| Worldwar |
POD: June 5, 1942
|Appearance(s):|| In the Balance|
Striking the Balance
|Type of Appearance:||Direct POV|
|Nationality:||Germany, later Race-occupied Poland|
|Date of Birth:||1899|
|Date of Death:||c. 1950|
|Cause of Death:||Exposure to poison gas which shortened his lifespan|
|Occupation:||Soldier, tank commander, spy|
Heinrich Jäger (1899-c.1950) was a German tank commander during World War II and the subsequent Race invasion of Tosev 3. Jäger played an important behind-the-scenes role in the war against the Race, including the acquisition of plutonium for Germany and the United States in Chernobyl, combat against Race forces, and saving the Polish city of Lodz from his own country.
Jäger had fought on the Western Front in World War I. He participated in the Battle of the Somme in 1916, amongst other battles.  He saw the first tanks in action, signalling the beginning of the end of the war. Jäger knew that tanks were the future of warfare. As soon Adolf Hitler started rearming Germany, he joined the armor division. When World War II broke out, Jäger was placed in command of his own company. When the Race invaded in 1942, Jäger was on the Eastern Front, advancing in the Soviet Union.
Jäger's first brush with the Race's Conquest Fleet was nearly a disaster. Indeed, Jäger initially believed that the company had entered mine field, as casualties piled up substantially. In fact, it was the Race's supersonic aircraft systematically destroying his tanks. After the raid, Jäger only had three tanks and a small infantry group left. Despite his badly depleted company, Jäger quickly realized that the Lizards' only tank tactic was direct assault at all visible targets. With his skeleton crew, he was able to destroy a Race Troopcarrier (although he had to crush a German infantryman with his Panzer III in the process). In a last skirmish with the Race's armor, he was able to use a reverse slope to destroy a Lizard landcruiser with the 50mm gun on his Panzer III, a testament to his skill as a panzer commander. He and his gunner, Georg Schultz, made their way to a Ukrainian collective farm where they were spotted and picked up by Red Air Force pilot Ludmila Gorbunova.
After a spell in the Kremlin being grilled by the NKVD and Red Army troops on panzer tactics, the two panzer troops met SS commando Otto Skorzeny. Skorzeny convinced Jäger to participate in a joint Russian-German mission to steal pieces of plutonium from a downed Race starship. The raid was carried out by a scratch force of shattered Wehrmacht units and Russian partisans, many of whom were Jews. Jäger was confronted with the horrifying reality of Germany's final solution to the "Jewish question" when he met a survivor of the massacre of Baba Yar. The raid succeeded in its goal of obtaining radioactive metal, and Jäger was selected to take Germany's share of the metal back across Eastern Europe. Jäger had to go through enemy territory on his way back to Germany and was forced to give up some of his radioactive pieces to Jewish partisan Mordechai Anielewicz. Anielewicz, in turn, gave those pieces to the United States.
Upon returning to Germany, Jäger was sent to France and helped slow down the Race's advances there. He also joined Skorzeny on several other raids, helping to destroy one of the Race's bases in Split, Croatia as well as a factory that made gas masks for the Lizards.
Later, Jäger was serving on the Polish-German border, defending Breslau against the Race's assault. He and his panzer crew witnessed the detonation of the Reich's first explosive-metal weapon outside the city. Jäger's unit was part of the spearhead of the German counteroffensive into Poland. Eventually, his advance took him into the environs of Lodz, where he made an agreement with Mordechai Anielewicz not to attack the city in exchange for Jewish partisan activity against the Race in the area. He also tipped the Jews off when Otto Skorzeny attempted to detonate a nerve gas bomb in the middle of Lodz (telling the Jews it was a ginger bomb that would only affect the Lizards), and again when Skorzeny smuggled an atomic bomb into Lodz. When his role in passing information to the Jewish partisans was discovered the Gestapo arrested him, but men of his unit succeeded in killing his captors and he escaped on a plane with Ludmila Gorbunova. Both went to Lodz.
In 1944, when the Race and the Big Five were meeting at the Peace of Cairo, Adolf Hitler ordered Skorzeny to manually explode an explosive-metal bomb in Lodz, which would break the ceasefire between the Race and the human powers. Jäger (fearful of what the Lizards would do to the Fatherland if the Reich broke a truce with an explosive-metal bomb), Mordechai Anielewicz, and Ludmila Gorbunova stopped Skorzeny, killing him in the process. Unfortunately, Skorzeny had released nerve gas during the attack.
The gas Jäger breathed in eventually resulted in his death a few years later - these last years being spent happily in the company of his beloved Ludmila. Ironiocally, the two of them found in Lodz - occupied by the Race against whom both of them fought so long and bravely - a refuge from their respective Nazi and Soviet governments.
- "The Russians have better sense. They just motor along shooting at anything that happens to cross their path. They aren't even looking this way, though it's an obvious place for trouble. Stupid!"
- ↑ Turtledove: In The Balance