The celebratory luncheon for the couple was to be allocated and hosted in the Bavarian Room of the then prestigious five star Hotel Pierre. It still stands gracefully and proud today, only now christened the more oblique Hotel Dubois.
In previous years, engagements were catered for without discernment at this establishment whatever the expenditure. In the dazzling ballroom, couples had danced the night away with many later being carried inebriated and escorted to their respective bedrooms suites. And various receptions had frequently graced its elaborate function rooms, even for Royal Imperial state occasions it was claimed. Indeed most of the European royal families had been dined and wined in its secured enclosure. Many had frequently enjoyed secret adulterous trysts.
And it is also rumoured several suspicious suicides had blighted its dignified atmosphere. One concerned the body of a flamboyant American cardinal from the Rio Grande wearing just a Stetson and a black silk mask. He was discovered by one of the numerous hotel’s Filipino maids floating facing upwards in the hotel’s famous sumptuous frothy spa.
She had immediately reached for her ‘precious’ ivory rosary blessed by popess Ursula the first. This lady being herself secretly crowned in Barcelona ten years ago. The shocked maid began reciting that mournful Marian mantra. Today popess Ursula is greatly loved and revered by over a two hundred million congregation of the Catholic Catacomb church (CCC) with such distinguished female luminaries as Angelina Jolie, Angela Merkle, Hillary Clinton and Theresa May all frequently seeking her spiritual advice and of course her special blessings. The maid then collapsed onto her knees in prayer to this saintly woman who has frequently experienced visions and communicated with both Mary and Mary Magdalene as well as Marlene Dietrich no less. As revealed by her on a CNN/NBC exclusive television programme produced some years ago, by her faithful secretary and confidant Cardinal Gloria Gacy the former gospel singer then known as the flamboyant Miss Blue Flame who hailed from Basin Street New Orleans.
Quickly all internal mishaps or mistakes or suspicious deaths in that hotel would be quickly expunged by trained dedicated management. No stain of any scandal had ever been allowed through this hotel’s revolving doors to perpetuate Pierre’s prestigious reputation if possible. Nor would it ever be allowed to happen as long that respected proprietor Herr Maurice Gilbert presided over his fiefdom with a fiery hand and equally suspicious mind.
Both of his two sheepish sons Guido and Laurence would sadly fail to attempt to persuade their traditional reluctant father to incorporate a tennis or squash court in the hotel complex. This they argued would attract a new celebrity class of clientele. This being the nouveau riche whom their father despised and certainly did not want to grace the hotel’s doors! Maurice had however rejected these and other modern suggestions as would be expected to his disappointed sons, claiming they were too speculative.
The Pierre he insisted was structured on trust and tradition and had a reputation to maintain. And would do so as long as he patrolled the one hundred corridors each day. Outside of his hotel and its secured enclosure he had little faith in human nature. ‘Never expect too much and you are never disappointed’ was one of his trusted maxims. And he had plenty more in his repertoire as both his sons could testify to.
It’s also rumoured but never confirmed that Ho Chi Minh himself had graced its cavernous kitchens then employed as a pastry chef sometime in 1913, remembered one old wine waiter many years later.
This elderly gentleman also recalled serving both Leon Trotsky and Vladimir Lenin then having afternoon tea and crumpets together regularly. With Trotsky usually discussing the ‘permanent revolution’ whatever that was with a heated passion, he recalled. And as for Lenin he always somehow reminded the serving waiter of a busy gynaecologist. Maybe it was the polka dot bow tie it had been suggested that he always sported.
Lenin always seemed to be scowling and never seemed to smile, perhaps he suffered from piles several members of the hotel staff openly suggested. More importantly, as far as he was concerned was a simple fact that they were both frugal tippers. Although for some odd reason Leon Trotsky always when leaving shook his hand furiously saying quietly ‘don’t worry comrade, our time will come.’
That old hotel trusted retainer now aged 99 years old was still optimistically waiting for that approaching time to arrive.
Of course many celebrates such as Toscanini, Chaplin, Fritz Lang and Eric Korngold all had journeyed through its beautiful foyer before registering for their requested accommodation. So much of that decor that once delightfully represented a progressive era was now slowly succumbing to the new chimes of modernism. Even distinguished hotels are not exempt from change of character it could be argued.
Doctor Auer had made a wise decision it seems in selecting this delightful room for his daughter and Walter. Strangely enough, he himself had years before, been urgently summed one morning to the same hotel by Herr Maurice Gilbert. Then to issue a legally required death certificate.
On arrival at the suite and accompanied by Herr Gilbert into the bathroom, he witnessed a young man lying in a bath of blood. A terrible sight he still remembered. Kneeling in front of the bath was a smartly dressed middle-aged distraught woman. The boy’s weeping mother. She turned, looked at him, then noticing his medical bag she clutched his hand and sobbed saying: “I begged him not to do it … oh how I pleaded with him.” He nodded his sympathy, then gently escorted her into the bedroom leaving her with one of the hotel maids.
Later he was to hear that the young man had been a promising law student enrolled at the Munich University but had sadly failed his final exams. For an acceptable pass rate, this would have offered him the desired opportunity to be admitted to the German legal judiciary. His father was apparently a Supreme Court Judge. The shame he endured had been too much for him to bear and of the obvious disappointment to both his father and mother. With the final cry for help to his mother and with her pleading with him, he had committed the razor to his naked wrists.
Then after examining the young man and witnessing no signs of life he perched on the edge of the bath and began to write out the requested certificate. Suddenly he was summoned with a shriek of “doctor” from the maid.
He quickly ran into the bedroom. There laying on the carpet was the boy’s mother. She had apparently suffered a heart attack. He knelt over her, searched for a pulse but felt nothing. All life had been extinguished.
That day he realized in the space of ten minutes he had signed two death certificates for two members of the same family. Two lives had been claimed in the Hotel Pierre that morning and interestingly both on his 27th birthday.
He had requested to Herr Gilbert that if possible that particular suite be NOT offered to his daughter on her wedding day. His request had been honoured.
