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Posted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 4:45 pm
Commissar D, the Evil wrote:"Debug Mode" kept me off the forum all day!
Excuses !! Excuses !! Excuses !!
Gumble, grumble, grumble …………
My popcorn’s cold, my pop’s lost it’s fizz, my chocolate bar has melted, and the MGM lion has died of old age ……………… when’s this epic tale gonna continue ???
Posted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:07 pm
*sneaks behind the Shadow to snatch some popcorn*
You are right....I'm still up and waiting for the next chapter even as it is here in Berlin already "cuddlingwithyourteddytime* and I can hardly keep my eyes open...
Posted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:12 pm
Oh, lighten up guys. Geesh, a writer doesn't deserve a day off? I should kill all of you off for ingratitude and impatience--Soviet Penal Code 1144c, "Dissin' the Commissar".
~D, the EviL
Posted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:14 pm
I can hardly keep my eyes open...
Hang in there M.H. !!
I hear rumours that the plot will thicken ................ sooner or later !!
Posted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 8:10 pm
YOU CAN'T!! I have it copied and saved, for future publication! Not even your best revisionist can save you now, EviL One!!
Don't you two have to make it out of this war first?
That's why I started Where the Iron Crosses Grow
the way I did! Tom made it through the war! Now he'll just have to survive South Boston!
Posted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 11:39 am
Something with Alex as the first name and ends with C or K
Posted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 3:56 pm
Commissar D, the Evil wrote:Oh, lighten up guys. Geesh, a writer doesn't deserve a day off? I should kill all of you off for ingratitude and impatience--Soviet Penal Code 1144c, "Dissin' the Commissar".
~D, the EviL
Or you could send them all to Uzt-Izhma for breaking the Code.
Chris, the EviL TeXaN
Posted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 4:28 pm
At 45 years of age, Czsimir Kowalski was a slave, working for the Brandt family--Ernst and Anna Brandt–on their small, tidy Prussian farm. As a slave, he worked from sunup to sundown, keeping the animals fed, the house and barn in repair and doing any and all of the innumerable labors that a working farm requires. He had been deported to Prussia as forced labor three yeas before and, while being a “farm boy” himself, was keenly aware of his status as a slave laborer.
So, too, was the 20 year old Ursula Swzst, plucked by the Germans from being a student in Krakow and now a milkmaid and general farmhand for the Brandts. As Poles, despite their difference in ages, their hostility towards their plight ran deep and unabated.
“Papa” Ernest Brandt filled a wheelbarrow with wood as Czsimir chopped it into kindling with his axe. The old man, now in his sixties, insisted on taking part in the physical labor, no matter how strenuous. He had built the farm out of the weedy mess his father had left him and didn’t want to see it recede into the wilderness, even if his two sons were somewhere at war.
Czsimir swung the axe heavily, puffing as he did. The cold turned his breathe into a visible cloud of vapor. “I’m getting too old for this,” he complained in Polish, knowing that the old man wouldn’t understand.
Brandt strained and grunted as he lifted the wheelbarrow. Czsimir laid the axe aside and said in rough German, “Perhaps you should let me get that, sir.”
“Nonsense!” Ernst replied, but not sharply, “I’ve been working a farm since you were a potato sprout and not worth the picking.”
Czsimir smiled and picked the axe up again. The Brandts worked hard, he knew, and in kinder times might have made good neighbors, but the war had changed all that. Torn from family, friends and the fabric of his village, Czsimir–who never considered himself a “deep thinker”–had good cause to hate all Germans and especially the family that worked him to the bone, but Papa Brandt’s humor and tenaciousness sometimes were worth the blessing of an honest smile.
Despite her overwhelming disgust for chickens, Ursula came out of the hen house victoriously, with a full basket of eggs—only to nearly drop them all when the armored car crunched through the snow and stopped before the Brandt's small stone farmhouse.
Posted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 5:22 pm
Ursula’s fright was real, a tangible thing, caused by the shock of seeing the monster. The hardships of the farm had spared her the sight of most of the machines of war and this armored car was clearly meant for no other purpose than to kill. Unconsciously, she walked towards it, despite its menacing black-cross markings, its squat, slanted armored sides and the guns poking from its turret. Even the hard-faced commander scared her less than her curiosity compelled her.
“Anna! Anna!” Herr Brandt called for his wife of thirty-four years. Anna Brandt, plump and white-haired ran down the steps of the porch to be near her husband. Czsimir adopted his normal stance before German strangers; eyes to the ground and cap in is his hands, standing directly behind Herr Brandt.
“You must leave this place, the Russians are close behind!” Ulrich shouted, frantically.
Herr Brandt took a step forward. “I am Ernst Brandt and this is my farm, this is my wife Anna, and these are my workers.”
Slightly annoyed at his assertiveness, Ulrich shouted back, “I don’t care about any of that, man! The Russians are twenty kilometers away and headed in this direction–if you don’t know what that means, then God help you!”
