The years following the nuptials of Walter and Karin were rich and rewarding for both of them. A bond of love was fermented between the two. It would later become imperishable. Quickly they became familiar with each other’s habits and sense of humour and shared each other’s future hopes and some disappointments.
“Whatever happens in our life together, we must not harbour any regrets or lost opportunities” Karen had whispered emotionally to him on their first wedding anniversary.
“Nor harm each other with any unkind words, sometimes they can inflict more pain than prepared sharpened slings or poisoned arrows” she had added.
She had composed these words on their second wedding anniversary. She had always had a poetic way with words he knew and enjoyed expressing their usage. And the spirited passion of her words, as usual, surprised him and he remained deeply touched and always would by her devotion.
Kindness had never been allowed to be displayed in his own flawed farming family. If and when it was ever witnessed by him it was as rare as a visiting Red Admiral butterfly in the depths of a bleak Munich winter.
Extensive building work was arranged for the house to be finally refurbished. An architect highly recommended by Heinrich was commissioned to oversee this ambitious project. Builders with journeymen plasterers, some even from Florence soon arrived to begin toiling before the winter’s icy grip settled in. Dr Auer also offered his full approval and even suggested some salient ideas of his own. Karen always ephemeral concerning finance dismissed the rising costs, but Walter always fearing debt, as usual, was more cautious. Believing much of the work was self-indulgent rather than strictly necessary in what was on the prepared plans shown to the three of them, but wisely kept his silence. For the time being anyway.
The old riding stables, now rarely used it seemed, except for one stall were apparently to be converted into a working office and kitchen. Also seen on the prepared sketched out drawings was for a self-contained apartment to be completed over the stables for the couple’s future habitation. A connecting door would lead into the hallway of the house. Extensive rewiring was definitely needed with the addition of electronically controlled front gates to be possibly installed. (These were never finished). New fascia and soffit boards were fitted with weathered roof tiles also being replaced. A higher boundary wall was added to the large garden. And with the addition of a Shetland pony, a surprise gift from the nuncio. The raised boundary wall was thought necessary for privacy and protection for all the other animals who still happily occupied the garden perimeters.
A small box room was to be lovingly converted into a day nursery under Karen’s strict supervision.
Doctor Auer practise seemed to be expanding he had noticed. Karin suggested that perhaps he might consider engaging a young intern? He replied he would consider it. In fact, a colleague at the University of Munich’s medical wing had highly recommended a young ambitious student just about to qualify, named Joseph Mengele from Gunzberg. But he decided against this suggestion.
The devastating financial collapse on Wall street in 1929 had delivered shock and panic waves around the world. None more so than in a post-war-weary Germany. The Weimar government had lost the popular momentum and the growing support for the Nazi party could only benefit from the chaos witnessing a dramatic rise in party membership. This being predicted by the influential banker Hjalmar Schacht. He was to be proved correct Walter remembered years later.
Walter regretfully after many discussions with Karen, finally offered his resignation to the Munich police force. Then later becoming a full time paid worker in the party and to liaise closely under Heinrich’s command. The two men had become close friends since those early days that had witnessed them travel across the country on the faithful Lady Cynthia motorbike
However, he still kept in regular contact with his former police colleagues and they with him. He would frequently return to the police station whenever possible or when invited. In the coming years, he would become very well acquainted with this building.
In 1930 Heinrich, in the elections, obtained a seat in the Reichstag in Berlin. With this expected entry to Parliament, he enjoyed for the first time some financial security. And as an unexpected bonus a free travel permit to use throughout the country. Family weekends were now used in exploring happily the forests and lakes with his wife and Gudrun and became a joyful time for him when time or the opportunity permitted. Heinrich had always been a staunch believer in promoting the notion that the land should be respected and not violated.
‘The earth is given to us that we might coexist in peace with it and its ever-changing seasons and if possible with each other…which is never very easy is it?’ he added cautiously with a grin.
Some weeks later Heinrich requested that Walter remain behind one evening before they both departed homeward bound. He had a special assignment that needed completing he said. He began by suggesting that Walter had been his and Adolph’s preferred choice to perform this delicate task. Walter they believed was the man to perform it successfully.
