this was good in that it would prevent American airmen, who fly during the day, from finding their targets. As much as I appreciated the honor of being summoned to Berghof, I longed to return to my squadron so that I might rise above the clouds and fix the enemy bombers in my gun sights.
The Fuhrer arrived shortly after, an imposing figure in his neat, light brown uniform, his eyes ablaze with power. His personality filled the entire room. Goering made a great fuss of us, introducing us in turn, myself before the others. My chest swelled with pride when the Fuhrer awarded me my Diamonds. He knew everything about our new aircraft and even commented on my latest victory, a British Lancaster bomber I had blown out of the sky the previous night. The Fuhrer laughed when I related the story of how I machine-gunned its crew as they attempted to parachute to safety, and Goering smiled his approval. But then their humor vanished when the twin doors at the end of the room suddenly crashed open as if blown by a strong wind.
The sentries drew back, clearly made afraid by this seemingly ordinary event. I imagined a window must have been left open somewhere in the building and a gust of wind was responsible for the doors parting as they did. Certainly no one stood in the outer corridor. Goering gestured angrily to the soldier nearest to the disturbance. The man looked doubtful, and for a moment I wondered if he had not understood the Reichsmarschall's order; but then he took a deep breath, stepped forward and closed the doors, before hurriedly returning to his former position.
What is the significance of this, you ask? At that time I did not know, although I do now. The Fuhrer, after glaring at the soldier, resumed his social duties and spoke with the other airmen. But now Goering no longer glanced out the windows. His glances were aimed at the other half of the room, although what attracted his attention, I could not say. Not then.
To my surprise, Goering took me by the arm and led me into a corner. "Listen to me, Von Sturmann," he said. "I wish you to leave immediately and take a car to the airfield. There you will find a Junkers dive bomber, fueled and ready for take-off."
"I do not understand, Reichsmarschall," I said.
"You are required to fly a special mission," he told me. "The Junkers is fully armed. You will find a map under the seat, with a target clearly marked. The target lies sixty kilometers to the northeast of the airfield."
"May I ask, Reichsmarschall, whether this is some kind of jest?" I said.
Goering's expression did not suggest this might be the case. "You must do as I say, Count. We are depending on you, the Fuhrer and myself. I cannot stress the importance of this mission. You must—"
He stopped talking then, and an unmistakable look of fear crossed his face. I could only wonder what the devil was going on. Goering took hold of my hand and pressed something into it, closing my fingers around the object. "Put this on," he said, "once you are in the air." His voice was pitched so low that I could barely hear the words. "It will protect you from what you will encounter."
I stared at him, puzzled by his behavior, but I did not question him or make comment. It was not my place to do so.
"You have your orders, Count," he said. With this, he turned and rejoined the Fuhrer and the other airmen. The Fuhrer glanced in my direction and quickly looked away. He was intensely interested in what had just been said, that much was obvious.
As the Reichsmarschall had reminded me, I had my orders. I left the room at once, ignoring the curious stares from the sentries. No one challenged me as I made my way outside to the motor pool. I climbed into the first staff car, started the engine and drove away.
No more than five minutes later, after a relatively pleasant drive through green countryside cluttered with anti-aircraft batteries, I reached the airfield. The guards at the gate allowed me to pass without even a cursory identity check. There were several planes visible, one a Junkers Ju-87, the famed Stuka, one of the first aircraft I had flown in this war. I could see men in the control tower, faceless shadows, watching me. I abandoned the staff car near the end of the runway and approached the waiting dive bomber. It was, as the Reichsmarschall had said, armed. Beneath its belly hung a cylindrical bomb, much larger than the 250-kilogram bomb usually carried by the Ju-87. I did not recognize the type, and wondered whether the Stuka was actually capable of carrying such an enormous payload.
I climbed into the cockpit, switched on the electricals, carried out a swift pre-flight instrument check, then turned the starter switch. The 12-cylinder Jumo engine caught immediately. Its familiar roar gave me some measure of comfort.
I reached beneath my seat, located the map, and memorized the target area. Moments later I guided the Stuka down the runway, ignoring everything except my controls and the runway directly ahead. The Stuka slowly gathered speed and momentum and the entire frame groaned in protest as I pulled back on the stick, demanding the aircraft take to the sky. It is as well that flat fields lay beyond the runway, because the Stuka stubbornly refused to rise and instead flew parallel to the ground, achieving an altitude of only fifty feet over the first five minutes of flight. I had not flown this low since I machine-gunned the endless lines of civilian refugees streaming out of Warsaw in 1939. I was flying a brick toward an unknown target—a brick packed with high explosive that would disperse my physical being across the universe should I make the slightest error.
