“I should perhaps mention to you dear ladies, that this world renowned Berlin Zoo is reputed to contain a very rare dinosaur egg that is always stored at a regular controlled temperature.”
“Now moving on, I should tell you about the beautiful Charlottenburg Palace. Built in 1695 on the orders of Queen Charlotte the beloved wife of Frederick I.”
“There are many beautiful ballrooms and hundreds of bedrooms and all, I’m assured,” he paused. “I have see their own permanent ghost in residence. Who is just waiting to frighten you if you should come across him.”
“The palace also contains the historic crown jewels and a stunning original porcelain collection.”
“If possible, also if time permits, please visit the Zitadelle Spandau. This surviving fort was constructed in 1560 and has much to offer the visitor.”
“There is a story still unconfirmed that when Napoleon entered Berlin in triumph with his army in 1806 under the Brandeburg gate, he later requested to be taken there for an inspection.”
“Once inside inspecting one of the vacant cells it seemed that the heavy steel door had slammed shut behind him making him a virtual prisoner. He must have been furious. And what made it worse was that the cell key could not be located and a locksmith had to be found and taken under escort to release the great man.”
He chuckled at this story.
Then the Tiergarten stretched out before them like a field of green emeralds.
Karen had been getting rather bored with the driver and his silly stories. And she definitely did not believe either story of that dinosaur egg or of the helpless Napoleon being locked in a cell. Rubbish she thought.
Then the Tiergarten came into Karen’s sight and she nudged Carin to see its entrance.
Seen before them was a vista of vastness that met their eyes. Both had removed their Swiss sunglasses to appreciate the gardens and also its deep lakes.
Karen had earlier been provided upon request from the obliging concierge of the apartment block a small tourist handy guide for Berlin. This he had offered her from his office. Karen recalled some unusual facts noted in the little well worn book. She now read some details to Carin.
‘When the poor, fleeing starving Huguenots departed from France in 1685 for refusing to convert to Roman Catholicism, they arrived in Berlin penniless and confused and pitied.’
‘But surprisingly they were welcomed and allowed to construct their tents and also to sell food and trinkets to passers by in the garden. Many statues are also dotted around the gardens. Most of the stone figures are now long forgotten. But interestingly the composer Richard Wagner has a place of honour on a raised stone plinth. And for some odd reason no birds have ever been seen sitting on his head or shoulders,’ she laughed.
‘Watching over it all like a proud mother hen is the always majestic Reichstag building that represents the greatness that will always be the Majesty of Germanic past.’
As the car drove carefully through those imposing spear topped garden gates, seen situated in the forefront was a large high placed iron bell. This would always chime it seemed as an ordinance notification. Meaning certain areas of the gardens were about to close in an hour for the day in the evening and for all the public to leave.
Then when the car had been carefully parked Kohl jumped out of the driving seat, and then opened the rear door for both the ladies to leave.
Carin was first out and was able to climb out unaided. She was able to stand up without any assistance. Karen followed her friend. Meanwhile nurse Hoffman had left the front seat and was opening the car boot (trunk) with Kohl now helping her to lift out the heavy folded wheelchair. But Carin declined its use saying rather dismissively, “I won’t need it nurse!” And turned to look into the distance.
Then clutching her walking stick rather like a weapon, Karen and Carin then slowly walked toward the direction of the so-called English Garden, followed by Kohl and Hoffman.
“Isn’t it interesting Karen, that both our popular municipal gardens in the Munich town centre and also here in Berlin, both have a permanent English connection for some reason? And to think of that tiny island called England being situated alone in the English channel has ruled over most of the world and still does in some parts. It’s really amazing,” she declared with pride.
But now watching with a suspicious interest as the two women who walked by was a young gardener.
He carefully placed his hand under his long canvas apron and gently fingered a sharp Bowie hunting knife.
He knew he would have only one chance before he would escape quickly into the nearby wooded area.
This 19 year old Polish petty thief sometimes named Joe Sorber had recently been recruited for this mission by a rogue communist cell in the Berlin Kripo Police.
His task had been to stab the tall woman in the chest or throat. Then make a fast getaway.
In return he would be granted a German passport if he succeeded. If he failed then he would be dead within 12 hours in an arranged convenient accident.
Choosing his moment to attack Carin he pulled out the exposed blade. Unfortunately for him the sharp edge of the blade was exposed. This caused the tip to pierce the fold of his heavy apron causing him to slightly stumble as he tried to free it.
When it was free he lunged at Carin, but her honed instinct and the glint of the blade caused her to step back and raise the point of her shooting stick and plunge it deeply into his right thigh. This caused him to cry out with pain and shock as he dropped the heavy knife onto the grass.
Quickly their driver was on top of him and with the butt of his pistol he delivered a blow to the man’s head causing him to collapse almost unconscious on the footpath.
Karen had also jumped on the assailant’s back and was hitting him on the back of his exposed neck with her fist. Nurse Hoffman had simply sat on the back of his legs and pressed down. The assassin was pinned to the ground and unable to free himself.
