Saturday, July 10, 2010

Paul The Clairbouyant / Psychic Octopus Picks Spain over Germany

A "psychic" octopus in Germany, which appears to have correctly predicted every World Cup game involving the national team so far, has picked Spain over Germany in the semi-final.

Paul, from the Sea Life Aquarium in the western city of Oberhausen, chose a mussel from a jar with the Spanish flag instead of one with a German flag.

The two-year-old cephalopod has become a national celebrity. According to his owners, he has a record of predicting German results. They say Paul chose the winner in nearly 70% of Germany's games during the 2008 European Championship. He correctly predicted all five of the team's previous World Cup games - including a shock defeat by Serbia in the group stages. His prognosis ahead of Wednesday's World Cup semi-final was broadcast live on German TV.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Recommended Reading On Women in the Third Reich

If you like academic books then I recommend this:

It explores the Nazi's image of women, the stereotype and the reality, and the blatant negative ambiguity of it all which still influences some Axis researches today. While officials were stopping ordinary Germans from shopping at Jewish shops, high ranking Nazi wives were buying their high fashion only from Jewish clothiers. She even quotes Magda Goebbels lamenting the demise of Jewish fashion design after the purges of the late 1930's. While women were told to stop wearing makeup and the party declared high fashion dress as decadently un-German, women's magazines were running articles on how to dress and style themselves after American actresses.

Other chapters include the expansion of female uniform design, with very interesting references to the BDM, RADwJ and armed forces Helferin and how their uniforms came about.

Her background work in the history of nationalistic pride is also worth reading and gives a nice insight into German thought in the first part of the 20th century. All together a nice all-round book which explores the German psyche, its attitude to itself at blatant odds with the official line of 'Kinder, Kirche, Kuchen'.

I find all the books that have been mentioned enlightening on Nazi chic/chicks. Magda Goebbels must not have known or heard about the House of Chanel in Paris. I never thought much of her style in anything she said or did. 

Coco Chanel kept a small atelier going during the SS occupationn of Paris. I knew her personally and had long conversations with her into the wee small hours. In her old age, she was an insomniac, because she had always been a night owl, partying and working till all hours when she was young and desirable. 

Her financiers were the Wertheimer Jewish family. They had a long and richly rewarding relationship with her until her death. The House of Chanel is still financed by the brilliantly astute Wertheimers. 

No, I don't thiink she, anymore than Simone de Beauvoir were Nazis because they both kept quiet. True, Coco being Coco, she was always enamored of drop dead gorgeous men who happenned to also be rich and/or influential. 

I think that is preferable to having sex with a repulsive looking man such as Jean Paul Sartre,who deluded Simone bed and was repeatedly unfaithful. Some aristocratic fashion setters in France said Coco had an affair to remember with one of the highest ranking SS.

Not all of them were monsters.I won't mention the name of this man. He was at least ten years younger than she. When he became ill with an incurable illness, she paid for all his medical bills.

I was head of Gucci Public Relations and was in my early twenties when we met in Paris. It was unforgettable knowing and listening to her. I learned a great deal about life, love and fashion. The House is still vibrant, still creating under the genius Karl Lagerfeld and the Wertheimers are still enchanted with its success.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Once Upon A War There Was a Truce

In Prague castle, General Reinhard Heydrich of the SS. SD. RSHA, Interpol as well as Reichsprotector of Bohemia-Moravia recounted the following story of the Christmas truce to the assembled guests on the morning of the 24th of December 1941. In attendance were Prime Minister Emil Hacha and his entire cabinet as well as distinguished members of the business, industrial and cultural elite in the protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia. High-ranking members of the SS. SD. RSHA, Interpol also were present.

Heydrich then mounted his motorcycle and alone and unescorted rushed to his estate Panenske Brezany, just outside Prague to be with his family. That meant Lina, his wife; children Klaus, Heider and Silke; mother, Elizabeth; sister, Maria with her husband and family; brother Heinz with his wife and brood of five. It was 1941. He never lived to see another yule.

In December 1914, the western front became the most dangerous and bloodiest place in the history of the world. Death struck someone every two seconds. For the first time, industrially advanced nations, Britain France, Russia and Germany fought to the death. Two armies stretched 600 miles, from the north sea to the Swiss border - the famous Western Front - immortalized by German writer, Erich Maria Remarque in his book "All Quiet On The Western Front" and by Lewis Milestone, the director of the film by the same name.
Remarque won the Nobel prize for literature and Milestone the oscar for best director. Millions wept in movie theaters at the horrors of war.

