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The lost art of Auschwitz – in Remembrance of the Holocaust

On 27th January we remember all those who lost their lives in the Holocaust. We must never forget them.

I was brought up on the only part of the British Isles to have been occupied by the Nazis. The Channel Islands lie a few miles off the Normandy coast and are of no significant strategic importance. Despite this, their massive concrete defences stand as obdurate statements of conquest.

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German defence at Corbiere, Jersey. (Source Wikipedia)

During the five years of German occupation the islanders learnt what life would be like should the Allies fail to win the war. The small Jewish population was shipped off to Germany and were never seen again. Those caught with crystal radio sets or attempting to escape were also shipped out to Dachau and other camps, never to return.  After D-Day the islands were cut off from Europe. My stepfather was 18 when he and some friends attempted to escape in five canoes to join the Allies in Normandy. Unfortunately the canoes had been stored so long they had dried out and only one canoe made it to France. The others were arrested as they came ashore back on the island and were thrown into prison. They would have been transported had the way to Germany remained open and I would never have met a really wonderful man. The islands were liberated on 9th May 1945, a full day after Victory in Europe day, and my stepfather and his friends were finally let out of prison.

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My stepfather is the one with glasses in the middle, surrounded by his colleagues from the four canoes that didn’t make it to France.  Taken on 9th May 1945. My thanks to the wonderful person who supplied this photograph.

The islanders never gave up hope, but they had it soft compared to those who bore the full brunt of Nazi oppression.

The art of holocaust survivor Marian Kolodziej survives in the basement of a monastery in the Polish village of Harmęże near the camps of Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Berkenau. He was only 17 when he was rounded up by the Gestapo in June 1940 and sent to Auschwitz.

MK self portrait
Self portrait of artist Marian Kolodziej: 432 his prison number, then as he was after WW2 © Marian Kolodziej

There he lost his identity and became known as prisoner 432. He managed to survive the war and he never spoke of his experiences. It was not until 50 years after the war and after he had suffered a stroke that he began painting images of what he had witnessed. He had remained silent all those years.  Now he has gone the monks protect his images that stand testament to his images of what he witnessed during his imprisonment. It is a tribute to the amazing resilience of the human spirit despite the atrocities perpetrated against them.  http://thelabyrinthdocumentary.com/about-the-film/synopsis.pdf will take you to the synopsis of the film about Marian Kolodziej and his work.

*

The theme for Holocaust Rememberance Day is the power of words.  Written in rememberance and tribute to the unnamed millions who died in WW2, my short story is dedicated to all those brave souls who fought against Nazi oppression and for those who lost their lives in the death camps. Marian Kolodziej’s images speak to us in ways more powerful than words because they come from his memory. They certainly speak to me.

A hard copy of this story was accepted by the Chief Librarian for inclusion in the library of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Commission in Jerusalem. Please feel free to share it.

The Walls of Truth

The man had no idea of where he was or how he had got here. He was aware his uniform needed cleaning and pressing. There were some stains on the front and he wondered how they had got there. He wanted a clean jacket and the respect due to someone of his position, but it did not seem that either was about to be offered.

He looked around him. The room was unlike any he had ever known. The light suffusing the walls contained no colour. The desk in front of him reminded him of his study. It was set in the middle of the room, leaving a space giving access to each wall. His study had been lined with books with the door hidden within the bookcases. He wondered where the door was hidden in these walls washed with light. Presumably the intent was to create a world of privacy and exclusion in order for him to think and formulate his next move. As a world leader it was necessary to be secluded from all but his closest subordinates.

The individual sat on the other side of the desk reminded him of himself before … Before what? His memory was suddenly filled with images of before he had realised the world needed someone like him with vision to bring it back to sanity; before his mother had died? Oh how he missed his mother.

*

The Interrogator waited. The individual sat across the desk had an expressionless face. The set of his jaw suggested an arrogant haughtiness lurked behind the blank expression; the dark eyes gave no hint of emotion. This passivity might have irritated another, but the Interrogator recognised how such a personality would be able to distance himself from any immediate interaction with his surroundings. How else had the man lived with the consequences of his personal ideals?

