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Welcome to Twilight 2000 - The Modern Dark Ages

11:28, 13th July 2024 (GMT+0)

Michael Kessler

Hauptmann Michael Kessler, Deutsches Heer
Callsign: Kaiser

Age: 35 (Born Dortmund, FRG, November 1965)

Languages spoken:
German (Native Speaker)
English (Expert)
Polish (Professional)
Russian (Expert)

Primary Weapon: AKM Assault Rifle
Secondary Weapon:  P8 Automatic Pistol


Michael Kessler is five feet eleven inches tall, with blue eyes and dark hair that is cut short. He is currently attired in cold weather fatigues in West German flecktarm, over which he wears a Soviet Grad 2 Assault Vest in TTsKO woodland camo and a Soviet Army issue 6B5 kevlar vest in olive drab. His fatigues bear small a full colour West German flag on the right shoulder, under which he sports a lo viz version of the Fernspähehrkompanie 300 unit patch. His pockets appear stuffed with the usual collection of things that soldiers accumulate and he is seldom without a green and black checkered shemagh. He has a West German kevlar helmet, with a flecktarn camo cover. When not wearing his helmet he usually don his maroon fernspäher beret. He has a wedding ring on the ring finger of his left hand, a straightforward band of gold.


Guten Tag,

My name is Michael Kessler. I was born in Dortmund in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1965. My father was an officer in the West German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, and growing up I lived for a while in Washington DC, from the age of fourteen until I was sixteen,  when my father was posted to the Pentagon  as part of an exchange programme, so I speak fluent English. I had one younger brother and one younger sister.

When I was eighteen I started the process of officer training in the Heer, the West German Army, went through the Officer Candidate Battalion at Hammelburg, where I did my basic training, then the Truppenkommando, three months active service as a regular Infantryman, which I did in a Panzer Grenadier Battalion, following which I went on to the Universität der Bundeswehr, the FRG's Military Academy in Hamburg, from where I graduated in 1987, aged twenty two, and was assigned to the Intelligence branch of the Heer as a newly commissioned Leutnant. My first posting was to the staff of  the 14th Panzer Brigade, the Hessischer Löwe, the Hessian Lions, at Neustadt, part of the 5th Panzer Division. I spent three years in Neustadt, got my promotion to Oberleutnant. In 1990 I went through the Fernspähschule in Weingarten, where the German Army's specialised reconnaissance troops were trained, earned my maroon beret. The same year I met a woman called Kristi. She worked for BASF at their headquarters in Ludwigshafen, just outside Neustadt.

At the end of my tour with the 5th Panzer Division I spent two years attached to the Fernspähtruppe, serving with Fernspähkompanie 300 at Koblenz, but spending a lot of time out in the field. After my tour with the Fernspähtruppe was up I got orders assigning me to the staff of 3 German Corps, still at Koblenz. My job was threat analysis and assessment, studying what the Warsaw Pact were up to, devising plans to counter what we thought they might do. By now I could also speak decent Russian and passable Polish. I spoke to defectors, people who came over from the other side, mostly Ossis, East Germans who managed to cross from the other side, the so called German Democratic Republic or GDR, "dort drüben" it was called in German, "over there." Some of them had used Grenzgaenger, people smugglers who specialised in getting people over the Inner German Border, but most just tried to cross by themselves.

Every now and then we'd talk to someone important, but most of those we spoke with were just ordinary people who had risked their lives to try and find a better life for themselves in the West. Occasionally we'd speak to former soldiers from the East German Army, the Nationale Volksarmee or NVA,  who had come over. I remember a story some guys from the Bundesgrenzschutz told me about how they used to patrol the border, and every now and then they'd actually see some poor bastard try to cross, they'd see them getting caught up in the wire, or shot by the East German guards, or set off a mine, they'd be lying there, hurt, some of them dying, sometimes feet away from our side, and there was nothing we could do, just had to watch them. It always made me think of John Kennedy's speech in Berlin before I was born, when he said that we didn't have to build a wall to keep our people in.

After I was transferred to Koblenz I carried on seeing Kristi. Sometimes I'd drive down the A61 autobahn to Neustadt, other times she'd come up to Koblenz and see me. We got engaged in 1993 and were married the following year at the little church in the village of Meitze, where Kristi had been brought up. We rented an apartment in Koblenz, she got a job with a local company, life was pretty good.

