Für das Vaterland, nicht der Führer

Setting: Western front, WWII

Summary: A German soldier during the Second World War battle of Aachen, fights desperately to survive against advancing Allied forces on the Western front, while he begins to question his own loyalty to the fatherland…

Several clumps of dirt slipped off of the side, and slid down into his foxhole. Reinhard Besserkönnen quickly moved his rifle out of the way, to avoid the dirt. His rifle, a Kar98, was rather beaten up, as it had been through many battles. The most distinguishing feature of Reinhard's rifle were the words, "MEIN GEWEHR DES KRIEST", which means "My rifle of the war", that he had engraved into the butt of his rifle.

Reinhard Besserkönnen joined the German Wehrmacht in February of 1944, and had survived through the Allied Normandy landings, earning eight American Paratrooper kills during the defense. In October, Reinhard was relocated to the city of Aachen, the first German city to fall into American hands, where he faced his greatest challenge…

Reinhard snapped awake again. This had been the third time he had dozed off inside of his foxhole, even though it was his turn to keep watch. Beside him lay fellow soldier and friend, Jochen Kahl, who was groping his own rifle in an uneasy sleep. I hate Aachen, thought Reinhard, stupid Kommandants, putting up this much of a defense for such a small and pitiful city. For hours, Reinhard and Jochen had been sitting in their foxhole, on the side of an Aachen street, waiting for the inevitable American assault.

The half-awake man checked his watch, but it was too dark to see. He lit a small kerosene lamp that lay near him, and looked at his watch. Three AM. Reinhard then put out the light, and just leaned back against the dirt side of the foxhole. Again, his weariness overcame him. His eyes becoming heavy, Reinhard again slipped into a sleep.

Explosions erupted all around the foxhole. Both Reinhard and Jochen jolted awake, rifles in hand. Every time another explosion happened, the two German soldiers could get a quick look at what was happening in the dark streets. For the first couple of views they got, they saw nothing, but on the third one, Jochen spotted an American Sherman tank down the street. Through the sound of bullets and explosions, they heard heavy footsteps from behind. Silently agreeing for one two turn, Reinhard jolted around and pointed his rifle up. But to his surprise and fortune, it was not an American, but a fellow German soldier.

"The Americans have renewed their attack on the west side of the city," he said, diving into the foxhole.

Reinhard quickly questioned, "How many do they have?"

"We're not sure, but to take out our garrison in the west, they would need at least 140 soldiers, and serious armor support."

"There's a Sherman down the street there!" Jochen yelled at the two, pointing to the south.

Right after saying that, a shell exploded about 10 feet behind the foxhole. The explosion lit up the area for a split-second, and the three soldiers got a view of the Sherman and advancing enemy soldiers. Reinhard and Jochen quickly huddled to the south side of the foxhole, and opened fire with their K98s into the blackness, hoping to hit an enemy. As they reloaded and fired their bolt-action rifles over and over, another shell exploded near the hole.

The other German soldier quickly got their attention. "We have to get out of this foxhole, this thing is just a deathtrap!"

All three were quiet for a moment, yet the chaos of battle all around them continued.

"On the count of three," said Jochen, "einst… zwei… drei!"

The three soldiers leapt out of the hole and began a mad dash to a nearby building, still mostly intact. But whilst running, one shrill bullet stood out from the rest. Jochen and Reinhard looked back, still running, to see their German comrade crumple to the ground. They couldn't go back for him, for the American Sherman and infantry were advancing along the road at a terrifying pace. Once at the building, Reinhard gave a hard kick to the door, breaking it in. He poked his rifle left and right, and then withdrew. As they the two walked in, they heard the sound of cocking guns. They both nodded to each other, about to charge. But then they heard some muttering in German. A sigh of relief slid into their heads.

"Do not shoot!" yelled Reinhard, in his native tongue.

Jochen quickly continued, "We are Germans as well."

As the two soldiers entered the room, they noticed two soldiers manning an MG-42 machine gun, and two other soldiers, one crouching with his rifle pointed at him, and the other loading a Panzerschreck (Anti-tank rocket launcher). Another man, an Iron Cross dangling off of his coat, stood with an icy gaze at Jochen and Reinhard. He kept his submachine gun pointed at these newcomers.

"An American column is advancing down the road that way," Reinhard informed the other Germans, while pointing to the column.

"Damn it. We need to get to higher ground," cursed the man with the Iron Cross, seemingly in charge of the group, "You two! Re-deploy the machine gun upstairs!"

