| The War That Came Early |
POD: July 20, 1936;
Relevant POD: September 29, 1938
|Appearance(s):|| Hitler's War|
|Type of Appearance:||Direct POV|
|Date of Birth:||1893|
|Occupation:||Housewife, political activist|
|Spouse:||Herb Druce (divorced 1943)|
|Political Party:||Democratic Party|
Peggy was born poor in 1893 to a mother she remembered for being extremely stupid. She pulled herself up by her boot straps, marrying the wealthy Herb Druce of Philadelphia and establishing a life for herself as an upwardly mobile society woman.
In 1938, Druce visited Europe against the advise of her friends, who believed that war was looing. Druce dismissed this, believing that no country would risk an all-out war while the memory of the last war was still fresh in people's memories. She was proven wrong while vacationing in Marianske Lazne, Czechoslovakia on October 1, 1938, when the German army invaded the country, sparking the Second World War in Europe. She survived the invasion and was briefly taken into custody by German authorities. Initially, the German plan was to send citizens of neutral countries to Romania (also neutral). Druce refused to go to Romania. She was instead sent to Berlin to wait for transport to a neutral country.
While in Berlin, she survived an Allied bombing raid on Berlin in New Year's Day, 1939, but after witnessing the devastation the Germans inflicted on Czechoslovakia, her sympathy only went so far.
Early in 1939, it appeared that Druce would finally be going home. She was scheduled for transfer to neutral Denmark where she would board the SS Athenia. Unfortunately, the Athenia was sunk as it was crossing the sea to Denmark. Druce was stuck once again.
Druce soon grew to understand the horror of Nazism. In an act of defiance, she did business with a Jewish butcher (Gentiles were forbidden from doing business with Jews). When the Gestapo saw her exiting the building, they confirmed she was American, and immediately went in and beat the butcher. Incidents like this stirred Druce's sympathies for the Jews under Nazi rule.
In the aftermath of the sinking of the Athenia, Druce became a small thorn in the side of the authorities, both German and American. She frequented the U.S. consulate, becoming cordial with Undersecretary Constantine Jenkins, all while looking for a way out of Germany. One day, while she was walking down the street, she was taken into custody by a German police officer, despite her American passport. Although his supervisor disciplined him, Druce reported the incident to the American consulate. Constantine Jenkins commented on her pleasure at irritating the Nazis.
Druce attempted to leave Germany for Hungary. She assumed that, since Hungary was a German cobelligerent, the Foreign Ministry would not interfere. Of course, Hungary was landlocked (despite having an admiral as its head of government) so she would have had to cross into either Romania or Yugoslavia. Jenkins advised her that crossing into either of those countries from Hungary was difficult. Budapest's relations with both Bucharest and Belgrade were chilly due to irredentist claims Horthy pressed against those countries. However, Druce decided to take her chances. She obtained a Hungarian entry visa without difficulty, but when she attempted to cross into Hungary, she was once again thwarted by the Foreign Ministry, this time on the grounds that the German government feared espionage.
Druce continued to haunt the consulate. She continued to be cordial with Jenkins, whom she was convinced was homosexual. This idea was challenged when Jenkins invited Druce a production of Tannhäuser. Afterwards, a period of carousing led to a one-night stand. Druce was embarrassed and horrified by what had happened.
In the spring of 1939, Druce's fortunes began to change. At Jenkins' suggestion, Druce wrote a letter addressed to Adolf Hitler himself. To Druce's surprise, Hitler himself called her at her hotel and informed her that arrangements would be made to allow her to go to Denmark. Druce sailed for Copenhagen days later.
Unfortunately, Germany invaded Denmark shortly after Druce arrived. The invasion was quick and the occupation generally mild. Nonetheless, Druce was determined to leave. After attempting to speak to General Leonard Kaupitsch, the leader of the invasion and military governor, she was informed by his aide Major von Rehfeld that she could move on to neutral Sweden. He helped her get an exit visa.
Upon arriving in Stockholm, Druce learned that she was trapped once again. Although neutral, Swedish ships and planes were unwilling to put themselves in harm's way by traveling to Britain. Nor could Peggy cross the Soviet Union and sail from Vladivostok, as that port was besieged by the Japanese military.
Druce became something of a curiosity in Sweden. She was interviewed by a reporter from an anti-German periodical. While she did her best to sound neutral herself, in case Germany did invade Sweden, she nonetheless let some of her distaste for Germany slip out.
After getting back to America in 1940, she and her husband both admitted to having brief affairs, thus straining their relationship. Peggy turned her attention to political activism, becoming a stump speaker for the Democrats. She helped arrange for President Franklin Roosevelt to come to Philadelphia in October 1940, as he pursued an unprecedented third term. She continued her politicking throughout 1941 and 1942, especially after the United States was attacked by Japan in January 1941.
With the war on, the government hired Herb as an efficiency expert and troubleshooter. This required him to travel around the country. Despite their assurances to each other, Herb realized by 1943 that their marriage was dead, and arranged a quick divorce in Reno, Nevada.