Munich Nights Chapter, 13: “Zermatt And Its Consequences”
For Walter, the arrival into the enchanting town of Zermatt would never be obliterated from his memory even ninety-eight years later. For him, it was the first time he had departed from Germany.
For Karin, Zermatt was also a delight to visit and explore. She had previously travelled to this and to other European countries frequently for sports and social events.
In fact, it had been in Berne she had completed some years before in the downhill skiing event but then sadly failed to qualify for the German team.
A decorated horse-driven carriage awaited the passengers from their arriving train. The smiling driver stepped forward and enquired, “Frau and Herr Kyper?” Then securing them both under heavy woven blankets into an enclosed sleigh, he tapped Henri the horse gently with his whip and the animal obediently trotted towards their hotel down the Bahnhofstrasse. And with the accompanying sleigh bells it was all very romantic they both agreed. All that was missing thought Walter was the yodelling and a kitsch Swiss clock!
In the distance, the hotel stood proud and defiant with the Swiss flag and the hotel flags fluttering side by side in unison.
On arrival and with a friendly running commentary from their driver concerning the town’s varied history (although Karin knew all about its past from a previous visit, she decided however not inform Walter) they then arrived at the fashionable Hotel De La Rue.
Upon arrival, a welcoming doorman attired in traditional Alpine attire helped them down from the sleigh and escorted them into the hotel carrying their luggage.
The hotel and its crowded foyer seemed to revolve around the main white leather padded desk. Four Doric pillars were situated on either side.
The imposing desk, due to an ingenious mechanical contraption placed under floor allowed if and when required, it to be lowered to the floor beneath. A sliding floor was then utilised to cover the space used by the desk.
Then on a small rail track was used to relocate the desk to rise into the foyer again. This was to help with crowd control. There had even been plans drawn up by an engineer to construct another desk using the same hydraulic system to be used if needed to help with the overflow of arriving guests, especially during the skiing season.
Seen suspended over the main desk was a bronze shield bearing the distinctive De La Rue design with the gothic initials displayed in red. These were also clearly embedded into the sunken marble floor.
A coloured cascading water fountain was performing by the entrance to the ballroom. A stone replica of a marmot had been secured onto its base and with over a hundred of the stone creature being depicted and in around the town’s foliage.
Yet taking pride of place in the lobby and placed on mock mountain ledge was the statue of the explorer Sir Edward Whymper, the first mountaineer to ascend the mighty Matterhorn in 1865. Someone had placed a stuffed marmoset on his left shoulder. He who many claims placed the town on the international map. It had been suggested by a devotee in the 1930’s to rename the mountain Whymperhorn, but this suggestion never came to fruition.
Now laughing, excited guests were arriving and departing many with or without their skiing apparatus. More seem to be arriving noticed an ever observant Walter due to his Munich police training.
Clustered around the foyer were small tables with bleached white table clothes all proudly bearing the distinctive hotel logo. Assorted newspapers, both local and international were displayed for the guests in racks. Walter noticed both the party papers were placed upon the Wall Street Journal and the London Times. Heinrich would have found that very amusing.
Then after the obligatory register signing, they were welcomed by Herr Hoffman the ever obliging manager who offered Karin a beautiful bouquet of roses with a deep bow.
“My favourite” she informed him with a sincere smile. He then accompanied them personally to the bridal suite, bowed presented the rooms and other extra comforts courtesy of Mr De La Rue personally and then silently departed.
Then they were now finally alone in a suite that almost defied description, it was so beautiful. They were exhausted yet delighted to be alone after the last frenetic twenty-four hours.
The suite was dominated by a Jean Renoir painting depicting ‘the Piazza San Marco Venice’ firmly secured, lit and placed above a marble fireplace that framed a merrily burning fire. Apparently Snr. De La Rue had made provisions for it to be removed from his personal art collection in Liechtenstein and be transported under armed guard for the appreciation of his special guests. Today Walter and Karin were those special honoured guests to view this timeless masterpiece.
They were drawn immediately towards a shaded balcony and there before their eyes stood the majestic Matter horn that somehow seemed to stand guard over Zermatt like a sentinel. Forever commanded to protect its people and their prosperity.
In the corner stood a gilt-edged Bechstein piano circa 1875. Its lid now closed. Yet reams of music had once been placed upon its mahogany surface awaiting winged fingers to explore and appreciate its romantic resolution. It was reputed that the famous polish prince of the piano, Jan Paderewski had himself performed on these very sacred ivory keys, especially for Greta Garbo and Leopold Stokowski when they had visited him.
Karin naturally gravitated herself to it then sat down and opened the lid, paused, then played the opening exquisite notes of the love duet from Tristan and Isolde O Sink Hernieder, Nacht der Liebe.
The theme was unknown to Walter’s still untrained musical ear. Yet its search and discovery of the elixir of love through this musical portrait performed by her stirred a need and passion in him for Karin. Simply could this beautiful creature really be his wife?
A wave of love descended over him like a swirling fog that he could not contain nor conceal. He walked over to her and placed his hand on her shoulder and brushed her lustrous perfumed hair away from her naked neck. He leaned over and placed his lips into the warmth of her neck. Slowly then her breathing accelerated as she turned to him placing her hand behind his head and drew him down towards her. Their lips met and they kissed.
He leaned over and closed the lid of the piano silently. He then aided her to her feet and kissed her face. Looking him in the eyes she said softly with tenderness: “My sweet, my darling. I love you … thank you for entering into my life. I…” He silenced her words by gently placing his finger on her lips by responding: “Hush, don’t speak … it is I who must thank you my darling for all that you have brought to me.”
She then gently placed his other hand on her heart: “I will never forget how you looked yesterday and how when you entered my life … so suddenly you changed it forever. My darling Karin this our special day and the way you look this hour I will remember until the day I die.”
She looked at him with love but no more words were spoken by either. Then she led him unresisting towards the bedroom and there he gently closed the bedroom door behind them and to all of the outside world.
In the next few hours, Karin and Walter discovered a tender desire for each other that neither could or would ever imagine had existed. A future love without each other seemed impossible and neither would ever desire it. All the agitation of the anxious post-wedding hours had dissolved like a vanilla ice cream on a June summer day.
“Now my sweet we are indeed truly one” she breathed into his ear after they consummated their love. And now their future life together was about to commence. Both were to stay true to the promises that they had made to each other. And neither would betray each other’s trust and love.