“It seems” he began rubbing the bridge of his nose that “a unique opportunity has presented itself from one of our sympathisers in the French Air Ministry in Paris no less. And if obtained this unexpected ‘gift’ could be very beneficial to the party in the near future.” Heinrich then proposed that Walter journey to Paris in seven days time, once there to secure this crucial French military information. This was to be obtained from a now severely morally compromised four-star French general who had been seconded to the Air Ministry. Several important aviation secret drawings were now secured in his ministry safe and would greatly benefit the party when given to Walter from this military attaché. So would Walter consider going to retrieve these plans and bring them back to Munich?
Walter quickly nodded his acceptance. He then informed Walter with a warm handshake and pat on the shoulder and that this visit would be his own belated wedding anniversary gift for him and to Karen.
“A comfortable compartment and berth has been arranged for you both on the wonderful ‘Orient Express’ locomotive. You know Walter, I have often speculated that the location and allure of that famous train would offer to any enquiring author a wonderful murder plot. And isn’t it unusual that some people in any confined space such as a ship’s deck or a train will have no hesitation in confiding their secrets to complete strangers after a few hours? And apparently it seems their family know nothing at all about these hidden secrets … all very strange. Oh, and a suite has been reserved at the Hotel Belvedere in the Champs-Elysees to be reserved for you both. A rather charming hostelry I am informed which apparently serves a nourishing English breakfast amongst other European culinary delights. And most importantly for us and the party is that the current hotel night manager is a certain Senior Caruso who is committed to our future political cause and hopefully success. So please take advantage of his professional services and connections if and when you might need them. He can be relied upon I am reliably informed.”
He smiled at this information and then surprisingly suggested: “But do take some handy umbrellas, Walter because I have heard the weather apparently can be very erratic for May. And possibly if time permits indulge yourselves on a nighttime cruise on the Seine. Something I have always wanted to experience myself … well, who knows maybe one day It will happen” he remarked wistfully. Heinrich had always subscribed personally to the belief that pleasure must and should be earned. Man he would say had been placed on the earth to earn every minute and reap the rewards.
‘Pleasure produces nothing or exercise’ proclaimed his father. And he had frequently quoted the apostle Paul’s letter 1st Timothy 4:8. ‘For bodily exercise profiteth little.’
And he usually qualified it with Gustav Flaubert’s personal observation ‘The man is nothing, the work is all!’
Yet he believed that Walter needed a welcome diversion from his numerous party duties which lately had become rather onerous. ‘Caution maketh the man’ Heinrich would repeat almost as a mantra to the young S.S. cadets he proudly inspected later at Marienburg castle and other training brigade barracks.
‘Haste bringeth blunders and never assume anything.’ Both sayings were printed on his orders inside each man’s pay book and underlined.
He had also at this time acquired the title of the black Jesuit. He laughingly explained to Walter that he found it very complimentary. He had, in fact, an uncle himself a practising Jesuit priest who at the end of the war was discovered dead in his prison cell under mysterious circumstances.
Walter would himself years later be initiated in being selected as one of the twelve knights to offer a personal oath in the crypt at the favoured Wewelsburg Castle, the ceremony to be held and hosted in the crypt by Heinrich himself.
Sixteen, nine-foot-high candles he recalled were carefully placed in and around the spacious room. Each knight was seated on his throne and behind him, a lit candle burned bright in the desired colour, this being emerald green. A warm somehow mysterious light beamed down onto the crypt perhaps secured from a rafter, highlighting a black sun symbol tiled floor. But the disturbing uncomfortable pools of lurking darkness still remained in the corners. A hidden melodic recording of a flute playing a mournful lament flowed out from concealed speakers placed within the walls. These musical notes could now be heard emerging over the staged procedures. Later under Heinrich’s supervision, handwritten scrolled oaths were offered to each knight. The words on them to be read and spoken and repeated by each invited man.
Some were written in German, some in Norse and some in Hindi and a lost Atlantean wording also being uttered in difficult unison by the knights.
From Heinrich, all power now emanated towards his loyal serving knights and their invited guests it seemed. A lull of foreboding lingered in the hall during and after the service one knight later recalled.
On one chosen evening, Karen herself had been personally invited to attend and would be awarded ‘The Order of Der Fuhrer.’