As I write this, the eve of Christmas 2007 is fast approaching. More than 50 million books of Remarque’s "All Quiet On The Western Front" have been sold, second only to the Bible.
Back to reality. Young soldiers lay cramped in trenches one meter wide, the opposing armies were thirty meters apart. They attacked each other with a savagery they did not know they possessed. They used high explosives, grenades, poison gas, machine guns, bayonets, and daggers. They discovered their hands could gouge an enemy soldier's eyes out. Their teeth could ferociously tear into flesh.

The Germans and the British were shocked as well as disgusted by the hundreds of thousands of dead. Their youth in the flower of manhood blown to pieces, sliced in half, mangled or abandoned to bleed to death slowly in the mud, snow, and cold. Wounded soldiers returned home blind, burnt, crippled, and drug addicts with shattered lungs and souls. They raged at their impotence, helplessness and humiliation. This was a new type of war, with new kinds of suffering. The young soldiers in the battlefields became tough and hard. They forced themselves to step over the corpses of their friends, towards the enemy in an orgy of killing. They turned into automatons with no hearts and no souls.

Then came Christmas. Since the guns of August 1914, over 800,00 young corpses had been mourned, buried, abandoned, denuded, despoiled of clothes and boots, and totally ignored in the heat of hellfire.

On the 24th of December at midnight, German time, an eerie silence settled over the Western Front. There was no hissing, cracking and whining of artillery. No screams, moans, and gasps rent the air. Tannenbaum appeared on the parapets of German trenches. The tannenbaum is a special fir tree sacred in teutonic lore.

The Germans began to sing in cracked and tremulous voices "stille nacht, heilige nacht" (silent night, holy night). It is now universally accepted that the German fighting men led by junior officers initiated the famous truce on the western front. On that Christmas eve, these young men found their hearts and souls, which they though they had lost forevermore. Without realizing it, the British soldiers joined in singing "silent night" in English.

A young German officer, lieutenant Kurt Zermisch, gifted with a fine baritone voice stepped out of his trench, alone and unarmed. He turned to face his comrades in the trenches, and sang as loudly as he could in Latin "Adeste Fidelis". The climax was all the German and British soldiers singing and crying out "Adeste Fidelis" together in Latin.

On Christmas day, the German officers invited their British counterparts to meet in no man's land (the space between the trenches). The British refused. No comment needed. Three German officers, including Zermisch, the baritone who sang "Adeste Fidelis" on Christmas eve, walked weaponless, into no man's land, under the sight of British guns. A few Germans fell mortally wounded on the orders of English officers to fire. There were too many young German soldiers coming at them, singing, arms outstretched. The British tommies disobeyed orders and rushed to meet them.

“Criminy! It’s Christmas! Stop firing!” Foes no longer, just men celebrating Christmas.
No man's land quickly filled with mortal foes, swapping cigars, photographs, cigarettes, and beer. They sang happy songs for Christmas and mournful songs for their dead. They buried German and British soldiers together, held hands and recited prayers in their respective languages. In no time, football matches were organized in a spirit of sportsmanship. Where there were no balls, they improvised. Bundles of clothes were tied into balls, branches and twigs twisted into circlets.

The British and German commanders ordered their men to fight, on the 26th of December, on the feast of steven. They sang instead:

“Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the feast of Steven,
brightly shone the moon that night,
though the frost was crue-l,
When a poor man came in sight,
gathering winter fu—el.”

Their respective generals were outraged, as generals so often are when the soldiers dared to ignore orders. For once, their political leaders, in Berlin and London, safely enconsed in their warm and luxurious settings agreed. “God damn! Herr gott!" the killing must continue immediately! These orders are unequivocal!"

And so under threat of immediate executions, the young men reluctantly resumed their slaughter. But some refused and in some areas of the Western Front, peace continued for up to six weeks.

The majority of German and English soldiers who participated in the Christmas truce were Christians, of all denominations. Almost all the assimilated Jews joined the truce. An Austrian corporal, who took great risks and was noted for his constant\bravery under continuous fire, loudly protested the truce.

“The English are going to defecate and urinate on us when they get the chance.”
The world would know him as Adolf Hitler.