Mid way through '95 I got promoted to Hauptmann and got fresh orders, was sent to the United States for a year, on an exchange posting, arrived at the US Army Intelligence School at Fort Huachuca, Arizona in September, where amongst other things I went through the US Army Military Intelligence Captain's Career Course. Kristi came with me, and towards the end of the tour we found out that she was pregnant with our first child. War had also broken out by then of course, in China, between the Soviets and the PRC. There was a lot of talk about it in the O Club, but most of us thought that the fighting would remain confined to the Far East. Yeah, I guess we got that one wrong. And we're supposed to be professional intelligence officers.

We came back to Germany in September 1996. I'd been posted to the 2nd Panzergrenadier Division at Kassel. One month later I was in East Germany.

I've often been asked if I knew that the Bundeswehr was planning to go east, to bring about a reunification of Germany by force. Look man, I know I'm an Intelligence officer, but for fuck's sake, I was only a bloody Hauptmann, a Captain. My father might have known. He was a Generalmajor by then, commanded the 12th Panzer Division, so I guess he could have been involved in these secret talks that apparently took place with the East Germans, but the first that I knew about it was the same time as everyone else, when we got our orders to cross the border.

I was with the 2nd for nearly two years. We were the first West German troops into Magdeburg, were in Leipzig by Christmas '96. I spent a lot of time interrogating prisoners, mostly Russians, some Poles, Czechs. We also worked with our new allies from the NVA. And we discovered that not every Ossi wanted to be part of a unified Germany. We lost men to attacks from East German regulars who had stayed loyal to Honecker, although more dangerous were the Kampfgruppen der Arbeiterklasse, or KdA, the so called Combat Groups of the Working Class, who waged guerrilla warfare against us, attacking our men then blending back into the crowd.

Kristi went back to Meitze, to her parents. We figured it would be safer for her there, and she would have her family around her. In January '97 she gave birth to our child, a boy. We'd already discussed names, so we called him Matthias. She sent me some photos, I said that I would get home on leave soon. But there was no leave. We were part of NATO's offensive in the spring of '97,  made it all the way to Russia before we had to withdraw when the nukes started flying.

We regrouped over the winter of '97 / '98. The 23rd of January 1998 was the day that I found out that my wife and son were dead. It wasn't the Russians that killed them, it wasn't bandits. It was the fucking French. Bastards. They were supposed to be our fucking allies. They'd crossed the border at the start of the year. Apparently one of their patrols came under fire from some of our Territorials that were trying to put up a fight. The French called in artillery support. Only they didn't hit a military target. They killed fifteen civilians. Including my wife, and my son. So yeah, I guess you could say that I don't like the French that much.

I probably went a bit crazy after that, was in a bad place. We went back into action in the summer, against the Czechs. I got hurt pretty bad during the fighting for Prague. I still don't really know what happened. We were going house to house with the Czechs. I was in a building with two Panzergrenadiers, we were going through mouseholes when the ceiling came down on top of us. The Grenadiers were killed, I was trapped under a pile of fucking rubble, with one of the dead Grenadiers right next to me. I don't know how long I lay there man, in agony, next to some dead kid that couldn't have been more than twenty, twenty one. I thought I was going to die. Be with my wife, my son. Then some Brits found me, hauled me out. Turned out I'd broken my leg, fractured a couple of ribs.

The Brits fixed up my leg, and I eventually ended up in a German military hospital up near Hanover, was there for four months getting back to full fitness. The military was still able to deliver some mail, so I got a letter from my father. He was now a GeneralLeutnant commanding V German Corps. My mother was safe, living with him in a military cantonment at Bayreuth. My brother was serving with a Home Defence Battalion and my sister was missing. By the time they discharged me from the hospital I'd made a full recovery physically, but I still get occasional nightmares about being trapped in that room, buried under rubble, lying next to a dead man.

Once I got out of hospital I found out that the Fernspähtruppe were looking for volunteers to take part in long range recon operations. Apparently they were looking for someone who could speak different languages amongst other things.

And so I volunteered...