Munich Nights Chapter, 11: “Walter And Karin’s Wedding”
Just weeks before the couple’s wedding day was both dangerous and daunting for Walter as a serving police officer. Yet he revelled in all aspects of the Munich police procedures and principles.
“Oh yes, Walter is a natural administrator Heinrich and in my humble opinion, he’ll certainly go very far in life. Mark my words,” stated his enthusiastic station supervising officer to a delighted Heinrich on learning of this decisive news.
Knowing of course that this praise could only benefit the burgeoning party and also for Walter’s political future in both Munich and Berlin, he decided he would share this crucial news with the Goerings. But then decided he would instead pay them a social visit with this auspicious news. And maybe sample some of Carin’s cuisine, namely her tempting cardamom cake. The Swedish word was Karemummakaka she had informed him one evening. Then insisting he repeats the word several times as she gently held his mouth until she was satisfied with his Swedish pronunciation.
It was on December 13 (he later recalled), then a national day in Sweden, that the countess had informed him that by tradition her people annually celebrated the memory of St. Lucia. Placing a lighted candle in their windows in memory of that longest night requesting that ‘this mythical bearer of light is requested to shine on darkened Swedish winters.’
Carin had later solemnly imparted these words to the many now assembled silent guests. Being a gifted ’empath’ she was able somehow to absorb others emotional and physical symptoms through her ‘gifts.’ Frequently assisting and encouraging others with her skills, that many times left her drained and exhausted.
That evening each guest held a lighted candle as all the room lights were dimmed. Heinrich had felt indeed privileged that evening to be present and to be associated with these Norse festivities. In fact, this had been the initial occasion that he had been introduced to the ‘fair’ Karin Auer, who he was later informed by Hermann was the ‘dearest friend’ of his wife. Apparently, it seemed the two ladies had first become acquainted years before in Sweden. Her husband had casually mentioned lighting yet another cigar.
Compactness of crime had arrived to descend and settle over Munich like a mountain mist. Bringing with it misery and mayhem in its unexpected wake. All available law enforcement were empowered in the pursuit of eradicating this crime spree. The determined cause confirmed that counterfeit money laundering and surprisingly contraband alcohol and tobacco was also being introduced from North Africa into Munich society and to other European cities mainly from the port of Marseille.
The odious practice of people trafficking was also being accelerated into and out of Africa by transporting women and children on towards the far east into the waiting male and female brothels.
More concerning for Walter was that his partner and friend, officer Joseph Krause, had been involved in willingly accepting bribes from these so-called godfathers of crime.
Walter had wrestled with his conscience as to whether or not he should notify his superiors of his suspicions. He finally committed himself to do so. Eventually, his partner was investigated, relieved of his employment, arrested and later prosecuted and jailed.
Walter had never wavered in making this difficult decision or had any personal doubts about what he had done. Or of the punishment and shame brought to the family that they would suffer.
His conscience was untarnished. He had only performed his duty as would be expected from any honest police officer. The Marseille connection and its investigations would continue even when Walter had departed for his honeymoon in Zurich, Switzerland.
When any free time was offered to Karin and himself it was never to be squandered nor wasted. They both agreed on that. Their engagement encouraged an unexpected period of togetherness that quickly bloomed rather like the beautiful ‘Rose of Tralee’. They were becoming as one, being united in learning about each other’s ways and foibles.
Printed wedding invitations were also signed, sealed and posted, and wedding fever spread like a forest tinder in the Auer household.
Both Karin and her maid of honour Carin happily wasted hours selecting then discarding suitable and unsuitable dresses. Court shoes and elaborate hairstyles along with fragile bridal accessories were also examined, mulled over and quickly dismissed.
Walter meanwhile had decided to revisit the Munich tailor with whom he had previously arranged his evening attire for that memorable concert before with Karin.
Much to his surprise he was served and recognised by the same assistant, who also recalled his name. And yes he was assured they could arrange a suitable wardrobe for that special day.
Then after selecting and rejecting several suitable suits, he settled for a comfortable double-breasted dark blue suit with a cream shirt and a dark royal blue tie. And finally, a pair of polished black brogues completed his sartorial selection.
There was a minute of embarrassment later when he was asked discreetly by the assistant if the chosen articles were to be charged to doctor Auer’s personal account? This had happened previously of course. Walter shook his head confirming that, “No, not this time.” He smiled and departed.
Then within minutes, he was swallowed up in the bustling Munich lunchtime crowd.
Karin had delayed in making a definite decision as to what she herself would wear. She had now sadly discarded the idea of having her mother’s dress altered. It did not seem somehow appropriate. Her father had agreed.
The answer to her dilemma arrived from her friend Arabella. When she informed Karin that her mother was the proprietor of a fashionable Munich dress shop in Sendlinger Street. Her previous clients had been the beautiful Lida Baarova (sometime mistress of Joseph Goebbels) and Magdalena Schneider, the mother of the tragic Romy Schneider.
Arabella had requested her mother to help select a suitable gown for Karin. Eventually, a private fitting was arranged.
Because her mother’s wedding dress had then been designed for her religious ceremony, Karin had reluctantly decided for less formal attire for the briefer civil ceremony.
Then later with Carin now perched on a stool next to her they then both decided on complimentary outfits. Karin would eventually decide on a more traditional dress. This would be a fitted satin ivory dress with a discreet v-neck cutaway. The dress would be completed with minute silver coloured beading stitched around the waist, the collar and cuffs. A bolero jacket finally complimented its completed appearance.
Karin was delighted with her dress, frequently holding it up to her full-length mirror and admiring it from different angles. Carin would be clothed for the ceremony in a soft buttercup yellow two-piece belted silken dress cut slightly below the knee. The colour would nostalgically always remind her of her beloved Sweden of which she frequently yearned for its enchanting lakes and forests.
“My land forever and forever to remain in my heart,” she would frequently reminisce with moist eyes about the land of her birth that spiritually she would never abandon.
Thirty-six hours before the celebration of the nuptials, Walter had been active in pursuing the Grecocanari Italian criminal gang. Then he had, after an unexpected promotion to detective sergeant, been officially removed from the ongoing Marseille investigations.
In the weeks following his promotion, a foiled bank heist had resulted in a serious street shoot out between the police and the escaping felons.