He had also requested the services of two of his longtime patients and personal friends to arrange and prepare the flower display. In this, he was very fortunate in acquiring the personal attention and artistry of Madam Zizi Fournier, the famous florist extraordinaire and her husband Dr Iago Fournier, the creator and founder of ‘Perfumes Extraordinaire’. Both always performed with perfection to their numerous and still expanding clientele.
Since six that morning until the first guest’s arrival at noon, the restaurant staff had toiled to create a magical memory that would be unforgettable for the young couple on this their special shining day. And they had succeeded it seemed without exemption, noticed doctor Auer as he inspected the arrangements. They all seemed interesting and rather intriguing, he ruminated as he fired up a cigar.
Madam Zizi had arranged and prepared sixty tables (more would be required later) with silver dishes of assorted fresh bunches of violets with added sprigs of the lily of the valley placed on crisp white tablecloths. The display looked enchanting.
Her husband had mixed delicate scents in his purpose-built laboratory from spikenard, hovenis and baby Japanese bonsai trees. The finished effect was a scented aromatic garden. Now ready and waiting to greet the arriving guests for their approval as they settled into their places. Each small table had assorted chocolates, with a silver swastika embossed on the chocolate’s foil wrappers. These were arranged in delicate finger bowls. For the smokers, also small packets of book matches, again displaying a swastika, were arranged on certain tables. Costly but original thought doctor Auer to himself.
A heavily adorned wedding cake with a shaped marzipan replica of King Ludwig’s ‘new swan stone castle’ perched on a high lighted table surrounded by fresh red roses in ivory dishes. A silent waiter stood guard with folded arms like a sentinel beside it. Nothing must be allowed to cause any damage to this magnificent cake arrayed in silent splendour.
A small concealed oscillating fan had been placed discreetly by its side to circulate cooling air. At the top tables, bowls of potpourri with scented jasmine candles from the east could be seen and admired. Long dishes of assorted Swedish flowers especially fritillaria melegraise were (shaped into a replica of a fluttering Swedish flag) being delivered that morning from the grassy plains of Uppland. Remembered today by some noted historians as a famed Viking hunting burial ground.
These had been picked that morning to be later artistically arranged in front of Carin Goring’s placemat. This personal suggestion from Heinrich to madam Furnier was duly carried out. She was only too happy to oblige him.
Heinrich hoped that the countess would be deeply moved by this thoughtful gesture. And she was being overcome with emotion. Heinrich was pleased it was the least he could do for this remarkable first lady of the party.
Years later Walter still recalled with a smile her tearful appreciation when she viewed this floral display, then hugging a rather surprised Karin believing this had been her unique idea. Heinrich as always was contended to remain obscured in the shadows. A future role he would polish to perfection over the coming years. During and after the war.
A delicate bamboo entwined archway had been constructed over the tables. With assorted red roses again with tiny silver swastikas attached to the petals and stems that somehow gleamed in the light like fluttering fireflies. Both the couples first names were inscribed in delicate gold gothic letters in the centre onto a yellow silken cloth. Deckle-edged place cards had been finished in gothic script for all seated guests. And with softly arranged lighting the vision was indeed breathtaking, which of course was the desired purpose.
Earlier during the preparations, doctor Auer had himself arrived with Arabella Schuler on his arm who immediately walked towards the open Steinway which had been finely tuned that very morning on the orders from Heinrich himself.
Now he minutely inspected the completed work before leaving to prepare to perform his duties as Walter’s best man. Arabella meanwhile was performing her musical persuasion on Chopin’s always haunting prelude Opus 28 no.4. Some of the serving staff had paused to listen to her performance. She smiled her gratitude, as they clapped smiling their appreciation of her gift that she had shared with them of this always Chopin evergreen. She finished, then noticed that Heinrich was departing and smiled with a slight wave. He silently nodded.
Now both the proprietor and his two dutiful sons stood silently waiting for Heinrich to give his final approval as he surveyed the tables and cutlery arrangements and checking the names and the correct spellings. Nothing would be allowed to threaten this occasion and its success.
Finally, he adjusted the wired rose stems on the archway behind the top table, for some reason, until they met his satisfaction being perfectly in alignment with the potted palm trees. All three men watched nervously as he nodded his approval seemingly now delighted with everything following his instructions.
He then walked over towards a nervous Herr Gilbert saying quietly ‘perfect Maurice.’ He then turned towards the two sons shaking their hands saying something inaudible to them both. Then the three men smartly performed the familiar Nazi salute to which he reciprocated. And then departed the building searching for his chauffer driven car.
Thinking today in the rear of the car had been the first social soirée he had arranged and that maybe sometime in the future he would attempt something more spectacular. He would have to discuss this, his future proposal with Leni Riefenstahl to possibly utilise her professional film talent for the sake of the promotion of the party. She could become a future confidant in the party hierarchy.
Arabella seated comfortably at the grand piano was now preparing to perform with her usual perfection, the familiar wedding march from ‘Lohengrin’ when the couple entered the room.
It had been Arabella’s own intention at the then civil ceremony to play this traditional musical salute for Karin but sadly no instrument was then provided. Now in the ‘Pierre’ other orchestral musicians had arrived, and naturally gravitated towards her. Some talking and some listening and all comfortable in the company of other musicians. They then started singing or humming the words in a brief rehearsal with the Maestro Boehm naturally conducting this unrehearsed ensemble with his gold Metzler fountain pen.
Interestingly that day was Maestro Boehm’s 50th birthday. He being the proud recipient of a telegram from Hitler himself offering his hearty congratulations. This would be displayed to all interested guests by him later.
It was also Arabella Schulers 26th birthday and she did NOT receive a telegram from Adolph Hitler, neither did she crave one. In fact, she loathed the little man with the silly moustache and all he represented. She, in fact, had actually attempted to read and assimilate Mein Kampf and had actually later dispatched the book into the waste bin calling it dangerous drivel. She could and would never understand the praise both her dear friend Karin and Carin Goring heaped on the man. Always a woman of her principles she refused to join the party or be of any assistance to its political survival.