Eighteen-year-old Alfred Anderson, a Scotsman, died on the 21st of November 2005, at the age of 109. He was the last survivor and witness of that moving truce on Christmas eve of 1914.
"In the midst of the horror, I remember the silence, and then the Germans sang Silent Night and all of us joined in, not caring if we were enemies. Ever since that night, I no longer believe in war," said Anderson.

The Christmas truce proved to the soldiers who had all become killers by now, that the spirit of joy, love and peace: the spirit of Christmas, can be felt everywhere by men of goodwill.
Violence is not imprinted on the DNA of man. That is a deception of the most malevolent kind foisted on us by the dogs of war and the money men who reap riches from military and civilian casualties.

Fifty million human beings died in the so called great war - World War I. Millions more left homeless, destitute, mutilated, blind and hopeless. Seventy million souls perished in World War II. I hasten to add there were many holocausts. The shoah was but one.
How many of humanity will be left in World War III?

It is up to us to carry the torch of hope, pronounced by the angel on the birth of Jesus.
"Glory to god on high ... And on earth … peace to men of Goodwill!"

Gloria in excelsis deo et in terra pax hominibus voluntatis.

Author’s Note:

Heydrich was a Catholic. He had been a diligent altar boy. In 1936 he left the church. The Bishop who listened to him felt a mixture of regret and sadness, when Heydrich told him,
“I can no longer and in good faith remain a good Catholic as a high ranking member of the NSDAP.”

The popular historical view is that Heydrich was a monster. Was he? In my upcoming book "Checkmate" I look at the enigma of Reinhard Heydrich.

For many men in those trenches in 1914 - this was the most special Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chapter 9: The Gift

Chapter 9: The Gift

Inside the Halle Communal Pawn Shop. Reinhard Heydrich and his father are at the teller’s window. While they wait for the teller to fetch the wristwatch, he and his father are chatting.

This is very kind of you, Papi, to redeem Professor Siegfried’s wristwatch. He really didn’t need to do that. I mean, it is my duty to help him and all defenseless Germans.”

Still, one must admit, it’s a lovely gesture. Many are ungrateful,” answers Bruno.

The teller comes back with a small brown paper package. “Sign here,” he points to a yellow piece of paper.

Bruno comes forward. “I’ll sign. My son’s underage.”

The teller looks blank and indifferent.

Open the package, Reinie. It isn’t safe outside. We might find ourselves mugged or worse.

Reinhard Heydrich opens the package, taking care not to tear at the paper needlessly.

Your mother has plenty of wrapping paper,” Bruno reminds him.

Could I have it?” asks a woman anxiously, overhearing what Bruno has just said.

Reinhard smiles. “Here it is,” and stretches out his hand towards her while he opens the small, black rectangular box. In it is the most beautiful wristwatch he has ever seen. Gold. Sleek. Classic. A Patek Philippe. “Look, Papi! There must be some mistake. This is a Patek Philippe!”

Bruno turns to the teller. “This is a Patek Philippe. Are you sure this belongs to the slip we just gave you?”

Ja. Ja. We don’t care what it is. We lend money only on the gold carats. Right now, horseshit’s worth more than gold,” replies the bored looking teller.

Before going outside, Reinhard puts the watch carefully into his pocket, admiring it one more time before he does. Outside the store, he thanks his father one more time, and then sets off to Prof. Siegfried’s home. As he approaches, he notices There are workmen and painters in the place.

“Is Professor Siegfried home?” Heydrich asks.

None of the workers turn around.

A jolly and portly gentleman answers for them. “They don’t speak German very well. They’re Polish refugees. I’m the landlord. Professor Siegfried left for England yesterday. Who might you be?” He takes a closer eyepiece examination of Heydrich.

Heydrich. Reinhard Heydrich.”

I see. Professor left this for you. He thought you might come. I live next door. My name’s Solomon Freberg.”

Thank you, Herr Freberg. Did Professor Siegfried leave an address?”

You can write to him care of the University of Oxford.”

One of the workers plastering over a wall asks Herr Freberg something in what might be Yiddish, or so thinks Heydrich.

I’m sorry for the disturbance, Herr Freberg,” Heydrich apologizes, taking the letter. For the first time he sees two fingers are missing from Herr Freberg’s right hand. Indeed, most of his hand is a stump. Heydrich’s eyes remain impassive but he can’t help himself. “Where?” he asks painfully.

In Flanders (Belgium).”

War is horrible, especially for the vanquished,” declares Heydrich.