The Interrogator thought of all those who had suffered under this man’s regime. There were many crimes to investigate before consideration could be given to any form of penalty.

“Tell me about yourself.” The Interrogator’s voice was warm and melodic.

The man pulled hisjacket to get rid of some of the creases and sat up straighter. He knew all about the power of the voice; he too had inspired thousands. Not for him the trap of the subtle voice; the gentle tones designed to produce a confession. Besides, he had nothing to confess. He studied the person who had asked the question, remembering the various members of his own cabinet who had sat before him in a similar position. If any of them had appeared before him dressed so casually and with hair down to their shoulders, he would have had them shot. He refused to look away even though he thought he could see hundreds of hands in his Interrogator’s eyes, all reaching up as if pleading. He comforted himself knowing they were figments of his imagination, nothing more.

“It is all documented.” When his response finally came his voice was clipped

“But I want to hear your viewpoint.” The Interrogator’s tones were soft, gently inviting him to tell his story.

What a stupid question! Because of  modern technology the man had been seen by millions of people. Every one of his public appearances had been recorded so why did this interviewer want to hear it from him. Everything he had said had been listened to. He had been the subject of cinema newsreels, newspaper articles, radio programmes. Because he had been able to bring his vision to the nation the people had elected him their leader. They understood how he could bring their country to its rightful place and become the dominant world power – because he had told them. He had offered them hope. Each member of his cabinet had been chosen specially for areas of speciality. Their belief in him had ensured the reality of his vision.

“I only ordered what was necessary.”

The delay between question and answer had been long.

“Interesting.” The Interrogator leaned back thinking. The man appeared to be playing for time. If so that was an easy game to play: there was no particular hurry to finish this interview. They sat looking at each other.

“So what was it you believed was so necessary?” The Interrogator expected another long wait before receiving an answer. The man shuffled in his seat. His left hand trembled involuntarily as he folded it under his right and he cursed himself for the show of weakness. The Interrogator smiled very slightly. The crack in the victim’s armour was small, but it was there.

“The nation needed strong leadership; the people demanded we bring order to chaos!” The man’s voice was strong, full of self belief. “I had a vision and the people heard me.”

“It was a vision some would consider provocative.” The Interrogator leaned back and rocked gently on the back legs of the chair.

“NO,” The man was emphatic “not if the people thought so. It was their vote, therefore their decision to accept my ideas. They voted because they believed in my vision.”

The Interrogator nodded. Others had used similar arguments in a vain attempt to save themselves. These others were little fish wriggling on the hooks of justice hoping to be saved by blaming someone else. It would be interesting to see just how far this man would go to justify his actions without accepting any responsibility.

“My officers were all of a similar mind.” The man continued. “They knew that to make a strong nation we had to take drastic action.” The man was confident in the logic of his argument. “Over six years I built an army the nation could be proud of. We restarted the economy, created jobs which put food in the bellies of the workers and gave them back their self- respect!”

The Interrogator looked up at the ceiling, cogitating the veracity of this claim. This was true. 90 billion had been spent re-arming the nation and at the time the result was everything the man said. The wall behind fluttered into life and  black and white newsreel footage showed a younger image of this individual standing in an open top car and being driven through cheering crowds, all roaring their delight in seeing their glorious leader.

Seeing this footage brought a smile to the man’s face. That had been a glorious day. That morning he had put on his army uniform and had sworn an oath to continue wearing it in public until the final victory or death. Besides, he was entitled to wear it; he had served in the trenches during the Great Madness. It was the peace that had followed that had determined his path to bring the country back to its rightful place on the world stage.

The Interrogator thought that, for some, there might be something acceptable in this argument. It was true that strong leadership required strong actions, but at what point did strong leadership turn into dictatorship?

“So why Poland?”

“Bah!” The man’s left hand began to shake even more. “It is always the same: everyone says that we invaded Poland, but they started it: they were a parasite in the body of our nation! They had to be purged.”

