“For summer is gone and the days grow cold.”
These poignant words written by the poet George Eliot had been printed on the first page of the calendar for Octorber 1931. They somehow always pierced Karen’s heart with pain and sorrow as she silently read them yet again.
She had noted with much concern and alarm that her dear friend Carin was failing in health over the last few weeks. But somehow Carin always managed to continue in her weakened search for her own personal survival, and to be somehow at peace with herself. And she always remained so optimistic and encouraged others, when possible, around her to try to do the same and usually adding: “You just have to make the best of what you have been given.” But she warned, “and always be prepared for the worst that life throws at you and try and hope to rise above it if you possibly can?”
The year had not started well. Being that Carin’s health had been extremely fragile and was causing concern more than ever to Karen and Walter and of course for Hermann who owed her so much.
Karen’s memory returned to last Christmas, when she and Walter and other guests were happily gathered at the Goering’s apartment in “Badensche Strase,” Berlin.
Karen had even suggested to Walter that they might even try and rent, if possible, an apartment on a short term lease in this same building just to be near Carin if and when an emergency should arise.
The evening’s soiree was suposed to be for drinks and the exchanging of wrapped presents to each other. A warming bowl of Gluhwein had been placed on the table next to some fine Venetian cut crystal glasses.
On previous occasions Carin had delighted her guests when she had performed several traditional and much loved Chrstmas carols. And some, it seemed, attributed it to her own country, “My beloved Sweden.” She would frequently sadly refer to it with emotion and usually performed with perfection on her beloved family harmonium.
Carin had then suddenly swayed and began to slowly collapse onto the Persian carpet. Karen had just about been able to catch her and break her fall and with Walter’s help they had laid her gently onto a nearby couch.
As fate would have it a retired doctor also lived in the building and after being called by Hermann, he quickly arrived with his small medical bag. He then quickly diagosed that Carin had a fever and adminstred a mild sedative.
Karen meanwhile, was using a more traditional method of placing cold flannels on her forehead to bring down the rising fever (few antibiotics then).
Hermann suggested that it might be a good idea if their guests perhaps departed for home, this they all did quietly.
It was decided that Karen would inquire if nurse Hoffmann was available for nursing duties for Carin? The two women had developed a friendly relationship over time.
The nurse herself was actually caring for her aged parents but would happily arrange something soon if possible.
Over the few next weeks the kind doctor called each morning religiously to enqure about his celebrated patient. He usually suggested various treatments and if needed a perscription for medicine and pilis was always prescribed without prompting.
Surprisingly Carin had informed her friend when her fever had finally subsided, that her dreams were no longer happening concerning those frightening scenes she had witnessed in Nurenberg mainly concerning Hermann and other known faces she had recognised.
Instead she had surprisingly seen a detailed old painting of that historic town in its previous royal glory. This Carin had herself purchased from an expensive gift souvenir shop situated in the glitzy foyer of the Hotel Adlon in Berlin of all places, some years before.
During the next few weeks until the needed nurse Hoffman was available Carin placed herself into a nearby clinic for further observation and treatment. Karen visted each day and was pleased to see her friend was still an inveterate letter writer to family and friends.
Karen’s designated job when she arrived and usually after lunch, was to fold the composed letters and would then carefully fit them into the envelope and then stick a stamp in the right hand corner. She then later posted them all for Carin.
If nothing else, Carin always had a surplus supply of stamps secured in her writing satchel.
Usually In the past Hermann had collected her unposted letters and had taken them with him to the Reichstag Building. Once there he deposited his wife’s letters in the post room to be posted free from the “Berlin Reichstag” franking machine. And to always of course to be marked PRIORITY!
When Carin had collased that fatal Chrstmas eve she was unconscious for several minutes maybe more. Then when she regained her composure she had said sadly: “I thought I had died and now I have sadly come back.” She looked at the three faces looking at her with concern. Karen had placed a napkin over the side light to soften the glare by her face.
“I heard dear mama, I’m sure calling me from somewhere to come and join her. It was oh so real” she said with a tinge of sadness and longing in her voice.
Then reaching for Herman’s hand she slipped into a deep sleep. Karen then carefully covered her with a light blanket. And the three silently left the room. But left the shaded side light on just in case Carin awoke and then perhaps being rather confused about where she was and how long she had been sleeping.
Carin Goring now had ten months to live.
Over the next several weeks nurse Hoffman had arrived to take up her skilled nursing duties in the Goering household. The two women had always got along and at nurse Hoffman’s suggestion and with doctor Nagel’s consent, Carin would be admitted for treatment and observation at the doctor’s clinic in Berlin’s Jagerstr.