Ah, youth! There are no victors in war,” replies Herr Freberg, turning abruptly away.

A disbelieving young Heydrich takes his leave. “Auf wiedersehn, Herr Freberg.” Reinhard Heydrich goes down the same way he comes up, taking the steps two at a time and heads to the Halle Conservatory.

Bruno Heydrich is rehearsing his students for a recital. During a pause, Reinhard joins him. “Professor Siegfried’s gone. He left a letter for me with his landlord, Solomon Freberg. Papi, it was terrible. Freberg had most of the fingers of his right hand blown away in Flanders.”

Bruno has consternation written all over his face. “So that’s why Solomon Freberg stopped giving concerts. Odd he should be living in Halle.”

Reinhard slaps his forehead. “How stupid and insensitive of me. Are you sure it’s the same Solomon Freberg?”

One of my colleagues said he was injured in Flanders and would never perform again. Mind you, Freberg volunteered to fight. What did the professor say?”

Reinhard replies sadly, “I haven’t opened his letter yet.”

Bruno Heydrich says nothing, pats his son gently on the shoulder and tells his students, “Back to the Bach cantata.”

Heydrich eases out of the studio and heads back home. The watch in one pocket, the letter in the other. Taking his time he heads toward the river. There is one more thing to take care of before leaving town, something he doesn’t want his parents to know about.

. . .

The boats sailing down the Saade River are hooting back and forth. The street he is watching faces the river. A motorcycle noisily snorts up the street. A young man in his early twenties is on the motorcycle. He is alone. He stops the motorcycle and chains it to a post in the garden which belongs to his family. He moves arrogantly and cockily. Heydrich pounces. “If it isn’t Jurgens. Remember me?”

Jurgens squints and orders, “Come closer. I don’t know you.”

Heydrich dwarfs him by a good seven inches, although Jurgens is built like an ox. He jumps up and crouches next to Jurgens. He’s so close, he can smell his breath. It stinks of beer and sauerkraut.

Who are you?”Jurgens shouts.

I’m Heydrich. Reinhard Heydrich. The naaaany goat, the Paganini, the 13-year old you used to beat and torment with four other rogues. To be continued, you said. Five years ago in the classroom. You were going to crush all my fingers one by one. Remember now?”

Jurgens looks momentarily terrified. “But… that was a long time ago.”

That’s right, But I see you’re still the same, maybe a killer now, shooting at unarmed civilians, riding on bicycles from a first story window?”” taunts Heydrich.

Jurgens has to look up at Heydrich. “You wouldn’t be so high and mighty if my men were with me. They’ll be here soon.”

No, they won’t. My men have intercepted them.”

So you’re the son of a bitch who ruined it! I should have known. The little Jew Paganini, the blonde Moses, wants to get even.”

Worse than that, Jurgens. I am challenging you to a fight. I’m going to show you how much I can hurt you even without using my hands.”

At that exact moment, Heydrich pulls out a small flashlight, signals towards the front. From a harmless looking milk cart, seven men in various states of disability emerge accompanied by a black, snarling Doberman on a leash.

Jurgens steps back. “You big Jew bastard…”

Shut up, Jurgens. Thanks to you and your ilk, words have no effect on me. My friends are war heroes. They are here to search you inch by inch. This is going to be a fair fight.”

The legless wonder in a crude cart examines Jurgens’ legs and boots, removing two stilettos. He grins and shows them off to Heydrich and his friends. Another one knows just where Jurgens keeps his guns. Two, oops, no, three Berettas. 22 caliber.

No picking off the helpless tonight from first story windows.”

From behind his neck, another friend in crutches unearths a shiv. The sleeves of his jacket reveal a Swiss Knife each. “Mein Herr,” the soldier with one missing arm bristles. “Bitte, The cap off your head.” As Jurgens moves his arm, the black Doberman gives him a slow, vicious snarl. “Sorry. I’ll remove the cap myself. Nothing here.”

Let’s see those legs wide open. Good. Nothing here. From the look of your trousers, you couldn’t be hiding anything near your teeny weeny.”

Feel his back. Remove his belt. That buckle is a deadly weapon. Check the soles of his boots again.”

Are you ready, Jurgens?” asks Heydrich in a cold voice, which makes the hardened war veterans tremble.

That kind of anger is very dangerous,” one of them whispers.