Weeks earlier she had discovered a poem by Walt Whitman. Now she recited it to Walter with love and it was received with love by him:
‘I celebrate myself;
And what I assume you shall assume;
For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you.’
And to remember the occasion Karin had lovingly presented him with an inscribed Mont Blanc fountain pen. She had also given him her heart. And that token of love would journey everywhere with him in the long uncertain years ahead. With or without her she hoped?
Some hours later when Walter had departed in search of two much needed iced Perrier glasses of water. Karin remembered the secret that she had shared with Heinrich and the Gorings and not so long ago either to orchestrate a meeting between Walter and herself. That liaison had, to everyone’s surprise, become fortuitous to both of them.
So now she speculated as she dressed, was it a dangerous decision to keep it hidden from him and would the truth be revealed? Had she betrayed his trust? She hoped not. Betrayal often forgiven, never forgotten. Funnily enough, she recalled that old saying from her school days when her mother repeated regularly to her and Ingrid ‘oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive.’
Now her lustrous hair lay splayed across the silk pillows, across the distinctive emblem of the De La Rue red embroidered logo. This was arranged on all the hotel pillowcases and fitted sheets. And had been beautifully hand finished by a large Spanish gypsy family in Cordoba in the Andalusia region.
Karin now pondered again that a stage-managed robbery had inadvertently delivered this man whom she had willingly married, into her then fragile life. She then decided she would keep that secret from him, well, for now, she reasoned, until a possible opportunity presented itself to her. Yet she was in no urgency to divulge the truth unless he enquired about it. She doubted that this would happen just yet and hopefully not on their honeymoon!
Later when Walter appeared with water and biscuit and settled on the edge of the bed, he informed her that Ueli from the Munich hotel had asked the reception desk to deliver a bottle of Krug, together with a handwritten note to their suite. He had requested the pleasure of their company that evening to dine with him later. He would also be delighted to show them the sights of Zermatt and if convenient he would be waiting in the foyer at six.
“Heinrich thought that he might be a valuable asset to the party in Switzerland in the future” explained Walter.
“If Heinrich claims he will be, then he will be!” she said with a smile ruffling his hair.
Then they discussed what they would do for the rest of the day before she later bathed and dressed.
Karin later using the hotel stationery composed several letters home to her father and Arabella and of course Carin.
It would apparently be a day of exploring and shopping as they wandered around this mystical alpine town.
Karin soon delighted in the ambience of the town that had not prepared for a war in over century nor threatened any family nation in Europe with a raised fist. This they were later informed proudly by Ueli.
The old architecture of the buildings and conduct of its people harkened back to an age of civility and respectful tolerance still admired by a hurried world he later maintained as well.
She then decided on her preference of gifts to purchase and take home. She first purchased for Adolph a snow globe of the Matterhorn. She later learned from Eva Braun that he boasted over thirty such souvenirs. And all were displayed in his study and all were dusted diligently daily she was informed, but not by her!
For Carin what else but a coveted Rolex Guilloche ladies dial wrist watch with her initials etched onto the magnetic base.
For Hermann, a shaving brush with fine silver tip badger bristles also to be engraved. She also included a bottle of bay rum cologne as an afterthought for him to slice his face with after shaving.
Papa would be delighted she hoped with several boxes of Nicaraguan (not Cuban) cigars as well as a silver Zippo lighter also to add to his other numerous collection.
Her friend Arabella would be gifted with a desirable Aspinal of London maroon silk scarf. Karin’s eye was caught by a novelty key chain of a smiling marmoset playing an old upright piano as well. This she was sure her friend would be delighted with.
Alfred and Gertrude had not been overlooked with both being rewarded with chocolates and biscuits. She hoped all of the chosen gifts would be appreciated.
During the morning in the town, she had discreetly excused her self from her husband and later purchased for him a silver Mont Blanc set of cufflinks, that she later had engraved for him.
Her own mother on her own wedding day many years ago had presented a Dunhill fountain pen of distinction to her husband. And he frequently often joked that he must have signed over twenty thousand medical prescriptions with it. And the pen never failed him once, he laughed, nor had the ink run out!
As for those Swiss folk who had located and been welcomed years ago either for safety or financial purposes, they had certainly been blessed by what this country had to offer them.
Now as she gazed at the tubs of delicious coloured ice cream displayed through a frosty window, one could be tempted and become quickly addicted to their enticing flavours. But she quickly fought the urge to indulge herself.
She then later paused outside an inviting bistro, entered the seated herself and ordered a milky coffee from the smiling waiter but declined a slice of gateaux. The Swiss snow she had noticed in her wanderings around the town as it fell across and settled on her face displayed a somehow different texture when examined and somehow tasted differently from the Munich snowfalls.
And what of Walter her husband who had now entered silently into her thoughts and more importantly into her life? She again looked for the hundredth time at the gleaming ring that he had gently placed on her willing finger only a few hours ago.
She had even secretly practised composing her new name on hotel paper napkins before discarding them.
Is this how true love arrived simply unexpected and in her case unprepared she wondered? Yet it had all occurred so swiftly, and she now later realised possibly at the right time.
She remembered the pain and shame of what she had endured of what had happened at the nail-bitten hands of Stanley Cohen at the Conservatoire years before. She would and could never forgive him for the betrayals that he had subjected her to. So much of that venom that had invaded her scarred system had passed towards his people, the Hebrews. The so-called chosen race.
Yet a Catholic bishop years ago with whom she had discussed this subject had named them ‘as Christ-killers,’ and they would bear the shame for eternity and of guilt for what they had wickedly performed against the Prince of Peace.” Cohen had almost destroyed her young life and her sanity she now understood that. But she had survived.
Then Carin had amazingly entered her life like a rescuing lifeguard pulling her back to reality from the sea of uncertainty and maybe suicide. Karin remembered how her friend’s own first marriage had been an emotional avalanche that had drained her too of emotion. And how Carin had informed Karin about her own protracted pain that was drawn out in her own divorce settlement. This had been so acrimonious. Was this what love was when it arrived from that mythical realm that could only offer passion mixed with pain.
She selected a chilled drink from the menu for no particular reason and looked up at the mountain and speculated as to the innumerable secrets that had been petitioned to its faceless peak and for most would never be answered. And to her own requests, the rock remanded frustratingly silent. Then she caught the young Italian waiter’s eye, finished her drink and requested her bill.