Local reinforcements under his command had swiftly laid a trap and waited to apprehend the gang, but plans often can go asunder. As later happened when the escaping Fiat car fitted with buffers careered through the waiting police cordon, escaping then towards the border. Previously from their swerving car, stray bullets had been fired by the occupants.
One had dangerously lodged itself into the front vulcanised tyre of Walter’s vehicle. This suddenly caused the car to crash through a picket fence into a dry gully. As the car was propelled downwards, Walter for some reason speculated that one day all manufactured cars might be fitted with safety car belts.
His colleague had been wounded in the hand whilst a ricocheting bullet passed Walter by inches. He would fortunately only sustain minor burn marks to his left hand. Later when the rescuing Munich traffic officers arrived the two men were pulled clear of their damaged car.
Both men were soon dispatched to the hospital emergency room and were later discharged that evening. The fleeing Italian gang had swiftly made a hurried exit somewhere across the wooded border. Walter was convinced they would eventually return to Germany and had informed his superiors of crucial important details that he had recorded about the gang before he had collapsed.
“Always listen to your instincts,” Heinrich had told him, “and always learn if possible from your mistakes.” And Walter had indeed listened to that advice and found it had benefited him. Yet within ten months several members of the gang did indeed return to Germany unannounced and were all later killed in a shoot out with border guards.
Walter would later be awarded the Distinguished Police Medal (DPM) for the pursuit and arrest of a Conrad Boucher known in the press as the Nuremberg Vampire and a wanted criminal.
Walter had by chance recognised him casually walking down the Marienplatz in Munich, looking eagerly into a pipe and cigar shop window. The man had a penchant for pipes it seems having acquired over three hundred.
He had quickly approached Boucher and then after a violent chase Walter had detained him, quickly handcuffed him and himself, suffering minor injuries, before marching him to the station to be formally charged.
Conrad Boucher (the murderer of six of his wives) would later frequently sip a glass of warmed up blood from each dead woman it was learned. And all played out in a bizarre arranged candlelit dinner tableaux setting it was revealed at his trial. Also disclosed to the court was that the women were fully dressed in their wedding gowns being seated around a table holding hands, with romantic music selected by Boucher of Johann Strauss being heard on a gramophone record to enhance the atmosphere.
Boucher was later found guilty but amazingly not considered insane. Later after an appeal was guillotined in 1929.
“I loved them all, Sergeant Kyper, I really did,” he had sadly informed Walter hours before that blade descended onto his naked neck.
“And by drinking their blood I hoped that we were all as one. A happy husband with his wives. Just one big happy family. Was that so wrong Sergeant? Was it?” he enquired with tears now flowing out of his bloodshot eyes.
“Oh and Sergeant Kyper what will happen to my treasured pipe collection? Please see they go to a good deserving home will you?”
This was to be his last tearful request. And Walter indeed complied with this bizarre request having them delivered to a hostel for the homeless situated near Vienna, where incidentally Adolph Hitler himself had lodged as an itinerant artist for several years. (The author actually visited this hostel some years ago before its closure and recalled it had a very atmospheric feel about it. Please see pictures below.)
Karin who always had a ghoulish interest in any of these shocking crimes eagerly read about them in the sensational newspapers at the breakfast table. Frequently she begged Walter to share with her all the dire details of this and other cases with her.
“What I don’t understand,” she enquired one afternoon as they enjoyed a spaghetti Carbonara with garlic bread (a new dish she had slowly introduced Walter’s traditional taste buds to in the busy popular Cafe Calibre situated then in the Seidistrasse just minutes from the busy Konigsplatz) is was what on earth was Boucher doing in Munich? Goodness, it’s over 166km away from Nuremberg?”
This was just days after the monster had been executed.
“Do you know what I think,” he suggested looking at her intently and dabbing his mouth with a serviette?
“No,” she answered leaning closer towards him over the table, her eyes wide with interest waiting for his answer.
“I think he was searching for wife number seven. And he had learned of a young doctor’s daughter who actually visited Munich every Monday at 1 p.m. for her regular hair appointment at Antoine’s. And that he had arranged to bump into you, beg your forgiveness and say how happy he was to make your acquaintance. Then somehow quickly drugging you with a chloroform pad, only then to quickly sweep you away to his secluded hillside lair. And there for you my darling to sadly join those other poor ladies now seen with you sitting around that table and all holding hands tightly.”
She gently punched his shoulder saying: “Oh you! And listen to me detective Kyper, it’s always Tuesday at 2 pm, not Monday so there. Call yourself a detective?!,” she then snorted in derision.
He had always delighted in teasing her and always would. She then changed the subject to discuss their future honeymoon arrangements. Even so, speculated Walter much later what indeed really WAS the true purpose of Boucher’s journey to Munich and why? Was it for monetary reasons (he had noticed some insurance claim forms in the man’s house) or just matrimonial? He would never know of course what the man’s motive had been. And Karin certainly had raised an important motive all the same. But that truth had perished with the man as his head toppled into a stained wicker basket.
Walter never resolved this problem in his promising carer as a law enforcement officer in the eclipsing Weimer Republic and later in the emerging Third Reich. Yet he often ruminated about Herr Boucher’s mysterious motives of arriving in Munich on that fortuitous morning when his path dangerously crossed with Walter’s.
The morning of the wedding dawned clear and dry. This being encouraging to the preparing couple and their invited guests. Many soon to journey to Munich for the wedding and attend later at the invited celebratory lunch.
Witnessed earlier outside the civic hall preparing his familiar photographic equipment on the lawn was professional Munich photographer Heinrich Hoffman, aided by his young and eager seventeen-year-old assistant Fraulein Eva Braun.
At the Auer household, the family and especially Karin had been occupied since early morning arranging her trousseau and examining other flimsy accessories for her to wear or discard.
With Carin and a nervous Gertrude beside her, the three women were preparing to fit Karin into her costume.
Eventually with Karin finally prepared and ready for approval Carin stood back surveyed their completed work remarking with admiration: “You will be the most beautiful bride in Munich,” she purred.
“If not Germany, “replied Karin, slightly correcting her friend.
“Well, certainly Bavaria!,” answered Carin searching for a suitable compromise. And as usual, she issued the final word.