The slow, seething, day after day, year after year kind of anger,” says Heydrich. “Have you read the Count of Monte Cristo?” he asks Jurgens.

No reply.

Your kind don’t read Alexandre Dumas. The Count of Monte Cristo waited twenty-five years to exact his revenge. I’m seventeen; it’s been five never ending years. Almost a third of my life,” he tell Jurgens in the same cold, icy demeanor.

I’m ready. Bastard!” Jurgens spits on the ground violently.

The Doberman lunges towards him. Jurgens jumps back, naked fear in his face.

So am I, coward. So am I.”

His seven friends turn away. They enter the milk cart slowly and then leave the scene as quickly as the old nag will carry them. Heydrich lifts both his arms and waves wordlessly. That is the precise moment Jurgens chooses to attack. Heydrich expected it. He jumps lithely backwards and than sideways. “The rules are… look Mutti, no hands for me. You can use your hands and any other part of your body.”

Jurgens is enraged. The veins on his thick neck are distended. He comes after Heydrich like a raging bull. Heydrich runs, then without warning he turns, jumps into the air and slams both of his legs into Jurgens’ solar plexus. Jurgens falls flat on his back, gasping for air. Heydrich edges closer but safely out of reach of either Jurgens’ arms or legs.

Get off the ground as soon as you recover your breath. I’m waiting.”

Jurgens tries to talk. It is impossible.

Take your time. We’ve got all night.” Heydrich delivers these lines as if he were talking to a friend.

This infuriates Jurgens even more. He forces himself to get up; he can’t quite do it. He crawls on all fours, then leans against the wall for support, his chest heaving with the effort to breathe regularly.

Really, Jurgens. I didn’t hit you that hard. I’m saving that for later.”

I hate you,” Jurgens utters in between gasps and cries. “I’ve always hated you… you… pretty face.”

This is the night of reckoning. I’m giving you a chance to bash my pretty face in, Jurgens. Come on! Do it!”

Jurgens stumbles but he’s slowly but surely on his feet.

Now, don’t rush at me, you dumb ox. I refuse to fight with the handicapped.”

That really gets to Jurgens who rasps, “I’ll kill you, Yid!” and goes after Heydrich.

As his punches fly, Heydrich dodges, crouches and somersaults. Then Jurgens stops. His motorcycle is in front of his eyes. If he can get to it, remove the chain or yank it, in the mood he’s in, he can run over Heydrich and turn him into mincemeat. But Heydrich knows all about what he’s thinking.

Jurgens, did I win all those prizes for excellence because my father bought the school authorities? I won because I worked hard to be the best. Idiot! You’ll never get to your motorcycle. Why?”

Jurgens is really ferocious now. A few blows just miss Heydrich’s stomach and kidney. Heydrich’s reaction is to keep reciting in a soft, almost caressing tone of voice which baits Jurgens even more.

Why, Jurgens? Why?”

I hate you. I’ll kill you, Heinz and Maria.”

You’d better be lying about my brother Heinz and my sister Maria,” Heydrich says, dropping to the ground. Something about the way Heydrich is coiled, poised to strike, alarms Jurgens but he does not reply to Heydrich. Then Heydrich goes behind a large, black car parked on the street.

Where are you? Come out.”

Voila!” replies Heydrich, kicking Jurgens so ferociously in the back of his waist, Jurgens falls down in great pain. Blood from his broken nose begins to flow onto the ground.

You disgust me, Jurgens. I refuse to fight. You’re in terrible shape. In a few days I’m leaving for the Naval Academy. Keep away from my family. Stay out of our lives. I haven’t cut out your tongue. Speak!” Heydrich turns Jurgens over with his boot. “Just nod for yes.” Jurgens is choking on his own blood. Heydrich rolls him over again on his stomach, removes his handkerchief, stances the flow of blood from his broken nose. “I take it that’s a yes. Stay calm. I’ll call the hospital. Remember, I didn’t use my hands. What’s more,” Heydrich laughs a little at the thought, “you didn’t even touch me. If we never meet again, it will be too soon. So long, Jurgens.”

Without a backward glance, Heydrich slowly walks away. At the corner of the street, there is a telephone booth. He enters, places a few coins, surprised it has not been vandalized. He dials the number for the Emergency Hospital of the Franciscan priests.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Chapter 8: Swinemunde, 1922

Chapter 8. Swinemunde, 1922.