Although Walter respected the Swiss and their traditions, he was obviously politically appraising the opportunities his own party would or could be offered in the near future if the two were joined in a political pact. With sixty-five per cent of the population speaking the German language they both certainly had a great deal in common to celebrate. It all seemed promising he ruminated.
The Swiss seemed to him to be racially pure and not tainted by foreign dialectics or messy inbreeding.
After the English and their historic traditions, Heinrich then respected the enlightened Swiss. Although for some strange reason he had created time for understanding Scottish and appreciated all he learned about their history and culture. Walter would have hoped indeed expected to have both of these races aligned to the party if a future protracted war with the Soviets ever erupted. Which he fully expected to arrive in his own lifetime.
Coincidently at the same time when Karin had finally selected a gift for Walter (the cufflinks), he had been pondering about the ring bearing the final tragic message of the young murdered Russian Princess Maria as a lasting token of his love to his new bride.
A silver graphite lacquered framed photograph of the princess would proudly be displayed on Karin’s dressing table in their Munich bedroom until the day she died, having sustained injuries, many years later.
Later with the precision of a Swiss watch, Herr Grimm eagerly presented himself in the foyer of the hotel to greet his honoured guests. A man who was only content when in the hotel and unhappy when he returned to his solitary room, with not even the luxury of a pet to welcome him.
A strong handshake was offered to Walter and for ‘the lady Karin,’ a posy of purple Swiss tulips. May I welcome you both to my country.” His charm would become infectious to both of them as the evening happily progressed.
He had selected for their culinary approval a discreet restaurant called The Golden Bough. From the exterior, they noticed that the restaurant seemed inauspicious. Yet once inside this cloistered inviting enclosure, as they discarded their heavy coats, all changed to their surprise and delight.
This establishment was a concealed gem that few tourists knew existed or had stumbled across.
A dozen small tables were placed around a half moon table set in centre stage. Chintz table clothes were displayed with empty roped Cinzano bottles being used now as candle holders. An overlay of candle wax clung to most of the empty bottle tops. And each table boasted two small flags these being Italy and Switzerland.
A young Irish guitarist named Luna serenaded the diners with selected compositions by the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla. This was the first time that Karin had discovered this composer’s compositions. She thought them delightful to the ear and made a note to see if they had been transcribed for the piano.
After being seated at the head of the shaped table by a young waiter who he seemed to recognize, aperitifs were ordered.
Walter noticed a large framed picture of the rugged Rocky Mountains in the state of Colorado situated near to the raised stage. He wondered what the relevance was to Zermatt if any?
Then their host for the next ten minutes regaled them with the history of this discreet but delightful dinette. And everybody seemed to be having a good time Karin noticed.
According to Ueli, it seemed ninety years ago or so the story goes, a young penniless Italian boy from the Po Valley by the wonderful name of Mario Marco who was himself an amateur rock climber, had decided one day to visit Zermatt and hopefully to ascend the Matterhorn himself. But less than halfway up he realised he had been crushed by her cruel elements.
On looking around he witnessed (in 1889) crowds of other tourists attempting the same exercise and failing. On descending to the lower meadows of the mountain Mario had realized that there was just one small hostelry, that was trying, but unable to cater for so many visiting guests to that region.
He returned home, arranged a small loan from his father and a year later he just about established the Golden Bough. Later he added required guest chalets in the region and opened another Golden Bough in Lausanne and Berne in the following pre and later post-war years.
By 1929 his great-grandson also named Mario held the reins of the Mario empire in his hands. Interestingly he had earlier enrolled at the University of Rome to study politics, philosophy and economics. Whilst there were introduced to Benito Mussolini. And even later being involved with that historic Roman march in 1922. Later when Mussolini, as the new Prime Minister of Italy was asked to form a Government, it was always assumed that Mario would be offered a government portfolio. But surprisingly he declined the offer from his friend and returned to continue nourishing the then expanding family business.
He and ‘Il Duce’ as Mussolini now proudly styled himself, the two men remained firm friends and he would frequently be seen in the restaurant dining or staying when permitted, in the much favoured Garibaldi chalet as a guest of Mario.
“So don’t be surprised if you see the great man dining here and maybe alone at that!” Ueli announced to the wide-eyed couple.
“How marvellous both Carin Goring and myself and her husband are great admirers of Il Duce as is also Herr Hitler” enthused Karin with now avid eyes alight with excitement at what she had just learned.
Later over coffee and liquors, Walter hoped to learn more about Ueil and the Swiss happily obliged.
He had been born in Davos the second son of a local bespoke tailor. His father had hoped he would continue in the family trade, yet the young man had always been fascinated by the hotel industry.
When he could, as a student, he would seek summer vacation employment in the numerous hotels in Davos. Later after eagerly studying hotel management at the prestigious Les Roches situated in the Canton Lucerne, he had finally found the courage to write a letter to Herr De La Rue enquiring about a vacancy. An immediate return letter from the great man advised him to find employment in the hotel industry thereby gaining valuable experience. Then when he felt equipped, the company management would consider him for a trainee management role.
“In fact today Herr De La Rue has a series of ninety-nine hotels worldwide and I intend to manage the elusive hundredth one day,” he said with conviction.
“Where will that be?” asked Karin with a raised eyebrow.
“I will let you into a little secret Karin. It will be in the city of Singapore.”
“Amazing and when will this be?” asked Walter, not sure where Singapore was.
“Very soon I hope in the next year maybe? After all, Singapore can only offer the famous Raffles hotel and Herr De La rue suspects it is time for some serious competition! And I tell you something Walter, whatever Herr De La rue casts his eyes upon he eventually gets … well almost!
“Have you met him?” interjected Karin.
“I have indeed and so have you both.” They looked puzzled at this.
“He was at your wedding in Munich some days ago.”
Both Walter and Karin looked at each other still puzzled.
“Herr De La Rue stood next to me when Herr Himmler was talking to us both. Remember now?”
They both remembered that a stranger in a double-breasted pinstriped suit had indeed been there talking seriously to Heinrich on that hectic morning. Walter had also noticed the distinctive yellow polka dot bow tie the man sported. Rather unusual to be seen worn in Munich. Maybe in Beverley Hills or Broadway?
Ueli laughed and leaned forward saying quietly: “His personal wedding gift to you both was offering the bridal suite here in his Zermatt hotel as his honeymoon present. A generous and remarkable man whom I hope soon will be my future employer.”
He sat back and surveyed the guests still arriving into the almost crowded bistro.
‘But I thought papa had paid for everything?…’ she said quietly to herself. Then remembered he had declined that suggestion when they were previously seated in her father’s office.