I concentrated on keeping the Stuka on course. This took considerable skill because the winds had increased. The sky had also turned completely black, so that day was transformed into night. I felt as if I was flying through a great storm that possessed a supernatural intelligence and was bent on stopping me from performing my duty—a duty given to me by none other than Reichsmarschall Goering and approved by the Fuhrer himself. At that moment I remembered the object Goering had pressed into my hand. I took it from my pocket and held it before my eyes. It was an amulet. The chain was silver, beautifully worked, and from this dangled a small silver sphere of diameter two centimeters, intricately engraved with what I imagined might be writing, although I did not recognize the form or the characters.
I nearly lost control of my aircraft when the sphere opened of its own accord, the two hemispheres parting to reveal that which lay within. The sphere contained a black jewel, but this was no ordinary jewel. Within its interior blazed a tiny swastika, the glorious symbol of our Reich. It burned with a red fire that seemed, somehow, alive. I had never seen anything so beautiful before. It filled me with strength and exhilaration. It seemed the most natural thing in the world to loop the chain over my head and wear the amulet at my neck. The sphere closed again, settling itself comfortably against my chest.
Something I can only describe as warmth flowed through me, filling every part of my body. I could not explain it, nor did I have time to wonder. Directly ahead, clearly visible even at this range, was my target. I had not known what to expect to find—a building, perhaps, inhabited by secret enemies of the Reich? Oh yes, we know of those traitors who sought to take the Fuhrer's life—they died under slow torture, and thoroughly deserved their fate.
But my target was not a building. Flashes of lightning revealed a hole in the ground, a vast pit such as might have been made by a giant mole, if such a creature could be imagined to exist. As I flew ever closer, I began to perceive its dimensions. The pit was fully half a kilometer wide. I had no idea of its depth but instinctively sensed it plunged down into the bowels of the earth, far deeper than any opening Man had ever encountered.
I also realized that I was no longer alone.
Yes, it might have been a trick of the light, for the world about me lay in darkness, an unnatural darkness, a chilling darkness that should never have existed. Lightning continued to flash around the target, and in these brief moments of lucidity, I believe I saw something.
How does one describe the indescribable? Once upon a remote time there were supposedly reptiles that flew over the earth, great winged creatures that dominated the air in much the same way as our Luftwaffe does today.
They were there, and yet they were not there. I never actually saw them, other than as barely glimpsed shadows that vanished the instant I turned my head. But I saw the damage they inflicted upon my aircraft. They tore at my wings with their razor sharp claws, twisted my aerofoils, did everything they could to stop me from reaching that dark place from which they had risen.
Oh my Fuhrer, what terrible secrets have you disturbed that were better left sleeping? What alliance did you make with these denizens of timeless evil, that now must be broken for the sake of our Reich and our very souls? Now I knew what had opened the doors at Berghof; now I knew why even the Black Guards were so afraid.
The Stuka flew resolutely on, stoically bearing their awful assault, but I could tell from the way my aircraft handled that damage was being done. I sensed that those shadowy figments of my addled imagination wished to rip open my cockpit and tear me limb from limb, but were prevented from doing so. How, you may ask? What held their rage in check? The answer dangled around my neck—the amulet which the Reichsmarschall had given to me just before I departed Berghof, of course. The jewel within resisted them, demanded they keep their distance. It caused them great pain and suffering, just as it gave me the strength to guide my aircraft toward the target. I have heard it said that the Buddhists look upon our swastika as the symbol that represents life. Whether they are right I cannot say, but I do know that the amulet protected me, drawing upon a power as ancient as those creatures who so desperately wished to stop me.
But, despite the amulet's protection, doubt struck me then. Perhaps an entire fleet of bombers might destroy whatever lay within that deep pit of Hell, but what could one bomb possibly do? This question insinuated itself into my consciousness, demanding an immediate answer. Was it worth my risking self-destruction to deliver such a puny weapon that would ultimately do no good at all? I decided no, that my mission was pointless and without meaning, and I gripped the stick firmly, intending to wrench the Stuka around and fly back to the airfield. But my limbs were no longer my own.
An agonizing burning pain in the vicinity of my chest made me look down. The sphere had opened again and the swastika trapped within the black jewel burned fiercely, casting away the darkness, illuminating the cockpit with an intense crimson light. The pain vanished, my spirit soared and all doubt left me. I was infused with iron determination and willingness to succeed, regardless of my own fate.
I dropped the Stuka's nose and began my bomb run. The shadows around me became more frantic. Parts of my aircraft were torn away. The engine cowling broke free and collided with the cockpit window, shattering the glass. The tip of my right wing vanished and the Stuka shuddered, losing stability. But they were too late! My hand found the release lever and with a savage tug, I sent the cylindrical bomb hurtling into the pit. The Stuka, freed of its burden, leapt into the sky and away from the pit, for which I was thankful. This close to the source of evil, I sensed its horrid malevolence.
