Munich Nights Chapter 23: “An Armenian Tragedy And Finally On The Move”
Some months later Heinrich wished to confide a certain secret to Walter. The recent unexpected financial collapse on Wall Street in New York seemed to have greatly benefited the party coffers for some reason. And with hundreds of new prospective members and donors seeking membership each day this had witnessed a summit of membership requests. He also seemed to have a confident smile as he spoke to Walter usually over the afternoon tea and welcomed crumpets and naturally Frank Cooper’s favoured orange marmalade. This daily delight that he had recently awarded himself and all office staff and guests were getting to become rather a welcomed habit Walter noticed. Heinrich then pushed away his plate that now only showed scattered crumbs. He then delicately dabbed his mouth with his initialled handkerchief and spoke confidently to Walter with clarity and certainty: “Well, Walter my boy … we’re finally on the move. Oh yes, we are finally moving! No more cramped space … overflowing sagging bookshelves … tables and chairs collapsing … buckling filing cabinets … and that awful outdated noisy lavatory with the outdated plumbing that sounds like a military drum roll after it is flushed.”
He shuddered in mock horror saying: “You see my boy, kings and popes and Persian pashas arrive and depart and some with good riddance. And usually forgotten. Yet buildings and their sites and legacy in our history somehow survive. Why just look at the Coliseum in Rome and Stonehenge in England and St. Peters in Rome. But our new home Walter of which we will soon be taking possession of will as with our Third Reich survive a thousand years. Of that I’m sure.”
“And don’t forget the Acropolis in Athens” butted in Walter for no reason.
This new confided information reported to Walter had allowed the party it seemed to purchase a formidable building in Munich and at a favourable price. Such was previously owned Heinrich stated with pride and once been occupied by a prominent English family.
The party treasurer had been able then to arrange a financial purchasing price with the final transaction being completed to everyone’s satisfaction…and especially Adolph! A notable steel baron who wished to remain anonymous of course would happily underwrite the costly renovated creations. And there were many that needed completing before being signed off.
Some months later at a pre-official opening Adolph had invited a small select group of party members and guests for a private viewing. He had previously demanded that all building work would be completed by January 1st 1931. This was achieved!
Years later when Walter occasionally recalled the so-named ‘Brown House it was not in the extravagant Grecian and Roman artefacts that he remembered. But Walter’s memory always recalled the chiselled featured face of a man known only as doctor Krikor Sevak, a 41-year-old popular Armenian lawyer who had by just the skin of his teeth literally escaped imminent murder from the feared Turkish secret police in 1915.
He had earlier just about managed to arrange at an exorbitant fee two sea passages on a small motorised fishing boat to rescue him and his sick ten-year-old daughter Araksi. Then to be taken hopefully to Cyprus and freedom. Some days before he had been beaten and forced to witness his wife Soriya and his two sons Diran and Ardashes being paraded naked before him by the drunken Turkish secret police (Teskilat-iMahsus). Later the three were hacked to death by a frenzied mob with meat cleavers and hammers. Being urged on by baying blood-smeared soldiers. These sickening murders and of the extermination of millions of others were performed during that fanatical terrible Turkish period known as the ‘Armenian Holocaust.’
On reaching the still deserted harbour and as dawn’s early light crept over the bay an exhausted doctor Sevak and his daughter finally arrived and both now desperate to escape. He tightly clutched his ailing daughter’s shaking body both for her comfort and needed protection. Then when quickly seeing the vessel he desperately signalled with his torch to the anxious waiting captain of that small boat to hurry, shouting that he could afford to wait no longer. In the distance, the escaping man and child then heard the ominous screaming engine of an approaching Citron police car. He knew only too well who was in that car reaching out to arrest and claim him and his daughter in the name of the state. A pursing Turkish death squad no less searching for him and his daughter. With murder being their future remit when they finally laid their blood-soaked hand’s on him and his terrified daughter.
There would certainly be no doubt about their eventual slow disposal if captured and tortured in infamous lice crawling rat-infested Turkish prisons. The little boat called the ‘Pegasus’ had for some reason been navigated and waited a few feet away from the deserted jetty. The fleeing terrified doctor now suddenly realised he would have to attempt somehow an awkward jump to land safely he hoped onto the slippery deck. Then hoping and praying both he and Araksi would land safely onto the now swaying boat.
With a final frightened glance at the nearing car as it screeched to a halt its tyres tearing up loose gravel in its path. He closed his eyes recited a brief prayer that he remembered from his childhood. Clutched her tightly to himself and propelled both into the void over the murky oily water.
Then unfortunately for both fleeing father and dazed daughter his heel had snagged on to a broken iron girder and he was suspended in mid-air. He desperately grasped for the boat’s slippery side as the captain’s now outstretched gnarled hands reached hurriedly for him. Suddenly his fragile daughter’s little broken fingers slipped out of his protecting arms into the swirling oily dirty wash.