They then discussed their plans for climbing the Matterhorn before sampling the unique Colombian coffee. Walter had never experienced its flavour before and relished its tang. The lone guitarist had ceased performing and had discretely deserted the stage. Then surprisingly a large mahogany RCA Victor Victrola phonograph was wheeled onto the empty stage by several of the kitchen staff. A shellac record was carefully placed onto its velvet turntable and from its speaker erupted the music of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony.
Karin clapped her hands in excitement proclaiming: “I know this! It’s the 6th symphony of Beethoven. Why I learned it at the conservatory and” as she looked at them both with raised eyebrows. “I conducted the second movement in a rehearsal orchestra and I was very good I’LL have you know if I do say so myself. The orchestra and I commenced together on the downbeat and I’m proud to say we all finished together, so there!” she said proudly.
She summoned a passing waiter to enquire who the named conductor was who featured on the box set. He returned carrying the cardboard sleeve for her to inspect.
“I knew it! It’s maestro Boehm. I knew it Walter” she hugged him and kissed his cheeks she was so excited at this discovery.
“So no ambitions to be a conductor?” asked Ueli pleased at her excitement.
“No, I’m afraid it’s a man’s world; always has been and I suppose it always will be?” she replied with a definite sigh at her speculation.
“Rather like politics?” suggested Walter just for the sake of joining the conversation and for no special reason.
“More so than politics. I cannot see a woman Prime Minister or Chancellor in my lifetime” remarked a despairing Karin looking again at that picture depicting the Rocky Mountains and wondering what its relevance was if any to Zermatt.
They discussed the local attributes about this fairytale town setting which prompted Walter to tentatively enquire.
“So many secrets are hidden under and around the Matterhorn I expect,” said Walter seeking any information.
“What town does not harbour its secrets?” replied Ueli slightly correcting him.
Then Karin excused herself to seek out the cloakroom to rearrange her hair and repair her smudged makeup.
A few minutes later a tall attractive woman in her mid-thirties dressed in a blue crushed velvet dress entered whilst smoking a black Sorbonne cigarette. Both women stood in front of the mirror surveying their faces. Karin brushing her hair, with the other woman unscrewing her lipstick, then looking into the mirror at Karin saying apologetically: “I’m so sorry for the smoke, I hope it’s not annoying you?”
“Oh no, my father was a cigarette smoker, then he switched to a pipe finally settling for cigars” she laughed.
“I know it’s a filthy habit, isn’t it? I just wish I could stamp out the desire. I suppose It’s a slow suicide really. And eventually death will claim each and every one of us so why make the job any easier?” Then she added as an afterthought.
“Maybe one-day smoking will be banned in all public places?” she laughed, then genuinely enquired: “Are you here for the skiing?” slowly stubbing out the smouldering cigarette into a raised ashtray.
“Oh no, I am on my honeymoon” Karin replied and for some reason displayed her wedding ring with mock pride.
“Are you here for the skiing yourself ?” she then enquired putting her hairbrush away waiting for an answer.
“Oh no skiing never really appealed to me, much too dangerous, but congratulations on your wedding” she laughed.
She then informed Karin that she herself was visiting an ailing aunt who for fifty years had been a nun in a cloistered religious order only permitted to speak an hour a day. When the convent ceased her aunt somehow ended up in a home and now will talk every day nineteen to the dozen continually, but religiously observes an hour’s silence.” It’s true but very sad and such a waste of life, after all, we only get one life given to us, don’t we?”
“Yes live every minute my late mother used to say because you never know when it might be your last,” said Karin rather pensively, knowing it was a cliché she despised hearing or using it herself. And the conversation was becoming rather maudlin for her taste.
The two women exchanged a few friendly final words then offered goodbyes. Karin had rather taken to the women for some reason and suggested maybe they might see each other again. Bella then watched her walk away thinking to herself so this was the wife of the man she suspected who may have been involved with her brother’s disappearance? And if so? ‘my dear, you will soon be a very merry widow.’
She snapped her handbag shut lit a new cigarette and returned to the crowded room her eyes searching for the couple through a mist of blue cigarette fug. After seeing the three of them, she returned to her table glancing yet again at that picture of the Rocky Mountain. She quietly summoned a passing waiter and requested to be moved to another table, stating she was in a draught. He obliged her unusual request and seated her nearer to where she hoped to observe the couple hopefully without them noticing her.
Seen seated in a comfortable pose with two men was the young woman she had talked to in the restroom. She now looked rather inebriated Bella suspected. She suspected the man seated closer to her was probably her husband. She had also noticed a gleaming wedding ring which confirmed her suspicions. She herself despised men wearing rings. Far too effeminate for her taste.
The other man sported no such trivial decorations. She observed that Kyper if that was his name, was a clean-shaven man with what was sometimes referred to as rugged features. With thick coal black hair that was brushed back from his face and flattened with a pomade. She suspected a height of 1.77 metres?
His upper body and posture were certainly muscled and toned. Perhaps in his youth, he had toiled on the land? She noticed as well that he silently observed everyone who entered and exited the restaurant, seemingly making a mental note of them.
Yes certainly a despised policeman, her well-tuned instincts warned her. As a dear old nun had informed her years ago in a shared prison cell ‘I can smell them a mile off.’ And hadn’t she herself frequently been at the receiving end of their own calling cards with fists and boots when they arrested and questioned her? Then she had been backhanded and beaten almost into an unconscious state and almost drowned in their stinking prison cells. She still bore the scars both mentally and physically with two torn out thumbnails that never sprouted again. But she was a survivor. Now however she was beginning to doubt if her brother was or ever had been one himself?
The other man had now slowly turned and summoned a passing waiter perhaps placing an order? He then spoke quietly to him and they shared a joke as if they were acquainted with each other in a familiar way. Then he turned back to the couple at his table and topped up their glasses. Maybe this man was employed in the hospitality industry and was not a police colleague? In which case, he would not feature in her retaliatory revenge.
Revenge she had been told was best served cold.
“I have arranged through respectable financial brokers in Davos Platz and in Zurich to deposit substantial amounts of foreign currency to be secured in now dormant bank accounts. They can only be activated under the name of Heinrich Hitzinger with account number 912919936. These were specially requested by Reichfuher Himmler personally.”
Ueli then passed a small sealed envelope with these recorded details to Walter to take back to Munich. Also added to the sealed instructions was that a secret word from Heinrich would activate the account for immediate transfers or withdrawals of funds.