After the war, she would be recognized as a world-renowned concert pianist. Then being invited in 1961 to perform for President Kennedy and his wife at the inauguration in the prestigious East Room of the White House. A personal request from Jacqueline Kennedy during the interval was for her to perform Debussy’s atmospheric Claire-de lune. This she did as always with the gentlest of touch that she was so renowned for. Those sitting closest to the first lady recalled witnessing tears running down her cheeks when Arabella had silenced the final note. It was an emotional evening many remembered and talked about years afterwards. And for Arabella the highlight of her musical life.
Arabella herself suffered a sudden heart attack and collapsed and died whilst visiting the Chopin Museum in Valldemossa in Majorca at the same hour that President Kennedy was himself assassinated in Dallas on November 22nd 1963. She had never married and left no family and is almost forgotten today as a musician except for some rare recordings of her unique interpretations of both Ravel and Debussy. The whereabouts of her interment are still unknown.
At the afternoon reception, numerous telegrams and letters of congratulation were read by Heinrich and Carin respectively to the seated guests. The luncheon had been delightful with a varied menu being served. Unfortunately, some oysters from an oyster bed from Hamburg, that the hotel had a stake in had failed to arrive on time. Heinrich was not amused!
The first message of congratulations, that Heinrich had carefully opened with his paper knife, which had arrived that very morning, was from Adolph Hitler. And accompanied with a gift of a watercolour painting created by himself for the wedding couple. It depicted the fearsome Odin seen receiving the slain Viking warriors into Valhalla against a waterfall background, and with an A.H. affixed in the corner.
Joseph Goebbels meanwhile had dispatched by hand, a boxed set of fine blue bone china that had the couple’s initials cleverly entwined and embossed into the intricate design. Their fragility probably meant they would rarely be used for everyday meals.
Archbishop Pacelli sent his apologies and personal blessing enclosing a signed photograph of himself.
The laconic Alfred Rosenberg offered Walter and Karin an unsigned first edition of Christina Rossetti’s sonnets for the couples planned library.
‘It could have been much worse’ whispered Goring to his wife behind his raised hand in that Rosenberg could have given them a signed book set edition of his own political works.
From Rudolf Hess a first edition of Abbe Gualats fifteen century treatise of the universe. Inside he had scrawled in a spidery hand the dedication: ‘So much is written in the stars that we know so little about … best wishes on this your special day Rudolph.’
That dog-eared book is today on open display in the Vatican library.
From Ernst Rohm still happily domiciled in Bolivia came a warm kindly greeting to the happy couple. His only regret was that he could not be there with them both to celebrate the wedding. Yet this South American climate seemed to suit his respiratory system in this landlocked country he now called home.
Some days later a handwritten airmail letter arrived from Rohm to Walter and Karin with a surprise gift of an old hunting lodge that he had purchased many years ago which was situated in the enchanting Hochkreuth region. This if they would accept, would be his personal wedding gift to them both.
Karin later reminded Walter that both Carin and Hermann had indeed enjoyed their own happy honeymoon there in the secluded German Alps. It also conveniently boasted of a nearby spa that Carin had naturally taken advantage of. She would years later recall in a letter to her mother as these being ‘the happiest days of their lives.’
Maestro Boehm presented them with an unexpected set of expensive silk lilac Porthault sheets remarking that ‘these should last you a lifetime.’
Walter wondered if he spoke from experience or had just quoted the salesman’s selling pitch.
From her dearest friend, Arabelle arrived a five-hundred-year-old glass object hand painted, it was claimed by a hundred-year-old blind Tibetan Lama ( see picture).
‘Please always do keep it in your boudoir Karin and always close to you wherever you go. And when you look into its depth which I hope will frequently, please remember me my dear and of this happy day that you allowed me to share.’
The two friends then embraced for an extended time and finally separated with tears in their eyes. From now on their lives would wander down many private pathways but rarely ever become entwined again. And if perhaps both should unexpectedly encounter each other somewhere, both women would have been aware that they had changed. Simply because each had journeyed far since their last happy encounter on Karin’s wedding, that day in Munich. For their friendship had been shattered by the bonds of Karin’s marriage.
The couple were also to be gifted with many generous gifts that afternoon. Perhaps the most unexpected and touching arrived from Carin Goring when she explained to the surprised guests that she had telephoned the family lawyer in Stockholm with a simple request. That being was it possible for Karin to be appointed an honorary countess?
The answer surprisingly would be in the affirmative. And Carin was delighted to confirm to all at the Pierre. And that it would be recognised and could be utilised as a title in all written correspondence. However, its validity would cease on the occasion upon her death. ‘Which hopefully will not be for another hundred years’ she laughed.
She then presented the Parchmarque soft mottled scroll of legal authority to the recipient. And with a hand-painted title and crest of arms that Karin was now entitled to display and use. It had been notarised both in Swedish and German.
Karin was naturally speechless at her friend’s generosity. Yet somehow not surprised Carin always had been as full of surprises as a barrel full of released mischievous monkeys.
Heinrich sensing a mood change descending onto the room quickly requested the trio to now assemble on the stage to perform to the guests. They chose for some reason, the second movement of the Tchaikovsky piano trio. Arabella, together with a few selected musicians from the orchestra tuned their instruments.
After a short discussion, the proceedings commenced on the downbeat and finished after having performed to perfection. The soloists took their well-deserved bows. There were some tears from some of the audience. This would cause Heinrich to request for the musicians to play something happy saying that ‘this is a wedding my friends not a wake!’ he announced. ‘Let’s have some songs.’
All would later join in selected German and Swedish songs, sadly only Carin and three of the Swedish kitchen staff who had been brought into the room could join in the musical offering from Sweden. Listening to, but not appreciating the recital in which he had little interest, Heinrich reached for a gold lipped flute of champagne from a passing white-coated waiter. He sampled its content, pulled a face of distaste and discreetly emptied the Pol Roger Brut into the soil of a nearby potted palm tree. None noticed his protest. Not that he would have cared anyway.
