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I would like to thank Mr. William W. Duffy II, formerly of the United States Embassy in Buenos Aires, and Colonel Jose Manuel Menendez, Cavalry, Argentine Army, Retired, who both went well beyond the call of duty in helping me in many ways as I was writing this book.
W. E. B.Griffin
Buenos Aires, 13 December 1995
Nation at a Glance
San Carlos de Bariloche
A federal court will decide this week whether or not former Nazi SS Erich Priebke will be extradited to Italy. A year ago, Priebke admitted to having participated in the murder of 335 civilians in the Ardeatine caves in Rome duringWorld War II. San Carlos de Bariloche Judge Le?nidas Molde agreed to Priebke's extradition after Italian courts petitioned the Argentine government to send Priebke to Italy to face murder charges.
The Buenos Aires Herald, Buenos Aires, Argentina
July 4, 1995
Estancia San Pedro y San Pablo
Near Pila, Buenos Aires Province
Republic of Argentina
2105 4 April 1943
The concentration el Coronel Jorge Guillermo Frade was devoting to the inch-thick document on his desk was interrupted by what sounded like the death agony of a water buffalo being stomped by an elephant.
Frade, a six-foot-one, 195-pound, fifty-one-year-old, still had all of his hair (including the full mustache he had worn since he was commissioned Sub-TenienteSecond Lieutenantof Cavalry) and all of his teeth; but in the past five years he had found it necessary to wear corrective glasses when reading. He removed his horn-rimmed spectacles, sighed audibly, and looked across his study at the source of the noise.
It came from the open mouth of a heavyset man in his late forties who was sitting sprawled in a leather armchair, sound asleep. He, too, wore a cavalryman's mustache.
He was Enrico Rodriguez, who had left Estancia San Pedro y San Pablo to enlist in the Cavalry to serve as Sub-Teniente Frade's batman. They had retired together twenty-five years later as Colonel Commanding and Suboficial Mayor (Sergeant Major) of Argentina's most prestigious cavalry regiment, the Husares de Pueyrred?n.
During their long service together, el Coronel Frade had grown familiar with Suboficial Mayor Rodriguez's snoring. Tonight's was spectacular, which meant that Rodriguez had been drinking beer. For some reason wine and whiskey did not seem to affect Enrico the way beer did. Wine made Enrico mellow; whiskey very often sent him in search of feminine companionship; but beereven two beersmade Enrico sleepy and turned on the snoring machine full blast.
For a moment el Coronel Frade seriously considered picking up his metal wastebasket and dropping it on the tile floor of the study. That would bring Enrico out of his slumberand the chairas if catapulted.
He decided against it. It had been a long day, and Enrico was tired.
He looked at his watch, and at the inch-thick folder on his desk, and decided to hell with it. He too was tired, and they had to drive back to Buenos Aires.
He slid his glasses into the breast pocket of his tweed jacket and stood up, then picked up the inch-thick folder and carried it to an open, wall-mounted safe. After placing the document on one of the shelves, he shut the door, then turned a chrome wheel that moved inch-wide steel pistons into corresponding holes in the frame; finally, he spun the combination dial.
The safe itself was concealed from view by a movable section of bookshelves. When closed, these gave no indication that anything was behind them.
Frade swung the bookcase section back in place and tiptoed out of the simply furnished study, so as not to wake Enrico. He then went down a long, wide corridor to his apartment. There he sat on the bed and with a grunt removed his English-made riding boots. That done, he removed the rest of his clothing and tossed it on the large bed.
He went into his bathroom and showered and shaved. When he went back into the bedroom, Enrico was there.
"There is an operation, I am told," Coronel Frade said. "The surgeon goes in your throator maybe it's the nosecuts something, and then you don't snore."
Enrico looked uncomfortable.
"I am told the operation is relatively painless," Frade went on straight-faced, "and that you don't have to spend more than a week or ten days in the hospital, and that you can eat normally within a month."
"You should have woken me, mi Coronel," Enrico said.
"And disturb the sleep of the innocent?"
"I have fueled and checked the car, mi Coronel," Enrico said, changing the subject. "Rudolpho and Juan Francisco will precede us in the Ford."
"No, they won't," Frade said. "There is no need for that."
