The waiters finished clearing away the dishes
and departed, leaving a hot plate with two fresh pots of coffee on a side-table.
Winslade excused the bartender and accompanied him to the door, turning the
key in the lock after the bartender had left. Then, instead of returning to
his chair, Winslade clasped his hands behind his back and began pacing slowly
by the windows along one side of the room.
The talk over lunch had been primarily social, to establish
a conversational familiarity between the two groups. Despite their puzzlement
and curiosity, the guests had refrained from pressing questions in the presence
of the hotel staff; now, however, the time had arrived for more serious business.
Churchill lit a cigar and sat back in his chair to follow Winslade curiously
with his eyes. The room became very quiet.
"Mr. Churchill," Winslade began without looking
around as he continued pacing, "I understand that among other things, you
enjoy reading the works of H.G. Wells."
"Thats true," Churchill agreed. He stared
moodily at his brandy glass and snorted. "I have to admit that for the
last few years Ive had ample time for more leisurely pursuits. Yes, Mr.
Winslade, I enjoy Wellss speculations and prophecies. The ability to foretell
the future is an art much admired and, with mixed results, attempted by politicians
also. The politician, however, must also be able to explain afterwards why his
predictions didnt come true. But why, pray, do you raise the subject?"
Winslade replied obliquely. "How about his novel The
Time Machine? Have you managed to include that in your readings? If so,
what did you think of it? Was the premise plausible, do you imagine, or too
farfetched to take seriously?"
Churchill sipped slowly from his glass and frowned. Lindemann
stiffened visibly in his seat, his mouth clamped tight, while Eden and Duff
Cooper exchanged wondering looks. It was clear in that brief instant that such
a possibility had already occurred to them. That was as Winslade had intended.
He had allowed several days for the notion to sink in and for its impact to
dissipate before the meeting. Doing it that way minimized the risk of having
to waste half the afternoon convincing an audience too overcome by incredulity
to be receptive.
Winslade wheeled around to face the table and brought his
hands up to rest on the back of an empty chair. "I trust we have already
satisfied you that we are genuine, and that in any case were not the kind
of people who would attempt a foolish hoax," he said. His expression was
earnest. The jovial manner that he had maintained through lunch had gone. "To
avoid taxing your patience further, gentlemenyes, we have come here from
a future age. To be precise, we have traveled back from the United States of
the year 1975."
Stupified looks greeted his words. He went on, "By
that year the world of the Western democracies has been reduced to North America,
Australia, and New Zealand. The totalitarian systems that you see rising today
have subjugated the whole of Europe, Asia, and Africa, in over thirty years
of ferociousness and brutality aimed at world domination. The South American
states are already committed to similar ideologies. What is left of the West
faces a final conflict that will be waged by weapons of destructive power that
few people in 1939 are capable of imagining. The odds against the West are overwhelming.
It cannot hope to survive. All it can prepare for is a noble end." Winslade
paused to run his eyes around the table. His voice fell to little more than
a whisper. "But that is what we have come back to change, if we can."
There was a long silence. Bannering and Scholder waited
impassively, while the guests at last faced squarely and grappled with the implications
of the truth that they had been putting off in their minds to this moment.
Finally, Lindemann shook his head. "I dont know.
I really dont know." He glanced from side to side for support from
his companions. "Look, I cant fault any of the evidence that you
people have produced, and goodness knows Ive spent time on little else
since Winston showed it to me . . . but I dont have to
tell you how preposterous the whole thing sounds." He tossed up his hands
in exasperation. "What happens to causality and common sense if what youve
said is true? How can you have come from a future that you now say you hope
Eden was recovering slowly from the trance that had gripped
him. "It cant make sense, can it?" he said distantly. "Supposing
that you did manage to change the whole situation inwhen was it?1975 . . .
then the future that you came from wouldnt exist anymore, would it?"
"So where would you have come from at all?" Duff
Cooper completed, taking the point and sounding equally mystified.