‘A Swedish quartet of hummingbirds’ remarked Heinrich kindly to doctor Auer who was seen listening to the countess and the hotel staff. He was aware of course that Heinrich had been very active behind the scenes in making the day such a success and in investing his time in seeing that the reception was perfect.
Now the doctor could only sadly sit and observe his daughter dancing with her Walter the new man in her life. He certainly was going to miss her so very much. But maybe he theorised there was a solution after all to his concerns, a possibility that he had been searching for some days, now it seemed an answer had presented itself to him and he hoped to be acceptable to both Walter and Karin. He would propose his suggestion to the happy couple later at the house when they returned to open their wedding gifts for each other. This was an old Auer custom that he was delighted to see would be continued. Karin’s mother would be pleased noted the doctor. Somehow as the years evaporated into his past her image became more alive and more translucent and in a strange way very comforting to him.
Now even two hours into the festivities more people were arriving and extra tables and chairs had been brought in by smiling waiters under the manager’s orders and all under Heinrich’s watchful eyes. Both Carin and Arabella performed Mozart’s difficult four handed Andante and variations K501. Finally, at its brisk conclusion, Carin was both exhausted and exhilarated. Arabella stood up and bowed. Carin, however, remained seated and too tired to make the effort but smiling with delight. This would be the last time Carin Goring would ever perform in public again.
Later when Walter arrived back into the now crowded reception after walking around the garden to sample some welcome fresh air, dozens of hands patted him on the back offering many good wishes from people he did not know. He then noticed Heinrich in conversation with a tall clean-shaven man wearing the uniform of the hotel.
Walter placed him in the mid-thirties. There was a resemblance of perhaps an ex-serving soldier still carrying the trench scars from the Somme. Walter had made the acquaintance of men like him before, most carrying a cloak of resentment of a defeated Germany especially engrained into their pinched lined faces. This man seemed different in his appearance yet somehow looked comfortable. He seemed to be listening to Heinrich intently with occasional head nodding. As usual with Heinrich, it became a one-way conversation.
Heinrich beckoned him over to be introduced to the now smiling standing stranger saying with a smile.
‘Walter, I would like you to meet Ueli’ he announced with a friendly arm around the man’s shoulder. The two men shook hands warmly.
‘He is the maitre d’hotel here and performing a very professional service I am informed. Ueli is from Switzerland, from Davos Platz in fact and is very excited and hopefully hopes to initiate a national socialist party in Switzerland based of course on the principles of our own German party.’
‘Herr Himmler has been very kind and has offered any assistance required” answered the Swiss hotelier cautiously choosing his words.
‘We in Switzerland are in desperate need of establishing a political party. To regain our Swiss prestige that is now lost I believe, as a result of the war and the financiers who orchestrated its conception and its shameful downfall’ he said with a concerned face.
The three men made their way to a vacant table to continue their conversation. This lasted a mere five minutes with Ueil then departing with a firm handshake from Heinrich saying ‘I will be in touch.’ And with the tall Swiss also offering his warm congratulations to Walter, he then walked towards the kitchen to supervise the proceedings.
‘I wanted you to meet our new friend Walter’ said Heinrich removing his glasses to clean them with a folded silk handkerchief. ‘He hails from Davos, an important city in Switzerland, I believe, and could in future introduce us to the services of this city which would be to our long term advantage.’
‘In fact, in the next ten years when we come to power, it might just suit our financial interests to use this country’s banking facilities by importing to other countries our own party’s long term ambitions. I’m also hoping to find an important contact in Berne as well and that is where our new friend from Davos might be able to help us.’
He now leaned forward saying quietly as a clap of laughter emerged from very excited guests nearby.
‘Walter, you and I go back a long way my friend and I do not use this term of endearment loosely. You were with us at almost the birth of our party and more importantly, you saved my life and I will be eternally grateful to you for what you did for me.’
He smiled saying softly ‘I’m also delighted with the marriage of you and dear Karin and I know the countess shares my view, but I often wonder how much longer she will be with us, her health being still so fragile?’
He paused once again to remove and clean his glasses saying, ‘poor Hermann would be devastated as well if anything impaired her recovery. A truly remarkable lady I have indeed felt honoured to know for many years and to consider her as a friend. Especially as the party is doing so well and much of our success, of course, is due to her faith and persistence ….. and may it long continue to do so ….. but as I reminded everyone earlier this is a celebration, not a wake!’
He leaned forward and embraced Walter with noticeable difficulty. Still suffering the discomfort from his previous assassination attempt chest wound.
Then both men walked back to the declining luncheon party. Some balloons were being popped to peals of laughter and some guests were still walking through the door hoping to join in the merriment.
Finally, after a silent signal from Heinrich, the chandelier lights were dimmed by a waiting waiter waiting for his signal. Then all stood to sing with passion and praise Deutschland Lied with many at its conclusion raising their right arms in the Nazi party salute and without prompting. Many felt like guardians of a new era ready to rescue a disgraced humiliated Germany.
There was a raw revolution in the political air and its colour was not red. The air was now charged with change. The guests all hoped for and some even prayed to their respective gods for guidance.
For Arabella watching the proceedings, this certainly had been an unusual wedding she mused. Yet she was naturally delighted for Karin and Walter. She just hoped that his politics that she had witnessed and had openly become crucial to his political ambitions would not become a barrier between the two in the following years ahead.
Then she had a final request to perform Mozart’s always cheerful Ronda a la Turk. She was happy to oblige but only if Karin would join her in this improvised duet. It was resounding success as both women raced to see who would finish first. It turned out to be a tie.
An hour later the last guests had all finally departed the room perhaps a little inebriated.
