Sunday, August 24, 2014



Date: December 20, 1937

Location: Bismarck Archipelago - Island of Malabascar
Situation: The von Stiehls
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Important Suggestion: Reread Chapter 1 The Last Naval Battles
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Following Germany's World War I defeat, the nation descended into a severe depression. Extreme food shortages, hyper inflation, riots, thuggery and reparations caused national hopelessness, anger and shame. Political opportunists and new movements promised to make things right. These ardently sought influence with self-proclaimed merits to restore order, the economy and national honor.

The Weimar Republic replaced Kaiser Wilhelm II. By 1935, Communists became insignificant. Wretched Fascists suffered similarly after the suicide of their leader following huge election failures in 1933. Many political thugs were jailed with long sentences. Others settled down to work with each other. By 1937 the economy though still a shambles began to recover. Faint hope revived. Others having a more ambitious nature developed plans for meteoric recovery.

In the 1920s, one family sought relief in its South Pacific holdings on the independent Island of Malabascar. The small shipyard started in 1901 by Rheinhard von Stiehl thrived amidst tropical weather, plentiful seagoing clients, peace and by the influx of family members escaping the Fatherland. They brought millions of marks and skills to build plantations, a bank, medical facilities, a factory, a hotel, a telegraph, roads, an import/export business and a single track rail line. All were safeguarded by a cooperative agreement signed between von Stiehl and King Vanu Vutu XIV, specifying mutual advantages and protections.

1937: The von Stiehl Family Compound in Sapphire Bay. The dock on the right leads to....

The von Stiehl Shipyard.

The Imperial Flag flown a little too long after the Kaiser's abdication was replaced by the flag of The Weimar Republic you now see fluttering in the warm tropical breeze.

The von Stiehl Werke established in 1901 on the Island of Malabascar. It's 8:00 p.m. and....

Prosperous family members are arriving for a special commemoration and social event.

The family gathers for the special occasion on the second floor of the main building.

Trudi von Stiehl: "My dear Reinie. We should join our guests. Your 66th birthday....

Rheinhard von Stiehl: "I have been waiting for this moment since November 1918.

Trudi von Stiehl: "My darling. Tell me the story again. That shocking night.....

Rheinhard von Stiehl: "Ja. We were returning here from Isla Incognita as the Herr Doctor calls it. Half the crew was dead or disabled by a terrible sickness contracted ashore. We thought the war had been over for a few days or at least we thought so."

Rheinhard: "Ten nautical miles out we surfaced. Thoughts of home, you Trudi, the end of the war and a return to normalcy intoxicated us."

Rheinhard: "Our canoe had been damaged by a ramming attempt a few days earlier. On November 27th., only two of us could keep watch. Below decks a skeleton crew managed the diesels, steering and other essentials. As Malabascar came in view, we heard naval gunfire from Sapphire Bay."

Rheinhard: "I sent the officer on watch below to supervise possibly diving to periscope depth. I remained on deck. We had one torpedo left. The engineer thought it might fail if we needed to fire it."

Rheinhard: "Only a sailing vessel came into view. I decided to wait for....

Rheinhard: "Nightfall. However, I was overcome with fever. In a delirium I ordered engines to increase speed for home."

Rheinhard: "Later I was shaken from unconsciousness by gunfire. A Britischen gunboat had fired on us."

Rheinhard: "She hit us aft. Then I was thrown to the port side of the conning tower by a shot passing through the flag halyard. Somehow I ordered an emergency dive and fell headfirst through the hatch. My second officer had enough wits about him to secure it before the compartment flooded. Another moment and we would have sunk to the seafloor!"

Rheinhard: "We heard her circling - hunting us - above and played a desperate trick. Debris and two recently deceased seamen were sent out through the forward torpedo tubes. A last mission for them to save the rest of us! Fever ridden I ordered the boat to periscope depth and saw the enemy. Our last torpedo had been loaded."

Rheinhard: "Torpedo los. She ran true but would it explode? If not, we were all doomed!"

Rheinhard: "The crew heard the explosion and raised a cheer." 

Rheinhard: "Her name was Zanzibar. Fire broke out amidships as she listed to starboard.

Rheinhard: "In less than two minutes she settled deep in the water. One of her officers continued to man the bridge till the end." We found no survivors. Afterwards we steered for home. Both boats apparently thought the war had not yet ended. Thus, a terrible and unnecessary last naval battle occurred."

Trudi: "And nineteen years later my darling, here you are. Let's join our guests. Your first birthday gift is imminent."

Rheinhard: "Here at the stairs my liebchen?"

Trudi: "Ja. I hear your present coming!"

Rheinhard: "Everyone but me is in on it, eh?"

Trudi: "May I present our son, Kapitänleutnant Rudi von Stiehl! Arriving earlier than expected from Wilhelmshaven, you see."

Rudi von Stiehl: "Hello Mother. Father. Everyone. --- Father. Happy birthday!"

Rheinhard: "Welcome home son. I am delighted to see you....

Rudi: "I also. It is good to be back. --- Ach! I see the ever unhappy Herr Doctor Krausen is about to demand an untimely audience Father.

Rheinhard: "Oh?"

Rudi: "I am glad to see you Herr Doctor."

Dr. Krausen: "Ja, ja, but I am afraid we must have a brief conversation now. Pleasantries later, bitte. Your early arrival is fortuitous. I can almost smile. We do not have a day to spare before the wretched Cyclone season starts again and potentially ruins the mission months from now."

Rheinhard: "Ja. You may have a moment Krausen. That is all."

Dr. Krausen: "Herr von Stiehl, I insist we sail for the island within two days."

Rudi: "To Isla Incognita."

Trudi: "Ja. For the von Stiehls and The Fatherland!"

Narrator:  Rheinhard von Stiehl's U-Boat crew contracted a terrible illness on a secret mission to Isla Incognita in 1918. He is about to return there with various family members for reasons known to them. Is everything in readiness at the von Stiehl Werke? Men, ships, weapons, supplies, courage and an experimental antidote too. We shall see.

Meanwhile, Isla Incognita waits.

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1) Thank you for looking in. I appreciate it very much and hope you enjoyed the experience.

2) Chapter 3 is scheduled for late September. 

3)Your remarks are welcome below at Comments. We all look forward to what you have to say.

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