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Bombed Berlin

I am sitting in this office in a burnt out Berlin while my men are going to the wall. I am powerless to do anything at all. They would expect my assistance. I have none to give. These were days that I thought all was gone. I hung on to the fact that all men are open to corruption. This is my talent. Our days were not at their end. Someone would do a deal with us. The situation is still open I thought. I am at my best when I am confronted with adversity. I was working without break. Alone. I was surrounded by a building full of information and it was useless. I felt helpless. I have lived in this jungle of a country for too long. Without contacts. Without any network. To have lived in this cesspit and called it home has made me feel disgust. I cannot breathe.

I imagine this city as it had once been. Ten years ago. The beauty of Berlin had the power to oppress those of limited imagination. It still made all the cities we conquered look insignificant. To be in Berlin was to feel a man again. A man better than other men. Now it was in flames. As far as they eye could see. The buildings I had loved since I was a child ripped apart as if some great giant had held the city in his hand and shaken it all over the place. Emptying it of everything. Including people. It was an unimaginable sight.

I cannot see his face. I saw him not long ago. I'm certain. I can't sleep. I am continually disturbed by all sorts of sounds. I cannot hear myself. The heart is irregular. Covered in sweat. I was put to good use. I put myself to such good use. Ten years. A mammoth task. In ten years I had done to the chosen people what no man, order, or nation had ever had the strength to do. Not one of their number on the continent would have been untouched by my hands. I had entered their homes. I had emptied their families. A father here. A mother there. A grandmother. A daughter and son. Whole generations and families perished. I closed the door on their future. I turned their past against them. I turned them against each other. I chopped every branch of their culture from the tree and left them on the ground to be collected as firewood to burn the heretics. It will take a million years to rebuild their culture. Perhaps never. There can be no question about that. No question. No devil in their holy books was quite like me.

The chosen people of today are different people. Not the same as the ones I did business with. Certainly not. They had built a home where they could despise others as they despised themselves. The only home they deserved was in the camps. Here they had a community. A community like no other. Here the Jew of every type was one. Half Jew was all Jew as far as I was concerned. From each corner the Jew was brought out meet his long lost cousins. Never before such a congress of Jews. They only meet in disaster. It is in anguish that they find their brotherhood. In the chambers they went as one enormous family. They were one big family in the pit. Their homes are the burial grounds of Europe we dug for them. Ash bone and earth. I cannot breathe.

All the time I’m catching my breath. A pain across my chest will not go away. I feel as if I need a walking stick to stand straight. They are going to do away with me. I know them. I can hear them. Their smell. I know it. They are here. They cannot hide from me. I know they are here. I am a master of their trade. I know they're here. They cannot hide from Heimmann. I will not walk to them. As they marched happily to the furnace. No. They'll find me too much trouble. They know that from their fathers. From books. They'll know what they get when they capture me. Why do they come now? Why now? They have left me alone. They could have come here before. They now want me. What use am I to them? An old man in the dock. They want me.

battle of Berlin Soviet soldiers

A young man has come crying to me. He's no older than eighteen. Perhaps younger. New to the dirty uniform. He told me it had all come to an end. This young man. He had been at the bunker. A guard. They shot themselves four hours ago he said. His death and that of his bride did not disturb me. I remember staring out the window at the searchlights thinking that none of them can face the end. He who faces the end can watch history do the striptease. This man must know the end. I then turned on the boy in a fit of rage. Grabbed him by the coat and swung him against the door. I screamed at him that they had left us. Too scared to hold the flag. We are betrayed at every corner I told him. The swine never sleep in their own fifth. They leave us to embrace the end. I was still holding on tightly to the young man. This boy. It was clear that he was frightened out of his wits. He didn't know where to turn. I wanted to hurt this boy as I have never wanted to hurt someone in my life. I was holding this child to blame for what was happening. I remember screaming that I needed more time to carry out my task. I was screaming it out so loudly that it seemed to drown the room in sound. The boy couldn't have known what I was talking about. Just another official going mad before his eyes. He said nothing while I was holding him. He was sweating through the coat with fear. I let him go. Find a leader. Find a leader. I shouted to him as he fled the building to the dust and rubble of the Berlin streets.

Adolf Hitler dead

I am sweating. I am not in fever. These clothes are sticking to me. I can smell them. When are they going to come? I cannot leave here. I cannot leave this room. I cannot go. Everything is closing in on me. I have left school and I have begun working for the Jews. How I hate them. They disgust me with their babble. I'm tired of being in their presence and having to listen to them talk in their strange tongue. They will never expect me to understand their chatter. I will get down to their level of cunning. I have just begun a class at the synagogue in learning Hebrew. I'll surpass this swine in my knowledge. I will master their mongrel tongue. I join the class. Telling them I want to convert. Unusual for a German and especially for someone so young the rabbi told me but we will do our best for you. It is important that you understand us better. We are your brothers in these hard times. There is so much in our culture that will benefit you - he said - as he passed his hands through my hair.