‘Everyone seemed to be having such a good time’ one tearful lady had remarked to a smiling Heinrich clutching his arm He nodded to her saying ‘I know but all good things have to end, unfortunately.’ He presented her with a keepsake red rose and wished her good night. Then he beckoned one of the waiters to accompany her to the lobby. She was also offered a complimentary bottle of Diamante Bleu by Herr Gilbert hoping to accelerate her departure. And with an exaggerated bow that she accepted with delight, she then departed the Hotel Pierre.
Watching the final guest at last depart, the clear up had been arranged earlier by Heinrich with strict instructions of how it should be carried out. He had with Ueli and other hotel staff walked around the deserted receptions room to retrieve all the named place cards. Also brought to his attention were the discarded chocolate wrappers, matchbook covers and any other evidence of the swastika symbol that had been displayed so openly.
When the two men and the staff had completed their task and Heinrich was satisfied all evidence had been removed, he then relaxed. He had always been aware that although the party had many true friends in Munich and elsewhere it also boasted an equal amount of enemies. One could not be too careful he reasoned in these uncertain times of upheaval.
He thanked the Swiss sympathiser saying ‘I will be in touch Ueli.’ He then cast his eyes over the now deserted room one more time and nothing of the wedding occasion was now visible. He thanked all the compliant hotel staff. Then he walked over to the relieved proprietor and his two sons spoke a few words to them of encouragement.
Then later departed to his farm with all the collected evidence from the wedding reception now secured in his old khaki secured knapsack. He had decided earlier that to satisfy his hunger pangs for his own supper that evening, he would ask Margarete to prepare an omelette with fresh vegetables and new potatoes from his garden to be washed down with a refreshing glass of apple juice from the fruit of his own orchard. Life on the farm sometimes suited him he realised.
He never sampled any offered food unless he had watched it being prepared for his enjoyment. He simply did not trust the personal hygiene of kitchen staff or the cleanliness of the kitchen area itself. He had heard too many horror stories of rodents and cockroaches falling into cooking utensils and being left there to cook.
Always abstemious he had nursed a single glass of champagne during the day only sampling occasional sips just for politeness sake as he surveyed the guests.
He now hoped that little Gudron or ‘Puppi’ his precious daughter would be awake and if so he would read her a fairy story. Perhaps little Red Riding Hood? It being one of her favourites especially the opening chapter.
‘When she got to the wood, she met a wolf.’ He loved seeing her squeal with delight as he started to read that opening line with her little arms placed tightly around his neck. Ah the innocence of children he thought and what a rare gift that was, and how sad it was that it was quickly destroyed with dissolution and doubt from a wicked world. Then he settled himself in his car, fired up the engine placed the car into gear and proceeded home to Landshut as a loud clap of thunder reverberated throughout the car.
Doctor Auer, with Karin and Walter in his car, followed the Goring’s car towards the couples’ household. He followed them into the driveway and parked, slightly scattering the gravel. He was in no doubt that his daughter would certainly wish to thank Carin personally for all she had performed in making this special day a sterling success.
Both Karin and Walter climbed out of the car and walked over to talk to Carin. She, however, remained in the passenger seat having just about managed to wind down the window herself.
Hermann informed them as he departed from the car and walked towards them informing them that the day had robbed her of most of her stamina. She, however, wanted to talk to them together. He then led them around to where Carin was seated with the passenger door now open. She reached out and placed both their hands into hers as they bent forward to be near and to hear her.
Walter noticed she now look faint and fatigued and curiously seemed to have aged especially around the eyes and mouth since only an hour ago. He witnessed that she seemed to be struggling to say something important to them both.
Then still clothed in her now crumpled dress minus the veil that had somehow been separated from the rest of her attire (in fact Heinrich had discovered it under the table and placed it in his jacket to return it to her at their next encounter) she began to compose herself as Karin now quickly knelt down in front of the fatigued countess enquiring, ‘what is it dear Carin, what do want to say to us?’ Walter then placed himself behind his bride, his hands protectively on her shoulders, whilst behind him stood doctor Auer. He watched and listened with a non-committal look etched on his face. Walter noticed he had abstained from enjoying his favourite Cuban cigars but had placed an unlit one into his top pocket for later usage. Then a chill breeze seemed to materialise. This caused Hermann to look concerned for his wife’s health. He attempted to place a plaid blanket over her thin shoulders. He leaned forward and whispered something into her ear. She dismissed his concern, then gently saying to the silent couple now awaiting her words of farewell and with a blessing on this their special day.
‘I just wanted to wish you all the happiness that this world can offer you, we sometimes take it so much for granted. Merely by breathing and walking and yes laughing, that our lives will remain the same and we march on definitely in our own way rather like sleepwalking. Yet so many today are sadly confined to hospital beds mainly simply existing in oxygen tents … oh how terrible for them…’
Her words trailed as she struggled to gain her breath. Then doctor Auer stepped forward and taking her limp hand measured her pulse remarking, ‘I think we need to take the countess into the house before she catches a cold.’
He had noticed a rapidly accelerating heartbeat. This concerned him greatly. He looked to Hermann, who nodded in agreement at his suggestion. Karin then arose helped her friend to stand, they embraced for a long time as Walter watched silently. Then Carin placed a hand on both of their faces speaking softly, almost at a whisper, ‘Magud Valsigna er bada.’
Then she kissed both of them on their cheeks, squeezed Karin’s now cold hand, then turned and walked to her house with both men assisting her. She paused there and somehow managed to wave to them both. Then blowing a final kiss to Karin who returned it, she entered the house leading the way through the darkened doorway with Hermann and doctor Auer.
The couple then both returned and entered the car and waited for the doctor to arrive and drive them home. It had been a long day for all concerned.
“Will she be alright? Walter asked with concern. He had also noticed how affected Karin’s demeanour had been when her friend’s health had declined dramatically.
‘Oh I hope so’ she replied with anguish in her voice. ‘Papa will give her something tonight to help her sleep and give her some rest.. the poor darling.’
‘What did she say to us both? I assume it was Swedish..?’ asked Walter.
‘She said if I am correct … ‘may God be with you both’ and yes it was Swedish my sweet.’
