The nurse explained with much-unabashed affection that since the difficult birth of her younger brother Rolf, the boy had actually and very sadly been diagnosed as seriously sight impaired when he was just two years old.
Now at ten years old and bravely in all weathers, he usually left home with his sister and sold matches and other assorted small items from a tray. And usually if possible, from outside the main Berlin railway station. Some days he would sadly only bring home a few hard-earned marks to add to the family budget.
Then last year a kind customer had surprisingly offered him, for some unknown reason, an unwanted six-stringed Spanish guitar. Surprisingly Rolf had quickly taught himself some rudimentary scales and difficult fingering on the used guitar frets.
“My mother and myself…” she paused then added with a hint of bitterness “because sadly then we had not the presence of a father in our home for a long time. He just simply abandoned us years ago, walked out and never returned. And anyway, really I didn’t miss him at all. And today I have simply no idea if he is alive or dead and couldn’t care less”.
She continued but was rather upbeat: “So we were naturally delighted when Rolf would perform a recognisable popular melody for us to listen to in our kitchen. Of course, he was thrilled with himself at what he had achieved and so very quickly” she remembered that occasion with a happy smile.
“However sadly some months ago he waited for me, as usual, to collect him after work and take him home after my hospital shift had finished. That evening he was set upon by some drunken criminals who stole the small amount of money that he had earned. Then they laughingly scattered his work tray of matches, shoe laces, some cotton reels and needles onto the busy road and then brutally destroyed his beloved guitar before they departed. He was so devastated by what had happened so quickly.”
“As you can imagine I was horrified as well when I arrived to collect him to take him home. Only then to find him sheepishly seated nearby in a small tobacco kiosk. Sitting alone behind the counter looking so very sorry for himself. It seemed however a very kind local shop owner had taken him in for safety and made him a hot drink as well.”
“Anyway, I thanked that kind samaritan and then Rolf and I boarded the local busy train home as we usually did.”
“Then at home, my mother and I had then calmed him down as best we could and then put him to bed with some extra blankets.”
“Sadly he then wet his bed. Something he hadn’t done for years since he was a small child. I suppose he was still in shock? And then after a miserable supper with my mother, I visited my nearest police station to report the crime.” Karen was listening intently now to the story as it unfolded before her.
“There was an elderly sergeant I remembered on the front desk sporting long white whiskers. And the station looked as if it had been built around about Bismarck’s time” she recalled with a smile.
“And he then seated me and continually shook his head in frustration. He took down my sparse details into a large ledger as to where and when this had happened to my poor brother.”
“He said with passionate conviction that the country was now in a desperate state of unstoppable anarchy. So much of what had happened sadly to my brother and many others was just a window of what was happening daily across the damaged German nation. The country was now simply rudderless and needed a new dedicated strong captain at the helm. Or it would simply run aground dangerously onto the rocks of its own destruction. Then quietly he confided to me that when someone from his own party came to power and very soon he hoped, there would finally be much-needed law and order legislation being brought onto the lawless streets of our cities.”
“‘There would be no more assaulting elderly feeble pensioners or stealing from the disabled on the streets like your dear poor defenceless brother. Once captured and charged, these criminals would be dealt with severely by the courts and by sympathetic judges of our political persuasion as well.'”
“Then he offered an unusual gesture for her inspection by peeling back his jacket lapel and displaying proudly his enamelled swastika party badge, informing her that many of his colleagues in the police were also proud paid-up party members and had been for years.”
“Well, when I finally returned home that evening I decided I too wanted to join and learn more about this party that he had espoused so passionately and do my own little bit if possible to hopefully make Germany a safer place for my family and so many others.”
“Up until then, I had had no interest in politics and surprisingly I had never voted in my life or had the inclination to do so.” She paused and took a long drink of spring water saying now with pride and determination.
”But I felt so strongly about it that I decided to make an appointment the following day to visit the local party headquarters which I then did with much enthusiasm. I then filled in the paperwork and happily paid my membership dues. And then a few days later I received my new party card and in the first class post.”
She then proudly produced the laminated card for Karen’s keen inspection from her handbag. This showed her party membership number was 374,307.
“I finally felt at last I was really doing something for my little brother. And for the country to make our streets safe again and so many defenceless others like him.”
Several weeks later … well surprise surprise?” she paused and looked at her empty cup and Karen ordered two more coffees from a passing young waitress.
“A letter was pushed through my letterbox by hand if you will. And to my amazement, it was from Reichsfuhrer Himmler himself. He informed me that he had heard about my brother’s case from Colonol Kyper and had been very touched by what he heard and wanted to do something for Rolf. So he had arranged for a disability pension to be paid immediately to my brother and”, she then became a little emotional but slowly collected herself then added, “it would amazingly be immediately backdated just months before his assault can you believe? Well!” she sighed.
“This was just what we needed so badly in our home. We had always struggled somehow for so long on my pitiful salary to get by.”
She paused and watched as their ordered coffee arrived. Taking a careful sip, dabbed the corner of her mouth carefully with a new linen monogrammed handkerchief and then added with admiration: “Then can you believe another handwritten letter posted by hand this time through our front door arriving the next day? Again from the Reichfuhrer himself saying that he had personally arranged for my little brother to attend a well-respected Berlin blind trade school the following week.”
“Well, this was something both my mother and myself had always wanted and talked about so often for Rolf’s future. And of course to be with young people his own age and enjoy their company and to make a few new friends. There he could learn to become proficient in braille as well as typesetting, learn how to cook and prepare simple daily dishes.”
“And he wants to learn to build himself” – she laughed saying with a note of happiness and open pride: – ”a new six-stringed Spanish guitar can you believe?”
“Oh ….. and there is also a marvellous modern purpose-built gymnasium I’m reliably informed. But I understand and have heard, more importantly.” Here she paused looking into Karen’s enquiring eyes: “That my little brother may later hopefully qualify to have a guide dog as well? … can you believe? But how wonderful that news was to us both when we heard it.”
She had now become very emotional with grateful tears flooding into her excited green eyes as she shared her story with Karen, she nearly spilt her cooling coffee into the fragile flowered saucer which caught the eye of a passing waitress who feared that the saucer would tumble onto the floor and smash. But thankfully it didn’t fall.
To be continued…
© Copyright G. Patrick Battell