As the bridal gown was removed and gently replaced back onto some tissue paper on the bed by Gertrude, Karin had suddenly turned towards Carin inquiring with a concerned face: “Carin, where should I wear my swastika and my Odin broaches?” Both items were very important to her finished appearance. Now she searched Carin’s face for her advice.
Both then quietly considered this dilemma. Then Carin quickly suggested that Karin secure both on the inside of her bolero jacket lapels with pins. Then possibly at the post-wedding lunch at the ever popular Hotel Pierre, she could then openly display one on each of the jacket’s lapels. What the ladies, however, were unaware of that day was that the performing municipal registrar was himself an early supporter of the party and had been selected and cautiously briefed earlier by Heinrich. And Karin’s favoured concealed broaches would definitely not be displayed on her fitted jacket as she had wished for.
Simply because Carin Goering in a depictive dream the night before had witnessed three intrusive officials from the Bavarian secret police moving and mixing freely at the luncheon and exchanging notes without obstruction. Obviously, Carin was aware of her friend’s dedicated loyal support of the party of which she certainly encouraged, but this intrusion could perhaps place her friend being assigned into an unwanted position with the authorities.
Carin always acting on her ’empath’ instincts and whatever her dreams revealed, strongly advised her friend against displaying any emblems openly at the luncheon. Karin reluctantly agreed with Carin’s counsel by leaving the broaches secured behind the jacket lapels on this her special day.
Later on that hectic wedding morning as they prepared themselves to leave for Munich, Carin had placed her hands on her shoulders saying: “Karin, my dear, there is an old Swedish saying that I wish to impart to you as told to me by my dear mother and it goes something like this, ‘Marriage is the first day of a married woman’s life and the last day of married man’s freedom.'”
They both laughed. Then Carin turned away as a tear dropped from her misted eyes as she sadly recalled her own failed first marriage. And the wounding unexpected separation from her son Thomas a result then of a bitter custody battle. Then how surprisingly, love had arrived almost as if falling from out of the sky as a gift for her in Rockelstad of all places that February night in 1920. Then later resulting in her second secure marriage to Hermann. And coincidently being married to Hermann in the same Munich town hall in 1923, wherein a few hours time in the same location, she would be standing in her rightful place behind Karin, the bride.
Earlier outside that morning on the shaded veranda, doctor Auer was smoking and strolling in the garden deep in thought as was his morning ritual. When his eyes were drawn to the coloured pagoda lights in the garden’s trees. His late wife would have been delighted, he was sure, at their appearance. It certainly was an interesting idea suggested by the countess, he certainly had to admit. He only wished he had thought of it first.
As he then settled himself on a wicker seat and relit his favourite Romeo and Juliet cigars, his thoughts centred on the enigmatic Swedish countess Carin Von Katzow.
She who seemed to have entered his family’s life unexpectedly and then permanently remaining to play a pivotal and possibly ‘psychic’ role it seemed. And still performing in that capacity with a finesse of a violinist as he listened to her chattering above him in his daughter’s bedroom, as they happily prepared each others selected attire for the approaching wedding, he supposed.
Certainly, a curious and complicated woman he suspected. Yet within that fragile body lurked a fierce determination both in her own passionate self-belief and especially in promoting and securing her husband’s future in an awakening Germany.
He speculated just how much longer she could sustain the daily demands on her damaged body. And especially with her health now it seemed in a serious state of decline. She had previously been registered as one of his private patients, so he certainly understood and recognised her medical condition. In fact, he had prescribed a prepared course of treatment for her and for many other of his patients who had suffered that same condition over the years.
Too frequently in the past, he had sadly signed too many death certificates with the cause of death as Myocardial Infarction. In fact, Carin did indeed succumb to this diagnosis. So it seemed the old doctor had been correct in his medical prognosis of her complaint. (Today apparently this one of the most common cause of death in the west it has been reported by the WHO).
Yet she had certainly been a welcome asset to aide Karin’s partial recovery, he could not deny. She had rescued his daughter from her self-imposed mental exile, although some of those personality problems of her past still clung to her rather like a spider’s web.
Some of his colleagues had suggested that she had influenced Karin, more than had liberated her. He remained still open-minded about that accusation. Yet they had certainly been disturbing days of doubt as he had watched his daughter decline mentally and physically before his eyes. How helpless he himself had been to alleviate her inner suffering. But when the countess had entered his daughter’s life, her anxiety and agitation seemed to have eased.
Yes both he and Karin had journeyed such a long way together since then. But where this trip would terminate he could not predict.
He slowly stood up and massaged a frequently reoccurring aching muscle behind his left knee. Then walked towards the front of the house to survey the hired white ribboned car that would transport both he and Karin on this her special day. He then spoke briefly with the chauffeur, paid him, shook his hand and returned to his study. As he settled behind his desk, clouded bittersweet memories of his late wife Monique entered his mind. He then fondly recalled when the twins were placed into her arms just minutes after their arrival.
Then she had looked at him and remarked rather seriously saying, as was her manner through tears that, ‘I wish they had been boys because it’s so much easier to find them matching clothes.’
He himself was delighted with the gift of his daughters. Boys eventually fly the family nest he had been informed, but girls spiritually never left the nest, only strayed, then later to be pulled back by the stirrings of motherhood.
Then much later his wife’s intellect suddenly failed after Ingrid’s untimely death. Only then did Monique exist in the shadows of her mind. And in a manner of speaking, he supposed, that he had lost both a wife and a daughter in those cruel years. When Monique quietly departed this fallen world to where ominously he had read that ‘no traveller returns from,’ he knew then that it was a merciful release for her but not necessarily her grieving family. But pain and suffering is not an ingredient that is inflicted only on the poor, it is universal. For Dr Auer that suffering would silently stay with him for the rest of his life. He decided he must not become too maudlin today of all days and especially for his daughter’s sake.
He then remembered a popular verse that came to mind by Socrates of all people that his late father had introduced him to.
“By all means, if you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one you’ll become a philosopher”.
Doctor Auer blew elegantly formed smoke rings and mourned the truth that both his wife and Ingrid could not be here to share in this joyful family celebrations. But it was not to be of course. Life whatever it serves at you has to be accepted somehow or it will trample you into the mire. Most people will frequently try to avoid its unwelcome embrace by trying to dismiss it. Then sadly fail in the process. Death is just a merry-go-round of madness some young delusional poet had once joked to a drug-fuelled audience in Berkley years ago. He later committing suicide by propelling himself from the Golden Gate bridge taking his labrador dog for some reason with him. The animal amazingly survived, being rescued from the bay and being happily adopted by a popular coastguard named Mr House. The dog named Gerard became a loving pet to the family and especially to the three House daughters.