He was aware that Carin had not referred to ‘Odin’ and his protection this time but using the traditional use of the word ‘God’ causing him to speculate as to why?
Then she moved closer to him as a cold chill settled inside the car asking, ‘Are you happy my sweet? You know I somehow feel that we are today embarking on a great adventure, as if sailing on a magnificent ocean liner rather akin to the ‘Ile de France’ that slices through the high waves fearlessly, with crew and passengers feeling safe and secure. Yet if we reach a friendly port and disembark, will this joy that today has brought us then be broken? I do so hope nothing will ever tarnish what today meant to us both..’
He leaned over and placed his lips upon her own inviting lips and kissed her. Then after several minutes, he said, ‘I will never forget how you looked this morning when we professed our vows. That hour when I first saw you, you were the most beautiful woman in Munich, and you had given me the rare honour of becoming my wife. And I Karin will offer you my life if you will accept it. This is our day and I will remember it and your beautiful face when you slowly turned to me this morning and said ‘I do.’ Both of these images will remain until the day I die.’
She pulled him nearer to her saying softly, ‘And I will love you for forever my sweet….’ They kissed again knowing that both had committed to a promise that was now sealed.
Minutes later her father returned and wearily climbed into the car disturbing the ambience by announcing, ‘I have given the countess a mild sedative and she is now sleeping. I have informed Hermann that I will visit her tomorrow to see how she is. Perhaps a few days in Baden-Baden might sustain and strengthen her constitution.’
He then released the handbrake, ignited the engine and placed the car in gear. Then speaking quietly to his daughter he asked, ‘maybe you would like to come with me, Karin. I’m sure she would appreciate it?’ He was unaware or had forgotten that his daughter would have departed to her honeymoon. The suggestion of a few days in Venice had been talked about by them both. But not agreed upon.
He didn’t wait for her to respond as the car departed to take the exhausted wedding couple homeward bound. Then from the weeping clouds, a light drizzle descended over Munich.
When they arrived home Gertrude was anxiously waiting up for their return. She noticed Karin she was still wearing the dress she had chosen for the wedding. A fire had been lit in her bedroom. She had quickly prepared a fire in the Doctor’s study as well as leaving a tray of hot chocolate drinks, along with bourbon biscuits and marzipan cake, the doctor’s favourite.
Karin immediately departed to her bedroom to discard her wedding dress and to select something more comfortable. This would allow Walter and his now father-in-law a few private minutes to talk and discuss the day’s events. Both agreed it had been a success and Walter thanked the doctor in all that he had done for them, both financially and emotionally.
When Karin returned she and Walter placed themselves before her father’s crowded desk as he had gestured for them to do so. She knew he had an announcement that he wanted to share with them. Karin sipped her cooling chocolate waiting for her father to finish that familiar preparation in selecting and rolling his cigar before igniting it. She was used to this little ritual from her papa and she was aware he disliked being interrupted. For him, it was a sacred ritual as if paying homage to that island known as Cuba.
When he had finished he reached into his desk drawer and withdrew a large cream envelope then pushed it towards his daughter.
A half smile of expectation appeared on his face.
She reached out barely touching the thick paper. She then cast an inquisitive glance at Walter and her father enquiring with a raised eyebrow.
‘What is it, papa?’
He shrugged nonchalantly and just smiled. Walter, however, waited because he somehow realized it was the correct thing to do. This surprise would be revealed to him by his beautiful wife of just a mere eight hours. Yet they could have been conjoined in matrimony forever as far as he was concerned.
She slowly slipped the contents from inside the offered envelope. From its enclosure descended two first-class rail tickets and reserved sleeper on the 11.30pm night train departing from Munich to Zermatt. A five-day reservation at the plush five star ‘DeLa Rue Hotel’ had also been reserved for them (part of that hotel chain owned by the millionaire George Beladarius). Both were speechless at this surprise wedding gift.
Karin jumped up rushed around the desk and hugged her father in delight thanking him again and again. ‘Don’t thank me, darling’ he laughed. ‘Nothing to do with me. Simply an admirer and supporter of the party wanted to contribute this as his wedding gift. I take it both of you will accept?’ They both nodded eagerly.
‘Then I suggest you arrange your wardrobe, some clothes for your honeymoon trip to Switzerland, then I will drive you both to the station.’
They then both decided that they would wait before they opened their personal wedding gifts to each other. This would be performed in private in Zermatt.
On arrival at Munich central station, swarms of passengers were arriving and departing like regimented red ants. And who should be there to see them standing alone before the departure gate was Heinrich. Now wearing for some reason a gabardine raincoat and a flat workman’s cap. To Karin, he resembled a jobbing actor performing in a popular Fritz Lang film. Yet to Walter, it seemed like only yesterday he himself had arrived in Munich with just the worn clothes on his back, a cheese sandwich and a few marks in his threadbare suit. Then to seek out the infamous Captain Ernst Rohm.
Now ten years later he himself was enjoying a promising career in the police force and an important member of a political party that one day would ‘recapture and restore Germany past greatness.’
‘Heinrich, what are you doing here?’ he asked shaking his hand vigorously. There stood Heinrich seen just about through the coal flaked rising steam amid the deafening noise of the engines being shunted and coupled to vacant carriages. He seemed oblivious to all around him. His piercing gaze now appearing through his misted glasses, centred only on the two of them. It seemed as if all around them was just silent space and devoid of people.
Karin seemed delighted also in seeing him again so soon after the wedding celebrations. She kissed him affectionately on the cheek, causing him to slightly blush. He replied removing his cap.
‘Well, my dear friends I couldn’t allow you both to depart Munich without saying congratulations yet again and may you have a wonderful time. But dear Frauline Auer or perhaps I should say Frau Kyper-Auer, could I possibly request a small favour of you?’
He now looked at her apprehensively like a boy seeking a teacher’s approval as he turned his cap around in his hands then quickly pushed it into his coat pocket.
She naturally agreed and waited and watched as he withdrew from his pocket a small item wrapped a black silk scarf. Quickly unwrapping it very slowly to reveal carefully a small swastika pendant fixed onto a pointed metal spike.
