That stint in Frankfurt
Arriving in Montpellier, after the floods of Barcelona and fires of France was a welcome relief. I didn't stay long there, just enough to undo after all the disasters and settle down. My agenda was to continue across France and eventually end up in Cambodia. Angkor Wat and the surrounding area was on my mind for that, war zone or no. However the powers to be had something else on their mind and I just happened to be the only one in the area at the time.
Why me?Some folk wanted to know what the stint in Frankfurt was and I figured, why not, so have finally added it afterwards. I've sat on this thing for decades, not wanting to talk about it much, because I sure wouldn't believe some guy who said it had all happenedbut it did and that's all there is to it. I just want an ordinary life. No heroics, I'm not a hero. No adventures, just regular everyday stuff that can be enjoyedguess I'm kind of doing that now but back in 1971. I could have said no, but I'm not that sort of person. I wasn't sworn to secrecy, so here goes.
The interceptTo begin, I had to go off my original route and head a little ways in the direction of Lyon. A quick stealth camp saw me through to the next morning and I reached a point to intercept this Afrikaner chick from Windhoek, Sud West Africa (now Namibia). I had no idea what she looked like and had reached the place most likely for her to show uphoping she wouldn't so I could continue with the original plan. It was pouring with rain as I stood at a junction of two roads on a hill, there was no other route for her to use. Without the rain, it might not have happened. Suddenly, this earthy looking girl appears out of nowhere, soaking wet, dives under the umbrella I was holding and spoke. The accent fitted. She told me her name when asked, no problem. Got her!
The journeyThe whole deal was to take place in Frankfurt. It would have been nice if she was doing a direct trip, but no, she wanted to do the Vandage (picking grapes in France), so off we went back toward Montpellier and some ropey vineyard, where I damaged my left thumb. Fortunately the cutting blade on the shears was quite blunt. The grapes were rubbish, full of mould and came in large bunches. I tried three time to cut one and nothing was happening so pulled my hand out. Blood was pouring from the top part of my left thumb. Squeezing some mouldy juice onto the wound, wrapping it in my handkerchief, I went to the foreman who sent me off to walk 3 kilometers to the nearest town and a doctor. The doc dipped the thumb in Iodine (ouch), then in Isopropyl Alcohol (double ouch) and said, "You have cut eet to zee bone." Yeeeah! He simply wrapped the thumb up in a hardish, thick padded, bandage. A small bottle of Isopropyl was given to me and I was instructed to squeeze some on 3 times a day for 5 days, then take the bandage off. The grape harvest was almost done when the cut happened and 3 days later we were back on the road. I thought I'd take a look at the wound and removed the bandage. It was totally healed, no scar and today you would never know that I'd almost cut the end of my thumb off.
After that it was to the Bourgogne, to pick grapes for the most expensive Pinot Noir on the planet. The difference between the rotten Montpelier vineyard and this one was amazing. Everyone had their own room (no sleeping in bags on the floor of a smelly barn) with bed and linen. We were fed large breakfasts, big lunches and massive evening meals plus paid twice as much. Some years later I tried to buy the 1971 vintage, but at $600 per bottle I passed it up. After that we sort of hopscotched across France in all kinds of weird directions. Even going through the Alsace-Lorraine, where I could almost understand the language they were speaking (I did not then nor do now, speak much French). Eventually we arrive in Frankfurt, where she lived in a student occupied house (illegally) on a street next to the university. I'll call her Tina (wasn't her real name, but very close) and she was a bit strange, no, she was weird. Me, I had to play the klutz and 'duh' my way through things as a disgruntled, American, Viet Nam Era vet.
The contactHe said his name was Manfred (won't say his real name) and he showed up at the house a few days after I arrived. We went out for a beer, where he told me who he was and what was needed. There was something in the basement of the house and could I get into it? I had already walked in to the room when Tina was there and she screamed for me to get out. What I saw: were a bunch of AK-47 boxes, ammunition, what looked like grenade boxes, some plastic drums of a liquid and other stuff which was covered in canvas. Exactly what everything was I didn't know, which is why Manfred wanted me to get back into the place while she was attending lectures, so she said.