So far The Interrogator was being given a history lesson, albeit from a warped viewpoint. “For what purpose?” The question was a fair one and would establish just how much planning had gone into the invasion of Poland.

“Poland had already started the war with Germany. The Poles had to be taught that we are the master race. The by-product was we had a bargaining tool to keep Russia out of the war. ”

Here was the first deliberate lie. Poland had not declared war on Germany. There had been a pact with Stalin and in exchange for Stalin remaining out of hostilities, Poland would be divided between the two countries. In short, Poland would cease to exist. The man was displaying no remorse or, indeed, any form of emotion. The wall continued to play what appeared to be newsreel footage of the rise of the National Socialist Party during the 1930s. The man strutted through all the major cities together with all his generals all dressed in their smart uniforms, and it was as he had said. It appeared that everybody loved him.

“The people realised that the fate of the Reich depends on me alone. They know that if they didn’t follow me, Germany would be destroyed!” The man was enjoying educating this menial. “I gave France twenty nine opportunities to capitulate, but finally we came through the Ardennes and into France. My generals did not appreciate the brilliance of this move.”

The Interrogator knew better. The French government had declared Paris a free city. Under the rules of war this meant it would not be bombed. Rome too had the same status. It had been the early days of the war and the man had hesitated. Twenty nine hesitations that meant that France had survived. If the armies of the Reich had swept through France as they had swept through Poland, Europe might now be a very different place.

The walls shifted images, showing the victory parade through Paris and the man and his generals before the Eiffel Tower.

“The French threw down their arms and embraced us”. The man was enjoying the footage. Because there had been no bombing, it looked as the Parisians had indeed just given in.

The screen flickered again and once more the man enjoyed the sweet revenge of making the French generals sign their capitulation in the very same railway carriage that had been used to humble Germany in 1918. That moment had been a particularly honeyed one. He took a deep breath of satisfaction and brushed an imaginary speck of dust from his knee.

The wall switched to a coastal scene where men in uniform were huddled on a shallow beach. Stukas screamed out of the sky, peppering them with machine gun fire; battleships offshore replied by pounding the area behind the beachhead with shells whilst small boats took as many men as they could carry, back to the larger ships. There was death and destruction on a huge scale. The hinterland was littered with abandoned tanks, armoured cars, weapons and bodies: it was an army in full rout.

The Interrogator watched as the man followed the scene being played out on the screen. He had not expected seeing disbelief flicker across the man’s face at sight of the huge relief force rescuing the beleaguered army. Small pleasure craft ferried the men from the beaches to the bigger ships waiting offshore until filled with men they steamed for England. Finally a painting showing a paddle steamer being dive bombed by Stukas and lifeboats full of soldiers heading towards her filled the screen.

“That was not meant to happen.” The man’s voice was clipped. The muscle in his jaw twitched as he clenched his teeth. “Our army was slack, they should have never allowed this evacuation, but you haven’t shown how quickly we over-ran Belgium, Norway, Holland and Finland.” The man switched the subject and concentrated on the success of the Nazi blitzkrieg. The scenes changed showing Panzer divisions racing across the European countryside. He relaxed, realising he could command the technology that brought these images to the walls with his thoughts. Now he could show his questioner how a true leader changes the world.

The Interrogator allowed him his moment of self-satisfaction before changing the scenes. Single acts of defiance as railway bridges were blown up just as troop trains were crossing; unexplained explosions in railway sidings, telephone lines being cut, the general sullen attitude of the citizens of the occupied countries towards their occupiers.

“It appears that not everyone shared your vision?”

These changes of scenes made the man wonder whether his thoughts really did control what appeared on the walls, or if it were just coincidence. Perhaps The Interrogator had a control of some sort.

“The British did not play the game. They were badly led, so I ordered my Luftwaffe to bomb them into submission.” A night scene showing an aerial view of a city in flames appeared and, this time, the hum of engines with the krumphf of exploding bombs could be heard. He had thought of a scene and it had appeared on the screen and this comforted him. Whatever the technology, it was again working in his favour.

