Publish the Word
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Angelus -- Chapter 17

 

 The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it. Psalms 68:11

                              Chapter 17

 

    

August 22, 1944                      A clear phone connection today to the F.  We spoke at some length about many subjects, especially his great anguish over SS-Obersturmfuhrer Hans Junge who was killed in Normandy.  He was an honorable man and all of the F.'s staff are saddened..  Traudl, the F. said, was inconsolable when she received news of her husband.  I longed to be there to comfort her, as we have become friends.  Who will be next?  I asked the F.  My brother-in-law?  My dear parents?  How many more lives must this war take?  He admitted in confidence that we were suffering enormous losses.  But what of the V-1 and V-2, I asked him.  Herr Speer said they will bring England to its knees.  Just you wait, Tschapperl, he said.  When we launch V-2s at New York, Roosevelt will beg for mercy.  In another month our scientists at Peenemunde will have a plane far superior of the Allies and a weapon  of such magnitude we will end the war in one day, I promise.  I told him, please tell your scientists to hurry.  They work without sleep, he said, brilliant men, you must know your relative, Professor Von Braun?  Which Braun, I asked?  Professor Wernher, of Wirsitz.    I don't know him, but I will ask my father.  Please greet your parents for me, the F. said.  Tell your mother I miss her obstkuchen. 


August 23, 1944                      As I was just now rereading what I wrote yesterday, I could not help but dwell on happier times.  When I first moved into my little villa at 12 Wasserburgerstrasse my life seemed a neverending party.  So many of my friends back then, Pepo, Toni, Georg, his sister Kate, Mitzi, Roeschen,  Inge, are now scattered, or worse, gone.  We dined on hard bread and sardines, but it didn't matter because we didn't need much nourishment, only the latest records to dance to, singing and games and laughter.  Somewhere I have boxes and boxes of photos packed away, all those frozen moments of gaiety.  I remember Basko, my first shepherd from the F. with his sad, watery eyes.  I remember the first time my parents came for dinner, Vati suspiciously sniffed each room as if to find a man in hiding.  I miss my mahogany dining room furniture, my paintings by Fischback, Gradl, Hugo Kauffman, the watercolor of the Asam Church by my favorite artist (and lover) A.H.  I miss my Gobelin tapestries and Samarkand rugs.  I miss so much.  Each day now is more waiting for the sirens, then rushing down to the shelter which is musty, then trying to amuse myself until the all-clear, and then rising back to the light, all of us blind and bored and longing for it to end.

Searching through my jewelry earlier I came upon my tourmaline bracelet, a twenty-first birthday gift from the F., in fact, my first jewels from him.  He presented them over dinner at the Vierjahreszeiten, the most elegant hotel in Munich.  We were alone, a rare occasion in public for  the Fuhrer.  Our waiter kept calling him "Your Excellency," and  I, who had made all my own clothes, who was only a shopgirl with never a dream of haute couture or having my car door held by a liveried footman, yes I, had awakened into a fairy tale.  Are you really mistress to the most powerful man in Germany? my friend Charlotte asked when she heard the rumors.  We will marry someday, I explained, but he has vowed, like a Catholic priest, to serve the people first and to redeem the fatherland.  She gazed at me, stupefied.  I will never forget the admiration in her eyes, as if I were an enchantress who had bewitched the Chancellor into falling in love with me, a simple, poor girl.  Scheherazade could not have invented such a tale. 

Once, in 1937 or '38 the F. and I had gone to Bad Schachen, a charming hotel castle on Lake Constance near Lindau.  We had set out walking the first morning, just the two of us, he in his floppy hat, a disguise.  It was autumn for the air smelled of harvest.  I remember the haymen stacked in the fields.  I remember we walked to a nearby village for potato soup and no one recognized us, two travelers, lovers, of course, afoot, no engagements to distract us.  On the way back we hiked past an orchard so stopped to pick a bag of ripe apples.  Under a tree bent low with fruit he presented me with a bouquet of white bellflowers.  We later sampled the kellermeister's cider which he drew off from a wooden keg, so cold and fresh in my mouth.  I shall never forget this day, I told the F.  And I haven't, for I am recording it now.  I must sign off because Stasi and Negus are pawing to be let out, my two furry imps.

 

August 24, 1944                      More devastating news.  I have just heard that Oberkommander Gunther von Kluge met his fate in France while commanding the western forces.  Surely this will be another blow to the Fuhrer.  I must try to phone him.

 

August 30, 1944                      At last I have spoken to Frau T. Junge and conveyed my sympathies for her husband's meritorious death.  We spoke for a minute or two and then she said, quite bluntly, I must tell you before you next see the Chancellor that the right side of his body has become impaired from the attempt on his life.  Impaired?  In what way, I asked.  He has begun to tremble, she said.  Doctor Morrell has not yet been able to cure this condition.  So you will not be alarmed, she said, I felt I should prepare you.