"It is better, mi Coronel, to be safe than sorry."
"We will go alone," Frade said.
"S?, Se?or," Enrico said.
"Have a thermos filled with coffee, please," Frade ordered. "I don't want you to fall asleep on the way to Buenos Aires."
S?, Se?or," Enrico said.
"Wait for me in the car," Frade said. "I won't be a minute."
Enrico nodded and left the bedroom.
The car was a black Horche convertible touring sedan, painstakingly and lovingly maintained by Enrico, often assisted by el Coronel. Some of the reason for their loving care was that parts for the Horche were not available at any price. The Horche Company was no longer making luxury automobiles, but rather tank engines for the German Army. And some of it was because el Coronel was extraordinarily fond of this automobile.
He rarely let Enrico drive it. Tonight was to be an exception.
"You drive, please," el Coronel ordered as he walked quickly down the wide steps to the verandah. "I want some of that coffee."
S?, Se?or," Enrico said.
He opened the front passenger door, closed it after Frade stepped in, then went around the front of the car and got behind the wheel.
"Pay attention to the road," Frade ordered. "Stay well behind anything ahead of us until you're sure you can pass without having it throw up a stone and hit our windscreen."
Enrico had heard exactly the same order three or four hundred times.
S?, Se?or," he said.
Enrico drove slowly until el Coronel had poured coffee into a mug, closed the thermos bottle, and put it on the floor. Then he pressed more heavily on the accelerator.
Two miles down the roadstill on estancia propertyhis headlights picked up an object on the road. As he took his foot from the accelerator, el Coronel ordered, "Slow down, there's a beef on the road."
It was indeed a beef, lying crosswise in the center of the macadam.
El Coronel swore. He could not have told anyone within five hundred head how many cattle roamed Estancia San Pedro y San Pablo, but he was always enraged to find one of them on the road, victim of an encounter with a truck.
Enrico applied the brakes more heavily. The Horche took some time to slow from 120 kph. And he knew that if he went on the shoulder at any pace faster than a funeral crawl, el Coronel would have something to say.
The roof was down, and as Enrico started to pass the beef, el Coronel stood up, supporting himself on the windscreen frame to take a good look at it.
As he did this, Enrico noticed movement on the side of the road. He was wondering if somehow his headlights had failed to pick out more beeves when he saw the muzzle flashes.
And then something hit him in the head and he fell onto the wheel.
The Horche veered left, crossed the road and the shoulder, and then came to a stop against a fence post.
Two men ran up to the car.
El Coronel Frade was on his knees on the front seat, searching for the .45 automatic pistol he knew Enrico carried in the small of his back.
One of the men shot him twice, in the face and chest, with both barrels of a twelve-bore side-by-side shotgun.
El Coronel Frade fell onto Enrico's back and then slid down it, coming to rest between Enrico's back and the seat.
The man with the Thompson submachine gun looked at the bloody head of Suboficial Mayor Enrico Rodriguez, Cavalry, Retired, and professionally decided that shooting him again would be unnecessary.
Near Rastenburg, East Prussia
2130 5 April 1943
The license plates of the Mercedes sedan bore the double lightning flashes of the SS. As it approached, a Hauptsturmf?hrer (SS Captain), a Schmeisser submachine gun hanging from his shoulder, stepped into the floodlight-illuminated roadway and rather arrogantly, if unnecessarilya heavy, yellow-and-black-striped barrier pole hung across the roadextended his right hand in a signal to stop.
He wore a leather-brimmed service cap with the Totenkopf (death's-head) insignia. Behind him, wearing steel helmets, their Schmeissers in their hands, an Unterscharf?hrer (SS Sergeant) and a Rottenf?hrer (SS Corporal) backed him up. Between two narrow silver bands around the cuffs of their black uniform sleeves, the silver-embroidered legend "Adolf Hitler" identified them all as members of the Liebstandarte (literally, "Life Guard") Adolf Hitler, Hitler's personal bodyguard.
The Hauptsturmf?hrer approached the Mercedes, raised his arm straight out from his shoulder in salutethe passenger in the rear seat wore the uniform of a Standartenf?hrer (SS Colonel)and barked, "Heil Hitler! ...