Publish the Word
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Angelus -- Chapter 3

 

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

      Chapter 3

April 18, 1944

I have just returned from Munich, having taken my parents a box full of potatoes, flour, sugar, coffee, and oranges! from the Berghof's storeroom.  The young SS who watches over the inventory winks and turns away when I tell him I need a few items for our starving citizens -- which is true for Mutti's cupboards were nearly bare.  Vati has assumed his duties as administrator of the Ruhpolding military hospital outside the city, so they return home only on Sundays, but we had a grand afternoon with Mutti's hot dumplings and cider, then singing, oh, just like old times except Ilse is gone to Breslau with her husband, Dr. Frucke-Michaels.  I nearly let slip to Gretl that I am bearing a child, but I bite my tongue until tears come to my eyes.  I must not yet. 

After my bath this morning I studied my body in the mirror, certain now I am swelling, more womanly, though my maternity is not yet visible.  I agonize over what to do when I can no longer disguise my condition.  To be unmarried is a small shame, especially in the royal court of his generals' wives such as Frau Goehring, Frau Gobbels, Frau Bormann who are mothers many times over and are only polite to me because of HIM and his wrath should they utter an unkind word aimed at me, as they often do when he is not present.  But his reaction worries me more.  I don't think he would have one of his doctors remove you from me, dear Leibchin, but he might send me away and this I could not bear.  Or worse, he might send you away.  He may as well cut out my heart.  I don't know what to do.

 


 

April 23, 1994, Obersalzburg

Horrible cramps last night, as if I were trying to pass chips of glass.  I spent what seemed like several hours in a sitzbath with little relief as wave after wave of pain swept through me.  Not since I was a girl sick from spoiled schenken have I felt so miserable.  What mischief are you up to inside me, was all I could think?

At last, word this morning from my F.  He was having tea with Generals Keitel and Jodl when he had an overwhelming urge to phone his Effie, he said.  They had been listening to Wagner.  The music reminded him of me, his naked Brunhilde, he said, whom he wished he could possess utterly, body and soul.  I am empty without you, I told him.  Please come home.  As soon as I vanquish the Russians, he said.

Oh, for the glory of God how I pray for swift victory.  Separation is more painful than my cramping.  I am surrounded daily by our Berghof staff, dozens of people, adjutants, workers, the Schutz Staffel, but I feel so alone without him to complete me.  Herta is driving up for lunch today and I plan to share my secret with her.  Good for you, she will say.  No joy is greater than a newborn child nursing at your breast.  I have watched her with envy, imagining the day when I might know that same joy.  Flesh of my flesh!  What a miracle to contemplate.  This  present discomfort will be nothing the first time I cradle you in my arms, my child, son or daughter, I love you already, but please stop tormenting your mother's body.                                            

 

May 12, 1944, Obersalzburg

I have spent the past two weeks in Munich packing my valuables for storage as the bombing increases.  And I forgot to take my diary, so I will try to recount the events I can recall, uggh!, so much on my mind now.  No more nausea.  Three months and you seem to have settled, content, into the silent darkness of my womb.  I wonder if you dream of the life you will inherit?  Are you aware yet of the muffled sounds, as underwater, of my gentle stroking, the rhythms of night and day, you curled warmly, my pink cub, hibernating.  If I only had a window to peek in at you! 

Still no peace about when and how to tell HIM.  Soon you will become too obvious to hide and the inevitable must occur, but other than Herta who thinks I should be blunt and tell him now, I can seek no one for advice.   Nor can I tell him now.  He is so preoccupied with the Crimea he can only spare me five minutes on the phone, and that if we can manage a connection.  With the fall of Sevastopol he is in no mood to hear I am pregnant.

I am just now hearing the bells from St. Bartholomus on its green promontory above the Konig-See.  Every noon they ring, announcing themselves to the nearby peaks and villages.  Sunday morning as I was lying in bed with French windows thrown wide open and the sun pouring in like a golden liqueur all across the floor, the bells of Munich awakened me, first the chimes from Ludwigs-Kirche near the university, then deep basso profundo bells from the belfry at St. Michaels, and then all at once bells from every direction, high, tympanic bells like distant sopranos, and brass bells, masculine bells, the Basilica bells, fragments of song echoing back and forth as if they were singing to each other over the gabled roofs, the carillon bells, the priory bells, bells like the very bells of heaven, the angelus bells.  I love the city so much, but now everything is so disrupted because of the Wehrmacht.


   We must endure food shortages and air raid sirens in the middle of the night and endless lines for gas rations, all the theaters closed, high prices everywhere one goes, uniformed troops leaving and arriving constantly.  I hate this war and pray it ends soon.  I don't want to bring an innocent child into such misery.


 

Gretl stayed a week and drove me to insanity with her babblings about Colonial Fegelein.  First she loves him, then she doesn't, then she absolutely must confess her love to him, then she says what about the rumors of his other girlfriends and I interrupt her to say, is there no end to this?  Please.  Go tell Herman your feelings and stop torturing the both of us.   I took her shopping to take her mind off him, but she was too distracted.  I bought four pair of shoes for ten marks each,  a new purse and a crocodile skin suitcase from Madagascar to bring my summer dresses up to the Berghof.  I have to drive the Volkswagen everywhere because gas is so scarce.  My Mercedes 3.2 cabriolet sits forlornly in the garage.  When we returned home we could scrounge only cheese and crusty bread to eat, and before I knew it, I had gobbled everything in sight.  Mein Gott, she said, how do you eat so much and never get fat?  I wished so much to say because I am now eating for two, but I swallowed down the thought.  I finally convinced her that Fegelein, who is Reichsleiter Himmler's liaison officer to the Fuhrer, would be a choice match.  He is well bred, from a prosperous Bavarian family, an accomplished horseman who had won equestrian competitions, he had been decorated with the Knight's Cross for bravery in Slovakia, was an exceptional dancer and at thirty-seven in his physical prime.  So should I? she asked me.  I wanted to slap her she is so indecisive.  She at last resolved to speak with him.  We shall see what becomes of this.  Her romance with Heinz Hoffmann fizzled, and too, Fritz Darge, then von Hewell, who really was too old for her, and don't forget Bruno Mussolini whom Ilse also fantasized marrying.  Clark Gable is still available, I told them as they squabbled over El Duce's son, or  why not join the convent and pledge your virginity to God?  Ha!  Did that elicit a reaction from them!