Doctor Auer walked slowly towards the portrait of his late wife that adorned the walls of his study. He placed a silent kiss on her parted lips with his forefinger then he departed his smoke-filled study closing and locking the door behind him.
Then walking downstairs towards the dining room he noticed that the final preparations being prepared for a light buffet to be held that evening were almost completed. He then seated himself on a hall carver chair, selected an apple from a china lacquered fruit bowl and polished it. Then reaching into his waistcoat pocket he withdrew a small pocket knife to begin slowly peeling its ripening skin. He suddenly speculated for some unknown reason as to how his life would have turned out if he had journeyed to Africa, to toil in the mission fields years ago as a young single man. Certainly, there would have been no beloved Munich family, no countess from Sweden and defiantly no Adolph Hitler!
What was that old saying he recalled from his youth ‘cosi val mondo.’ But best not to descend too deep into that rabbit hole of memories. Well, not today anyway. He slowly stood up, deposited the half-eaten apple core into a nearby bin then brushed some stray lint from his morning coat. He was now ready and prepared to perform his traditional fatherly duties whenever the bride decided to make an appearance for him to accompany her to the waiting limousine. Then onward towards that historic Munich town hall. (That historic building was badly damaged in 1944 and was later reconstructed).
Upstairs in her bedroom, Karin was now comfortably clothed in a faded silk Japanese kimono. A much-treasured gift her great uncle had brought back from Nagasaki as a gift for her late mother many years ago. She was sitting upright on a high backed soft stool listening intently to Carin’s calming voice. Gertrude having now quietly departed to make some final adjustment to Karin’s wedding gown. Carin had purposely waited for the maid to depart, then discreetly taken her own pulse rate as Karin gathered up some loose clothes still scattered around her bedroom.
Carin then settled herself close to Karin stroking her hand gently whilst preparing herself for she wanted to say. She certainly had no desire to trouble Karin on this her special day, she would never do that. She was also painfully aware that this would be the final time that she and Karin, as a single woman, would ever be together confiding and sharing so much together as they had done so many joyful times in the past.
Yet time now, she realized was slowly deserting her in more ways than one. She began by selecting her words precisely yet with a pounding pain in her damaged heart. She hoped Karin could not hear its racing rhythm. Her pulse was fluttering as well. This sadly she surmised would be her song of farewell simply due to her declining health. And the taxing marriage preparations had syphoned her strength somehow.
Yet she truly welcomed the marriage and had she not been the one who had partly instigated its conception. Yet to her, Karin would always be the treasured daughter she had always hoped for but was never blessed with. Maybe in the coming years, both her son and Karin would remain true friends. Perhaps even raising a glass or two of Laurent-Perrier champagne with a salute to her memory on her birthday. She was definitely under no illusion herself that she would not be celebrating too many more birthdays herself either!
She now commenced speaking hoping her voice would not wither through emotion. That would never do!
“Dearest Karin,” she now proceeded, “We both have journeyed so far since our first fortuitous encounter at the hospital have we not? Somebody there once referred to it as the ‘sanatorium of sad souls’ a very callous description I suppose, but maybe a seed of truth perhaps? Yet you and I somehow discovered each other in that hospital enclosure did we not? As they say, our paths fatefully crossed.”
“You, my dear Karin, always reminded me then of an empty schooner or yacht drifting on a sea of unhappiness with waves of sadness washing over you continually. Maybe I was seen as a sheltered inlet that offered calm and safe waters that you reached out to and then attached yourself to me … I don’t know … but I certainly never objected Karin. Either way, we were both victims of the continual suffering that life had delivered to our doors. With both of us searching for any friendly fiord in a storm that offered both of us a sanctuary of solace.”
Karin had always felt enraptured when she listened to Carin speak and so admired at the prepared eloquence of each pronounced word. She had so often in the past heard her referred to as ‘mystical’ by some of the junior doctors at the sanatorium. Even Hermann had happily confirmed this to her when she mentioned this to him years later on a family picnic with her and Walter. Carin having returned unexpectedly to Sweden to visit her ailing mother.
“Oh yes,” he had laughed. “She always knows exactly what I’m going to say even before I have formulated my own words. And sometimes simply just by holding a person’s proffered hand, it seems to be enough for her to be aware of some things about them”.
“You know, when she first searched the lines on my palm at Rockelstadt she was so accurate in what she knew about my experiences during the war and my own brushes with death that I nearly fainted. Mind you some of her personal predictions especially about my becoming the President of the Reichstag, for example, have not happened yet.”
He then whispered with a smile: “And between you and me it probably never will! But absolutely amazing all the same! How Carin does it I have no idea,?” Hermann informed her, shaking his head in puzzlement as he enjoyed yet another pink salmon sandwich then reached for yet another to take its place … (On Aug. 30th 1932 Hermann Goring did indeed become the 16th President of the Reichstag and would remain so until 1945).
But now Carin had begun to speak with purpose as her own painful past occupied her mind. She spoke almost in a whisper: “My own divorce as you know was so acrimonious with wicked cruel lies voiced by my husband concerning my health. And of also nursing Hermann through those painful months when he craved nothing but morphine screaming for it to release him from that constant pain that wracked his body and begging for death.”
“Then that wonderful day of deliverance when he was finally separated from the stranglehold of the drugs and returned as the man that I had loved and married. Being no longer a captive to their grip, but a free man”
“Then those months we travelled and toiled throughout Europe, frequently cold and hungry being nothing more than gipsies I suppose. It grieved me so much of what we were subjected to and being treated like criminals, yet we persevered. But we had each other and that was all that mattered to me. And with a still active warrant for his arrest, don’t forget we couldn’t return to Germany we still had to be so careful. But as I have said to you many times before Karin, I have no regrets.” She now paused, fingered her wedding ring slowly, stood and walked over to sit behind her friend to then proceed gently to brush Karin’s hair thoughtfully with an ivory-handled hairbrush.
She had also become very emotional Karin noticed seeing her friend’s distressed face in her mirror.