The scene changed to one high above the Kent countryside, but this time there was no sound. A Spitfire hove into view, its guns snapping at the tail of a Junkers 88. A Messerschmitt 109 chased the Spitfire across the sky, the two caught in a bitter dogfight. The Messerschmitt burst into flame as another Spitfire opened fire; the orange ball of flame twisting and turning as it hurtled to earth. The man shook his head denying the truth of what he saw.

“It was clear I had to cut off any support to the British so I ordered a second front.” Again he pulled his shirt straight and smoothed his hair to one side. A map of Russia appeared. “Do you realise that within twenty days the glorious SS flag flew over the city of Minsk?” An image of the SS flag fluttering above a building flickered briefly, then switched to one of burning oil wells and flags showing the Nazi swastika.

The Interrogator found it amusing that once again the subject was changed when the man did not like what was shown in front of him.

“That plan was created by my genius. Now we had the oil fields. My generals wanted Moscow immediately, but they were brought to heel. We went against Moscow in the October.” The image changed to one of snow and ice and soldiers suffering. It was hard to tell which side they were on, but it was apparent that the bitter Russian winter was taking its toll.

“Tactically some might have considered the delay going against was Moscow a mistake.” The Interrogator suggested.

The man waved his hand in dismissal of such a ridiculous thought.

“I had other things to occupy my mind. There had been an attempt to kill me, but I survived so it was clear that the gods had saved me in order to complete my vision. What you must understand is that to keep the enemy on their toes you must fight, fight, FIGHT! So I declared war on America.”

“Why?”

The man squinted at the relaxed figure on the other side of the desk. He was surprised his questioner seemed unimpressed. Deciding the Interrogator was simple he would explain the wisdom of his military tactics in simple terms.

“You have to understand that to make an army fight with greater determination, you must first cut off all lines of retreat.”

“Most tacticians throughout history would disagree.”

The man snorted in derision. “You sound like Rommel and his friends. They came to me with such stories, but they listened to me and eventually understood my wisdom.”

The Interrogator nodded. Conversations with others had shown that various generals had tried to convince this man that his strategy was more than flawed – it was suicidal. His delivery of his warped vision of the world had been described as hypnotic and those who had attended the rallies said it took a lot of determination not to be sucked into believing everything that had been said. They had said the effect was difficult to describe. Hearing the man speak with such absolute conviction in his own abilities the Interrogator understood that for some it would be difficult to resist words delivered with such conviction.

“I am interested in hearing your reasons for continuing the battle of Stalingrad during that awful winter?”

“Pah!” The man slammed his fist on the desk. “The Generals did not obey my orders! It was their fault! The Army betrayed me!!”

The man leapt to his feet. “Who are you to be asking all these questions?” he shouted. ” I do not need to justify myself to anyone!”

The walls went blank suffusing the room in a soft slightly green light. There were no shadows. The Interrogator said nothing and silence between the two individuals lengthened until finally …

“You need to justify yourself to me.” The Interrogator’s voice was soft and low. Gone was the melodic gentleness, replaced with a hint of menace. The man neither caught the nuanced change of tone, nor the subtle change in the body language. “What about your niece, Geli Raubel?”

The man sat down suddenly, hunched with his hands between his knees and hanging his head to hide his emotions. The question had caught him off guard.

“She was beautiful.” The question resurrected memories of being with her. He sat remembering her soft brown hair and pure white flawless skin. He ran his fingertips up and down his arm in just the same way he had done to hers.

The Interrogator could see these memories on the wall behind the seated man. The young woman winced as the man’s fingers touched her forearm, but she said nothing.

“That is not in dispute, but she was your niece.”

The man tilted his head wondering why he was being asked to examine his relationship with the girl. She had answered to him just as everyone else did and they did his bidding.

“She died young, didn’t she?” The Interrogator prompted.

“She committed suicide.” The man pulled himself together and sat stiffly upright in the chair.

“Did she?” The question was designed to prompt more long buried memories.

