Karen had naturally of course welcomed with delight, this future motoring idea proposed by Adolph of all people who couldn’t even drive a motor car. She had read about it the following morning in the Nachrichten Muenchen over their breakfast table on the terrace of their Munich home. She then remarked rather mischievously to Walter as she dusted any stray crumbs from her new floral dress: “Then if this is true, my darling, I shall order if possible, a canary yellow sports car and be the first citizen in Munich to drive one….and” she added for effect, “have a set of personalised number plates designed and fitted to my car if possible?” “Then just to swan about the town like that proverbial Lady of the Manor that we read about so often in those old English novels.”
Although Walter had no idea himself of what books his wife was referring to, happily nodded anyway in agreement. He was later attending an S.S. cadet passing out day with Heinrich near Bad Tolz and hoped the weather would keep fine for at least a few hours. And the yellow sports car that Karen had gushed about was the last trivial thing on his mind.
But now in Bamberg, Walter and the doctor finally arrived at the cluttered garage that bore the newly painted sign that read: F. SAUCKEL prop. ALL MAKE OF CARS MOTORCYCLES AND CYCLES SERVICED AND REPAIRED (reasonable rates).
Once inside, so many used, disassembled motorcars, motorbikes and bicycles were on display. Either in a state of half repair or discarded or just waiting to be collected by their anxious owners.
There in the centre, balanced over the inspection pit, sat in pride of place (and rather like a historical Turkish pasha in his court in old Baghdad) the Mercedes-Benz. Hermann’s pride and joy. Now awaiting its owner to claim it.
But it was now being lovingly polished on its still untarnished black bonnet with delicate strokes by the smiling proprietor. Then he slowly turned to greet Walter saying with much awe and admiration in his voice: “She’s a real beauty, sir and this Mercedes must, in my humble opinion, be the queen of the German motor fleet. And this unique car with so many added features must be the queen of the road, and I feel honoured to have repaired and serviced her for Captain Goering,” he had said wiping his brow with a used oil-stained rag.
They then all stood rather awkwardly around the raised car as he proudly showed off the exterior and interiors unusual features of the car’s design to his waiting but captive audience it seemed.
Even Doctor Nagel herself, a non-driver, noticed that Herr Sauckel had somehow lost his left ear. She wondered how?
Her voice was heard gently asking as they still silently admired the gleaming car.
“May I ask what happened to your damaged ear, Herr Sauckel, if you don’t mind me asking?” she asked looking sympathetically at his still raw head wound.
Walter then quickly confirmed the identity of the woman to the man who didn’t seem at all surprised by this odd request from this unknown woman.
“It’s alright Sauckel, this is Doctor Nagel from Berlin.”
“May I?” she then asked as she reached out and then touched the scars gently.
“Oh I don’t mind,” he said proudly. “It’s a souvenir of the War.” Then he added: “I said goodbye to my poor ear forever at the Battle of the Somme. Sadly so many of my mates lost their lives and body parts there as well. Probably a passing British bullet shot it away? But amazingly I can still hear Doctor I’m glad to report. But only if I turn towards a person’s voice” he explained as he turned his stump towards her for display.
She examined it and touched its wound gently.
“It’s been very carefully and professionally finished, I must say,” she claimed.
“Yes I know,” he nodded approvingly with a sly smile.
”I was quickly treated in an emergency field hospital and by candlelight can you believe it? But that young doctor did a first-class job considering the circumstances and with shells still flying overhead. And I only needed several glasses of Scotch whisky to fortify me”. He laughed at his joke. “Then I passed out and woke up in a hospital in Munich of all places. But sadly minus one left ear. But very, very glad to be alive doctor if you know what I mean?”
Then she noticed that the mangy garage cat had wandered in to inspect these unwelcome visitors to its domain. And surprisingly was minus its own left ear. How strange the doctor thought with a smile.
She then reached out to stroke the cat, but the animal ignored her friendly gesture with a feline disinterest and slowly sauntered away.
Both men had been listening to him revealing his war injury with some pride thought Sgt. Picoult with disinterest.
Then Walter reached for his wallet to settle up with the mechanic and finally be on their way. But seeing what was about to happen as Walter started to count out a generous amount of money, Sauckel held up his hand in protest saying: “No sir, there is no charge. And I am after all a committed party man myself. As is my young nephew Fritz. I am also a great admirer of Herr Hitler and naturally Captain Goering. And it has been for a long time and honour and privilege to serve the party in my humble way here in my garage.”
Walter replaced the money back into his leather wallet, then shook the man’s hesitant hand and thanked him.
Then Sauckle climbed into the car and skillfully backed it out through the maze of erratically parked cars into the empty road. He then climbed out and offered the keys to the waiting Sgt. Picoult. Again they all shook hands and finally bade their farewells. Then the car with Walter in the passenger seat silently drove away leaving “Hassfurt” behind them.
As Sauckel watched them leave, he looked over to the lone petrol pump on the forecourt. He had not informed Walter but he had also topped up the petrol tank for the journey back to Bamberg.
“What a day it’s been,” he thought. However, he wished he had been able to have a photograph taken as a souvenir of this very special occasion.
This would indeed be something special to relate to the family this evening at the dinner table. And hopefully to young Fritz as well. And wouldn’t he be jealous of what he had missed out on in this slice of the party’s history that had been played out successfully today in his uncle’s garage?
Then Sauckel looked at the queue of waiting cars all needing his personal attention saying to himself with a resigned smile: “Now which one shall be first for my attention”? he said as he scratched his head.
“Life must go on and time waits for no man or woman,” he thought sardonically as he lit a fresh cigarette and inhaled deeply.
To be continued……
© Copyright G. Patrick Battell
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