“My own family dreams,” she continued, “were dashed rather like a cracked dam I suppose when the custody of Thomas was denied to me. All of this you know so well. Then later being unable to hold him, to kiss him, care and comfort him. This should be every mother’s joy, but my life felt meaningless.”
She seemed now to be lost in a reverie of her own.
“How I would dream of him at night crying and calling and reaching for me and always I was being unable to comfort him. Of waking in the morning finding my pillow was wet with his tears … or were they my own?” she smiled.
“Then the love and respect of my own beloved father was badly damaged at that time with all the stress, and sometimes I suspected would never to be resolved …” The countess then paused reliving those weary events for the hundredth time.
And Karin then recalled for some reason that unique atmospheric chapel, the Edelweiss chapel then owned by the Edelweiss order of Sisters that Carin’s grandmother had funded in previous years.
Situated then on the estate, with Carin claiming proudly that it had never been corrupted by any organised religion, these being the Catholic and the Lutherans who had tried many times to infiltrate its sanctuary. Yet it had remained over the centuries very special to its congregation for its own spirituality that had served her family for generations.
Herman Goering on his initial visit to the castle had been aware of several swastika emblems hanging from the walls in the great hall. These timeless runes and emblems had been acquired in Gotland by Count Eric years before, Karin had been informed with affection. Many of the workers employed on the estate still visited the chapel each day for quiet periods of contemplation and prayer. Both Carin and Herman had themselves partaken in secretive prayer within its silent stone walls on many sorrowful seasons. So comforting to all who visited this sanctuary for whatever reason and remained in prayer. Herman had written to Carin’s mother with these tender words from his heart.
“I do so want to thank you for the many hours I was able to pray in the Edelweiss chapel. I was lost in prayer for hours and so many of my problems and woes seemed afterwards to have melted away.”
Both he and Carin had frequently prayed for strength in times of their uncertainty as to what lay stretched ahead of them.
“We have all been seriously scared,” Carin now remarked proceeding slowly, “Frequently through our own weakness and many times through self-infliction yet God offers us strength as the Apostle Paul proclaimed many times to those who doubted, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me’ so many times. Those words of comfort and calm are inscribed on one of the old stone lintels in our chapel you know.”
Then adding with a smile: “As children, we girls would compete in our embroidery and needlework classes to see who could stitch the most words. Sadly I was never to become the winner” she laughed.
Although Karin had listened frequently to these stories relating to her dear friend’s childhood she still adored hearing them frequently recounted. And sometimes with obvious notable variations, she had noticed. Yet she was never disappointed in what she had learned of her friend’s political convictions, that she now so passionately espoused herself.
For Carin however to reminisce over her own life was distressing for her to relive, opening those old unhealed scars. She certainly did not find it therapeutic as others claimed to have experienced at the hospital. So much of her life or existence before Hermann’s arrival had brought her to the true realization that she had never lived or loved before he entered her life that February day. Then entering that castle door years ago covered in a sheet of snow. A lost aviator seeking board and bed for the night which had been offered unconditionally to him.
Now sensing a remission in her speech Karin now spoke quietly to Carin with an affectionate saying: “You have touched my life dear Carin in more ways than one. You have always been a blessing for me and always will be. And I thank you … now we really must get ready,” she exclaimed consulting her favourite Girard-Perregaux watch, a precious gift from her father on her 20th birthday.
Then as if silently summoned, Gertrude now entered with the wedding dress. Both Carin and Gertrude positioned it carefully over her head. Admiring her beauty and her lustrous hair and purple bouquet, they were then ready to finally relinquish the confines of her bedroom.
As the three of them departed the bedroom towards the staircase, Carin unexpectedly felt faint, quickly clutching Karin’s arm for support. They somehow awkwardly descended the staircase. The prospective bride now desperately supporting herself and Carin with Gertrude attempting to somehow protect the delicate dress from being damaged.
Hearing there was some unusual disturbance Dr Auer walked into the hall immediately. Then witnessing the condition of Carin he immediately took control and walked her unsteadily towards his study door.
“Papa we must not be late,” pleaded Karin again anxiously peering at her watch.
“Don’t worry darling, they will not proceed without us … you go and get yourself settled into the car.” As she walked towards the waiting car as her father had requested, Gertrude still followed her mistress appearing nervous when she ever was separated from her household routine.
Some minutes later her father appeared with a now considerably calmer Carin. Whatever her father had performed on his patient had worked, noticed Karin and with relief. She now appeared sedate and smiling, then quickly blew Karin a short kiss, signifying that all was well with her.
Later Herman arrived to collect his wife looking concerned at her appearance. Doctor Auer walked over to him spoke a few words which seemed to placate him. He then kissed his wife and tenderly escorted and settled her into the front seat of their Peugeot 201 car.
By now both cars were primed and prepared and quickly departed for Munich. Karin was now secure but nervous seated in the rear with her father. She turned to her father and remarked quietly: “I wish mama could have been here papa. He waited for her to include her twin Ingrid as well but mention of her name was not uttered. She remained silent during the journey discussing only the prepared flower arrangements and how pleased she was with the assorted variety.
Behind them the Goering’s car with Gertrude maintaining a steady pace as well. Gertrude was now seated behind Captain Goering. And she remembered the pictures she had seen of him in the newspapers sporting his dashing flying uniform, his chest adorned with medals. Then he was lean and slightly arrogant in appearance for the posed photographs. But now he bore little resemblance to the pilot he had been.
As he drove she noticed the couple were engaged in quiet conversation with each other in a language Gertrude did not understand. She now felt rather uncomfortable and excluded from their conversation and would be happy to finally arrive in Munich and leave the car. She might just as well have been invisible she sadly thought.
The traffic was sparse that Saturday morning in May offering the wedding party ample time to arrive at the registry office. A large ensemble of invited guests were seen already waiting for the couple in the courtyard.
Conveniently situated close to the courthouse was a charming, discreet but well-manicured garden sadly to be destroyed in the bombing raids on the city in 1942 and have tragic consequences as well, for the Auer-Kyper family.
Then however a large group of invited and some not invited guests had gathered to attend the civil ceremony in uniting Walter Kyper and Karin Auer in legal matrimony.