He also proposed it might be a profitable exercise to perform a preliminary search for land and property to purchase in either Berne and Geneva or both he suggested. He explained that he had an immediate family member now serving as a police officer in Zug who was sympathetic to the cause.
“So please assure the Reichfuhrer that all is in preparation as he had requested.”
An air of satisfaction was now seen in Ueli’s face. He would later willingly perform many other delicate and lucrative tasks for the Reichfuhrer.
Walter realised then that the party had obtained a useful friend in Ueli and he looked forward to working with him in the future.
Then Karin quietly informed Ueli of Heinrich’s personal request that a small swastika pendant is placed securely on the mighty mountain. Did he have any suggestions? The three were preparing to depart the now crowded, noisy, smoky restaurant. With Karin now feeling rather faint because of the environment.
He paused, considered it carefully and replied confidently.
“Yes I believe I could be of assistance and of course it will be an important and symbolic gesture for the party’s success. Leave it all to me, Karin, it will be done.”
And with that promise, they prepared to depart into the much needed alpine air. Karin squeezed his hand in gratitude and Walter patted him on the shoulder. They then selected assorted Swiss and Belgian chocolates from a silent waiter placed before them on an orange plate. Both the men then popped one into their mouths and discarded the embossed restaurant wrappers. Karin, however, placed hers into her handbag as a souvenir of the evening as a sentimental gesture.
Then as the three made their way through the tables, Ueli’s coat tail snaked across the nearest table. He turned and noticed a lone woman deep in thought. Her half-empty wine glass splashed like a trail of blood across the white starched table cloth. He apologised and quickly attempted, but failed to halt its flow with a discarded serviette.
The woman said something slowly rising from her seat, then noticing Karin she mouthed a silent ‘hello’ and Karin mouthed a silent ‘sorry’ in return with a pained expression on her face. Something about the woman peaked Walter’s professional inspection, but just for a minute before a concerned waiter appeared with a towel. And started to soak up the stain causing Walter to neatly step aside.
They departed the bistro and offered their final farewells. With Ueili promising to arrange the mountain’s ascent in the morning and to hopefully accomplish the requested pendant placing ceremony, on its timeless rugged tiers.
The couple then strolled slowly back to the hotel now arm in arm. The white draped mountain was heavenly to behold offering a beautiful backdrop to a wonderful shared evening. And all that was missing was a choir of celestial children thought Walter rather cynically.
He then turned to her saying: “I didn’t know that my wife was a conductor? with a mock raised eyebrow.
“There are lots of things you don’t know about me my sweet!” she cooed, having inadvertently emphasised the last word for some reason.
Then that secret that she had withheld from Walter entered her mind but she quickly dismissed it.
Then she started to hum the second movement of the Pastoral symphony as they walked. Walter refrained from adding his contribution simply not caring for its farmyard themes.
On arrival at the De La Rue, an anxious concierge informed them that there had been an urgent call for Frau Auer-Kyper from her father. And would she please return his call.
She was directed to a small phone box in the lobby and nervously placed her call to Munich. Walter waited outside to learn what had happened. According to her father, Karin informed him Carin had been taken ill. He would normally not have bothered her or Walter on this their honeymoon, but he had suggested to her it could be important for them both to return.
The obliging concierge arranged after Karin’s insistence to reserve two seats if possible on the first-morning train departing for Munich. He was sorry for any inconvenience and offered to send up some coffee and sandwiches.
They both made a subdued return to their hotel suite to begin packing. It seemed now their brief honeymoon was finished before it had even really started.
Walter speculated if this would be an important recurring problem for them both with Carin’s precarious state of health becoming even more frequent.
Karin herself had only concern for her close friend’s sudden relapse and was already mentally preparing a period of convalescence for her. Baden-Baden had previously been suggested she remembered. She would pursue its possible healing benefits with her father on their return home.
A mood of disappointment had noticeably descended on them both and had pervaded the room dampening the couples’ cheerfulness. There seemed no other option but to sadly conclude that their honeymoon was over. Maybe a few days later might be offered to them Water quietly suggested?
“Maybe” announced Karin in a subdued voice as she deposited her unworn clothing into her open suitcase. Yet Walter had noticed earlier in the hotel lobby that she was looking exhausted. Perhaps from the strain of the last twenty-four hours had drained some of her usual vitality.
Unknown to the couple was that they had been silently watched most of the evening in the restaurant by a tall blonde haired woman with Slavic features.
She had been seated only a few a tables away from Ueil and his guests and was able to hear snatches of their conversation and interpret their gestures.
She had of course deliberately and successfully orchestrated the acquaintance of Karin in the restroom that evening. Her orders from Moscow were to report back particularly concerning a suspect named Walter Kyper possibly involved with her brother’s disappearance. She was annoyed that she was unable to lip read, as she watched the three people enjoying each others company. And in fact, only some months earlier Comrade Stalin had instructed police chief comrade Menzhinsky to order that overseas agents be immediately taught this important espionage skill.
She had cringed when a Beethoven acetate record was played and with it being the Pastoral even more so. She remembered how she had despised it since her school days when a teacher had subjected her class to listen to it repeatedly as she pounded the school piano. And this beautiful woman had even attempted to conduct with a butter knife of all things; very strange behaviour she thought!
Then after the accident with the spilt red wine she had watched the couple walk back towards the De La Rue. She then selected a black Sobranie cigarette from her silver case, slowly turned around and walked away to her own hotel in the fading evening light. She still somehow suspected, although still not fully convinced, that this man Kyper was connected to the disappearance of her brother Leon.
She had acquired her instincts for survival in the blood and pain of the Russian revolution. And they had never deserted her. Since then she had religiously worshipped at the cathedral of communism. Eagerly devouring the tenets of its faith expounded by Marx and Lenin, but not that Jew Trotsky.
She promised herself she would avenge her brother’s death. Whoever that culprit may be. She would now, however, await further orders from Comrade Stalin. He always knew and understood what was appropriate for her and the country. Both her brother Leon and herself had been a couple of the few friends Stalin would claim to have acquired over the years. And he certainly flaunted few of them as she well knew.