This sudden shock to her weakened fevered system had caused her to open her now tired eyes and cry out in confusion and pleading: “Hay-rik please save me, please … please Hay-rik” as she was now pitifully floundering and sinking into the swirl. It was the beginning of the end of any freedom for this defenceless little girl as he was pulled to safety on the boat.
But one of the police pursuers could fortunately swim and had willingly jumped in as ordered by his urging superior. Then he snatched the sinking young girl’s wet splayed hair with some difficulty. But then held her up for viewing to his sniggering colleagues rather like an awarded prize with a shout of triumph. Her shocked father could only now watch in horror through salted tears from the now moving little ship. Then when on the dock the officer held her up by the scruff of her neck. Laughing as he pointed crudely at her young body licking his curled lips sensuously. Her mortified father could only stare back in shame. Being that he had been unable to save his precious child. He could only watch through tears as the men walked back to their car with the struggling soaked screaming child.
The last sound and sight he ever heard were of his beloved daughter screaming his name repeatedly to save her before a filthy handkerchief was forced into her little mouth. Then being thrown into the car’s open boot. He now knew he had sadly lost forever his precious daughter and that he would never see her again. Then the little battered boat finally gathered speed to sail for the open sea with him as the now helpless solitary devastated passenger. Watching now the harbour lights grow dimmer Kriko Sevak was powerless as a weakened pinned butterfly as the little boat now quickly gained further speed and chugged away from the harbour towards the safety of Nicosia.
His gasping breath had now vaporised as he tried to stifle his sobs as he watched the country of his persecution and his people receding into the misty distance. So many of the waiting trials that he later endured when he finally arrived in an unknown humid Cyprus were before him. They would later become just a mist of confusion and garbled memories if he ever tried to recall them. And of those many countries where he later journeyed through, he would gratefully remember nothing about his travels through Europe. He would be robbed, beaten and tortured being almost murdered by bandits. Yet he had just about survived and of that, he was thankful. His daughter had not.
Of these painful memories, he would later recall nothing, even when he looked at the scars displayed on his broken scarred body. Perhaps it was all really for the best he was later informed by a concerned Milanese physician who had taken pity on him when he came across him in a charity hospital and listened to his story and who practised under the nom de plume for some reason as doctor Ferdinand Friday.
But somehow he had just about survived those wandering wasted weeks that merged into months as he approached a hostile, devastated and tired post-war Europe then surprisingly to arrive destitutely and into Munich of all places. This city he was so convinced would be his welcomed journey’s closure of his life. Then cold, hungry and desolate and at near-death, he had trudged through the beautiful Bavarian country. Now he was seen as almost as a shuffling skeleton but as always he kept walking and somehow oblivious to all he passed. He then waited for the inevitable and almost welcomed the deadly clammy hands of mortality waiting to claim his withered body. Then in the famed English garden known as Munich’s pride and joy, he lay down and wept under a park bench hoping his pain would now cease forever. But instead, he was surprisingly befriended by a sympathetic burly Stormtrooper. This man was usually seen coercing sometimes threatening people to purchase his party’s newspaper ‘Der Sturmer.’
Sergeant Fritz Muller a decorated veteran of the Somme’s bloody battleground had somehow noticed this damaged man and taken pity on him. Then the grizzled veteran soldier surprisingly insisted that he accompany him to the nearby army barracks usually carrying his frail starved body. Once there he had benefited from a hot meal and clean bed and be tended to by a visiting nurse. Later the kindly Sgt. decided with his family’s consent that they would care for doctor Kriko until he had recovered his health and confidence.
Then weeks later when partially recovered, Kriko decided he would each day either in the rain or shine take himself by tram to the newly opened Munich party headquarters. Once there to begin cleaning and tending lovingly the three ornate fountains that he had so admired. He explained if asked it was the least he could do to repay the party for their kindness and compassion for him during that lowest period of his life.
He gently tended religiously to the thousands of small diamond cut mirror tiles that adorned the inner three pools to be lovingly cleaned and polished to perfection each week by him.
Walter later heard from Heinrich that this sad desperate Armenian had never enrolled as a party member because he was simply not interested politically. But would always remember with lasting gratitude that burly soldier and his concerned family who had shown him such welcomed kindness in his hour of need when many others had just walked by or looked the other way.
Later he would obtain through Heinrich’s influence regular employment at the fashionable Munich Hotel Torbrau as a boot cleaner. (Incidentally, several years ago both James and I were fortunate to be in Munich and near that hotel. There we were doing ministry street work such as preaching and giving out German Bible tracts. Please see the link.) But he always insisted that if he had any spare time he would return to the Brown House to maintain and care for his beloved fountains either before working in the hotel of after. He had never missed a day in over ten years. Sometimes he was seen spending a complete day polishing and tending to the hundreds and possibly thousands of shaped inch sized mirrors as well as cleaning and maintaining the fountains intricate water jets.