Instantly recognisable amongst the assorted melee were Heinrich Himmler and his wife Margareta, Rudolf Hess and wife, General Ludendorff, Wilhelm Frick, Alfred Rosenberg, Victor Lutz, representing Ernst Rohm, then absent in Bolivia. Both Hitler and Goebbels were absent on speaking engagements, but both sent their best wishes and personal wedding gifts to the couple.
Inspector Lehman and other officers from the Munich police were in attendance. And surprisingly an acrobatic troupe from the famous ‘Circus Bloomberg’ were also in attendance with many being free patients of doctor Auer. Both Herman and Carin Goring would be seen circulating amongst the guests. Though sadly not her pet Pomeranian ‘Chilli’. He had foolishly swallowed a fish bone in his tiny throat and was being detained at the local pet hospital.
The acrobatic team began now to peel away their morning suits down to their coloured leotards and tights preparing to perform their act. Dr Auer turned to see what was happening and then whispered to the leader of the troop. They immediately stepped back and got into their formal clothes full of embarrassed apologies.
But later in the park, they put on an impromptu performance to the delight of the guests. Gregor Strasser still recovering from a motor accident was talking animatedly to Himmler. Both Alfred the Auer’s gardener and Gertrude now placed themselves next to the doctor, perhaps for safety. Absent for some unknown reason was Walter’s sister. Archbishop Pacelli had unfortunately been summoned to Rome for ecclesiastical consultations with the pope. He did, however, remember to offer his personal blessings with a signed photograph of himself having being dispatched by courier.
Seen circulating unobtrusively amongst the guests was an insignificant small priest wearing the cassock denoting his clerical rank as a monsignor, whom nobody seemed to know or recognise. He now seemed to be sharing jokes with Karin’s dear friend Arabella and the popular maestro Boehm. The conductor had actually driven in his newly acquired Porsche from Nuremberg overnight to attend the wedding. Many members of the Munich symphony orchestra had arrived by charabanc. They all wanted to be included in Karin’s special day. Heinrich Hoffman with his trusty assistant Eva Braun was also busy posing for photographs and talking to the assembled guests. There was much excitement when Karin arrived and alighted from her car.
“You look radiant Karin” cooed Arabella.
“Enchanting as always dear fraulein Karin,” echoed maestro Boehm bowing to kiss her offered hand.
Everyone complimented Karin on her delightful choice of apparel and few failed not to notice that both herself and Carin, when she joined her, somehow now resembled sisters. They both laughingly confessed to having experimented in having their hair woven into a loose braid. With pretty lily of the valley flowers interwoven to highlight it for effect. But Carin laughingly suggested they might appear like sisters depicted in a Brothers Grimm tale. And so discarded the idea. Karin was never sure which narrative Carin was referring to and decided perhaps not to inquire about who or what they were.
Someone had the foresight to honour the traditional German custom of inviting a young chimney sweep seen in full evening dress and top hat. He caused great merriment with people laughingly refusing to shake his soot-stained hands or the ladies accepting a kiss on their cheeks from him pre the wedding. At the outbreak of war, he enlisted in the German army later being captured at El Alamein by the British army and was transported with hundreds of other soldiers to a POW camp in Doncaster, England. After the war, he declined the offer of being returned to Germany in 1946 and later married an English girl becoming years later the popular Lord Mayor of one of the northern towns. It is unclear if he followed his trade as a chimney sweep.
One late unexpected arrival to the wedding luncheon was the composer Franz Lehar then busily occupied with rehearsals for the ‘Merry Widow.’ A patient and personal friend of doctor Auer he had also, as a trustee of the Conservatoire, encouraged a devastated Karin to continue her studies when the controversy of the ‘Penderecki’ prize became public. But sadly to no avail, her days as a musical student were finished she had informed him by letter. She would not return the coming semester.
Then it was time for the civil ceremony to commence. The assembled guests and others took their places. The registrar on duty that morning was a Herr Hans Gerhard, himself a proud Nazi party member since his teens. This civil servant rather like maestro Boehm had also concealed his prize badge under his left suit lapel. In fact, Heinrich had arranged discreetly for Herr Gerhard to conduct the service personally. Naturally, he accepted this request as a great honour. Then he waited patiently for the assembled guests to comfortably settle themselves and for that all important nod from Himmler of course, to proceed.
In fact, this Munich resident would later aspire to become the deputy coroner of the city. After the war, he hastily emigrated to the prairies of the Gauchos. Eventually becoming that country’s ambassador to Vatican City. And there he wrote home gushingly in reuniting with many favoured friends from his pre-war days in Germany.
The law demanded then that there be two witnesses to the marriage ceremony. Carin would naturally be Karin’s and Heinrich would be Walter’s. Both took up their allotted places.
Doctor Auer noticed that Carin had purposely positioned herself closely behind his daughter. She had then placed both of her hands on Karin’s shoulders leading him to observe that it seemed as if she was somehow claiming his daughter or offering her to the registrar. Heinrich behind Walter remained impassive as a stone statue of King Henry the Fowler.
When the request came from the registrar for the wedding ring, Walter turned to Heinrich who placed into his waiting hand. Walter then slipped it upon Karin’s third finger of her left hand. Sometimes referred to as the ‘vein on love’ or the artery that leads all the way to the heart, or so her mother had once claimed.
She hoped her mother would approve of Walter, her choice for a husband and of course Ingrid’s approval. She adored the ring, knowing it was the most beautiful item of jewellery she had ever owned or had ever hoped to possess. She could not deny herself the pleasure from admiring its dazzling beauty and flawless finish.
Then at last that they had performed their vows and finally they both were as one. She was excited and elated and slightly frightened of what lay before her, but somehow fearless. Yes, she thought to herself I am prepared as my new life begins today.
Now she could not but help in realising that she was now a married woman, committed to love for better or worse to this man who stood proudly by her side. And who she hoped would always do so. She had been disappointed and damaged emotionally so often in the past. She was now hopeful there would be more good times than bad in the coming years of their marriage. But she was still trembling and hoped Walter and the other guests did not notice or comment on it.
The service concluded with the proposal from Herr Gerhard that the groom now kiss the bride to which Walter eagerly complied. They both kissed and held each other.
Karin then surprisingly turned and walked towards her father leaving Walter to watch with surprise. Carin aware that something had piqued Karin’s interest also caused her to watch intently. Karin’s eyes were now wet with emotion as she stood before her father and whispered into his ear: “Papa, thank you for all that you have ever done for Ingrid and myself.” She gripped his shoulders and he noticed to his surprise that she was shaking. He definitely hoped with happiness and not helplessness. But he remained confused as to what was happening. He held both of her hands and silently nodded whispering, “Everything will be all right darling.”