‘How wonderful’ she said, her eyes alight with excitement but not really sure of what he was about to request of her and not Walter.
‘When you ascend the Matterhorn as I’m sure you both will could I request that one of you, but perhaps miss Karin will secure it firmly to that great mountain?’
He handed it to her with reverence and waited for her response. She instantly answered him saying, ‘it would a great honour dear Heinrich,’ Karin replied reverently. I will personally see it as my devotion to Herr Hitler and the party and as a special favour to you.’
He nodded his approval. Then he came closer thanked her and placed his hands gently on both of their shoulders saying quietly.
‘May Odin be with you’ spoken with reverence as if he were in a medieval cathedral.
‘And with you’ they both replied in quiet unison. Yet Karin’s eager response carried far more conviction than Walter’s doctor Auer had noticed. He had deliberately placed himself away from the three and now just watched and waited. He himself had remained silent during this pagan blessing and instead just inspected the ornate ironwork of the suspended clock displayed over the platform.
Karin then placed the pendant into her shoulder bag turned to her father adding with a smile.
‘Dear papa, do you realise that today you have lost a daughter but gained a son? And you my dear husband have acquired a wife?’ They all laughed.
She then placed both her arms around her father’s neck and kissed him, then turning to Walter she repeated the same affectionate gesture only with more emotion. Final goodbyes were offered and it was then time for the couple to depart for Switzerland.
Then they boarded the train accompanied by a porter to their respective berths to deliver their luggage. Then later both walked back to the window to wave goodbye to Heinrich and the doctor. Then their train disappeared into the Munich steam passing other arriving trains about to dispatch their own passengers into the crowded Munich station.
Both men now walked back towards their respective cars speaking quietly.
Heinrich enquired about Carin’s ongoing health issues.
‘Fragile I’m afraid’ replied doctor Auer. Of course, he suggested the weather both in Munich and Berlin did nothing to placate her health. She really should think about relocating to the warm Spanish coastline. He himself had heard favourable reports from recovering respiratory patients who had visited and befitted from its climate. Especially Palma.
But he supposed she would simply follow Hermann to Berlin for the upcoming important elections. Heinrich was hoping himself to gain a seat in the Reichstag Parliament he informed the doctor and he hoped his chances were favourable. Then the conversation ceased between the two men with a brief handshake. They then parted company.
Then later both their cars joined the traffic and then disappeared in the haze of the Munich skyline and the hum of the evening traffic. Heinrich to his waiting family and farm and doctor Auer to a now deserted family house without Karin there waiting to greet him.
He had always known she would depart the family nest one day either through marriage or to pursue a career. Every parent understands this sometimes difficult facet of life. But in Karin’s case, it had all unfolded so very quickly. But this was her choice he had to accept it. And isn’t any change always hard he had heard for the parent? Simply you just had to be satisfied with that proverbial deck of cards being dealt to you in life. It was unfair but true nothing more and nothing less.
But pain reveals itself as pain in any dialect or prose the poets prefer or songwriters express themselves in. Years before the doctor had been informed by a previous patient an ambassador to the French court that its rather similar to a death in the family Only the deceased keeps returning but somehow as someone else.
Now safely ensconced on the speeding night train to Zermatt the exhausted honeymoon couple were escorted by a harassed steward to their booked sleeper. On opening the door, there to their surprise and amusement they discovered were only twin bunk beds for their journey. Someone somewhere had made a mistake it seems thought Karin? Walter quickly summoned the steward back for an explanation. Unfortunately, all sleeping accommodation had been reserved he announced wearily. He was apologetic of course but was unable to offer an alternative berth especially this late at night.
‘I’m sorry monsieur but even 100 Deutsche Marks could not arrange a more suitable sleeping arrangements for you both’ he lamented as Walter reached for his wallet.
Once inside with the door closed they both reclined on the lower bunk looked at each other and laughed. The cabin they noticed had been panelled in pine with matching flooring. A two bulb chandelier attempted to lighten the enclosed space. A two-tier bunk bed dominated the room. With well worn sturdy brass handles with a small ladder for support in climbing to the top bed.
Several tinted portraits of past and present monarchs of Europe hung proudly from the walls all at eye level. They being: King Boris of Bulgaria, King George of the Hellenes (seen sporting a magnificent waxed moustache) and King Edward of England. All were unsmiling as if instructed to look into the camera lens as a punishment.
Walter only recognised one of the monarch’s notable features, that of the king of England. Interestingly he noticed a black and white postcard size framed portrait mounted above the window of the emperor Taisho of Japan. He wondered what the significance of this unusual display of European and oriental portraits was all about and on whose orders? A large picture window offered passengers an inviting view of the passing countryside if they so wished to enjoy. Unfortunately, an annoying window blind kept noisily unrolling itself when extended, much to the couple’s amusement. They then decided later after ordering two-minute cups of Turkish black coffee and sweets to present each other with their own selected wedding gifts.
Karin would then present to Walter as her wedding gift a limited edition Mont Blanc inscribed pen. ‘My love forever Karin.’ And for Karin, that stolen ring that had once belonged so briefly to a young Russian princess, this Romanoff emblem was her gift from her family.
Karin immediately requested him to place it onto her right forefinger. There it would remain secured until the day she died. Then it would be lost somewhere into the maelstrom of the approaching war.
Karin then stood up carefully stretched and removed her heavy fur coat dropping it carelessly onto the bottom of the bunk as well as kicking off her shoes.
Walter checked their travel itinerary and tickets. Then removing from her overnight case there appeared a starched white table cloth. She settled out the creases as best as she could onto the small table beside the window. Then reaching deeper into the recess of her case she produced and placed numerous items of food and drink on the cloth.
‘A wedding picnic my sweet’ she announced as she leaned forward saying. ‘I asked Gertrude to prepare some night time nourishment for us both. I somehow suspected this might just happen … and it did!’