Winslade seemed to have been expecting the question and
answered evenly, "We cant give you a complete explanation, Im
afraid. The machine employed was built in circumstances of extreme haste and
urgency. There wasnt time for an exhaustive theoretical treatment of the
Lindemann shifted uncomfortably in his chair. "This
machine," he said. "What physical principles did its operation depend
on? Was it a vehicle of some description, or what?"
The conversation over lunch had already identified Scholder
as the scientist. Winslade nodded for him to take it from there, then turned
away to stand staring out of one of the windows at the treetops of Hyde Park.
Scholder cleared his throat, clasped his hands together on the table in front
of him, and began, "The quantum-mechanical wave function is merely a spatio-temporal
subset of a more complex entity that exists in a state of continuous transition
between additional high-order modes. The collapse of the wave function represents
merely the localization of an event in our particular subdomain of this super-realm."
Churchill caught Edens eye and gave a baffled shrug,
but continued puffing at his cigar without saying anything. Lindemann saw the
movement and interjected, "You remember the talks weve had on the
modern interpretation of atomic particles, Winston. The wave function is a mathematical
description of where, with varying probability in space and time, a particle
might be observed when an experiment is set up to detect it. When the experiment
is actually performed and a definite result obtained, the wave function is said
to collapse to one of its possible solutions. Until that happens,
the position and motion of the particle are indeterminate."
Churchill nodded, but his perplexed expression remained.
"So whats this more complex entity that Kurts talking
about now?" he asked.
"Well, it sounds as if the wave function described
by our law of physicswhat exists in the familiar universe of space and
time that we perceiveis just a part of something bigger . . .
a hyper-wave function that exists in a state of continuous oscillation
between our and other higher-order modesdimensions I suppose
you might call them. But this hyper-wave function can become localized in a
form that manifests itself as a mass-energy quantuma particlein
our subdomain, as it were, of the whole. Apparently, thats what we mean
when we say that the wave function collapses."
Scholder nodded. "And it turns out that its possible
to induce relocalization into other subdomainsin other words, physical
projection into them. Furthermore, some such projections involve coordinate
shifts along the axes of what we perceive as space and time. Hence we have the
basis not only for traveling through time, but for covering immense spatial
distances as well."
"So . . . let me see. Youre saying
what?" Lindemann said. Only the sound of Winslade whistling tunelessly
through his teeth while he stared out the window broke the silence. "But
all that says," Lindemann objected at last, "is that basic particles
are material condensations of vibrating patterns that extend into other places,
and that those condensations can be evaporated and recondensed elsewhere.
It doesnt say anything about sending a macroscopic object from one such
place to another. How do you achieve that?"
"Sometimes many quantum events can be made to correlate
in such a way that they add up to significant effects at the macroscopic level,"
Scholder replied. "The track of condensations in a cloud chamber, all caused
by the passage of a single particle, is one example. The correlated relaxations
of many excited atoms to produce coherent light from a laser is another."
"Oh, I was forgetting. Something Ill explain
another time. Lets just say for now that the pattern of bound wave functions
that defines a macroscopic object can be relocalized simultaneously. In other
words, the entire object can be transferred coherently to a different subdomain."
They continued for a while longer, and Scholder finished
with an outline of the equipment involved. As Lindemanns questions became
more specific, Scholder seemed to become evasive. Finally Lindemann said, "Without
wishing to be offensive, Dr. Scholder, I must say that surprisingly little seems
to have been known about the underlying physics. In fact, Im tempted to
express amazement that this machine ever came to be built at all. I do take
it you were one of the designers?"
Scholder spread his hands and shook his head. "Im
sorry if I gave that impression. No, I was just one of thehow would you
say?the mechanics, as it were, who worked on the project. A little of
the theory rubbed off."
"A quantum mechanic?" Churchill threw in, and
guffawed to himself.
"Strange," Lindemann murmured. "Id
have thought that whoever was responsible for the enterprise would have sent
somebody who was conversant with the theory. And this other group setting up
the return connection in New Yorkthere isnt a theoretician among
"There couldnt be," Scholder replied. "There
was nobody like that available in 1975 who could have been sent. You see, the
machine wasnt designed then. It wasnt even designed in our world.
It was designed in another age entirely, following certain discoveries that
didnt take place until the first quarter of the twenty-first century."