On holiday with his family. Reinhard Heydrich is watching the maneuvers of the German Navy. “It’s beautiful and exciting to watch,” says Reinhard firmly. They are walking by the harbor, on their way to a trolley. Posters throughout show Admiral Graf von Luckner. “Our great hero,” say the posters. “He’s my hero too,” declares Heydrich. “His best selling book, ‘The Sea Devil’ is falling apart. I’ve read and underlined it so much.”

“We have a surprise for you Reinie. Admiral von Luckner invited us all for dinner tonight. You can hear all his adventures first hand,” says Bruno Heydrich. “He wants to meet you.”

Admiral Graf von Luckner has the physique du role of what people expect from a national hero. Tall, perfectly chiseled nose, high cheekbones, cleft chin, wavy black hair, brownish yellow eyes, beautifully formed mouth. Charismatic. Admiral von Luckner is the most highly decorated war hero in Germany. Even the Allies, his former enemies, admire him.

After finishing the best meal they have had in nearly four years, and hearing truly inspiring stories of daring do, Heydrich is on the edge of his seat. Bursting with excitement, he looks around the table first his parents and finally settling his eyes on Admiral Graf, who looks straight back at him. “I am determined to be just like you, Admiral Graf. I want to become a great and famous Admiral,” declares Reinhard.

Bruno Heydrich chokes on his glass of apple cider. Elizabeth Heydrich gasps. When he finds his voice, Bruno protests. “Musical success is assured for you!”

And what about your ambition to become a scientist?” asks Elizabeth.

In biochemistry,” states Bruno. “This is unbelievable, Reinhard,” he states in disbelief.

Admiral von Luckner, who is also an aristocrat and looks the part, replies serenely, “What do you have to say to that, young man?”

Germany’s defeat crushed both my dreams, that of becoming a Maestro on either the violin or the piano. Regarding a scientific career, I shall always remain a biochemist at heart but I am unshakeable in my resolve to embark upon a naval career.”

Admiral von Luckner presses his point. “It is very prestigious. Even my mother who was very status conscious approved of my choice many years ago.”

Elizabeth is showing signs of softening her stance. “Well, if Reinhard is so determined…”

Admiral von Luckner adds, “After ten years, Reinhard will be guaranteed a full pension.”

He’ll only be 28!” marvels Bruno. “A steady, good income in these terrible, uncertain times.”

With great reluctance,” says Elizabeth Heydrich.

and reservations,” adds Bruno Heydrich, “you have our blessing.”

Admiral von Luckner smiles contentedly, having accomplished the objective of the dinner. He passes out cigars to Bruno and Reinhard Heydrich. “Well?” he asks the young man.

I joined the Frei Korps when I was 15 years old, then the Volk movement. I’ve been in a leadership role ever since, but it’s just too depressing to see what’s become of us all. It’s time for a change. This is definitely what I want to do. How soon can I start.”

“I’ll put in a good word and see what I can do. The German Navy needs bright and determined young men like you.” Admiral von Luckner aspirates on his cigar heavily, while handling one to Heydrich and his father.

The taste of a Romeo y Julieta adding to his joy and pride at Heydrich’s determination, but as the smoke dissapates in the air, he tries to imagine what it will be like without Heydrich around every day.

Reinhard chokes a little but they pretend not to notice.

. . .

Reinhard Heydrich’s bedroom. On the wall are posters of his father’s operas, “Amen” and “Peace”, Mozart’s “Magic Flute” and Wagner’s “Das Rheingold”. Dozens of books are on his desk. His violin has a place of honor, on a small, separate table. He is in bed reading “The Black Mask Magazine,” an English magazine which publishes detective and spy thrillers. A discreet knock on the door. He doesn’t hear it as “The Black Mask Magazine” absorbs him. Louder raps. He says, “Enter please,” in English without looking up from the magazine.

Son, could we talk a bit?” It’s his father and mother.

Heydrich puts the magazine down, jumps out of bed, wraps himself in a silk robe and carries the armchair next to his desk closer to where his mother is.

Mutti! Papi! I thought it was Heinz.”

Elizabeth Heydrich takes the armchair. Bruno Heydrich eyes the matching armchair covered with “Popular Mechanics” and “The Economist” magazines. They are so high, he would not have seen the chair but for its legs. He sits on Reinhard’s bed.

We know you’ve made up your mind,” Elizabeth begins.

And you won’t go back on your decision about a career in the Navy,” continues Bruno.

