Publish the Word
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Angelus -- Chapter 9

 

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

                    Chapter 9

 June 26, 1944       

      
Massive air bombing of Berlin, Russian advances on the Eastern Front, intense fighting in Normandy, heavy losses -- he bellowed on and on not allowing me to slip a word into the conversation.  Thank God for the V-1 rocket, he said.  We will pulverize London into submission, he said, until that fat swine Churchill falls to his knees.  He hates Churchhill the most, I think,  because they both aspire to be artists.  He once saw a painting Churchill was working on and said it lacked perspective, like a schoolboy's work.  He kept shouting into the phone, not even pausing to listen to me.

Consequently, I could not announce my pregnancy.  It will never do to tell him this news over the phone.  I am now considering a letter.  I will pour all my emotions into it to win him over.  But a letter seems too formal, I think, too cowardly.  I cannot go to him.  I must bear this in silence and guard against anyone else discovering our secret and informing the Fuhrer.  He would be enraged.  He must hear this news from my lips.  Such a disclosure from someone like Herr B. or Dr. M. would be worse than the fall of Berlin.

 

June 27, 1944              Negus darted off into the woods this evening as I was enjoying a final smoke on the terrace and he has not returned.  I sent several of the SS to search for him, but now, an hour later, he is still lost.  If he comes scratching to the door at 3 a.m. I will order them to leave him out all night to teach him a lesson, but he will probably whimper and wail until I let him in and then he will have had his own way.  This makes me wonder what kind of mother I will be if I cannot discipline my dogs.


I was studying illustrations of a developing child in a medical textbook this morning.  At one month you were watery and transparent, a tiny embryo of tissue, so insubstantial.   But at two months you looked like a frog with a tail -- one centimeter, the book said.  I stared down at my  finger to imagine this.  How can you be so small yet alive, a miniature human being who will have my color of hair and his eyes?  Truly a wonderment.   At three and four months you seem more human (finally!), but like a baby gnome with your round, garlic bulb head, floating in darkness, my body sounds vibrating about you, little naked swimmer never having to surface for air.  I love you.   We are half-way to your birth.  Other than Herta and Dr. Brandt, no one knows.  Soon I must tell my parents.  I dread this because they are strict about church teaching on marriage and though they will not use the word bastard to my face, I will see such thoughts in their eyes.  But they will come to accept this as they have accepted HIM.


I recall the very day they learned about the Chancellor.  They had been on an outing in the mountains and had stopped in Lambach for coffee.  As they were leaving the cafe, our motorcade drove up.  I didn't see them until I was emerging from the Chancellor's black touring car, but amidst the crowd there was Mutti's face and Vati behind her.  I could see her gasp, her hand rise  instinctively to cover her mouth, her startled eyes.  I could barely look at Vati.  Effie!  You? was all she said.  The Chancellor was behind me with his usual retinue.  He was greeting people from between two bodyguards.  
   Why are you with him? my father demanded of me.  
   I opened my mouth but no sound came out.  I could think of no lie to adequately explain my presence in the Chancellor's car.  Amidst the crowd pushing to get close to shake the great man's hand, I saw only my parents -- the shock on my mother's face, my father's dark eyes flashing from me to the approaching Chancellor.  Vati stepped forward as the Chancellor came up behind me.  
   I am Effie's father!  
   The Chancellor paused for a moment to study my father's face, then he reached out and took Vati's hand and shook it warmly.  And is this Frau Braun? the Chancellor asked, glancing to my mother.  Please, you must join us for cake and tea.  Before Vati could protest, the Chancellor swept them along with the others, his adjutants and staff, several of the brown shirt officers.  After a few awkward moments when we were seated, I on the Chancellor's left, my parents on his right, the Chancellor soon won them over, at least Mutti.

For weeks afterward, though, Vati would wander about the house and mutter his disapproval, but never to my face.  At 22, I was independent, would come and go without their permission and was about to leave home anyway.   I told the Chancellor my desire to move into his apartments, but that was impossible because his political enemies were constantly spying on him.  So that was when the F. gave me my villa, just across the Isar River from his.  It had a kitchen, dining and sitting room on the first floor and two bedrooms and maid's quarters on the second.  A high stone wall provided enough privacy to sunbathe au natural in the courtyard.   
          
Once I moved in, I felt liberated, gloriously free!  What parties I hosted in my little villa!  And how I worry that a bomb will fall onto it.  Back then I was paid a salary of 500 Reichmarks a month, enough for food, necessities, clothes and some nightlife, though we could usually find a generous admirer to pay our cabaret bills or furnish us with theater or concert tickets.  But today, sadly, 500 marks won't even buy a decent dress.

Ah, Stasi is pawing at the door to get out, so that must mean Negus is on the terrace whining to get in. 


June 29, 1944   
   
As I was entering the Fuhrer's conference room today, I overheard two cleaning girls say something about dead children, and so I questioned them.  They both stared down at the floor and refused to answer until I threatened to dismiss them.  The older one, a girl of about nineteen, said her brother, who was assigned to the work camp at Dachau, 20 kilometers north of Munich, told her that now even babies were being killed indiscriminately.   What do you mean? I insisted.  My brother won't get into trouble, will he, Fraulein Braun? 
   
I assured her I would not tell anyone if she was honest with me.  She said when he went to the camp a year ago, only the old Jews were killed, and those too ill to work.  But in the last few months no distinctions are made, he had told her.  Men, women, children, yes, the babies too are executed.  You know this to be true? I asked.  My voice must have sounded harsh, because then neither of them would say a word.  I sent them from my presence and told them to never utter such rumors again at the Berghof, that the Fuhrer would not allow such atrocities.

But as I walked along the footpath above the lake at midday, I pondered in my heart the love I have for my baby and how I had never told my own mother my feelings for her.  Such mysteries! 
   
I have yet to hold my child in my arms, but I cannot describe the overwhelming emotion which floods inside me when I think about this miracle of life.  Yes, the father and mother and the Creator fashion a miracle of blood and bone and tissue, eye, nose, fingers and heart, an exquisite mingling of seed and egg and breath of life.  I hiked about for an hour and never noticed the scenery, I was so intent on my thoughts.  I wish every moment to be aware of you growing inside me.  Even discomfort reminds me of the miracle God has entrusted to my body.  And to think of having you wrenched from my arms.  To conceive of your miniature heart which beats in counterpoint to my own being extinguished.

How could a mother endure the loss of a child?  I had not, to that point, fully appreciated Muti's sacrifices for me, her endless worries about my health, my diet, my smoking, and I now a grown woman!  
   We Brauns are not affectionate, but as I stroke the arch of my belly I want to throw my arms around Muti and hug her with all my strength.



 

 


 
 
 

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