Lindemann was looking bewildered. "I dont understand,"
he said. "How could it have been built in 1975 if it wasnt designed
until the 2000s? This is getting ridiculous."
"Because the machine that we built in 1975 wasnt
the first one," Scholder answered. "The first one was built in 2025,
and it connected back to a return-gate constructed in Germany in 1926. And that
return-gate, gentlemen, is still operating there, over in Germany, at this very
Winslade wheeled round from the window. "That was how,
in spite of the apparent paradoxes which you have so correctly drawn attention
to, we have reason to believe that the past can indeed be reengineered,"
he said. "You see, it seems that it has been done before. That was how
the world that exists outside these windows, with all its problems and dangers
that you know of all too well, came to be that way. It was interfered with and
changed from something else that existed previously."
A strained silence descended. Eden covered the upper half
of his face with a hand, shook his head slowly from side to side, and moaned
quietly, "Oh, God."
Churchill thrust his lower lip out pugnaciously and stared
long and hard, first at Winslade, then at Scholder. Finally he said in a slow,
measured voice, "If your intention has been to thoroughly confuse and bemuse
all of us for the purpose of making sure that we stay here until we have listened
to all you have to say, then I must congratulate you on what I have no doubt
is already a resounding success. That being so, I trust that you will now attempt
to dispel some of the confusion. Might I suggest that you begin at the beginning,
wherever that may be in this bewildering chronological imbroglio, and proceed
from there in whatever comes nearest to logical order? I think that would be
appreciated by all of us."
Winslade nodded as if he had been expecting it. "Kurt
here is actually from the twenty-first century," he said. "Lets
begin with that." Lindemann slumped numbly back in his chair. Eden was
still sitting with a hand half covering his face. Winslade smiled. "But
first, a refill of our glasses, gentlemen. Allow me."
Winslade moved over to the bar and poured fresh drinks,
which were passed around the table. Duff Cooper, whose wide brow had been contorting
in knots as he tried to make sense of what had been said, leaned forward to
rest his elbows on the table and interlaced his fingers. He composed a businesslike
manner and said briskly, "Yes, lets start at the beginning. Now,
Dr. Scholder, where and when were you born?"
"In the city of Dortmund, Germany, on July 15, 1990,"
Scholder replied promptly.
"And you are how old?"
"This year I shall have been alive for sixty-nine years."
"Having come back from the year 2025?"
Duff Cooper thought for a moment. "But 1990 to 2025
is only thirty-five years."
"I didnt go back directly to 1975. I went back
to 1941, and then, thirty-four years later when it was 1975, went through the
process again to arrive here. Thirty-five plus thirty-four is sixty-nine."
"Oh." Duff Coopers composure evaporated.
He sat back, shaking his head, and looked helplessly from one to another of
Scholder couldnt contain a thin smile. "Perhaps
it would be best if I began by saying a few words about the world that I am
originally from," he suggested. The others waited in silence. He went on,
"Its history was identical to this worlds up until the mid-1920s.
The Great War ended with the Armistice of 1918 and the subsequent Treaty of
Versailles. Germany was reconstituted as a liberal democratic state under the
Weimar constitution. The Locarno Pact was concluded in 1925, by which Britain
and Italy guaranteed the Franco-German frontier against aggression by either
side, and in 1926, Germany joined the League of Nations."
Eden sat up again and listened while Scholder reeled off
the events. "But after that it was different? You mean something happened
to send everything off in a different direction somehow?"
"Lets not get our perspectives confused,"
Arthur Bannering cautioned. He had been talkative during lunch, especially with
Eden on topics of foreign affairs, but the technical conversation since then
had left him with nothing to contribute. "What Kurt is describing is the
way things were originally. If anything was sent off in a different
direction, it was the world that were in nowthis one."
"Umm, yes . . ." Eden said. "Of
course. I wasnt thinking about it that way."
Scholder resumed, "Europe continued to recover through
the late twenties. Although the crash of the U.S. stocks and securities market
in 1929 did trigger a worldwide economical recession, the situation was brought
under control before the damage had gone too far."