However, we are in shock over your choice because it came without warning tonight over dinner,” Elizabeth says calmly.

We were not going to argue in front of Admiral Graf von Luckner, even if he is our dear friend,” declares Bruno.

And we are not going to do it now, are we, Bruno?”

No, Elizabeth.”

Both his parents wait tranquilly for their son to speak up. Reinhard is still standing up. “May I?” he asks, gesturing a place on his bed next to where his father is sitting.

Oh, Reinie! We’re so sorry. Of course, you can sit down.”

He does. “Consider this, Mutti and Papi. Half, if not more, of our grand concert halls in Germany are closed for lack of money. The after effects of the war are worse than the war itself. Things are not much better in the rest of Europe, other than Britain with all her colonies and America.”

We agree. For the sake of a rational argument, you could be making good money playing the piano or the violin in a world class cabaret in Berlin,” observes Bruno.

Or you could compose musical scores for films, maybe even play the music at the UFA Film Studios in Berlin,” agrees Elizabeth.

I’m not afraid or ashamed of hard work. Somehow playing in a cabaret or nightclub seems small, petty stuff. Working for UFA Films would be like prostituting myself. I’m too ambitious.”

Elizabeth and Bruno exchange surreptitious glances. Bruno shifts position. “What about…”

Papi, hear me out. I haven’t finished,” a serene, almost fire and ice Reinhard says.

Bruno nods a “go ahead, we’re listening” expression.

I wouldn’t mind owning a cabaret or a string of them. Run properly, they’re good cash cows. Also people talk too much when they’re under their cups. One can obtain unimaginable sorts of information. Films are a marvelous invention. Good moneymakers. I wish we owned a studio instead of a music conservatoire. Information is a powerful tool and will only increase in our century and beyond.” Reinhard folds his long, tapered hands gracefully over his lap.

Bruno clears his throat several times. “I was going to say, what about biochemistry?”

Reinhard mournfully shakes his head, taking his father’s hands into his own. “Oh, Papi, Papi!” He pauses and swallows to keep his emotions under control. “You know many faculties of prestigious universities are operating part time. The prices are so astronomical even the fabulously wealthy are having second thoughts about paying for their children’s education.”

The papers are full of stories of ghost classrooms, professors committing suicide, emigrating to Great Britain or America,” Elizabeth joins in, her voice breaking.

Let’s consider my studies in the Naval Academy an excellent detour towards my dream and, as a consequence, your dreams for me as well.”

Bruno breaks down completely into his son’s arms. “I’ve failed all of you. Especially you, Reinhard. Forgive me.”

Papi, there is nothing to forgive. That’s life and mostly that’s war and the aftermath of war.” Reinhard strokes his father’s thick mane of dark brown hair, tears spilling down his face.

Elizabeth too has tears in her eyes. “So many injustices. I always pray that these inequalities and inequities be removed. Not enough of us pray and I suppose I’ll need to pray more.”

It makes me angry,” sobs Bruno. “Look at the Krupp family or other millionaires. Their sons are dribbling idiots or outstanding mediocrities.”

That is a reminder from God that no one has everything,” Elizabeth declares firmly, leaving the armchair to sit next to Bruno and Reinhard to comfort them.

“How soon do you plan to leave, son,” Bruno finally asks.

“There’s one thing I’d like to do before I go, for a scientist I met. After that, I guess the sooner the better, as it means more money for the family.”

Friday, December 11, 2009

Chapter 7: On Patrol

There’s something wrong. It’s too quiet,” Heydrich whispers. “Let’s spread out.”

His men take cover accordingly, moving behind parked cars, vans, tall garbage cans.

An elderly man, white wavy hair, muscular and fit, pedals by them on a bicycle. He stops a few houses down and steps down. His bicycle is filled with bread loaves, fruits, bottles of sauerkraut, wurstel and bright red apples. As his hands touch the loaves of bread, a gunshot rings out from the first floor of a building across the old man. The loaves of bread scatter as the old man crumples on the muddy and wet street.

Get the bicycle and the food, you idiots!” a harsh voice orders from inside the open window.

Heydrich yells, “Cover me,” as he zigzags, crouching and dodging bullets to help the old man. “He’s alive!” he tells his men as he begins to pull the old man behind the carcass of a car.

A gun battle breaks out between his G.O.D. League and the band of lawless men.

They want the food,” gasps the old man. “I pawned my gold watch to buy this food.”

