| The War That Came Early |
POD: July 20, 1936;
Relevant POD: September 29, 1938
|Appearance(s):|| Hitler's War|
West and East
|Relatives:||Matilda Jenkins (mother)|
|Affiliations:||US State Department|
Jenkins was the main point of contact at the embassy for Peggy Druce, an American citizen who had been stranded in Europe since the war began. Jenkins sympathized with Druce's impatience to escape the rule of the Nazis and return home to Philadelphia, but he cautioned her that travel across national borders in Europe was becoming extraordinarily difficult as a result of the war. He also informed her that the Nazis had grown suspicious of Druce, believing that she might be a spy, and that, despite the embassy's lobbying the German Foreign Ministry on her behalf, the Germans were disinclined to give her an exit visa.
Jenkins developed a personal attachment to Druce over the course of her frequent visits to his office, and sought to make her stay in Berlin more bearable. He shared his supply of cigarettes with her, since American diplomats were still able to receive high-quality American cigarettes which had otherwise all but disappeared from continental Europe due to wartime trade disruptions. These cigarettes were far superior to those available to civilians in Berlin, even American ex-pats.
One night Jenkins invited Druce to join him for a performance of Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser at the Staatsoper. Druce accepted but was secretly bemused to have been invited on a date by Jenkins, as she was quite certain that he was a homosexual. Over the course of the evening she became extremely drunk and needed to be helped to her hotel room by Jenkins. The next morning Druce, a married woman, was horrified to realize that she had had sex with Jenkins, who apparently was attracted to women after all.
Druce became fearful that Jenkins intended to blackmail her, or to interfere with her attempts to escape Berlin so that she would be close at hand and they could continue their sexual dalliance. Fortunately for Druce, she was no keener a judge of Jenkins's character than she had been of his sexuality, for he redoubled his efforts to convince the Germans to release her. He encouraged her to petition Adolf Hitler personally, and it was this advice which ultimately won for Druce an exit visa and the opportunity to cross from Germany into Denmark--though, unbeknownst to either Druce or Jenkins, the war would soon follow her there.