The Prussian Prince: A Novel of World War II

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9781592992454: The Prussian Prince: A Novel of World War II
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Kurt von Flick grew up on his family's rural estate in Prussia, where he was expected to follow the family tradition of a military career. However from childhood, young Kurt demonstrated an ability and interest in art. With the encouragement of family friend Hermann Goering, von Flick is eventually allowed to study art at the University of Cologne where he is befriended by Marco Federico, a fellow student from Palermo, Sicily. Following a postgraduate idyll in Paris, both young men answer the call-to-arms of their respective Fatherlands, and von Flick finds himself accompanying the Wehrmacht, as a translator, during the Blitzkrieg into Poland. Goering, by now Hitler's Reichsmarschall, intervenes again and orders von Flick's transfer to Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, where he is to work on the conservation of art stolen from Jews. The Castle turns out to be a hotbed of treachery, paranoia and cruelty, which becomes even more obvious to von Flick when he is assigned two Jewish slaves as assistants - a brother and a sister - whom he must protect from the evil slave-master, Sgt. Major Teufel.

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"Stop here, Corporal. I want to get out for a few minutes and look at the entrance to the Castle," Lieutenant Kurt von Flick ordered, from the back seat of the German Army staff car.

"But Sir," Corporal Hans Brandt implored, "my orders are to take you to the sentry at the Gatehouse, and then directly to the Commandant!"

"No worry, Corporal. This will just take a few minutes," and with that, von Flick was out of the car and walking toward the red-stoned Gatehouse at Neuschwanstein Castle, in Bavaria - struck by how the Gatehouse color contrasted with the lightcolored stone of the main building behind it. Funny, he thought, that I've never been here before - even though it's not that far from home.

Back in the staff car, Brandt was fuming. Another arrogant officer - I hate these bastards. If Sgt. Major Teufel finds out about this, I've had it - he wanted the Lieutenant brought directly to the Commandant! Then he noticed the Lieutenant was taking a cigarette out of his pocket and lighting up, as he stared at the Castle, and so Brandt did the same.

As von Flick studied the fairy-tale quality of Neuschwanstein, with its towers, turrets and arched windows, he wondered how Marco would have responded had he been here to see this with him today. The site itself, high atop a mountain, was breath-taking. He walked over to the right side of the Castle and looked down the heavily-forested mountain that fell away below. When he walked over to the other side, the view was similar. By the time he had finished his cigarette, he was ready to continue on. He walked back to the staff car, got in, and ordered the obviously-sullen driver to proceed to the Gatehouse. A sentry stopped them at the Gatehouse, but after they showed their identity papers, they were allowed to drive through to the Courtyard.

The Courtyard was nearly deserted, as Brandt drove up to a doorway on the right side of the yard. Von Flick got out of the car, while Brandt fetched his duffle bag from the trunk of the car and then led him to the outer office of Colonel Albrecht Stern's suite. In the reception area, Brandt reported to a young sergeant who was sitting behind a small desk, and who immediately got up and went into the Commandant's office for a few moments - returning quickly to usher the Lieutenant into the Commandant's presence.

"Ah, von Flick," Colonel Stern said, rising from behind his desk. "How pleased we are to see you at Neuschwanstein!"

Von Flick saluted smartly, and then accepted the proffered handshake of the Commandant. He made a quick appraisal of his new leader - a bald, overtlynervous chain-smoker (his fingernails were heavilystained), probably in his late forties. What von Flick had no way of knowing was that Stern was terrified of him, because colleagues in high positions in Berlin had warned him that this Lieutenant's family had personal connections to Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, who had ordered the Lieutenant's posting to the Castle. On the surface, von Flick looked harmless enough - tall, thin, blond-haired, with ice-blue eyes. But he could be a troublemaker if he rocks the boat, or exposes to Goering the relative ease of this plum assignment for most of the staff here, Stern thought.

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