I am sitting in a class. The rabbi comes to me. He pats me on the back telling me he enjoys the presence of such an earnest young man in his class. You have long ignored the beauty of our language he tells me. I feel nothing but contempt for this miserable specimen. His condescension disgusts me. His pedantic manner. I want to give this one a slap for good measure. Yet I sit there - the obedient student attentive to his master. I look around the class. Watch them. Observe them. In detail. They are all younger than me. They set about their learning with a certain viciousness. It is the viciousness of those doomed to exile. The boys grudgingly accept my presence in the class. You can see on their faces the loathing of all things German. We are asked questions by the rabbi and I am always first to answer. The answers are exact and thorough. The rabbi is aghast with the speed of my learning. It seems to worry other student more than it worries him. He seems quite bemused. Further I ask him questions that the others are too frightened to ask. They despise me.

One night I remember in particular. The rabbi had set an exam for the end of the year. He had brought some elders to watch over us. There are about six of them. They walk around the class and each one spends a long time staring over my shoulder. The students stare at me with open contempt. I am enjoying this. I go about my business. After we are finished the rabbi takes our paper and convenes into the next room with the elders. This room is a steam house of hatred. One of the boys bares his Jewish race. The others cackle so loudly that one of the elders sticks his head out the door. Their stupidity does not bother me. It is their arrogance. An arrogance that is steeped in their feelings of superiority. That their village culture is superior. Though the rabbi is a good teacher there is more than a hint of this attitude in him. The elders walk back into the room with the rabbi. He awards the prizes for the year. Fees for a Jew college in the center of town. It is awarded to one of the others. Then he gives a short speech about my development. That I have much to teach the others. I have set a good example. My stomach turned as he spoke. A machine in turmoil. My body felt sensate. He started to say that he welcomed my attendance next year.

I climbed up on to the top of my desk. The room stood still. I began speaking clearly and loudly. I gave them a lecture on the degeneracy of European Jewry. At first they did nothing. They were in a state of shock. I could feel myself weakening at the knees with all the tension. I was throwing their knowledge back at them. Some of the students started shouting at me. I was calling all of them to task. You have caused your own problems I said. They are only beginning I told them. I took no notice of their vile remarks. The elders started towards me. They were furious but I could see that they didn't know what to do with this faithful gentile who came regularly to their class every week for two years. They were asking me if I was sick but I fended them off with my feet and I yelled at them even louder. The rabbi was in tears. I could see him. I was getting hoarse. You are parasites - I yelled. You destroy everything you touch. I can see the looks of fear on their faces. The elders were furious and the boys had stopped laughing. The rabbi stood there crying.

Now they've all flooded back. Back to their old tricks. Parasites. Who is there to fight them? They are the ringleaders of any trouble. That's certain. Their names will be on security files. No doubt. They cannot keep their hands out of trouble. That's certain. There is no one to fight them. Our young have failed to learn the lesson we taught and they mix with this scum. In every sphere. Social cultural and political. Our best marry them and even work for and with them. This fifth is born to trouble. If it is not there - they will invent it. Who fights them? Not a soul. The old soldiers bitch but they will work for them on Mondays. Slowly and surely they return position of power again. There is no place too far away for them to start their mischief. I can sense them. Where are they? I am waiting for them. They know I'm here. I know they're here. When will I be free of them? They will drown out my voice with their babble. They won't be happy until they have me hanging from a rope spilling my guts out to them. That's what they want.

I have not seen people for days but I can tell that they are here. I can hear them. They surround me. They'll want to parade me. I'll not slip a pill down my throat. They will hear my voice loud and strong. I will stand on the desk again. I will let Eckstein's sons know the truth of their misery. I'll tell them. They want my skin. I don't have anything other than that. My skin and my memories. All else is gone. I know what they want. These toy soldiers of Israel. They want to eradicate the past. They don't want the past staring them in their faces. They don't want it ringing in their ears reminding them of their failure. They want to wipe the past out. That's what they want. To forget it. They have won the war but the battle continues. I know that better than this scum. Why is there so much noise? I can't hear myself think. I desire nothing but peace. I want silence. The noise is intense. When will it stop? I'm finding it difficult to get my words out. I need to talk. I need to talk.

I had walked all over Berlin. I could see evidence of the Russians. These savages were coming to devour us. There was no doubt about that. They had made that promise. Their commissars had said they wanted to bring me back in a cage so that the Slav nation could pour its contempt on me as I passed their way. They wanted to torment me. They wanted to make a meal of me. They were not warriors. They were a rabble of lunatics led by a madman. Their conduct was beyond human comprehension. I had seen reports from the East. They do not know civilization. The Russians like a prize and I was going to be that prize. Stalin had personally vowed that I would be brought back to face the full fist of proletarian fury. This madman. They were making forays into the outskirts of the city. We could always strike a deal with the Americans or the British but you could not do a deal with these subhumans. They only wanted one thing. Revenge. That is the goal of a simple nation. I didn't want to be at the door when they opened it. An old man.