Ernst Brandt couldn’t quite understand the implications, or was afraid to. “Our Gauleiter hasn’t given us any orders to evacuate”, he replied.
“Your Gauleiter, his family and his friends are gone by now,” Ulrich insisted.
Papa Brandt took off his cap and scratched his head, considering the unwelcome–in fact, incredibly shocking--news.
Ulrich took a moment to absorb the sight before him. An aged German couple and two workers.
“Poles or Russians?” He shouted. The women with the long brown hair recoiled suddenly, the spell of the beast of war broken. Czsimir kept his eyes at his toes.
“They’re my workers–from Poland”, Ernst Brandt replied, trying to keep the situation in hand. Ulrich gave both the Polish man and woman a hard, murderous stare.
“Sir, word from the Platoon commander”, the radio operator interrupted him. Ulrich put his headphones on and listened intently. After a minute he took them off again.
“You must leave this place”, he asserted with a disturbing stridency. “You haven’t seen what the Russians do to civilians–I have!”
And with that, without waiting for an answer from them, the armored car backed up and drove away.
Ernst held wife closely. “Damned excitable fellows, these Bavarians”, he muttered.
Czsimir, who had long ago learned to express himself obliquely to his German masters, quietly observed, “You Germans are a very polite people. In Poland, I have never seen soldiers come to a farm without demanding or begging for food."
Papa Brandt turned to him and started to make a remark about how stupid Poles could be, but he considered what the man said and confined himself to a simple, yet thoughtful, response, based on his years of service decades ago in the Great War.
“Neither have I”, Ernst said softly, “Neither have I”, he repeated, while softly stroking his wife's grey hair.
Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:58 am
I'm getting frightened myself!
Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 12:08 pm
*M.H runs to the bathroom to vomit*
Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 12:47 pm
...how did you know???
Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 3:49 pm
Wow, only 20 kilometers! What are the Brandts to do?
Posted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 6:55 pm
Max and Arajs kept the men on the move. The Latvian S.S. men weren’t a problem as they were, after all, men without a home and men desperate to escape the Russians. Nothing except a bullet or Siberia awaited them at the hands of the Russians, so their march discipline was excellent and they formed a tight little group of over a dozen men, well-armed and alert, at the head of the column.
Strangely, considering the circumstances, it was the German contingent that presented the ad-hoc group with the most obvious danger of disintegration. Hansen had anticipated this, as these men were the remnants of remnants of units. Some were rear echelon troops; cooks, transport troops and the like. Others were young recruits, sent as replacements to units that no longer existed, or worse, survivors of units that had been destroyed. Their morale was non-existent and they were constantly dropping packs, weapons and gear from their kits as the slog through the forest grew longer.
Hansen planted his boot in a few backsides, cursed the others and generally ranged along the length of the straggling line pretending to be a bigger arsehole than the Russians chasing them. He kept a particular eye on the men lugging the panzerfausts. They carried the only effective anti-tank weapons this scrapping of a unit possessed and any attempt to abandon the weapons brought a quick, physically and mentally damaging response from him.
It helped that he wore the S.S. runes, but it helped even more that he managed to convince them that he would shoot anyone who couldn’t keep up or dared to abandon his weapon.
Still, the physical state of his men demanded that he halt their retreat more often than he thought necessary or even safely.
Arajs and Hansen studied the map and their compasses during one of the halts as the other men flung themselves to the ground or huffed and puffed leaning on their rifles.
“How many kilometers do you thing we’ll make with this lot before a Russkie tank crawls up our arses?” Hansen asked in disgust.
Arajs shook his helmeted head. “We’d better find some place to hole up in quickly. I’d only trust these my back to these men if we found someplace they couldn’t run from.”
Hansen poked at the map. “Only place to go–Bad Frostberg. There’s a North-South road to it less than a kilometer West. We’ll have to take it or these idiots will collapse. Can’t expect these fat stove-bellies to last long in this forest. ”
“Bad Frostberg?” Arajs said skeptically. “Why is it that we never head for some place called “Green Fields” or “Pleasant Valley”?
Max snorted at the strictly rhetorical question. “I wouldn’t worry about it Arajs, I think we will all be in a place called Heaven shortly!”
Arajs chuckled. After all of these long years and hard fights, his dislike of Hansen had faded away, a thing long dissolved by shared hardship. Equally, Hansen had come to regard him as a reliable and brave “kamerad”.
Arajs never faded in a fight and he never hung behind. If anyone volunteered to take point, it was Arajs. Despite his engrained prejudices, Hansen had to acknowledge the truth of things, especially when the situation was desperate. And he had only rarely been in a situation so desperate as this.
As far as Hansen could see, the front had been blown open for dozens of kilometers. There were no longer even theoretical lines of resistance or coherent German units in the region. If his men were the last scrapings of the barrel–and they clearly were–it was only because the barrel itself, the Wehrmacht in this region of Prussia, was an empty barrel.