This distinction of being presented with a rare 24c gold 16 diamond studded German Woman’s SS freedom badge (GFB) designed by the notable Swiss jeweller Franz Koenekamp.
Only sixteen of these emblems were ever produced and today it seems, only two have survived but their whereabouts are unknown.
One it is rumoured has been in the sole possession for many years of a legendary Hollywood film star. She had been seen displaying it frequently especially on the night of the annual Oscar awards in Los Angeles. The other brooch or badge and possibly Karen’s is owned today by a Singapore billionaire according to the F.T. And it seems only rarely displayed by request in a private museum situated on a secluded estate somewhere in deepest Somerset, England.
For that occasion back in 1940, Karen was herself meticulously dressed and prepared for the ceremony in the black S.S. officer’s uniform designed by no less than Hugo Boss himself. And with the honorary rank of full colonel bestowed on her personally by Heinrich. Over her fitted uniform, she wore a floor-length velvet cloak with four silver S.S. runes attached to the high backed collar with gold braided piping and shoulder epaulettes. Her straight brushed shining blonde hair hung loosely over her shoulders. Discreet golden threads had been carefully stitched onto the hem and collar and front button piping to display the tiny hand stitched swastika. This garment had been prepared at great expense and tailored by the famous dress designer couturier Sig. Pietro Ciano in his establishment in the Via Veneto in Rome. He had personally designed the wardrobe for many of the Mussolini family and even Il Duce himself. Later the finished uniform would be hand-delivered by Sig. Ciano to the Auer Kyper household in Munich.
A polished soft leather pair of black knee-length boots created by Rudin of Milan completed her startling evening wardrobe.
Then later in the castle crypt as the award was pinned to her uniform chest by the white-gloved hands of Heinrich himself, Karen then stepped back and threw over her shoulders the folds of her cloak. And solemnly offered a straight right arm party salute saying, Heil Hitler. The twelve silently seated watching knights all now stood as if by rote and offered the same salute to Karen’s own. Then the candles were extinguished by a silent servant with traditional long-handled candle extinguisher. Leaving only that solitary spotlight to adorn the proceeding. It was all very atmospheric almost theatrically orchestrated remembered Walter years later. His only regret was that no photographs of the occasion survived and many were taken. But his wife had looked so beautiful so young and so alive rather like a Roman statuesque goddess.
Strangely enough many years later in the 1970s as Walter was himself recovering from a hernia operation in a Berlin hospital to his astonishment he witnessed on a television news item Karen’s own full uniform and cloak. Minus the awarded badge of course. Now being displayed on a tailors mannequin. This pried unique uniform was being auctioned on a ‘Cyclops’ satellite link into the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow alongside other assorted historical and artistic items. It was quickly purchased by a private absentee bid by telephone Walter remembered. The anonymous buyer was prepared to pay the then astonishing amount of 750,000 euros to acquire this unique page of history the auctioneer breathlessly announced.
Walter was never able to discover who this mystery buyer had been or where Karen’s uniform had been secretly transported to later that day. He later learned that a ‘Fed Ex’ heavily guarded truck had collected and delivered the sealed aluminium wrapped item to somewhere in deepest Europe. But for what purpose the uniform had been purchased or why Walter was never sure. Only years later would he understand why and more importantly by whom!
During that approaching Paris mission Heinrich quietly enquired of Walter that, if possible, on a visit to the always popular Eiffel tower, Karin might secure a miniature swastika pendant if possible onto the highest girder of this landmark tower? Which later she actually managed and with ease and agility on to the cold grime streaked girders.
Then finally securing it herself with just a dab of her red nail varnish under a blanket of blue sky, she was very pleased with what she had successfully achieved. Then later still standing on the tower she asked Walter to photograph this ingenious touch for a souvenir photograph.
One of each of the prints were later presented to Heinrich and Adolph and of course, Herman on the couples return to Munich. Karin had actually achieved this feat previously of course on the Matterhorn in Zermatt on the couples then honeymoon. Years later there would be a successful repeat performance with the emblem again placed by Karin in of all places Glastonbury in England. Then at the historical Tor site. Several pendants were placed onto the silent slumbering stones of the atmospheric Stonehenge by Karen. But no photographs have survived it seems.