The man shifted in his seat. His niece had been beautiful and had listened to him, understanding his vision. She had looked so much like his mother. Her brown eyes had twinkled in a very similar way and her long hair was the same chestnut colour. She had even worn it in the same way as his mother, just to please him. He remembered how cross he had been when she had cut it all off without his permission. His hand twitched again and a muscle in his face echoed this involuntary response. The Interrogator seemed to be able to see into the darkest recesses of his memory.

A wall showed a room and the man recognised it as his niece’s bedroom. The sun streamed in through the windows and he watched as she sat in front of her dressing table reading a letter. He assumed it was one of his because she lifted it to her lips and kissed it. He so missed the way she had hung on his every word. The door opened and a young man entered, closing the door behind him and turning the key. His niece turned, rose and went towards the newcomer; they embraced and the young man lifted her on to the bed. The man sat immobile as he watched them making love.

It had been reported that his niece had been unfaithful. His secretary had further reported that the young man was very public with his opinions regarding the man’s master’s ideas. Then the man remembered how it had been reported that the youth had been removed. It had also been reported that his niece had been so heartbroken at the young man’s disappearance that she had committed suicide. The sadness of remembering hearing this news flooded through him once again. It had been like losing his mother all over again.

The scene changed again. Soldiers burst into his niece’s room, grabbed the young man and beat him to the floor. The man tried to stand up as if to try and stop what he was seeing. This was not as it had been reported. His secretary had told him that they had arrested the youth away from his niece’s flat.

An officer punched her in the stomach and slapped her face; she fell back on to the bed. A soldier rifle butted the youth. She struggled to pull the soldiers away from the young man, who was being kicked and punched as he lay on the floor. A single pistol shot rang out and the girl fell, a red flower of blood staining her chest. The snap of the pistol shot made the soldiers stop. The youth lay groaning and holding his stomach. The officer removed his pistol from its holster, lifted it, aimed at the young man’s head and fired. The head exploded showering the room in fragments of blood, bone and tissue. The scene faded.

The man sat stunned unable to believe what he had just witnessed.


“So it was suicide, was it?” The Interrogator asked.

“Is that what really happened?” The man’s voice was a mere whisper. His reaction was genuine there was no doubt of that, in which case perhaps there was hope, but that would depend on whether he accepted ultimate responsibility for all the orders he had ever issued.

“I have no reason to lie to you.” came the reply.

“I was told the boy had resisted arrest and there had been a tragic accident. Because of this my niece had committed suicide.”

“So there were no direct orders to kill them?”

“I had said that it would be better if she did not see him again and suggested he was to be taught a lesson.”

“Did you say this directly to anyone?”

“I wrote a letter telling her that his ideas were a rebellion against the fatherland and that I wished her to stop seeing him. My secretary set spies on them and through him I learnt she was still seeing him, despite my wishes.” The man locked his fingers in front of him and rocked back and forth looking down so he could not see anything but the floor. “She was so like my mother” he added in a barely audible whisper.

The Interrogator sat watching the snivelling individual sitting opposite. Aware of the scrutiny the man shook himself to regain his composure. To show vulnerability was to show weakness. He could not show his enemy weakness.

The wall flickered again this time showing a night- time view of a stadium filled with people. Columns of light stretched upwards to heaven in vertical pillars all round the stadium perimeter. The floor of the stadium was filled ranks of people and the shadows stretched across them, the shadows resembled lightening bolts. He remembered how he had thought these would make good symbols for an elite troop. His Minister of Propaganda had incorporated the insignia into the uniform for his elite Storm Troopers, the best of the best, the most feared of all the army units. Men who had no problems of conscience, they did what had to be done. Men he could trust.

“Recognise this?” The Interrogator waved his hand and the scene changed. This time all four wall screens flickered into life. Hundreds of people stood behind barbed wire. They said nothing, but every pair of eyes asked a thousand questions.

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© Marian Kolodziej

The man shifted his position to make himself more comfortable. His leg hurt and his right arm ached from his shoulder to the wrist.

“It was necessary to purge the people of any defect that would affect perfection. Sometimes that meant moving them into a separate place, or even removing them completely.”