But she could and would wait. Patience, after all, had always been one of her virtues. Then in the fading light of the night, she walked pensively back to her pension to prepare for the possible long journey home to Moscow if so ordered. And to her future appointment with Comrade Stalin in his tobacco filled fifth-floor party office that she and her brother had visited and been entertained so many times in the past. All three had previously suffered years as unwilling ‘guests’ in the Tsar’s prisons. There they had become acquainted with each other quickly establishing an unbreakable bond. And a devoted distaste for the Romanovs and the capitalist system. The pain had been a permanent presence in those dungeons of death that would never be deleted from her mind. Bella had then and always delighted in hearing her brother recounting stories of the last months and days and hours and minutes of the Romanovs doomed lives. She had always despised the three spoilt princesses and the cripple boy, as well as the hen, pecked Tsar and his German hussy wife.
Two hours after the exhausted couple had collapsed in their suite at the De La Rue hotel, the insistent annoying ringing of a telephone bell shattered their bedroom sojourn. Karin’s head was buried under two heavy down pillows enabling her to be oblivious to all outside sound. Walter a lighter sleeper reached haphazardly for the annoying phone almost tipping it over with a carafe of water onto the deep Persian carpet.
“Hullo,” he asked thinking it might be Heinrich.
“Herr Kyper this is Heinz the night manager.” He had just incidentally returned from reciting the mourners Kaddish with his seven brothers in memory of their late mother Deborah.
“I am so sorry to disturb you but I have an important call for you from a Herr Hermann Goring from Munich. Is it too late for you to accept it?”
Heinz always suffered trepidation with any late night emergency calls phoned through from the front of house desk. Some years ago he had phoned a Spanish count, then a guest in the favoured Churchill suite in the early hours of the morning with an emergency call from Madrid.
It was later learned that the sixty-eight-year-old count was in the process of strangling his wife.
“Call me later I’m busy” he had shouted pausing what he was doing. Then Heinz had heard a muffled female cry for “HELP.” He immediately alerted the house detective and murder had just about been prevented. No news would ever reach the press. The hotel prided itself on its discretion for all of its guests.
Karin now awake mouthed a silent “who is it” at him. He leaned over tussled her hair and placed a finger on her enquiring lips.
He whispered “Hermann” and placed the ornate phone next to his right ear.
A minute later the jocular tone of Hermann descended down the telephone line as if he were sitting on the counterpane of the bed.
“Hello Walter, it’s Hermann, sorry to disturb you, it’s nothing to worry about and apologies for interrupting your honeymoon, but quite simply there is no need for you both to return home tomorrow. The fact is Carin is now feeling so much better I’m glad to report. And both Carin and I insist that you remain at the hotel and enjoy that beautiful Zermatt scenery. Of course, we both wish we could be there with you and sample that marvellous Swiss air that would offer Carin the world of good I’m sure … but there you are maybe another time.”
Karin now reached over and took the phone gently away from Walter asking for Carin. She soon herself came on to the line.
“Carin, my dear, how are you … really? … oh I’m so pleased to hear that. I really was worried. In fact, we both were. Now you are sure you don’t want me to come home? I will if you need me? Oh good, and yes everything here is superb. The hotel? Oh yes, it’s is out of this world … all right my dear lots of love to you both.”
She said few more intimate inaudible words to Hermann and slowly replaced the receiver saying sadly.
“Oh poor Carin, she does suffer so much and never complains. Anyway, Papa called to see her and offered her a little pain relief that seems to have worked. So fingers crossed.”
She threw on her dressing gown and wandered into the sitting room, selected a pear sliced it, then opening the window to became a spectator on the balcony as she gazed up at this mountain that dominated the town even in the still of the night. This mountain that defied all explanation had awed thousands before her and would continue to do so and somehow offered comfort that all was well here both in Zermatt and Munich.
Now that this unexpected crisis had been happily averted, Walter phoned down to reception and cancelled that morning train. He then joined her on the balcony and she reached up taking both of his hands placing them over her shoulders saying: “Oh darling I so happy that Carin is comfortable and safe … but that’s Carin for you” she sighed. ” She just will never submit to defeat. And now my sweet we happy two can continue to enjoy this wonderful period of our married life. Just you and I and that..” she laughed pointing at the mountain!
She then turned and cupped his face and kissed him. Then they retired to the bedroom but not before she finished her fruit. They then later sat on the bed and discussed nothing in particular and everything. Just content to share and savour in each other’s love for each other.
The next morning as he enjoyed an inviting breakfast in the Hotel Roosevelt room, he observed Karin scrutinizing the newspapers. Years later this would become for her a religious morning ritual at their own breakfast table in Munich. Only then a pair of tortoiseshell framed reading glasses would be perched onto the tip of her nose. He also now noticed she had eaten very little from the meal placed before her. He watched her merely playing with an omelette just pushing it around her plate. And what she had sampled would just possibly feed a sparrow, just sipping occasionally from her morning cup of Swiss coffee, her eyes glued to the headlines.
He searched the far from busy occupied breakfast room but nothing of interest awakened his instinct or captured his attention. He then watched three waiters standing in the corner talking softly and one exchanging money. One of them seemed to be talking excitedly about something with the other two men who were looking shocked at what they were hearing.
He speculated if one had paid a visit to the local crooked casino where all the roulette wheels were ‘fixed’? Or perhaps maybe it was some sad family news just arrived from home for one of the waiters? Or maybe some local smuggling ring dealing in alcohol and cigarettes that had just been brought over the border from Italy? Or perhaps religious antique artefacts that were destined for the far east from the ruins of Rome? He had heard that there was a lucrative trade in these frequent underhand dealings.
Walter gestured to one of the waiters who sauntered overlooking somewhat looked distracted to take his order.
He settled on ordering toast and requesting a pot of English marmalade and insisted on a brand that Heinrich always relished at his own breakfast table which he recommended to all family and friends.
Then he speculated if the ongoing unpredictable health of the countess would continue to encroach into their future married life? In the past, she had always performed to perfection the role of a loving older sister. Always caring and supporting a damaged younger Karin. Now he wondered if those roles would be reversed and for how much longer!
And had not doctor Auer confided in him how surprised he was that her health had survived for so long. Of course, this raised the obvious question of how Karin would emotionally react when that final heavy curtain descended on the fragile life of Carin Goring.
He knew she would obviously be devastated and was unsure as to how he would cope should her fragile mental health suffer and she experience another crisis. He decided he must discuss his concern with Hermann when they returned to Munich. Yet he himself must be fearing the worst for Carin in this uncertain period of his own life. Yet Walter understood that he was placing his own concerns over another man’s pain and the approaching grief of the loss of his beloved wife and staunchest of friends. They had experienced and suffered so much together in their married life. Now the days of Hermann’s marriage were numbered. He would now encounter and scale that dangerous German political horizon but grieving and alone.