"Interesting," Eden said. "You mean there
wasnt the same world slump that weve just been through? How was
"It wasnt as bad, anyway," Bannering said.
"The German Chancellor in 1930 was Heinrich Bruening, leader of the Catholic
Center Party. He joined forces with the industrialist, Hugenberg, of the Nationalists,
"No, I was there that year," Lindemann interjected.
"You mean Hitler allied with Hugenberg, yes?"
Scholder shook his head and stared at Lindemann pointedly.
"Oh, no, Professor. In the world that I am originally from, Hitler was
never more than an obscure figure on the lunatic fringe of German politics.
He wasnt involved in anything that mattered."
Lindemann started to say something more, but Churchill raised
a hand. "Let them finish, Prof," he murmured.
Bannering went on, "The Bruening-Hugenberg coalition
introduced a series of bold financial policies which led to a cooperative European
program for economic recovery. Basically, their program involved extensive aid
to the underprivileged, heavy reinvestment in new technologies, and a revitalizing
of overseas trade, especially with Asia and the Far East. Japan later became
a major partner, too, under the Inukai government."
"Inukai," Eden repeated. "But he was assassinated,
wasnt he? Some right-wing militants were upset about the naval agreement
that he signed."
"In this world," Scholder said softly.
"It never happened in the one that Im describing."
Bannering allowed a moment for Scholders point to
sink in. Then he continued, "The European-Japanese initiative impressed
the Hoover administration sufficiently for the U.S. to revise its own policies,
and the outcome was a worldwide commitment to cooperation and growth instead
of protectionism and ruinous competition. By the middle of the thirties, prosperity
had returned on an even wider basis than before."
"Hmm . . . concerning the actual details
of the economic measures," Eden began, "what" He caught
a scowl from Churchill and raised a hand quickly. "But perhaps we can go
into those some other time."
"Yes, make it some other time, Tony," Churchill
grunted. He looked back at Scholder. "And?"
Scholder shrugged. "The effects quickly spread. An
Eastern Locarno was signed in Warsaw in 1935, guaranteeing the borders
of the states between Germany and Russia. With the West visibly committed to
settling its differences amicably, Russias xenophobia began to relax,
and with the easing of tensions, the right-wing reactionary movements that had
begun appearing in the West declinedMussolini, for example, was deposed
in 1937. The Soviet Union grew into a superpower rivaling Europe and America,
and the resulting competition compelled the gradual dismantling of the European
colonial empires. Although local squabbles continued to break out in some places,
by and large the never-again idealism of the 1920s was coming true at last.
The world was turning away from war as a means of settling its differences."
"Sounds too idealistic," Duff Cooper murmured.
"Apart from anything else, the weapons that became
possible in later decades made major wars obsolete, anyway," Winslade said.
"The world had to turn to other ways."
Scholder continued, "As societies continued to modernize
everywhere in the later years of the twentieth century, technological innovation
became the primary source of wealth. Eventually, the successful harnessing of
the enormous energy concentrations of the atomic nucleus, together with revolutionary
electronic methods for processing information and automating work, advances
in the biological sciences, and demonstrations of the feasibility of space travel,
put a permanent end to fears of limits to growth and the finiteness of resources."
"So practical application of atomic power is possible,
is it?" Lindemann said. "I often used to argue with Rutherford at
the Cavendish Lab about that. And the weapons that you mentioned, were they
atomic, too? I once estimated that a single device ought to be capable of generating
the same explosive power as hundreds of tons of TNT."
"Actually, it works out at tens of thousands of tons,
Professor," Scholder said. "And when you move on into thermonuclear
fusion weapons, tens of millions."
"Oh, good heavens!"
Scholder resumed, "Through into the twenty-first century,
the capitalist world became more socialist and the Communists more commercial
as competitive pressures forced retreat from the extremist doctrines of both
sides. Global civilization was established. Living standards soared. Opportunity
became available to all. Universal education bred freedom, independence of thought,
individualism. The political, racist, and religious fanaticisms from earlier
eras waned. The mass movements that they had engendered faded as popular support
declined. Reason had triumphed over passion. The first true era of the Common
Man had arrived." He finished by tossing his hands up in an animated sigh
that seemed, strangely, to ask what had been the point of it all.