By performing this daily devoted ritual it was he once explained to Heinrich with tears in his eyes his own personal way of thanking the party again and its members for what they had done for him. A man of few words as he grew older he could be heard frequently having whispered conversations with perhaps his deceased wife and their lost murdered children as he scoured the drained pool of all debris. Only later proclaiming to all who would listen to him: “The Master is coming.”
What he meant by this strange exhortation none could decipher. He would never encapsulate on this personal warning. He also would suddenly angrily announce to a passing stranger: “If you are ever introduced to a Turk kill him!!”
This being based it was assumed on his own terrible memories perhaps of how he and his family had suffered at that country’s hands.
Doctor Krikor Sevak later died of injuries sustained when the building was bombed by allied bombers in 1943. Amazingly it seemed after inspection that his fountains, his pride and joy, somehow survived the damage that rained down from the skies on that rainy October day.
(Coincidently as I completed this chapter on April 24th, I learned it was Armenian Genocide Day observed on April 24th each year. An anniversary not to be overlooked).
Walter and Karen during one special evening out were Adolph’s invited guests stood awkwardly next to the jovial Hermann who never looked healthier beaming with pleasure and shaking all offered hands vigorously. But standing by his side was as always Carin, now ghostlike, pale and drained with only her beautiful eyes seeming so alert to what was happening around her. She was so proud of what her party had achieved since its humble beginnings. She well remembered its conception years ago with such nostalgia and affection and always would.
They, it seems, with Heinrich and others, were to be given a personal guided tour by Adolph himself no less. Karen’s father had politely declined that invitation she had noticed, but she was not surprised. He had always had reservations about Adolph’s vision for a new Germany. Adolph now seemed somehow elated and excited about what he was about to present to his invited guests as he stood before them. A cloak of respectability now seemed to have been placed over his shoulders and he gleefully welcomed it from a rowdy beer hall speaker that he had once been called to somehow now having graduated to a respected auditorium orator.
Several weeks earlier he had explained to Walter and Heinrich in the comfort of his favoured bistro the ‘Osteria Bavaria’ that all roads had once led to the Coliseum in Rome, or so it was claimed. But would now in the near future he proclaimed, all highways and autobahns would lead crucially in triumph to Munich and later Berlin. A new world order fashioned by himself was finally emerging out of the mortar of the old. And good riddance to that old corrupt capitalist world he proclaimed. The party was now in perpetual motion and nothing could or would stunt its advance. Germans today would march alongside the party to a golden and well-deserved future. The dying Weimar Republic was finally finished.
“That great miscarriage of the twentieth century and a monster of the human mechanism” he stated concerning the Versailles Treaty. That betrayal should never be forgotten.
Today he argued Germans were desperately seeking a new leader. And he WAS that destined man he had stated with conviction so often to his enthusiastic audience.
“But did they have the courage and commitment to believe in him and march alongside with him on this historic journey of destiny”? he earnestly enquired. They howled their approval and stamped their feet he noted with satisfaction.
“BUT there would HAVE to be further political changes of course. One day soon” he stated shaking his forefinger. The old would have to replaced by the new.
“Democracy will finally be abolished because it serves no one only the political class of stinking politicians controlled by those Wall Street virus merchants. All are financial slave masters akin to Pharaoh’s hired henchman. And don’t overlook those shadowy Jesuit socialists always waiting and plotting in the wings. And always pulling the political and economic strings through legislation and always passed by themselves and never by the electorate.”
“Destiny had prepared and anointed and delivered him he believed to the rescue of the country. He was Germany and Germany was him” Rudolph Hess had stated often to any who would listen and many now were it seemed. The many propaganda posters proudly proclaimed it on the streets of Germany. Few believed this Austrian corporal was lying but maybe just exaggerating in his claims they said. But few in his inner circle dared contradict him.
Heinrich’s eyes were aglow as usual with excitement as he listened in that Munich bistro. And silently nodded at all that he had heard many times before from Adolph. Walter was also to witness the almost fanatical fascination in Karen’s eyes as she also listened to Adolph either on the public platform or in their own family dining room or garden. Now through the new amazing radio airwaves the party newspaper and auditorium meetings Adolph urgently exhorted his audience to accompany him on this historical journey.” There must be no going back to the broken past. Ahead of us is life but behind us is death” he thundered.
He once confided to a small inner group that included Karen: “I know that one is able to win over people to your point of view more perhaps by the spoken word than by the written word rather like I suppose” he paused thinking of an example…. “that fabled Pied Piper of Hamlin.” Later one of his hostile and cynical newspaper critics had bravely suggested in a newspaper editorial remarking how true! And just look what happened to all in that traditional fable of the hundreds of lost children of Hamlin who sadly never returned. Is Herr Hitler really taking gullible Germans on his own mystery trip? Then if so just count me out. I would rather go and fly my pretty kite on Lunenburg Heath with my happy five-year-old son. Of that editor’s future fate, we do not know.
To be concluded…..
(C) Copyright G. Patrick Battell