Yet he noticed she was still looking over his shoulder as if searching for someone or something. And almost unaware of her surroundings and of some of the puzzled watching guests. She spoke quickly saying: “She was here … Ingrid, I mean … she was here with me … and now she has left me. I know she was here Papa I saw her, I really did.” Her voice trailed into a plaintive cry of frustration.
Then Walter appeared as if to calm his bride. He extracted a neatly folded handkerchief and dabbed away her wet eyes whispering to her. But she seemed not to notice him and ignored his kind gesture. Whatever she had noticed in that crowded room had deserted her.
Her father said nothing and just watched his daughter turn to Walter, her now husband of course, for better or worse. And he had to ruefully accept it. Bringing with it the departure of a loved daughter into the care he hoped of another loving man. It seemed almost medieval he thought the wedding ceremony as only an hour ago he had given her away as required by tradition. But this was her choice and he had to honour it. Although it would be difficult, least they would all be under the same roof he thought with a smile.
“Come my darling, we must mingle with our guests but first we must perform our legal requirements.” Then they departed to sign the official Register an important requirement of the state. She seemed to have retained some of her previous composure her father noticed. He too departed to the outer square to enjoy a well-deserved cigar.
Carin had quickly approached the doctor and enquired of Karin’s strange behaviour. He repeated what Karin had informed him of believing she had seen Ingrid. Carin nodded.
She too had witnessed an apparition of a young female herself. Yet she had observed no likeness to Karin and doubted that it was Ingrid. She realised this building like herself, had aged over the years and not for the better either. Then deep within its rooms and cellars evil deeds had been perpetrated in the name of the catholic church and others, possibly hosted by the wicked Dominicans priests
Perhaps an innocent unwanted victim from the past had observed the wedding proceedings. But she doubted this was the appearance of her twin sister, the departed and still lamented Ingrid.
Carin was still pursuing this concept about this unexpected, unexplained event that had so affected Karin when she became aware of a young man standing by her side. She wondered how long he has been in her presence? She turned and smiled: “Countess,” he began with a stiff bow as she offered her hand automatically to which he touched gently in return: “Allow me to introduce myself, madam. I am Joseph Pierz and along with my three brothers and two cousins we are known as the Amazing Acrobatic Brothers Supreme. Some years ago when we performing and touring with the circus in Sweden as we have for many years, it seemed your sister was in the audience with her family one evening. Later we were informed that she had enjoyed it all so much that we were surprisingly invited to her castle to prepare a private performance for herself, her family and her staff. A generous kind lady I remember who was very kind to us and I just wanted to say a belated thank you.”
By now other members of the troupe had arrived, they all smiled and bowed in unison. She offered a few choice greetings to each of them.
“Before we departed,” he continued,” your sister kindly allowed us, after a delightful nourishing meal I might add, to visit and to pray if we so wished and to see the furnishings of the ‘Edelweiss’ chapel. Well, we accepted her kind offer and for each of us, it was a sacred holy hour when we prayed together. And so I just wanted to introduce ourselves and to thank your sister for the kindness and generosity that she offered us when you visit her next.”
She stayed with the men for several minutes talking to each individually. Then finally as each departed and the eldest brother held her hand she experienced a flash of pain emanating from his hand. It revealed to her of a coming period that would bring great suffering to him and maybe his brothers sometime in the future. Then he departed with a bow to rejoin his brothers unaware of her sudden premonition.
Hermann had quietly arrived with a welcome glass of iced water which he offered her and enquired about what had happened to Karin?
“Oh I think the excitement and not sleeping too well last night left her rather, well, confused and exhausted but she will be fine I’m sure.” She assured him kissing his cheek.
And for some reason, she failed to mention her brief encounter with the Acrobat brothers or of what she had sensed from one of them. Now she wandered with him into the welcome still cool garden. Sipping her refreshing drink she reached into her handbag and produced her sunglasses to shield her tired eyes. Then she put them on with a flourish and a heavy sigh. The last hours had also drained her strength leaving her with raw mixed emotions as the day proceeded.
On leaving the building Heinrich had arranged a formal guard of honour for the bride and groom. He was now seen enjoying one of his infrequent cigars. A habit he would later come to despise, replacing it with of all things, tennis!
Placed on the steps the honour guard consisting of S.A men and eager police cadets holding swords and police truncheons high over the embarrassed yet laughing couple as they emerged blinking into the Munich sunlight.
The previously seated guests had now departed the stifling hall and gathered outside in small talkative groups. Some smoking cigars, some removing hip flasks for liquid refreshment, many departing for the welcome still shaded secluded park area, fanning themselves with heavy paper napkins.
The Goerings were now seated with that anonymous priest who seemed to have happily inveigled himself into their company. Carin watched the graceful gestures of the now revived Karin. She had earlier comforted her in the aubergine papered powder room and skillfully retouched her make up restyling her tousled hair. Now in the park, she happily circulated with their invited and uninvited guests.
Yet for Carin, she was experiencing a bittersweet awareness of the memory of the damaged girl she had first encountered years before. Then resembling a wounded sparrow that had now morphed into a beautiful bird arriving from somewhere in the tropics.
Although Carin did not care to admit it to herself, her part in fashioning a recovering Karin was now completed. Now she hoped that Walter would complete what she was reluctantly relinquishing. The past she knew dwells always within all of us all, but the future is yet to arrive bringing with its uncertainties and the unknown.
Carin’s future landscape was yet to appear, but somehow the city of Berlin was beginning to feature in her and her husband’s political horizon. In fact, the couple did indeed relocate to Berlin when Hermann became one of twelve national socialists to be elected to the Reichstag.
Karin would be a frequent and most welcome guest at the Goerings’ Badenschen Strasse apartment from then on. There she and sometimes with Walter would be assisting Carin to entertain the assorted guests who arrived at the couples’ welcoming home. Such as Hitler, Hess and Goebbels, the distinguished Prince August Wilhelm of Prussia, the Duke of Hess and Prince and Princess von Wied.