A short silence followed while the guests digested what
they had heard. Then Churchill commented, "It sounds utopian. But youre
saying that somebody interfered with the past in order to change it all? Why
would anyone have wished that?"
"The overwhelming majority of people didnt,"
Scholder replied. "But there were a few who didnt see their situation
as quite so utopian. The worlds traditional oligarchies and ruling elites
were finding that the people no longer needed them . . . or perhaps
had awakened to the realization that they never had. Their power and their privileges
were being eroded. They were becoming an endangered species."
Duff Cooper nodded as the probable sequence of events became
clear. "Then the scientific discoveries that you mentioned earlier occurred,"
he guessed. "These oligarchs gained access to the new knowledge and used
it to alter history in a way that would be more to their advantage. Is that
Scholder nodded. "They saw an opportunity to preserve
the world in which they had enjoyed the wealth and the status that they considered
to be theirs by right," he said. "They saw a chance to learn from,
and correct their mistakes. This time there would be no yielding to high-sounding
principles of compassion or equality. They would seize total power and use it
to resist social change, preserving themselves by ruthlessness, intimidation,
and the unrestricted use of force. That is what the Nazi system has been set
up to accomplish."
Winslade straightened up from the chair that he had been
leaning on and moved forward to stand at the end of the table. "They were
a numerically small group, but still influential, even if their fortunes were
on the wane," he said. "An international cabal formed mainly from
wealthy hereditary ruling groups, drawn together by a common survival instinct.
Their organization was called Overlord, appropriately. Through confidential
contacts that their positions enabled them to establish with the scientific
community, they set up the project at a remote location in Brazil. Their machine
was known as Pipe Organ for secrecy. It could project about a century
back into the pastto be precise, to the year 1925."
"And that was where you worked," Lindemann checked,
looking at Scholder.
Lindemann looked puzzled. "And nobody else knew what
this place was? That seems unlikely. A scientific breakthrough of such a magnitude
couldnt be kept secret, surely."
"The site that housed Pipe Organ was described officially
as an experimental facility involved in a revolutionary method for transferring
objects through space," Scholder replied. "The time-travel aspect
of the physics was suppressed."
"But what about the people who worked there, the scientists?
They must have known."
Scholder nodded. "Yes, we knew what the system was,
but not what it was being used for. We were told that the far end of the link
was a research station established purely to investigate the cause-and-effect
mechanism of transfers through time. Only an inner group of the top scientists
and officials knew what Pipe Organ was really for."
"So how did they justify the secrecy to the rest of
you?" Lindemann asked.
"On the grounds that the possible impact of something
as stupendous at time-travel needed to be assessed rigorously before any publicity
could be risked," Scholder said. "It sounded like a reasonable precaution
"I see." Lindemann nodded and seemed satisfied.
Churchill drew on his cigar and nodded slowly to himself
as he thought over what had been said. "Their objective was to destroy
the Soviet Union," he concluded. "They perceived its unchallenged
emergence as the root cause of all their misfortunes, so they set out to destroy
it. And their bludgeon to accomplish that end would be Germany."
"Exactly," Winslade said.
Eden was puzzled. "So did this, this Overlord organization
actually create the Nazis? . . . No, wait a minute, it couldnt
have, could it. The Nazis were around before 1925."
"They exploited them," Winslade said. "There
had been the beginnings of the Nazi party back in the Overlord worlds
past, but it had never come to anything." He began pacing slowly by the
windows again and explained, "Once Overlord had gained control of the technology
that could give access to the past, they searched the historical record for
a situation which, with the hindsight they now had, might have lent itself to
being manipulated to their advantage. And they found one. They found an ideal
opportunity in the circumstances that had existed in Bavaria in the early 1920s,
after the Great War."
"Ahaenter Corporal Hitler," Churchill murmured.
