| The War That Came Early |
POD: July 20, 1936;
Relevant POD: September 29, 1938
|Appearance(s):|| Hitler's War|
|Type of Appearance:||Direct (HW) POV (W&E on)|
|Occupation:||Soldier, Radio operator|
Theodosius "Theo" Hossbach was German Panzer II radio operator during the Second World War. His passion for the radio was such that he had the uncanny ability to tune out the real world even while in the heat of battle. This "talent" sometimes led Hossbach to share his political opinions at inappropriate times. His father had been reading The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire when Hossbach was born, hence his very Latin sounding first name.
Under the command of Ludwig Rothe, Hossbach was part of the invasion of Czechoslovakia. His crew also included driver Fritz Bittenfeld. Unlike his colleagues, Hossbach did not worry much about the rather fragile state of the Panzer II, so long as his radio worked. The invasion was successful, and Czechoslovakia was subdued in about a month. Hossbach and his crew were then transferred to west, where they participated in the invasion of the Netherlands, which fell in a week. Hossbach and his crew then pressed on into Belgium. Throughout these battles, Rothe did his best to keep Hossbach tuned in to what was going on around them as much as possible, with varying degrees of success.
In 1939, as the German forces in Belgium prepared to press on into France, word began leaking that certain generals had been conspiring against Adolf Hitler. To the crew's surprise, Hitler himself came to the Belgian front to investigate one of their senior officers. Hossbach, intent on repairing his radio, very nearly didn't realize Hitler was in their midst, despite frantic signals from Rothe. However, Hossbach soon saw that Hitler was present, and immediately snapped to attention. Hitler was accompanied by two officers of the Waffen-SS. Hitler took the time to speak to the crew, which surprised them all. He surprised Rothe further by discussing the problematic fuel pump on the Panzer II. Hitler assured everyone that there would be an improved model shortly.
As Hitler spoke, he indirectly referenced the conspiracy against him. Hitler's SS guards grew concerned that Hitler had said too much and that Hossbach, Rothe, and Bittenfeld might be a liability. Hitler ordered the SS men to leave the crew alone, and the SS grudingly complied.
Not much later, Hossbach and his crew were part of the invasion of France. After several months of a continuous drive, their luck ran out during an Anglo-French counter-offensive in April, 1939. The Panzer II was stopped by a shell. All three men made it out of the tank, but Rothe and Bittenfeld were gunned down by a French soldier. Only Hossbach survived, although he did lose a finger.
Hossbach spent brief time in a hospital before he was transferred to another Panzer. He was aware that his new colleagues would probably have a more difficult time keeping him plugged in to reality than Rothe had, as Rothe was used to him.