The two men manning the bullet-spewing beast heard this, and picked up their weapon. One grabbed the bipod, whilst the other carried the machine gun itself. The two began to run up the stairs, quickly followed by Reinhard and Jochen, and the other three soldiers.

The second floor seemed like a deathtrap to Reinhard. Bullets pinged through the walls and shattered windows, as the seven soldiers scrambled to get to their positions. The MG-42 was set up in the middle window, with Reinhard and Jochen covering the extreme flanks. Behind them, the soldier with the Panzerschreck began to check his weapon, and prepared for the American Shermans to come into range.

The commanding officer and the last rifleman moved up to the third floor, with a good view of the oncoming Americans.

Down on the street, the American column was about 12 men strong, supported by two Sherman tanks. Most of the soldiers, at least from Reinhard's point of view, were poorly armed.

Reinhard turned to Jochen, who nodded. A silent three seconds passed, and the German soldiers opened fire, along with the cover of the MG-42. The American line below was quickly scattered and dispersed, as the soldiers dove for cover behind their beloved Shermans.

Reinhard peered down the sights of his rifle, quickly repeating the process of firing and cocking the bolt back. One soldier in particular was giving him a tough time, an American soldier armed with a semi-automatic rifle. After wasting five bullets on this individual, the German quickly relocated to the window beside the Machine gunners.

This position had the Marine on the ground flanked, and with a well-placed bullet to the head, Reinhard disposed of his American counterpart. As the blood spurted out of the back of the Marine's head, Reinhard quickly ducked his head down to avoid more enemy fire.

Backed away from the windows, Panzerschrek armed soldier made the final check on his anti-tank rocket. He then advanced on a nearby window, and fired his weapon at the Sherman on the left. And explosion erupted; yet the American tank was not out yet. Luckily the shot did damage the tank, as well as sending some Marines from behind out into the open. As the Americans scrambled for cover once again, they were easily cut down by the MG-42.

Another German anti-tank rocket sped out of the window, finishing off the damaged Sherman. Flames shot out in all directions, and black smoke barreled into the sky. The Americans were faced with a haunting image.

On the top floor of the German fortification, the commanding officer continued raining his hail of lead upon his enemies. The soldier beside him, a simple rifleman, noticed, "Oberleutnant Nehaus! The Americans are concentrating their fire onto us! Request we-"

Nehaus heard the loud thump of an American 50-cal. machine gun, and the accompanying slugs burst through the wall. The Oberleunant's companion was ripped to shreds by Tank mounted machine gun. Standing there in shock for a moment, the officer regained consciousness and headed for the stairs.

"More ammo!" screamed the machine gunners.

Three belts of ammunition had already been eaten up by the MG-42, and there were no more to be found. The soldiers manning the machine gun looked around anxiously for a moment, but their stalling was fatal. Again, the thump of a 50-cal. machine gun rang through the German's ears, and the two gunners fell. Amidst this chaos, another Panzerschrek rocket was fired, slamming into the Sherman. The American on top, manning the 50-cal., was blown to pieces, as was most of the turret.

Only eight bullets left, something caught Reinhard's eye. Behind him, a firefight was beginning on the stairs; someone shooting from upstairs, and someone shooting from downstairs. He dared not walk in front; lest both parties hit him. When the small fight had ended, the commanding officer walked ran down the stairs.

"What happened?" asked Reinhard, still ducking for cover.

"Amis were trying to come up here."

The German soldier acknowledged his commanding officers response silently, when he heard Jochen's voice, "The Americans are retreating!"

Oberleunant Nehaus and Reinhard rushed to the windows, to see the last Sherman in smoking ruins, whilst the remaining three Americans running down the path in which they came. A grin came over Jochen's face, as he took aim and shot one last one. Relief crept over Reinhard, but he knew the battle was far from being over.

Well, there's the first chapter. This is my first story in a long time, and I think I'm finally getting back into the writing game after a year off.

You probably noticed several slang words or words in German during the chapter. At the end of each chapter, I will give you a little description of each of these words, in case you do not understand.

Kommandant (German)– Commander (in this context, German Commander) Kar98 – Most common German rifle

Einst (German) – One

Zwei (German) – Two

Drei (German) – Three

MG-42 – German machine gun, fastest firing weapon during WWII

Sherman - American Tank

50 .cal – American machine gun

Ami (German slang) – American

Thanks for reading this chapter, stay tuned for more.