Karin’s excited voice erupted into his thoughts by exclaiming: “Walter, Walter there is a wonderful review of our orchestra and maestro Boehm of a concert performed last night in Lausanne.
She started to read without naturally any interruption from him.
“Last night the musical soul of our city was graciously touched by the music offered by the Munich Philharmonic under the baton of maestro Boehm. Our city has been blessed in this musical miracle that only he can perform and we look forward to some further magical music from the maestro and the orchestra..”
She replaced the review then thought for a minute then announced: “Oh darling, I wish we could have been there. What a night it must have been.” She reached for another newspaper saying: “Now I wonder where they will be performing next?”
She reached for several other Swiss daily newspapers then began searching through their pages for information saying quietly to herself and to Walter: “I do so hope Carin really is feeling better and poor Hermann. Oh, he worries so much about her. He told me he would be devastated if anything happened to her. And Heinrich will also be wondering I’m sure if we have planted the pendant on the mountain for him?” All the time her eyes were marching over the arts pages as she sought information that would satisfy her quest.
Her mind he reasoned was rather akin to a red admiral butterfly forever on the move, settling everywhere and nowhere.
“My sweet!” she exclaimed with triumph: “You will never guess where the orchestra is next to perform?” In Interlaken! We really do need to acquire some tickets. Oh, I hope we can. I’m going to see what the manager can arrange … back later darling.”
With those words still spilling from her lips, she stood up and departed for the hotel lobby in search of an unsuspecting manager who somehow she hoped would acquire two concert tickets for them both.
Walter stood up and wandered over to where the three waiters were still deep in discussion. Their tone seemed to have changed somehow. He had heard the two words Pension Sonata and suicide.
He approached a long self-service table with embossed cups and saucers, assorted crockery, as well as jugs of steaming milk with silver sugar bowls sporting unusually coloured sugar cubes. Two permanent large hot water urns with taps were available on a help yourself basis. He prepared a cup of milky coffee whilst waiting and listening. Then his ear caught snatches of phrases such as ‘dead in a bed and not in his own’, ‘an empty whisky bottle’ and Pension Sonata.
He waited until two of the waiters departed to serve their beckoning guests and approached the third waiter enquiring as to what had happened. He explained he was a police officer with the Munich police force and could not help overhearing what had been said. His interest was piqued with the words ‘Pension Sonata and suicide.’ Then he showed the man his warrant card.
The young waiter was quick to explain.
“Well Herr, we have sadly learned this morning that Herr Max, proprietor of the Sonata Pension was discovered dead this morning partially…er naked in one of his bedrooms with a half-empty bottle of whisky in his hand. A terrible thing to happen.”
“The curious thing is that Herr Max could not drink alcohol having some allergy to it, so why we wonder why was he holding this half drunk bottle”? “It’s all very strange and we are all very upset, but very concerned of course. He was a popular man and always very fair with his staff. We waiters at the De La Rue find this very alarming but… ”
He became aware he was being summoned.
“I must go Monsieur, I am late with serving the breakfasts and the guests are getting impatient.” Walter thanked him and the man excused himself. He had learned enough from what he had heard.
Walter then stood pondering this unexpected news. Yet something was wrong and somehow he suspected it might just concern him. But how and why and where was the evidence?
His policeman’s instinct was climbing dangerously high rather akin to that mercury blob permanently sealed inside a thermometer. A flicker of the image of the woman then seated at the table last night was fired into his mind like a flare. And was that spilt blood red wine sign of a danger he should perhaps heed?
He sipped his coffee pensively and returned to his table where Karin was waiting for him with an excited smile. He learned that tickets had been procured for them both for the upcoming concert in Interlaken. She had noticed Walter now displayed a concerned look on his face but did not enquire why.
“Then we shall go, my love, if that’s what you want,” he announced with a kiss to her cheek. She would come to recognise that concerned pinched look etched into his face, many times in the forthcoming years.
They then decided to later explore this glacial wonderland with its seven-hundred-year-old history. The weather favoured their task. Later that morning they journeyed into the country to enjoy coffee and freshly baked warm pastries from a friendly konditorei. Against the background of the mountain, it was a delight both shared by both and would never be forgotten. Karin naturally snapped countless photographs.
Yet Walter still felt some niggling unease to do with the Sonata Pension owner’s suspected death. He was motivated to inform Heinrich on their return of what had occurred. He doubted the incident would have been reported in the German press. However he then quickly excused himself from Karin who had decided to return to their room to lie down. The glare from the mountain had caused her to suffer a continuing headache.
“It happens all the time” their old sleigh driver had informed them. He had been born in this very hamlet nearly ninety years ago being one of twelve boys. He was the only son left now and his wish was to die here and be buried in the shadow of this mountain he had come to know and love. They both liked him and had enjoyed his running commentary about this amazing but changeable landscape.
Finally, after being returned to their hotel they compensated him generously much to his embarrassment. Walter later placed a phone call to Munich and waited. Surprisingly after a swift connection, Heinrich picked up on the first ring and again his voice sounded as if in the adjacent hotel room. Must be Swiss technology thought Walter. Then he offered him an edited version of what had happened concerning the mysterious death of the popular hotel owner. Heinrich listened closely then declared with a chuckle: “You are the trained detective, Walter, you solve it and use some of my methods, but keep me informed of any further crucial developments.”
He paused to talk to someone close to him then came back saying: “I’ve got Adolph here with me and he sends his regards to you and to dear Karin and looks forward seeing you both when you get back … oh and he wants to hear all about the joys and delights of Zermatt. He says maybe he will retire there one day to paint and to breed German Shepherds.”
There was laughter from the two men in Munich.
“But as regards that other business you mentioned, just trust your instincts. However, I will make some discreet enquires myself within the Swiss National police force either in Berne or Zurich. And yes we still have acquired some loyal friends I’m glad to report. But definitely there is no point in treading on any local police toes, they may not appreciate it but.”
He paused again as if thinking about something then said quietly: “It might not be a bad idea Walter if you can pay a discreet visit to the railway station to learn who might have departed the town last night.”
Walter then related to him about the daily procession of the black neck goats that are herded through the town. Heinrich was delighted to hear about that unusual animal procession. He then requested some photographs for himself and perhaps Adolph when they returned to Munich. Maybe he hinted they would adopt this animal as the party mascot, he laughed. Rather like the American Republican party that featured an elephant of all things as their mascot. And a silly donkey for the Democrats. And then he was gone.