Don’t talk. We must get you to a hospital!”

The bullets are going ping! ping! ping! against the car.

I’m a doctor. Save the food and the bicycle. My wife and grandchildren need it. Keep this.” Heydrich feels a piece of paper thrust into his hand. Distractedly, he puts it in the pocket of his trench coat. “Please!” pleads the old man. Heydrich nods “All right.”

Heydrich looks up. The shooting is coming from several young men in the balcony on the first floor of the building. “Go up there but don’t enter until I join you,” he shouts to his followers. He takes advantage of this momentary lull n the shooting as the hooligans confer on what to do next to grab the bicycle full of foodstuff and drag it behind the broken down car where the old man can see it.

Strasser, stay with the old man.” “Can you use this?” Heydrich puts a gun into the old man’s hand.

Yes, but not well,” replies the old doctor.

Shoot if anyone tries to steal the bicycle with your food,” he instructs the doctor. Heydrich runs across and enters the building. Hinkel is waiting for him in the courtyard. “They’re holed up in the apartment to your right.”

Here’s what we’ll do. We’ll explode the firecrackers in the courtyard, yell a lot, then run back towards the old doctor, help him get to a hospital. One of you see that the food gets to his family.”

We’re not going to have a gun fight?”

We’re here to defend the defenseless, not be killers. Let’s go.”

Hinkel hesitates.

Hinkel, listen to me. You won’t be sorry,” Heydrich says sincerely.

Later in the evening. Reinhard Heydrich and a few of his men are back at the building where the man on a bicycle was shot. His leg is bandaged and he seems to be quite comfortable though shaken.

The bullet only grazed me. If you look carefully in the street, you’ll find the empty cartridges. But for you, my family might have been without any food for who knows how long?”

You said you’re a doctor,” Heydrich reminds him.

I have a Ph. D. in physics but I’ve also studied medicine,” he says very matter-of-factly.

Heydrich’s men exchange an “It’s going to be one of those conversations” expressions. One of them volunteers, “We’ll see what turns up on the street while you and the doctor talk shop.”

This is fascinating. I had dreams once of becoming either a pianist, violinist or a biochemist,” Heydrich says sadly, checking to make sure they’re alone.

These are tragic times when young men like you speak of broken dreams,” the doctor declares with real sorrow in his eyes.

“Germany’s defeat, the economic situation, the non-existence of law and order, the lack of money for scholarships in Science, my father’s temporary financial setback, everything has made me reflect on a different path.”

Which is?” asks the kindly looking scientist with concern.

Perhaps a career in the Navy. I haven’t the courage to tell my parents. Especially my mother. She’s been my music professor while my father’s been my mentor.”

How ironic. Until the shooting incident, you and I were strangers. Now we are exchanging confidential matters. I am leaving Germany in a few weeks for Great Britain. Professor Alan Turing is my sponsor in Oxford University.”

Germany’s losing someone like you? I can’t bear it! Professor Turing is a genius,” exclaims Heydrich. Then he says emotionally, “I don’t even know your name.”

Franz Siegfried,” he declares in a very hushed voice.

The Professor Franz Siegfried of light and time travel?”

Before Siegfried replies, Heydrich says, “Someday, I’ll bring you back to Germany. Even the sky won’t be a limit.” He gazes into the Professor’s eyes and realizes that his hair is prematurely white.

Professor Siegfried picks up Heydrich’s flashing pupils. “We were gassed,” he says quietly. “All my comrades in the trenches around me died. When I reported back to my commanding officer, my brown hair had turned white.”

Keep well, Herr Professor. Believe me. Believe in Germany. I’ll see that you and others like you return.”

Professor Siegfried might have doubted the words spoken so sincerely by the young man sitting before him if he had not seen the determined qualities of a leader during the shooting on the street. “There is something about you which makes me believe you. At any rate, I owe my life to you. So does my family.”

Loud clatter of footsteps in the hallway.

Till we meet again, Herr Professor Siegfried.” Heydrich bows respectfully and heads for the door.

Wait! What is your name?”

Heydrich pauses briefly with his hand on the doorknob. “Heydrich. Reinhard Heydrich.”

God keep you, Reinhard Heydrich. I’ll remember the name. When you send for me, I’ll come back.”

Heydrich laughs a little. “I’m 17 years old. Give me 10 to 12 years please.”

Then God keep me, Heydrich,” Professor Siegfried laughs back.