There she would carefully receive the latest treatment to help and strengthen her ailing condition.
A small hydro pool had been erected and finished in the basment. A gift from Herr Hitler it seemed and Carin took advantage of its calming effect on her failing body descring it as ‘A delightful experience and every hospital should have one to pamper their patients.’ She enthused in a letter to her sister Fanny.
February and March brought in its wake some welcomed warmer weather and Karen suggested that they arrange an excursion to visit the famed Berlin Tiergarten.
And once there sample something from the ever popular English tea house menu.
Hermann had previously arranged for a car and driver to be used from the nearest motor pool at the Party’s head office in Berlin. And to be on standby to carefully chauffeur the party on future occassions to be organised by him.
Nurse Hoffman would also now be with them, it had been decided by doctor Nagel and with telephone discussion with Hermann. Hopefully the three women would commence the trip and set out on the first clear warm day and perhaps with a light March wind to accompany them into the gardens.
So it was in the second week in March. That a gleaming polished open topped Mercedes-Benz waited outside the Goering apartment at 10.00 am sharp.
The nominated driver for this occasion was Herbert Kohl, a young 21 year old party member who hailed from the outer suburbs of Berlin. He had not been particularly academic at school but he had a natural flair for the understanding of motorcars and was always intrigued as to how they functioned and performed. He was also a skilled driver and had a private wish to be a participant in the prestigious Monte Carlo Rally one day. Well everyone has to have a dream, he thought frequently.
Now he stood in anticpation at the arrival of his passengers. Especially countess Goering and colonel Kyper’s wife. They were, he had been informd by his crude Sgt. Major, very important members in the Fuhrer’s close inner cirrcle.
He had earliar worked out the route he would take when his passengers were securely settled in the car. He was always very cautious when driving and worried about driving in open topped cars. Rembering several times in the past when splatters of pigeon waste had fallen on shocked and annoyed passengers. He would not let this happen this time if he could help it. Earlier he had studied his handy Berlin street map intently, deciding he would drive down Schillstr then into Klingelhiferstr moving into the always busy Hofjagerallee. Then hopefully arriving in the Tiergartedn in 30 minutes. He would if possible point out the local popular landmarks on the way.
He had been ordered that morning from Col. Kyper himself to always follow discreetly behind the ladies and to carry his loaded Luger at all times.
He had been informed by the Col. that the countess had been badly assaulted in Stockholm some years ago and had suffered a fractured foot injury: “So keep your eyes open Kohl and your gun holster unlocked … UNDERSTAND!” He had been instructed with an empahasis on the last word.
On the dot 10.00 am Karen, followed by Carin arrived from the front entrace. The smiling doorman had quickly opened the door for their departure. They were followed by the nurse manuvering a new wheelchair through the door. Immediately young Kohl stepped forward and opened the spacious car boot and placed it inside. Then he turned to greet his important passengers. Carin then spoke to him with a smile and a firm handshake to the nervous young man.
“Good morning officer Kohl. And I thank you for being so prompt this morning. May I introduce my dear friend Karen Kyper and I am Carin Goering and this is nurse Hoffman.”
“Now if we are all ready, please let us depart for the Tiergarten.” He quickly opened the rear door for both the women to climb into and settled down. With the nurse being the final passenger to join him in the front seat.
Then he enquired if they minded the car having an open top or would they perhaps care for it to be closed? They both declined his thoughtful offer.
Carin was certainly now feeling much better after benefiting from some welcomed physiotherapy at the exclusive clinic of doctor Nagel, and had that morning decided to bring her trusty much used shooting stick with its leather seat along with her to the park.
For some reason their young eager driver had decided to offer a rather humorous running commentary concerning the notable buildings and districts they were passing by. He had seen and heard many other tour guides speaking from the many luxury coaches that visited Berlin each day from Europe.
“So good morning dear Ladies and welcome I hope you are all well this beautiful March morning. On the left as we drive down the Schillstr. You can see the grand homes of what would have been Berlin’s wealthy mill and factory owners of the past.”
“Further along on the same side is the worldfamous Berlin zoo, standing on 35 hectares of land and boasting today over 2,000 different families of animals. The Zoo was built in 1844. And today houses over 1,00 species of tropical birds that are seen and admired daily. I am reliably informed,” he remarked with a smile.
Carin winched at this truth. She had always hated all defenceless animals being confined to any small space, and especially tropical birds behind bars. Who she knew would always want to fly free in the skies. But that gift of freedom was now by this and other city zoos, cruelly denied to them.
To be continued……
(C) Copyright G. Patrick Battell
(All Rights Reserved)