Battle of the Seelow Heights

A friend of the family had told me one morning many weeks ago that the way the Russians fought was unimaginable. This man told me what he had gone through. He said that on one particular front they stopped fighting for two days after a very heavy engagement. This was most unusual for them. They usually moved forward in human waves no matter what the cost would be. On this front they stopped for two days. Extreme tension. The army knew that they had to prepare for an onslaught. They fought with increased vigor with every onslaught as if they had an endless source of man and machinery. Nothing could be found out about their plans. They seemed prepared for a massive air strike because they had amassed a battery of anti-aircraft lights. Our generals had moved the troops back fearing an immediate human wave descending on them. They moved ten miles away. There was no reaction from the Slav mass. This inaction struck fear into many hearts not least the old man who should never have been on the front. He was no stranger to battle though. He had been a career soldier and had seen much fighting in his time. The army had been his life. Prepared to fulfill his duty to the State but he said he had never felt such fear. The silence. Then at three one morning an artillery bombardment began. A few moments later a massive battery of antiaircraft lights - he felt they had massed every light that they possessed - were pointed towards them - directly. You cannot imagine what it was like he told me. It was like suns from every planet in the universe had been centered on this small piece of earth. And the noise. The bombardment went on for hours. On and on. It seemed like it would never end. The light and the noise. As if some god had decided to grasp the earth and shake it until night had gone from the sky forever. It sounded and felt for all the world that some god had unleashed his fury on us the old man said. It drove men mad. They had no idea what to do.

The population of this area was running about like creatures in a farmyard who were being prepared for slaughter. They were running into walls. Into each other. Thousands and thousands of people. Soldiers and civilians. Running all over the place like lunatics let loose. No discipline. His eyes. His head. His stomach could not take the strain. He and others were involuntarily evacuating their bowels. They were wetting themselves. Crying. He had never heard such crying. Ever. It was ironic given that they were too far away from the bombardment for it to do any physical damage where they were. It made it worse he said. No one understood what was happening. No one. They all thought that the end had come. Field Marshall and private. They were trapped in a hall of light and sound. This was the end he thought. The rest of their moments would be like this. There would be no release.

When after many hours it had finished - this old man looked around him and he could see that all the buildings were left standing. Not one of them had been touched. The people. He could see people as he had never seen them in all his years. Lost. They looked eternally lost. Lost somewhere in the light. There was little motion in them. Minute gestures. Whatever fight had existed in these people was lost in the light. I had known him since I was a child. He would show me photographs of him in uniform and in battle. He took me to museums that commemorated the wars he had fought. This was no desk ridden drunk. This man was borne with iron and steel instead of bone. He was found outside my office in the back seat of his car with a bullet in his head shortly after we had talked. He had shot himself. I have not been able to get rid of his voice. This voice.

The work had to be done. The tasks were greater than the present hour. Goals of a higher nature than could be prescribed for this or that time. I had no news. What news I had horrified me. This or that camp had been taken over. This or that group had surrendered. Men wandering the nation in search of leadership they could not find. I had spent a decade building up such a notation and filing system unparalleled in modern history. We could control occupied Europe on the information alone. Now nothing could be done. Useless. Timetables. Schedules. Deadlines. No one to administer them. Nobody to carry them out. I was working with a team of young boys and old men. I could feel them mocking me. Useless. Everything was collapsing. What could be done? No one could follow in my footsteps. I became very ill. I could not eat. My headaches grew worse. I felt nausea as soon as I woke up when I could get some sleep. My waking hours were spent on planning. All manner of detail. Continual planning. Neither a leadership to defer to nor any subordinates to be taught. Nobody. Dates had to have names. Notes had to have comments. I was alone. Only I could carry out the task. It was impossible.

I wanted to wipe Jewry off the face of the earth. Now circumstances would lead them to prosper. I spent days as I never had. Two weeks I wandered the city. Our enemies had not won yet everyone had surrendered. Every day. All day. I walked. Streets full of combatants and civilians who had no ideas and no intentions. I was amongst that number. What could I do? The faces of this nation that ten years ago had mirrored our ascendancy now mirrored the collapse. Falling apart. Burning. Shells. The uniform of my office was recognized by a few people. They had lost caring. They came up to me in their madness asking for food and shelter. There was no food and no shelter. Rank didn't protect you from deprivation. I had lost my feeling for them. I walked past them as if in a trance. In the middle of the day not far from my office I saw a group of soldiers playing cards with scraps of paper. Half out of their uniforms. Covered in muck. They had not bothered to clean up. It was a form of Russian roulette. The one who lost would have to shoot the winner. One of the old men who was staying in my office told me that they ate each other. He said they didn't want to be supper for the Russians. They were reduced men. Hardly men at all.

Christopher Barnet

Christopher Barnet

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