Carin would frequently entertain her guests when requested, by playing her harmonium especially during festive seasons, usually with Walter and Karin in attendance. They had indeed both journeyed a long way from those cold, hungry days of not so long ago, Carin reminded her husband frequently. When a bowl of spaghetti, some stale rolls and an orange would be their only meal to sustain them for several days.
In the final year of her life, both she and Hermann were invited to tea with the former Kaiser Wilhelm II in Dorn, Holland. Three of his sons were members of the Nazi party. And of that momentous meeting between Hermann and the Kaiser, Carin recalled the talking could get ‘stormy.’
She would later write to her mother that: “They flew at each other at once, they are both excitable and in so many ways they are so like each other.”
The Kaiser’s second wife was apparently so shocked by Carin’s appearance that she pressed money into her hand as they departed to pay for medical treatment at a sanatorium in Silesia. A kind but fruitless gesture from the good lady but it would be too late for Carin’s now dangerously declining health.
Yet had not her darling mama many years ago repeated to her and to her sisters philosophically, that so many people enter into your lives suddenly, then exit just as quickly. Even family members are not exempted her mother had sadly insisted.
From Carin’s first introduction to Walter that rainy day outside of the party headquarters with Herman some years ago she was aware immediately that she would contrive a propitious encounter between Karin and Walter. Certainly for Karin’s self-esteem which she was devoted to improving, but also for the party’s future survival in the shark-infested waters of German politics. But it could and would take time and she was fully aware that time was not a luxury she possessed.
Quickly inviting Heinrich to tea at the villa soon afterwards and with Herman’s agreement, an idea concerning Walter’s introduction into Karin’s life was to be initiated at her suggestion. Heinrich quickly agreed with her proposal, but then he usually acquiesced to her. She often harboured suspicions that he was somehow in an awe of her status and perhaps her psychic abilities as well.
Years before she had divulged to him that he would achieve an important status within the political party, but not yet she had informed him. No … not yet … until then he would have to be patient. But his time would certainly come. Of this prediction she was certain. But never to be fulfilled in her lifetime.
Now after the wedding for some unknown reason this pious priest with the mournful eyes had piqued her interest. She had always managed previously to extract crucial information from those who willingly entered her orbit of interest. She was also a gifted listener almost lulling her subjects into a reverie of relaxation. Hermann had often claimed jokingly that she would have been a successful and rich analyst like Freud if she had chosen to enter that profession. Now for some reason, this tall aristocratic lady from the frozen land of Sweden encouraged the little shy priest to speak freely. He trusted her and wanted her approval of what he would reveal to her.
He had been a sickly child and unable to attend seminary, but what was known then as an external student, he completed his studies from the family home. His mother was of the Italian nobility. He also like her, suffered from debilitating heart problems ‘stretta di cuore’ his doctors had politely informed him or simply a cardiac imbalance as indeed did Carin herself. He had also suffered a minor stroke making his medical prognosis even more serious. He never expected he would survive past thirty, with debilitating digestive problems as well as annoying gastric problems with minor chest weaknesses adding to his discomfort. Days of depression also could and did affect his mental equilibrium.
He had been posted from Rome to the nuncio’s residence in Warsaw in 1922 and disliked the climate. Interestingly he had visited Auschwitz on church business it seems before the wedding. This was a sliver of information Walter stored up for some reason. The little priest had never been sent to a parish or ministered to one. But had occupied his clerical working days in the Vatican Secretary of State’s office. He laughingly referred to his little-crowded office as his parish and his filing cabinets and files as his parishioners, as well as his collection of fountain pens. Including some vintage pens that he frequently used. One favoured quill had belonged to Napoleon himself, another allegedly was owned by Fredric Chopin who had used it when he composed his heroic ‘Polonaise’ Opus 53.
Both Walter and Hermann had listened in to snatches of this dialogue from the little Italian priest. Then it was time for the bride and groom and guests to walk over the Munich Park Hotel for a post-celebratory lunch.
“You know,” remarked Hermann to Carin and a listening Walter as they walked together, “I’ve known men like your little priest in the air force. He is just a plain pen pusher. Just rubber-stamping orders and with satisfaction, and real people like him are never happy unless they have a sharpened pencil in their sticky little hands.”
Later that evening when Carin was talking to her husband, as she prepared Chilli’s supper and mixed chocolate drinks for them both, she remarked in passing again to him about a controversial black cloud that would usher in great turmoil and upheaval into the little priest’s catholic church.
Hermann laughed when hearing this saying: “That won’t agree with his digestive system poor man … but I think you have made an error this time my love.”
Again Carin had speculated who or what was the meaning of the name Paul that kept entering her mind as if from the mists of an era still yet to arrive. The name seemed aligned somehow with this priest and his future. Yet when she had inquired about this to the perplexed priest about this mysterious name he claimed as he had before that he was unaware of anybody of that name.
It was all very peculiar. Yet Carin had never doubted her predictions. Why would she? They had never disappointed her in the past, she knew as always she was truthful in what she claimed.
What she had not informed him about was the precognition of a murder attempt upon him staged in a tropical country that luckily did not prove to be fatal. This she refrained from informing him and never regretted that decision but then she seldom regretted anything.
Thirty years later an ill-planned attempted murder of this priest and possibly by a paid Jesuit hired assassin using a knife failed, this according years later to a respected reputable Vatican watcher and former employed clerical insider.
Thirty-five years later a newspaper headline in the ‘New York Herald Tribune’ jumped out from Walter’s morning newspaper, concerning an important religious occasion then happening in Rome. The electing of a new pope. He almost choked on his morning latté as he read about it. Then he laughed aloud and remembered that wedding day in Munich as he had listened to Carin’s forewarning to the bewildered priest.
“So Carin was correct after all. Well, well …” he said to himself. That day cardinal Montini that little inoffensive priest had chosen the name he wished to be known as Pope Paul VI.
Then as all the invited guests walked and talked and laughed and enjoyed each others company, they finally arrived at the splendid Munich Park Hotel. There to continue celebrating the nuptials of Walter and Karin Auer-Kyper.
“Let the festivities begin,” remarked a jovial Heinrich rubbing his hands together, as Carin and Hermann and the guests arrived.
“Yes do let them begin indeed,” answered Carin silently with tears in her eyes as Hermann comforted her. But Carin’s days were numbered and her suffering would not be abated.
To be continued….
G. Patrick Battell