Well, now that Ilse is married, Gretl is over-zealous to secure a husband.  Though Fegelein is handsome and could have any woman on the Obersalzburg, and he's already had at least half of them, I cannot imagine being married to anyone except the Chief, whom my heart is pledged to.  Let me tell you, my child, how we became acquainted.

 

I was 17, a shop assistant at Herr Hoffmann's photo studio on Schellingstrasse.  I sold films, helped in the darkroom and tried to learn bookkeeping -- I even modeled when Herr Hoffmann needed a pretty madchen.  I did not then know anything about the National Socialist Movement, so one day in October 1929 when Herr. H. introduced me to an older man with a Charlie Chaplin mustache, in a tan overcoat and felt fedora who kept tapping against his leg a riding whip which he told me was made of hippopotamus skin, I thought he was just some eccentric customer.  Herr Wolf was the name he used, but by the way he winked at Herr H., I knew they were teasing me.  Fraulein Eva, he said, please be so kind as to run around to the Bierkelleri and fetch us some wurst and beer.  When I returned, he insisted I join them.  He paid me compliment after compliment.  Even after he left and Herr H. informed me that Wolf was the alias for an important politician, Adolf Hitler, I still did not know who he was.

When I went home and asked Vati about this name and the NAZI party, he stomped about, incensed, cursing the thieves and cemetery robbers, he called them, and this Hitler, he said, yes, I have heard of him, a fanatic who makes wild accusations in their newspaper, the Volkischer Beobachter, which should be outlawed.  He forbid me to have any contact with him.  The next week I accepted Herr "Wolf's" invitation to dinner at the Osteria Haus in Schwabing. 


 

I can still picture the menu: a rich buttermilchsuppe, then sauerbraten cooked in pineapple and raisins with cream, sauerkraut, the best kartoffelknodel I had ever eaten, and when we had finished and were sipping orange pekoe tea, the waiter announced they had plum cake warm from the oven.  Herr Wolf said he admired women with a healthy appetite, that the great artist Rubens depicted the ideal, voluptuous woman, in his opinion.  I was blushing, of course, so I had a healthy slice of the cake, as I was still girlishly thin at the time.  Several people who seemed like dignitaries stopped by our table to shake Herr Wolf's hand, and I knew he was important by then because I had snooped through our photo files and found prints of him marching in a parade, posed beside a touring Benz, reclining amidst a group of children in an Alpine meadow in leather shorts, his legs spindly and so white.  He talked on for hours, while I tried to be attentive, but the dinner had made me sleepy.

Shakespeare understood women, I remember him saying, but think of Napoleon and Josephine, and you know the dancer Lola Montez hastened the downfall of King Ludwig I of Bavaria.  Even now that madwoman Madame Chiang Kai-shek threatens to sacrifice her country for hatred of Japan.  No, women and politics are lethal combinations, like sulphur and blasting powder.  The food acted as a narcotic and his ruminations even more so.  Finally, as he paused for breath, I excused myself to the toilet where I splashed cold water on my cheeks.  Fraulein Eva, he said when I returned, you are a sparkling conversationalist, which wasn't true because I had hardly said a word, but his eyes were kind, so I accepted the flattery as indication he liked me.  I made him drop me off around the corner from home so may parents would not see the enormous Mercedes and besiege me with questions.


 

 I did not hear from him for several weeks.  And then one day after I had gone out to run errands, Herr H. told me when I returned that I had just missed Herr Wolf who had asked specifically after me.  I doubted this because I assumed he thought me a silly and young dimwit from our dinner, but a couple days later he came round for a photo order.  He greeted Herr. H., but then took my hand and held it for a long time, searching my eyes which I shifted away, slightly embarrassed to be the center of attention.  His eyes were like dark chocolates, moist and alert, a piercing gaze that seemed to penetrate my very soul.  I forgot what he said, but at the time I felt chosen, though it would be almost three years later before we became lovers because he was traveling, always holding rallies in Nurnberg or Hamburg or Berlin, always meetings throughout the Weimar Republic.  He was living in a corner apartment in Prinzregentenplaz at the time, 1932, with his sister and niece, but I, meanwhile, had a full social life.

I learned gymnastics and would train until my muscles cramped.  I enjoyed music concerts, the cabaret Bonbonniere, shopping with Herta and Inge, my best friends, the marionette theater in the park, popular comedies, the cinema, especially the American adventure films of Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn, dancing, picnics in the Hofgarten, swimming and vapor baths, Oktober-Fest in the Theresien-Wiese where we would climb to the top of the bronze statue and see the faraway Zugspitze's snowy peak if the weather were clear.  I long for the freedom of those days.

I must continue this later because I am famished, and though I eat more than a regiment, I have  gained no weight.  I will speak to the doctor about this.

 

May 16, 1944, Obersalzburg

I felt you move for the first time today!  I was standing in the dining room conversing with a serving girl when all at once I felt a distinct fluttering just below my waistline.  This quickening startled me and I gasped.  What is it? the girl asked.  Oh, nothing, I said, but she could tell something had distracted me, and I wondered as she went back to the kitchen if other women know intuitively of these matters about which men are so blind and deaf.