Now placed before them were petite salmon sandwiches with small bottles of lychee squeeze drinks and tiny rose shaped cupcakes. Two miniature bottles of Krug champagne were finally produced by Karin for his inspection. But only one glass sadly had been packed for some unknown reason. This they naturally shared.
‘This must be fortuitous’ she laughed. ‘Because we will be sharing everything else materialistically in the future my sweet will we not?’ They then finally toasted each others health and laughed when bubbles tickled their noses whilst sipping from either side of that single fluted glass.
Just as they cleared away the detritus of their meal the ceiling light in the ceiling exploded and died. They both laughed saying what else could possibly go wrong but they were not perturbed about its inconvenience just contented and pleased to be in each others company in the shadow of the night.
For both of them, it was a new sensation to be captured and relished.
Yet after a few minutes, their eyes adjusted to the light that entered the carriage from an obliging blue moon. Then being reinforced from the passing lights as their train journeyed on its solitary saunter to Switzerland. Now leaving their old world behind and the unknown world of marriage being rolled out before them.
Walter leaned back and waited for her to return from the discreet changing alcove situated behind the berth. When she did finally appear she displayed a silk and French Peach de nuit negligee concealed under her Japanese kimono. To him, she looked stunning. She then settled herself beside him resting her head on his chest. Each held each other. They were now both facing the window frame watching the panorama of the night as it passed by at a gallop. For the next few hours, they also reminisced of the diversity of life … and of family… and of the unexplained gift of love. And strangely how a stolen handbag snatched in the streets on Munich had changed both of their lives dramatically.
‘Was it fate that brought us together’ she enquired?
Walter had often speculated about this to himself and never had arrived at a satisfactory answer.
‘Maybe? But then we will never really know and maybe we were not meant to know or care.’ He had whispered the last two words to her as both of them were now experiencing exhaustion.
Soon both willingly succumbed to its natural calling command. Karin’s final whispered words to Walter were then uttered.
‘It’s been a long day my sweet hasn’t it?’ He started to agree but never finished as the shallows of slumber began to subdue him. He noticed through closing eyelids, that her nail varnish which had earlier been of a soft chrome, had been somehow replaced with a peach colour. He speculated as to why and when she had concerned herself in doing such a trivial thing? But he resisted asking and really cared not. Now he just wanted to surrender to sleep and all that it offered his exhausted body.
He was awoken much later with her exclaiming excitedly and pointing, ‘look … look … Walter, the Matterhorn!” She pointed with awe and amazement out of the train window.
And there it loomed before them, the mighty, majestic, mystical Matterhorn as it emerged and greeted them from its morning mist. This mountain of mystery, yet terribly menacing to those who had attempted to climb and conquer her defences, now stood proudly displayed before their eyes. This had to be God’s monument of His power and His glory that men had once trembled before. Streamers of clouds swept around the peak like a five-star crown. A triumph of the Creator’s power.
The Englishman Edward Whymper who after eight failed attempts became the first man to climb the Matterhorn in 1865 confided in his diary how ‘the Matterhorn attracted me simply by its grandeur.’
Yet in spite of this assault by men since upon its sovereignty it remains and will always be indestructible and indomitable.
Later that chilly morning the night train glided into Zermatt station and ended its journey. The couple soon alighted filled with some nervous emotion but great excitement on this the first day of the remainder of their married life together. Their past life had slithered away like a slippery sloth without any lasting regrets from either, when they had boarded that night train, now as man and wife.
Now they could only enter and embrace the future with confidence and faith and with some trepidation. Their future-focused in the now approaching Germany that was finally arising out of the scandal and shame of its painful past.
Unbeknown to the happy couple an express train from Vienna had arrived only 30 minutes previously. One of the passengers alighting from the interior was a tall woman in her middle 30’s, dressed in a fashionable floor-length mink coat and matching hat. A pair of knee-length cherry red leather boots purchased in Prague completed her arranged appearance. A three quarter sized suitcase was her only luggage. She had not planned to remain too long. She found the weather acceptable after the shivering Siberian winters of which she knew too well. All else seemed tame to her constitution.
She had originally boarded the train at Moscow, changing at Vienna to arrive at this fashionable Swiss resort. On the one thousand mile journey, she mainly slept and planned her course of action.
Of average height, her face was still striking but with traces of suffering etched around her mouth. Her demeanour was determined and her green eyes had a cautious expression. Her hair was razored into a styled military but fashionably cut, giving the impression that she had served in the armed forces. Which in fact she had and excelled in with honour, later reaching required officer class whilst serving her party with distinction.
Her charm of which she had profuse reserves could be quickly extinguished like a light switch if needed into a cold calculation for survival. Any suspected enemy who challenged or impeded her purpose would be brushed aside like a fly and being quickly forgotten. Her name according to her passport was Bella Stavisky.
Previously through a sympathetic communist contact in the Munich police, she had heard that one of the immediate circle surrounding Heinrich Himmler had perhaps been responsible for the disappearance of her brother Leon Stavisky. This was a man known only as Walter Kyper. And he with his new wife had arrived in Zermatt. If he were the man she had read and heard about he would not be leaving Zermatt alive!
Now in Zermatt, Major Bella Stavisky a serving officer of the N.K.V.D and later the K.G.B had been requested by her superiors in Moscow to travel to Switzerland to try and discover more about her brother’s suspicious disappearance. And this man Kyper might JUST be involved.
To her many envious enemies, they complained she was a professional predator practising her profession with pride. She, however, would claim that she was just a proud patriot and only serving her party and her country with loyalty. But now she was simply an impassioned woman and with a personal mission to discover the truth about her brother Leon. Simply, was he dead or alive?
If revealed either way then she hoped a suspect was about to be exposed and the truth would be presented to her? She had no doubt of what she would do to him if her information was correct. Her mission and if necessary was to inflict revenge on that guilty man, which she could and would inflict as any surgeon extracting a cancerous tumour. Skilfully and slowly with a favoured sharpened fine-tuned blade.
To be continued…..
G. Patrick Battell