From Darkness

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Chapter 9: Future

“You are the future of The Third Reich, you are the future of The Fatherland. You shall all be molded into the best men and soldiers you can be. You were born for the Fatherland and you must be willing to die for it too. We will not tolerate mediocrity, we will not tolerate traitors, we will not tolerate weakness. As The Führer himself said, ’The weak must be chiselled away. I want young men and women who can suffer pain. A young German must be as swift as a greyhound, as tough as leather, and as hard as Krupp’s steel.’” Officer Sonnenstein said to Uli’s class.

Joining the Hitler Youth hadn’t been difficult nor avoidable, considering most other youth organizations and movements were being abolished in the few months The Führer had been in power.

Two months ago, Ivy had told Uli that they both must join immediately, and at the time it had sounded like a great idea. However, what they hadn’t known was that they would be in completely separate groups. Uli was in the Deutsches Jungvolk (the boys’ group), which consisted mainly of boys much younger than him. He disliked the fact that the whole thing was such a waste of time considering he could be at the park playing football or even doing his homework.

When he was not being lectured about his duties to the Fatherland, he was being taught how to march, how to use knives and bayonets, read maps, survive in extreme circumstances, put on gas masks and how to get under barbed wire. He was told that once he moved on to the Hitlerjugend, he would be taught and trained like a soldier. Uli was looking forward to that.

~

Forget the Jungmädelbund (the girls’ group), who had the time to attend those meetings and do all their homework, studying, and to read their weekly book? Ivy was even learning Spanish all on her own and although she had nobody to practice it with, she was passionate about learning it nonetheless. At school she was learning Language, but she was already good at German and not just for a thirteen year old. At Hitler Youth meetings she learned nothing useful. And that is when there was any learning involved at all.

Just on the previous day, she had been taught how to properly set a dinner table and how to make a bed. At her meetings, the focus was on preparing girls for motherhood. It was absurd.

Ivy, Uli, and the other children who attended the Hitler Youth meetings were always exhausted at school the next day, because the meetings ended late and with time, fewer of them were showing up.

Now they were among those skipping the meetings, although their parents didn’t know that. They sat at the entrance of the beach cave, facing the calm and blue waves.

“Shhh, do you hear that?” Ivy asked him. “Hear what?” Uli tried hearing whatever it was and said “I don’t hear anything, what is it?”
“Shhh” she put her fingertips on his lips and squinted her eyes as she stared at the back of the cave.

“Never mind, it’s gone. It was a clicking sound, so weird...” she said. But Uli wasn’t listening anymore, he was staring at her .
“What?” she asked him, puzzled. He didn’t say anything but when she removed her hands from his lips he got on his knees and moved close to her. So close that their noses were almost touching. “Uli?” she whispered, her heart suddenly beating fast although she had no idea why. He closed the space between them and put his lips on hers.

Her heart must have been beating so hard he could hear it. His lips were on hers for what felt like both a short and a long time. He pulled back and opened his eyes; she was already looking at him, shocked. She had never spent a great deal of time thinking about kissing a boy, but it hadn’t occurred to her that her first kiss ever would be with Uli. She had always fancied older boys. Yet now she was feeling butterflies in her stomach, and she didn’t know what to say.

“I um... I have to go. See you tomorrow?” He got up and backed out of the cave before she had time to respond, and then just ran. He was afraid he had scared her. Surely he had scared her, the look on her face was so appalled.

For the next couple of days Ivy couldn’t think about much else than Uli’s kiss. She had only told Julia about it, but that had been a bad idea. Julia disliked him, so, naturally her response had been “Ugh... what a waste of a first kiss,” although they had still giggled about it.

Whenever Uli saw her, he avoided her gaze and made up some excuse to immediately leave. After four days of complete silence between them, Ivy decided she had had enough of the silliness. Julia advised against it, but Ivy went ahead anyway. She waited for him to leave his Hitler Youth meeting at sunset. As he was leaving the classroom where the meeting had taken place that day, he saw her and turned the corner.

“Uli, wait!” And when she caught up to him he said “Sorry Ivy, I didn’t mean to frighten you. I shouldn’t have done that...” he looked down at his fingernails.

“It’s okay, I liked it,” she smiled and he suddenly looked up, surprised. “Really?” he asked.

Instead of replying, Ivy looked around the hallway where they stood, the whole school seemed deserted, so she leaned in and gave him a short kiss. “Really.”

Author’s Note: Deutsches Jungvolk translates to German Young People, and Jungmädelbund translates to League of Young Girls.
Boys attended the Jungvolk from the ages of 10 to 13, and the Hitler Jugend from 14 to 18. Girls attended the Jungmädelbund from the ages of 10 to 13 and the Bund Deutscher Mädel from 14 to 18.
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