The park is usually serene and quiet with its many visitors enjoying its daily delights. Young mothers or nurses are seen pushing prams. Colourful kites were being flown in and out of the gentle breeze. Squeals of surprise when the holding string slipped through so many childrens’ little fingers as they watched with disappointment the released kites fly high into the blue sky and then were gone.
Some cyclists and others suddenly became aware of a commotion nearby and quickly gathered around to see what was happening. Even the little red squirrels joined the curious crowd of onlookers to see what was going on.
By now three restraining bodies were holding the man firmly down and for him there would be no escape.
But Carin had stood back and opened her walking stick and sat comfortably on its striped canvas seat and just watched the procedures with a half smile on her lean face. Well at least my faculties are just as sharp as ever, she thought with satisfaction. And she recalled that hadn’t both she and Hermann avoided so many arrests from numerous police forces throughout Europe for three long years many years ago. Some of that guile must have paid off, she happily considered.
Yes she thought. I still have it in me! But to her it all seemed now like a confused dream that happened long ago to someone else. A part of her life that had now gone forever yet in some ways she and Herman had then lived and enjoyed the happiest period of their married life.
“Carin are you alright?” asked a concerned Karen now by her side stroking her friend’s face. Carin assured her she was fine. Then a puffing police officer arrived followed by two more men. Kohl gave them details of what had just appened and the dazed man was then unceremoniously hoisted to his feet and quickly handcuffed.
Later the man would be taken to the local police station. Then questioned and charged with attempted murder. Driver Kohl gave a statement of what had earlier happened. He then telephoned Walter Kyper offering a brief explanation of what had happened in the park and assured him that the countess had not been touched or injured.
Later that day they all enjoyed a well earned afternoon English tea. But no alcohol was requested or served. Then an elderly musician with a deeply lined face serenaded the customers on his old scratched violin. He had selected from his limited choice a musical evergreen, Chopin’s always mournful nocturne in E-Flat. It was much appreciated by many of the customers in the tea room. Some even had tears in their eyes as the haunting melody of the tragic life of the Polish composer reminded many listeners that afternoon of unhappy periods in their own past lives.
Later that day sometime in the middle of the night the prisoner known only as Joseph Sorber was found dead in his cell. He had somehow hung himself by the neck from the bars of the cell door. The case was soon quietly closed without an investigation. And the unclaimed body was buried in an unmarked grave in an outer wooded abandoned Berlin cemetery.
Earlier that evening Walter Kyper had himself been seen entering that police station through a small rear door which was opened by a waiting sympathetic Deputy Prison Governor. Walter’s unrecorded visit lasted a mere 10 minutes and then he was gone.
Earlier in the Tiergarden after the crying and dazed assassin was removed from the park by the police, Carin had quickly decided they should, after all, pay a visit to the English tea room.
The women, after all the unexpected excitement, were suddenly hungry as they arrived at this famous teahouse. After being seated and perusing the menu, they all happily settled for the ever popular apple Spritz drink followed by some Alpine honey, goat cheese and thin slices of freshly warm baked delicious flatbread.
A few days later, Carin had noticed that her favourite cream leather kid gloves were missing and she rightly suspected they had been left in the Tiergarten cafe. Normally she would not have bothered to return to the cafe, but they had after all been an unexpected 30th birthday present from her mother who had thoughtfully arranged for Carin’s initials to be carefully embroidered on the gloves.
They returned to the tea house to hopefully retrieve Carin’s favourite mislaid gloves. There was also now a different chauffeur/bodyguard this time who followed them very attentively. Walter had quickly and quietly arranged for him to carry out all driving and important security duties.
Karen noticed that the grass always seemed to be a delightful green. She had been informed that the colour was simply green because of the many sprinklers used for watering purposes through the park.
Then in the distance she could see the mighty Victory Column (1873).
Walter had informed her years ago when he first arrived in Berlin as a young man, that he had visited the Column. And had actually climbed the 285 steps to reach the top. “Rather you than me,” she had told him.
“But the view was simply amazing looking over those 500 acres,” he had also informed her with a gentle nudge.
“And” replied Carin, as the English cafe came into sight, “did you know that this garden has been called the soul of Berlin with the Reichstag being the heart of it?” “An interesting statement don’t you think my dear?”
It seemed the owner had been looking out for Carin’s arrival. And with Carin’s tall imposing demeanour, she was usually recognised.
He stepped forward to greet her with a bow.
Once inside and seated Carin learned that a young waitress had discovered the gloves under an outside table and had then handed them over to the cafe manager knowing correctly there would have to be a sentimental attachment to their owner.
Carin had then asked for the young girl to be brought to her table. And when the young girl had come forward Carin thanked her and complimented her on her honesty. Surprisingly then offered her a new ten Reich mark. The young girl was so surprised by this kind unexpected gesture, that she thanked Carin with a deep courtesy and departed to return to her kitchen duties but with a beaming face.
To be continued…..
(C) Copyright G. Patrick Battell
(All Rights Reserved)