When our conversation ended, I went outside and stood for a long time on the balcony.  I wanted to pray to God, but my thoughts flew off, unfocused.  I wanted to pray, but no words rose up, only sadness.  I am sad, dear child, that you must enter a world so filled with evil.  I lose count when I try to name all the friends killed in service, killed innocently in nighttime bombing raids, dead forever before their prime, even innocent schoolchildren and babies still wrapped in their mother's severed arms.  Christ the Savior was also wounded for our transgressions.  I am confident the Fuhrer will recover.  I must not entertain these irrational worries. 

Herr Bettlemen, I called out to our groundskeeper.  You have made the Berghof look like a grand palace.  He grinned at my compliment and waved up to me and I immediately felt better.  The sun broke through the overcast at that moment and transformed the Kehlstein into a golden Olympus, as if the Creator Himself was there to cheer me. 

 

September 8, 1944                  You are 208 days old by my count, a constant pressure now I can't relieve no matter in which position I sit or lay.  A roadmap of pinkish lines has appeared across my abdomen and breasts.  I can feel you shift about more actively at night as I try to sleep, my breathing shallow and labored.  I realize how thin is this mountain air, so for this reason, and because I can no longer disguise my condition when I venture outside my apartment, I have decided to spend the next month in Munich.  The F. will insist I stay at the Berg where the bunker affords more protection with its 10 meter thick concrete walls, but I cannot risk one of his spies here transmitting the news that Fraulein Eva is pregnant.  What if he thought I had been unfaithful in his absence?  I cannot risk this.  I cannot stay, so we leave tomorrow.  Liesl will come and two bodyguards.  I shall write the Fuhrer that my help is needed among the wounded, or perhaps at Ruhpolding where I can assist my father at the hospital.  He will still protest, but he knows I can be stubborn.  I have no choice but to embark upon this plan. 


September 11, 1944                Cloudless skies, the weather stifling and humid and thick with diesel fumes from the troop and supply transports that constantly fill the streets.  To watch them pass by, I can't help but be encouraged.  It seems every man, woman and child is working tirelessly for the war effort.  But already I miss the mountains and am now wondering if I made the right decision to come here.  Not a single plane has crossed the sky and we have been free of warning sirens, but Herta, who has just left me says the pattern of raids is two or three days of incessant bombing and then nothing -- as if the allied strategy is to frazzle our nerves by their irregularity.

My favorite butcher shop around the corner has been flattened.  I am told by my neighbors it occurred at night so no one was injured, but still, the pile of rubble depresses me greatly.  To think of all the times I bought their sliced and cured meats or chatted across the counter with the butcher, a genial, squat man with thick forearms.  I hope he rebuilds after the war.  Our section of the city is not as badly bombed as other areas, but I can't tell if the bombing has been indiscriminate or aimed at certain military installations.  I can't imagine a family-owned butcher shop to be a target.  But what, at any rate, is the logic in bombing residential neighborhoods?

None of us wish the war to continue another day, but we are helpless to conclude it.  We are not the generals.  And yet the children die, the old women who have already been widowed by this madness die as well.  I pray God in Heaven intervenes soon. 


September 14, 1944                I am lumbering from room to room but can find no relief from the heat nor anything to lift my boredom. Two days ago I sent a letter by special courier to the F. but he has not responded.  The phones were out temporarily yesterday but they are working now.  I just spoke to Muti who encourages me to come and stay with them where I can be under the doctor's immediate care if necessary, but I refuse to give up the comfort of my home.  Life is almost normal here.  I visit with neighbors on the street and can stroll along the riverbank for exercise.  My weight has not increased much, but the doctor assured me not to worry, that we are within the normal range of growth.  I eat for both of us, but sporadically.  And my tastes are more acute.  I seem to crave the texture of foods, chewy, dark breads, cold potatoes, boiled and peeled, and bananas (!) , which I would almost never eat before my pregnancy.  Also, salty foods, sharp cheese, especially the pimento loaf which I send Liesl out to buy daily along with  spiced Genoa salami.  I have no desire for sweets or chocolates which were a staple in my diet when the Chancellor was home.  But no more.

I asked Muti about her three maternities, but her only advice was to sleep with a pillow under my thighs to elevate my legs, which, I must admit, has helped slightly.  Herta encourages me to remain active for proper circulation and showed me some exercises which will help once the delivery begins.  Both her daughters were born after less than two hours of labor.  Her cousin Monika delivered within an hour of arriving at the hospital.  We are, I pray, less than a month away from this much anticipated day.

 

September 15, 1944                I slept not one wink last night.  First, the sirens began wailing at midnight.  I felt like an elephant trying to kneel down on all fours under my dining room table.  Then, once awake and listening for the high whine of planes overhead, and there never were any,  when I returned to bed I could not relax because you seemed to be playing fussball inside my bloated belly.  I am in misery today and can do nothing but lie on my back.   I am captive to this unfamiliar body I have become.  The warm breeze from the open window beside me is not in the least refreshing and feels as though someone were pouring warm tea over me.  No reply yet from the F.  This war consumes us all.

 

 


 

 

 

     

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