I do not fully understand what happened next. The unnatural black night suddenly turned into day, yet it was by no means a natural day. The intensity of the light that bathed my aircraft forced me to screw my eyes tight shut. This proved insufficient, and so I threw my arm across my face. Still the light burned through to my eyes and I feared I must surely be blinded. A great heat washed over me then, far hotter even than the fire that burned at my chest. The Stuka was thrown across the sky by forces beyond my ability to comprehend.
I recall, in an insane moment, taking my arm away from my face and peering back over my shoulder at the Hellish fire that rose out of the pit like a horned demon unleashed. It reared up into the sky, a vast pillar of flame and smoke, as if the sun had been plucked out of the heavens and allowed to run amuck. The image is etched into my brain forever. I see it every time I close my eyes, a billowing black mushroom shot through with scarlet veins. An obscenity, employed to cleanse a far worse obscenity.
By dint of superhuman effort I wrestled with the Stuka's controls and brought the damaged aircraft down, skimming the ground until I crashed into dense bushes and trees that tore my wings off and slowed my headlong flight. I crawled and stumbled from the wreckage, one leg and an arm broken, before the Ju-87 exploded. Some hours later my body was found by a supply truck driver, who took me to the nearest military hospital. Upon regaining consciousness, a week after being brought there, I discovered that the hospital was filled with wounded men from all over the district who had suffered terrible burns. Many were blind, and I did not have to be told the cause of this. They, too, had seen the pillar of fire.
The hospital commandant told me that certain high-ranking persons had queried my condition, and had asked him to pass on their thanks. I should have felt honored, but even the personal appreciation of the Fuhrer and the Reichsmarschall was overshadowed by the emotional thrill of what I had unleashed. Do you not understand the significance of the bomb? It must have been one of our new terrorweapons, which the Fuhrer has promised. With such weapons at our disposal, you Americans and your British allies will be forced to capitulate. Another reason why your Mr. Roosevelt should make peace with Germany while he still can, yes?
It is as well that the hospital doctors allowed me to continue wearing the amulet. They could not see, as I did, what happened in the wards during the night. Those terrible shadows would appear in the darkest hour, seeking revenge for what I had done to their lair. They were not all caught in the fiery blast, you see. Some had survived, and had followed me to the hospital. But because of the amulet's power they were unable to approach me without causing themselves extreme pain, and so they took out their anger on the other patients. At first their frustration amused me, but then it began to irritate, as the noise they and their victims made often kept me awake. The doctors and nurses never knew why so many of their patients died during the night, and in apparent agony judging from their twisted final expressions, and from the way their frozen hands seemingly clawed the air, as if trying to ward off something that was attacking them. Only I knew the truth.
I remained in the hospital for another week, until the doctors pronounced me again fit for duty. They were surprised by the speed of my recovery. I was not—the amulet healed me and restored me to perfect health. I returned to my Kampfgeschwader and continued to shoot down Allied aircraft that dared trespass into German airspace, with considerable success. As bad luck would have it, mechanical failure forced my Messerschmitt fighter to crash-land, unfortunately too close to American lines. And so here I am, your prisoner, but not for long. It is only a matter of time before I shall be free again.
You doubt me, which is understandable, but what if I tell you that this amulet is more than a simple protection? I have become familiar with the power that lies within—an ancient power that is as much beyond mortal comprehension as the festering evil that perished when I unleashed the bomb. The longer I wear the amulet, the more I absorb its power. Each night I lie awake in my cell, listening to the distant thoughts of those creatures who survived the hellish flames. They are witless brutes, alone and leaderless and afraid. I believe I can bend them to my superior will and force them to carry out my bidding, in much the same way as I have forbidden you to confiscate the amulet. Now do you see? When they obey my summons, the steel bars and brick walls of this prison will not stop them. They will release me and take me back to Berlin, where I will introduce the Fuhrer and Reichsmarschall Goering to another form of terrorweapon. They will fly alongside me, these night hunters. Together we will destroy the enemies of the Fatherland until not a single one remains alive.
You must convey all that I have told you to your superiors at once. Your only chance of surviving this war and taking your rightful place alongside the Master Race lies in swift and unconditional surrender. By all means, use me to convey your answer to Berlin, but you would do well to hurry—I do not intend to remain here for much longer.
[Addendum: The cause of the fire that swept through the prison wing during the night of December 22/23 is still under investigation. MPs had been called away to an emergency situation in another part of the camp and could not reach Prisoner N-7832 in time to save him. The amulet was recovered from the ruins of the collapsed building, melted by the intense heat. Close inspection revealed that it is a plain silver sphere with no remarkable features. I enclose it with this report. -ADS]