They spent the remainder of the day after Karin’s recovery sightseeing and enjoying an open sleigh ride being escorted around the town. Of special interest to them was visiting the old town and comparing the old with the new. The mountain museum with its Edward Whymper themes and the broken rope on display of the doomed climbers who accompanied him captured Karin’s attention causing her to photograph that historic rope.
In the evening they watched again with pleasure the ragged procession of those black goats again paraded and probably for the tourists’ sake through the town. Karin experimented with her new Leitz Wetzer Leica camera and took even more photographs to take home of this unique valley.
She even suggested half-heartedly about purchasing a friendly local Billy goat to stable in the family garden but suspected Gus would object when introduced to this new occupant. Walter agreed.
On arrival back at the hotel for a late supper, a sealed letter had been deposited for them to collect at the front desk. It was from Ueli stating that all was now arranged for their mountain ascent the next day. He would expect them in the hotel foyer at six am he apologised profusely for the early morning start but the mountain weather could be merciless for climbers but looked promising for the following morning.
Walter suffering insomnia that night walked into the dining area, opened the window and perched on the balcony’s soft lounger gazing at the Matterhorn in all its shrouded mystery. Yet his eyes were now attentive to all around him but they offered him no simple solution as to what was concerning him. That being the unexplained demise of that abstemious hotel owner somehow warning him to be cautious. But why and how did this affect him or his safety? Any man who did not imbibe alcohol or enjoy the grape but is discovered dead clutching a bottle of consumed spirits and not lying in his own bed was indeed suspicious. Even Heinrich and his popular detective Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson would agree about that.
He remembered again how Heinrich always loved to quote Sherlock Holmes when the detective was perplexed with one of his many famous cases. Heinrich’s favourite quote is: “When you have eliminated the impossible whatever remains however improbable must be the truth.”
In fact, it was only some months ago that Walter discovered much to his embarrassment that Sherlock Holmes was not a real person living and working as a consulting detective in foggy London town. But simply a fictional literary character created for popular public consumption by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Walter had deliberately not confessed this discovery to Heinrich. Better to have some secrets from him he had convinced himself.
Now somehow he surmised danger had indeed visited him only a few hours ago then lingered maybe touched his shoulder and for some reason silently departed.
Then a shiver settled onto his body but was it from the mountain mists or the danger that now seemed to have been perpetrated against him. He was not sure and still feeling unsettled pulled his dressing gown cord tighter around his middle and returned quietly to his cold bed. The music of this mountain seemed to be enchanting him he thought rather like a spell. He slipped between the silken embroidered sheets then closed his tired eyes. That dash of danger connected to perhaps the so-called ‘Sonata’ suicide slowly slipped away from his confused mind. There would be no uninvited confusing dreams being presented to him this night he hoped. But reoccurring dreams sometimes reappeared without being invited.
For Karin, this day of being together with Walter in exploring this fairy tale town had been one of the happiest of her married life, be it only a few days. Had not her mother always insisted that a woman’s real life does not begin until she is married? Now with the comfort of her husband lying next to her sleep finally and happily claimed her but not before she thought again of scaling the mountain and then placing that swastika pendant into its rock face as promised.
Then sleep conquered Walter as well and he descended into a succession of vivid painted dreams that featured Karin riding dangerously on Fredrick bareback around the Matterhorn with dozens of black neck goats roaming freely in and around the corridors of the De La Rue hotel. Then Heinrich somehow appearing wearing a chequered deerstalker hat and puffing furiously on his calabash pipe rather like his literary hero Sherlock Holmes following them for some strange reason like a panting bloodhound. Perhaps searching for suspicious suspects in the ‘Sonata’ Pension suicide case? Heinrich always relished explaining a good mystery. But would Walter solve it? Then he descended into a cave of darkness and all of his dreams were extinguished.
Their excursion the next day to reach and explore the Matterhorn was both dangerous yet rewarding. Yet it was a challenge Walter relished but for Karin, it was a duty she had promised to fulfil and would whatever the cost.
Surprisingly they were informed by their guide Ernst during a lunch break in the meadow that a large portion of the mountain had been excavated many years before. And with his knowledge and expertise, the four were able eventually to enter the concealed opening. Then to go in search of the interior of this mountain with perhaps some unease.
Later eventually deep within the mountain, they proceeded cautiously along a well-worn rope/wooden bridge that apparently had been worn down by the hurrying feet of smugglers and exiles and pilgrims fleeing from religious persecution over the last century. The four were eventually able to arrive at their destination that then opened up onto the naked side of this monumental mountain.
The wind was unforgiving and angry as if the mountain refused to offer up its secrets especially to these unwelcome strangers.
Now exposed to wind and drizzle and secured to each other, an exhausted but exhilarated Karin as requested by Heinrich did indeed finally plant the small swastika flag, securing it with her husband’s assistance into the west side of mountain bedrock. Unfortunately, the Agfa colour film that Karin had hoped to photograph this occasion for posterity failed to materialise when later developed. Until a few years ago that pendant it seems was still lodged in its original place. And could and was viewed by those courageous climbers who attempted in defiance to conquer the mountain on that exposed face.
They departed this untamed mountain for Zermatt drained but delighted as the sun slowly sunk into the horizon.
Then Karin whispered to Walter “Darling, I’m glad that’s over.”
P.S In 1968, I was myself in Interlaken, Switzerland for a few days.
There one evening in a deserted bistro I talked to one of the residents who informed me when I complimented him on the beauty of the mountains that areas of them were indeed hollow.
I was amazed at learning this information. The reason he informed me was that construction had begun under a Governmental order approx one hundred years ago. After the First World War, that work was speeded up. The hysteria of the so-called cold war didn’t help and only panicked the Government into opening up even more defence facilities in the mountains and providing sanctuary for the expected fleeing population that never happened. There were field hospitals with medical storage units and military facilities to house aircrafts tanks and a working control centre with food and water to last for an undetermined period of time. I had no reason to disbelieve what I had heard so it seemed to me that the same facilities would have been quickly constructed in the Matterhorn and especially on its vulnerable western side that faced Italy. Perhaps the imminent possible threat in the 1940’s that the armies of Mussolini and Hitler could or would mount a surprise attack on neutral Switzerland couldn’t be ignored.
To be continued…..
(C) Copyright G. Patrick Battell