“And you believe that was acceptable?” The Interrogator asked.

“It was necessary.” The man relaxed, confident his actions were now understood. “After the Great Madness it was clear that we had become tainted both physically and spiritually.”

The Interrogator sat pondering. If anyone analysed these words they were nothing but a litany of hate. But his interviewee had come to power and had attracted others of a like mind to help wield the whips of dictatorship. The Interrogator was intrigued to know if the prisoner had ever visited any of the camps, but no flicker of recognition of any of the scenes being shown on the four walls crossed the impassive face before him.

“These camps were built to house a labour force. We needed their labour and in return, we housed them. I did not concern myself with details.” The man smoothed his hair back across his head and wondered when this ridiculous questioning would end. It was like being with a child who continually asked why.  The number fourteen came into his head. Why a fourteen year old he asked himself. Perhaps that was because his own father had died when he was only fourteen years old. However, whatever the age of the Interrogator, it was apparent that this individual was unable to grasp that to rule the world one first had to rid it of those who were impure, so he deicded to respond as he would to a stupid adolescent who required educating.

“My ministers all understood my ideology. The greatest threat were the Jews, then there were the dissidents, the communists, the gypsies, the homosexuals and the negroes. Anyone with a deformity, either physical or mental, should disappear. The perfidy of the Jews necessitated their destruction. If my own nation were to be put to such a test, I would not shed a tear. It was the survival of the fittest.”

The walls flickered as if responding to the tension building in the room, but there were no scenes, just random crackling visual static.

“Can you justify your orders?”
 The voice from across the desk was calm and low.

“Why should I justify them? I answer to no-one. I am their leader!” the man’s voice had risen to a shout. He was angry. No-one questioned his authority. NO-ONE!

The Interrogator studied the walls. Now hundreds of people pressed against the fences of the camps. He gave an involuntary shudder at the brutality of the calculated dehumanisation of these individuals. Every one of them had died because of a despicable desire of a twisted mind and every one deserved an answer as to why. Then they faded from view as they had faded from life.

The blank walls started to glow with a gentle warm ivory light. Next there were scenes of  Allied soldiers being greeted with crowds of happy people. Fresh flowers being thrown to show the people’s joy at the arrival of the liberating Allied troops. German soldiers were surrendering and being rounded up and herded into POW camps – and all being treated humanely.

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1945. Newly liberated women of Massa Lombarda. (Source Wikipedia)

Next sad scenes of incredibly young boys attempting to defend a ruined and smoking Berlin against the might of the Red Army intent on reaping revenge for the siege of Stalingrad and for all their companions who had died in the war. The Red Flag was seen raised in triumph over the Reichstag.

“Why are you keeping me here?” The man had regained some of his earlier confidence. “When your superiors learn of your treatment of me, you will be sorry.”

“Have you been mis-treated?” The Interrogator was mildly amused. “Have you been beaten up? Starved ? Perhaps confined against your will – like them?” The Interrogator waved his hand at the walls where once again the silent witnesses stood listening and waiting.

The man thought about this for a moment. He had not been beaten or starved; he had not tried to leave so could not say whether he had been confined against his will. Even though he could not see a door he was sure there was one, otherwise how had they both got here.

“What about all the innocent people who suffered for your vision?”

“No one is completely innocent!” The man shouted, angry that the questioning was continuing. “They need to be taught that we are the master race!”

The Interrogator shook his head. “What were your plans for when you had achieved the purity of your chosen race?”

The man ignored the question since it was obvious to any fool with half a brain that Germany would be greatest empire the world had ever known. He looked at the walls; everywhere he looked, people of every nation and from every walk of life looked at him accusingly.

His niece looked at him as if pleading for something. She was so like his mother. He missed his mother’s kiss; his niece had kissed him just like his mother had and had held him close until his nightmares had gone away. Life had been so simple when his mother had been alive. She had made everything simple, she had loved him. She had wanted him to be an artist. She had known he was destined for great things. But she had died and left him and then his niece had done the same.