Arajs took a hard look around. “I’d still stay off the main road if possible.” He observed.
“These men won’t last. There’s nothing for it. We either lose them on the road or lose them quicker in the forest. “We make it to this town, we dump the weak and continue on with the strong. Agreed?”
Arajs looked deeply into Hansen’s eyes. There wasn’t a trace of deception in them and the hardness in Hansen’s gaze was as palpable as chunk of ice. What Hansen was actually saying was that he intended to get clear of this mess, no matter how many of these nameless recruits and replacements he had to sacrifice in doing so. This was something that Arajs understood perfectly–he intended to save his countrymen, his fellow Latvians, if they could stand the pace and endure the losses, but, in the end, Arajs himself intended to escape the Russians at any cost.
“Agreed.” Arajs said without hesitation. “This is a bad time for the strong and we cannot waste time on the weak.”
For the first time in all of those years and during all of those campaigns, Hansen extended his hand in friendship. Arajs shook it and the deal was made.
An ashen “Papa” Brandt returned to his home in his wagon pulled by his only horse. Out of caution and concern he had checked on his nearest neighbors. His dear wife Anna and his servants, Czsimir and Ursula, anxiously awaited his arrival, huddled together on the porch despite the falling snow. Bringing the horse to a quick halt, he jumped down despite his age and swept past Czsimir and Ursula to grasp his wife’s arm.
“We have to leave!” He insisted. “Our neighbors are gone, gone on the North road–the Beckers, the Steiners, they’ve fled! Everyone is on the North road. Carts, sleds, wagons, all I could see was our folk headed North!”
The urgency in his voice caused Anna to cry. Czsimir and Ursula exchanged quick, if unfathomable, glances.
“Pack the wagon!” Ernst Brandt ordered in a shrill tone that neither of the two Poles had ever heard before. “Only food, blankets and clothes. Quickly! We have no time! Leave everything else–hurry–Move!”
Papa Brandt pulled Anna into the house, shouting at her and ignoring her protests. They had lived together on the farm since their marriage, thirty-four years before. He did not expect her to leave easily and secretly prayed that his firmness and resolution would accomplish what a reasoned discussion could not.
As he rushed her to pack their suitcases, Czsimir and Ursula hurriedly piled blankets on the wagon. The pace of events had caught them by surprise as well, no matter how many hours in the past years they had prayed for liberation.
“We should stay”, Ursula whispered to Czsimir. “The Russians will be here soon, what do we owe these Germans?”
Czsimir looked back at her but was quick to find his tongue. “The Red Army is hardly here to free us! I know, I fought them after the Great War for Poland. For a Pole, being “liberated ” by the Communists is as if the Devil were taking you to heaven!”
A deep frown grew on Ursula’s otherwise unblemished face. She was a strong, healthy woman and her strength of character, while hidden, had by no means been diminished by her years of servitude.
“The Nazis are finished!” She spat out, trying to keep her voice low. “Why should we suffer with them–for them?”
Czsimir, his own heart deeply torn, lowered his eyes as he loaded the wagon. “You think that I’m a coward and I am not. What can the Reds do to me–shoot me? Send me to Siberia as they did my father? Make me enlist? I’m thinking of you, dear girl, only of you. You should think of what they will do to you.”
Ursula, who didn’t feel the snow, felt the chill of his remark. In all of her suffering, through all of the years of being officially a “subhuman” and a slave in Germany, she had managed--sometimes with Czsimir’s help--to keep her womanly virtue intact. She knew exactly what he meant by the remark, through outraged stories from her family before the war and through the rumors that servants exchanged during the war.
“Load the wagon, the Brandts are old and more feeble than you think, girl. We must save ourselves in this war and if it means saving them, then that is what we will do.”
Ursula reluctantly obeyed, her fear demanding one course, her hopes demanding the other, with only her faith in Czsimir tipping the balance.
From the window, Papa Brandt watched the exchange and quickly drew himself back behind the lace curtains when it ended and before either of them saw him. He had already retrieved his ancient service pistol and tucked it into his belt. But, he thought to himself, what good did a pistol do? How, why would he ever use it against Czsimir or Ursula? Could he even consider using it against either of them?
He looked at Anna, whose sobs hadn’t yet broken into the weeping he feared.
Long ago, he had been a soldier and long ago, he had killed enemies of his country. But that was duty and duty was thing beyond reason. Surely his two sons, somewhere, were doing their duty to their country.
Now it fell upon his age-worn shoulders to do his duty, which, being a humble, God-fearing man, could only mean that he must save his household from destruction. And his household, as he realized when he saw the two Poles argue, included not just his beloved wife, but also the man and woman who had kept them from poverty and starvation during the war. In such a situation, he reckoned, an old pistol solved nothing....
Posted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 7:47 pm
Griping! Really moving
A great chapter David!
...but Arajs and Hansen REALLY friendly???....