When the couple finally arrived at the historic busy Gare du Nord station situated in the Rue de Maubeuge, Karen was delighted as she gazed starry-eyed out of the taxi cab window at the historical sights now proudly paraded before her. She had since as a young girl always been fascinated by what she had read about this magical city and its captivating charms.
Walter remained apprehensive, his mindset on the dangerous task Heinrich had asked him to perform. Karen had not noticed his remote demeanour she being too excited by the sight of Paris. They had earlier collected their suitcases and then walked out of the bustling building. There arrayed before them like a detailed descriptive Antoine Blanchard marvellously illuminated canvas was the splendour of an exposed Paris. Its unique atmosphere was captured in both sight and sound and smell for the couple to behold and enjoy and surprisingly inhale.
From the drifting aroma from roasted chestnuts and almond stalls, coupled with the added distinctive awareness of toasted French tobacco so unique to that city’s ambience. And the pleasant almost sickly overwhelming musk from the numerous flower stalls that fought for space at the entrance hall to this now scented station terminus where a morning drift of honeysuckle lingered to welcome them and other visitors.
Later from their rocking taxi window, she viewed the familiar landmarks that she had so often dreamed of and read about. Now before her stretched out like a Renoir film set was the pulsing heart of Paris.
“Vive la France” she whispered to herself with a contented smile and squeezed her husband’s hand in happiness.
Walter on the other hand again carefully prepared his plans for collecting the documents as requested by Heinrich and hopefully without any problems. Now seen on the buoyant boulevards of the city, Karen watched many Parisians strolling and sprinting in all directions, perhaps in their well-deserved lunch hours. Many people she also noticed seemed rather lost and alone as they passed by busy pavement cafés. Perhaps for many existing solely in those closed rooms of their mind. For many, it would be living again the memories of lost loves and wasted opportunities. All lay now undisturbed in the closed cloisters of their shuttered minds.
Then, at last, the Hotel Alfonse stood proud and arrayed before them in all its metropolitan majesty. As they alighted Karen then settled their taxi fare with a rather dour taxi driver. She had, of course, no understanding of the French monetary currency and its value. This would always remain a mystery to her. Walter just looked on in bewilderment as she carefully sorted out the requested colourful notes and coins. And shook his head.
The sooner there is just one currency for all European countries he reasoned the better to offer stability. Adolph he remembered had frequently discussed this idea with Heinrich and Hermann. Then maybe a future currency might just be pegged to his own Deutsch mark? He might suggest this to Hjalmar Schacht. A future party policy proposal suggesting it might just be advantageous for the financial interests of Europe and especially Germany. And perhaps initiating a European style operating bank to be based naturally in Berlin. But that might be going too far he reasoned as had been the unusual suggestion of no smoking in any public building from the party non-smokers.
Walter noticed assorted European flags fluttering in the mild breeze being warmed by a Parisian sun beaming above the slopped hotel tiled roof. A hanging barometer announced the temperature in Paris for that day was an acceptable 15 deg.c and in Monte Carlo 17 deg.c. “We must visit Monte Carlo darling for our tenth wedding anniversary said Karen excitedly and Walter agreed. In fact, Karen never did visit the atmospheric south of France but Walter did when in 1942 alongside Adolph Eichmann and under an adopted alias as doctor Buckner a Flemish optician. He had been solely responsible with a handpicked team of SS soldiers for the purpose of sequestering millions of French Francs, later to be destined to be shipped to Switzerland for ‘safekeeping’ in fireproof crates.
Walter would days later be seen in and around the harbour at the Cape of Biarritz according to later declassified OSS files. For what purpose has never disclosed. Much of it was heavily redacted on CIA orders years later it seemed.
While in Paris swinging silver baskets of dense purple scented lavender plants bestowed a pleasant inviting aroma onto the yellow painted entrance as they walked up the white-painted steps. A secured ‘WELCOME’ sign was displayed in a dozen languages on a Doric pillar.
But Walter was of course in Paris to complete a mission for the party and it had nothing at all to do at all with the pleasure of simple sightseeing. But just in case he had been informed that if a problem should arrive a loaded oiled colt .45 pistol with a fitted silencer had been placed into Caruso’s hotel safe. Walter hoped he would not have to use it and that his own method would prevail successfully.
To be concluded…
(C) Copyright G. Patrick Battell
(All Rights Reserved)