The Great Madness had taught him that great things required great deeds and great vision and to do this he needed the help of men with ability and similar vision. The victors had behaved badly and loaded his nation with debt, leaving the people with no pride and so many restrictions that Germany would never recover. He had given them back their pride, put food in their bellies. This was enough reason for people to follow him and they had; for twelve years they had followed him.

The walls no longer responded to the man’s thoughts. Once again they were showing terrible visions of skeletal people all looking at him as if he were responsible for their plight. He wanted them to go away; it was not his fault they were locked up. His ministers had been the ones who had built the camps and done the locking up. The rest was only rumour; these walls were telling lies. It was all a trick. He had never described how the world was to be rid of the Jews. The abominations on the walls were not of his direct ordering. Goebbels, Himmler, Bormann; they had wanted them dead. Eichmann – yes it had been Eichmann who had had the best ideas.

The details for the Final Solution were beyond him, he was a man of vision – others would deliver the details. Albert Speer. Yes! Speer had been his architect and had designed the buildings required for the Final Solution. Speer had been one of these detail men and he had been the one responsible for the design of camps. Had they all been questioned too? Perhaps they were trying to implicate him in their guilt! Were they trying to save their own skins by saying it was all his idea? The thought tugged at the corners of his mind. If so, where were they? Were they in rooms such as this one? The man struggled with his thoughts and sat wringing his hands. At least that stopped the dreadful tremors.

“How dare you question Me! I WILL BE OBEYED!” The man slammed his clenched fist onto the desktop. “THIS INTERROGATION IS OVER.”

The man strode to a wall feeling across the smooth surface until his hand finally found and tried the knob of a door handle. Nothing happened. The handle would not turn. The man pulled again, and again and again, pulling against the handle in frustration realising he was trapped.

The Interrogator snorted in derision.

“You do not leave this room until I say so.” there was a pause. “Sit down.”

The man turned and came back to the desk. His vision for Germany had so nearly succeeded. But they had sent armies against him. Air forces had bombed his cities; these same bombs had destroyed his factories. After this the people had begun to question his rationale. Some had even dared to attempt to kill him. Those who had raised their voices in opposition had been made an example of as a warning to others.

He squared his shoulders and pulled the hem of his jacket to straighten the creases. He slicked back his hair and clicked his heels together.

“Release me! You will rue the day you ever questioned me. No-one has ever had the audacity of treating me like this, me – the leader of the master race.”

“For someone like you, judgement is easy.” The Interrogator smiled.

The man looked at the Interrogator in disbelief. He was being told he was being judged! His hand trembled; this happened more and more these days and the headaches were becoming more frequent making it difficult to think.

The walls flickered again, this time showing his ministers either in hiding, on the run or those that had been captured now interned in separate cells. His Air Marshall lay on his bunk as if asleep. The Interrogator informed him that the Field Marshal would never waken. Likewise, the Minister of Propaganda had taken cyanide and his wife had killed all their children by the same method and then herself.

The man wondered what had become of Eva, his wife of only a few hours. The walls flickered again showing her lying dead. The sight of her body reminded him that he had shot her. He looked down at his tunic front realising the marks were splashes of dried blood.

The Interrogator stood up. It was time to leave. The faces of all those who had died before their time looked out from the walls. They could both see all the victims of this madman. The people looking in from the walls could see only the man. If he were to speak, they could hear him. What each and every victim wanted was one word of contrition, one word of remorse and a plea for forgiveness.

This building housed all of those of a similar ambition that had gone before. All that was left for The Interrogator to do was to seal the entrance to this particular cell just as had been done to all the others.

The door closed quietly and the Interrogator’s hand passed over the edges of the entrance, the seams of the opening become invisible. The seals on each of the cells were examined. To receive any possibility of redemption each inmate only had to show remorse and ask forgiveness of each and everyone of the millions of people who had died as a result of their orders. The Interrogator merely asked questions, the people seen on the walls were the ones who would pass sentence.

It would take time, but time is what the Interrogator has plenty of – even unto eternity.

MK image 002
© Marian Kolodziej

***

© Melanie V Taylor. January 2018.

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