Winslade nodded. "The region had become a hotbed of
political extremism of every kind, and in particular of reactionary right-wing
movements hostile to the Weimar government and all that it stood for. All the
roving malcontents from disbanded army units were there, the free-corps bands
fighting under officers from the Prussian old guard against the Communists,
all committed to repudiating Versailles and restoring the old conservatism and
Winslade tossed out a hand casually, as if acknowledging
that the rest hardly needed to be spelled out. "In the course of their
research, Overlord uncovered a party called the National Socialists, which since
1921 had been led by a former infantry corporal who had been temporarily blinded
in a British gas attack at Ypres in 1918. As a party it was different from the
restthe only one that espoused the aims and ideals of the Right, while
it applied the methods of the Left. Hitler had a sound grasp of mass psychology.
He had launched himself on the popular tide of antirepublicanism, and he played
on Germanys need to find scapegoats for its defeat and humiliation. At
the same time, he understood the Germans conditioned dependence on authority
figures, and hence the potential appeal of firmness, determination, and violence.
And he knew how emotive passions can be roused by the pseudoreligious trappings
of ritual, color, pageantry, and most of all, a symbol. Perhaps one of the greatest
inspirations of his misdirected genius was his design of a black swastika in
a white circle on a bloodred flag as the emblem of the Nazi movement."
Winslade stopped pacing and turned to spread his hands in a brief gesture of
appeal. "A formidable combination, gentlemen. But not sufficient on its
own to turn a tiny, unheard-of, political debating group into a militant force
capable of taking over a nation.
"Hitler had the kinds of ideas that Overlord could
harness to its own ends, and he had the drive to turn them into action . . .
but he was impetuous and inexperienced. His attempt to seize control of Bavaria
at gunpoint in 1923 failed dismally. He was arrested and locked up for a year
in Landberg, and when he came out he found the party banned and its leaders
feuding and falling away. He himself was prohibited from public speaking for
two years. Chancellor Stresemanns policy of reconciliation with the Allies
was succeeding, the French occupation troops were leaving the Ruhr, and Dr.
Schacht had stabilized the currency. Prosperity was returning, and nobody wanted
to hear about Nazism anymore. The Nazis had flourished in the bad times. Hitler
was a fanatic and never ceased preaching his ideology of racism and hatred,
but he didnt have the organizing ability to build and hold together a
structure that would endure. And as the good times continued getting better
through the late twenties, he faded away."
Winslade sighed and gazed at his audience with an expression
of mock sadness. "It was such a tragic waste of talent. If only Hitler
had know how to recruit, organize, and keep his party intact, hed have
been perfectly situated to take advantage of the bad times when they came back
again after the Wall Street Crash in October 1929. Hitler didnt know what
was coming, of course . . . but Overlord did. Theyd blueprinted
everything he needed to do to prepare for the situation, and their first agents
from 2025 arrived in Germany in 1925 to begin his education. Their return-gate
was operational by the following year, completing the two-way connection, and
everything thats happened since has been the unfolding of the Overlord
Winslade paused; his listeners were too astounded to respond.
He continued, "By various stratagems, what had been merely an economic
recession in Overlords world was engineered into the worldwide slump that
youve seen in this one. The Bruening-Hugenberg alliance that we mentioned
earlier, for example, was prevented from happening by Hitlers joining
forces with Hugenberg instead. The Inukai assassination was another part of
the economic sabotage carried out by three agents sent back from 2025 for the
purpose, who left Hamburg on a ship bound for Tokyo in February 1932."
Winslade nodded solemnly in response to the four incredulous
stares greeting him from along the table. "Yes, gentlemen," he told
them, "the whole Nazi operation as it exists today is being masterminded
from almost a century in the future via a two-way transfer channel operating
in Germany at this very moment. It has been going on since 1926. And the results
require no elaboration. In the world that we have now, Hitler didnt just
fade away at the end of the twenties. When Wall Street collapsed and the world
reeled, he was ready and waiting with a thoroughly prepared campaign to capitalize
on the peoples disappointments and misfortunes, and on all of postwar
Germanys fears, resentments, insecurities, and hopes.
"Yes, indeed, I think youll agree that, with
some help from his invisible friends, Corporal Hitler has managed admirably
to bring events onto a course much more to his liking this second time around.