Often we would meet at one of the bars he knew and enjoy some of the local beer. One of them, we had to walk back past a brothel. The hookers would start on him and he would get all embarrassed. I just laughed at the situation and kidded him a little, thinking it a bit strange considering his work.
There were 3 locks on the door to the room in cellar. Two I picked easy enough, but the third was a Master Padlock and for those things you need a really good stethoscope so I was unable to open it. Tina must have set a number when she closed the padlock because she went ballistic at me. My response was: well, duhh, I used to have one of those on my locker in high school and just gave it a spin for memory's sake. That seemed to appease her.
The penetrationTina said she belonged to a Communist Cell Group and would I like to come along. Of course I would (I mean, that's what I was there for, wasn't it). I understood some German (but didn't let on) and spent a bit of time with the group leader saying how fed up I was with the American way and all that kind of crap, which he took on board and was keen on me joining the group. As far as I knew it was just an ordinary cell group, nothing special. I would pass on any info to Manfred. Yetthere was all that stuff in the basement.
One of the things the group did was march down a street on certain days as part of "organized" protests. All kinds of people doing their little protesty things and the cell group was just part of it all. Each week a protest moved forward to the next position in the march and once that group had been in front, they then moved to the rear and started all over again. All I could do was laugh at the stupidity of it all (but only to myself). I can't remember if the group leader was on the marches, Tina always was and led it.
Manfred had been given very strict instructions as to how to enter my room. The door did not lock, but the latch made a very tiny click when the handle was turned. So my sleep was in the category of, one eye open. Manfred had to knock a certain way or I'd take him out. I reckon he was in house and not a field agent, so wasn't used to this kind of thing and entered some unearthly hour of one morning, without knocking. I was out of bed, behind the door as it opened and almost killed him. Then I told him off, in no uncertain terms, after that he knocked correctly.
It was about 10 o'clock one morning when I found my cover had been blown and that did it. I was well out of West German airspace in under an hour. Trouble is, the first flight out of Frankfurt was going to London, the opposite direction I wanted to go. So I went to where my parents lived.
The stingI'd been back in England for over a month when Manfred shows up at my Dad's house (I never gave him the address). My Father was off the grid, so most people would not know how to find him. We invited him in, I had already told my Dad about the situation (he said I'd handled it correctly).
The story went like this
Shortly after I legged it, an operation was made to round everyone in the group up and get into the basement of the house. However, the Frankfurt Police had to be involved because it was considered a public bust as well. When they got to house (at 6am), Tina was gone. Also the head of the cell group was gone from his residence as well. They must of had a mole in the police department who contacted them about the sting and they vanished. I reckon that may have also been the root of my cover being compromised.
In the basement were the arms plus maps of Frankfurt's water supply. The drums (several) were of pure 100% LSD. The plan was to inject all that Acid into the region's water supply. One cup would have put the entire area on a "Trip". A bunch of 5 litre drum fulls would have killed just about everyone. The reason, to bring down the Stock Exchange (Europe's main one) and in the resulting chaos, invade from East Germany. That cell group was one nasty piece of business.
A couple of years later the Red Army Faction (Bader-Meinhoff lot) leaders were arrested in Germany and their photo's plastered all over the front pages of the world's newspapers. One of them, was the cell group leader from Frankfurt. If only Manfred had told me, I was trained to take out people like that and could have saved hundreds of more lives by terminating the leadership (who were on drugs most of the time and really hadn't much of a clue), except Carlos who was a bit of a wild card and off in France killing people. As for Tina, she probably went back to Windhoekwhere I hope she was eaten by a lion.
At least I was able to help a little, but never got to SE Asia.
...and then, a year or so later.....
. . . . . . . .
This post is part of a series beginning here.