From Darkness

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Chapter 14: Oath

The road to Berlin was winding and long. It unraveled through forests and hills. Not much too see, it all went by in a green blur. Father spoke of the Autobahn and how it would, upon completion, make the trip half as long by cutting through straight, having several lanes, and a smoother surface.

Ivy wasn’t listening though. By noon she had stopped crying and although she craved it, she couldn’t fall asleep. She lay back and closed her eyes, feeling the fresh wind on her face.

“We’ll be there soon,” Peter said to her and Mother.

Part of the reason Ivy had been crying was that her best friend, Julia, hadn’t come as promised. Not saying goodbye to her felt strange, like something was wrong. Then again, everything is wrong right now, Ivy thought.

Slowly, the forest began disappearing behind country houses. The road was bumpy there, it was made of very old stones. Soon enough, the houses grew taller and closer, until the city of Berlin engulfed her. Wherever she looked, she was surrounded by tall buildings and row houses that looked several centuries old.

It was a beautiful place, Ivy couldn’t deny it. Dark grey and beige buildings beautifully decorated with Nazi flags. The bright red, black and white contrasted the surroundings stunningly.

Berlin was a loud place, cars and people everywhere. It reminded Ivy of a beehive, and she could tell it was just as productive.

“And we’re here, ladies,” Father said as he pulled over in front of a set of row houses that were all identical, except for the doors. The truck behind them pulled up as well and right away the soldiers began to open the truck doors, no time wasted.

“Are you coming out, Ivy?” Mother asked her. Sighing, Ivy stepped out and looked at her new house.

“Is all of it ours?” Ivy turned to Simone. “This one, yes. All three stories, and there’s a cellar as well,” she pointed at the black door mid-row.
“Are we near my grandparents and Kristian?” Ivy asked.
“No, thank God. Berlin is very large, you’ll see,” Simone replied.
“Why thank God?” she asked.
“Because... well, my mother and I don’t get along too well at times,” Simone told her.
“But grandma’s always so nice to us,” Ivy said.
“Yes, to you and Kristian. It doesn’t matter now, go on in,” Simone pointed at the house.

Ivy went inside after the soldiers carefully brought in a wooden glass cabinet. The interior was nice, although she wasn’t a fan of the flooring. Instead of the dark oak flooring she was used to, the floors here were white marble. The walls were a cream color, with a brocade pattern that turned into a luxurious texture at the white ceiling.

There was a grand marble staircase at the entrance, with golden railings. “Go pick your room, Ivy. Ours is the last one on the right, top floor. You have three to choose from,” Peter told her.

Ivy didn’t care much about her room, but she decided to explore the house nonetheless. She wondered how her parents had been able to afford this house, she didn’t think they had that much money. That was a question that would earn her at least a frown from Father, and an ear tug from Mother, so for then it could wait.

This house was very narrow yet spacious. It seemed comfortable, if one didn’t mind taking the stairs all the time. Ivy wished Uli was there to play hide and seek with her, there were many excellent hiding spots throughout. She picked the room that was underneath her parents’ room, because it was the only other bedroom with a view of the street.

The cellar was dark and cold, not a place Ivy ever wanted to spend much time in. There was no backyard, at least not compared to what she used to have in Kiel. It was a tall-fenced green patch of grass, a few bushes and an apple tree.

That same day, after everything had been unloaded from the truck and it was all moved in, they went to her grandparents home for dinner.

“Oh look at you! You’ve grown so much since we last saw you!” grandmother Gerda hugged Ivy so tightly she couldn’t breathe.

“Where is Kristian?” Mother asked. “He’s not here my darling. We haven’t seen him in over a month, he moved to his own place,” grandfather Antoine patted her back.
“We think he has a girl, he is being very secretive about everything! I have my bets on a girl,” Gerda said.

“How was the move? Everything is settling down?” Antoine asked as they sat down at the dinner table.

“All is good, Berlin doesn’t disappoint,” Peter said.
“Why would Berlin be disappointing?” Gerda asked.
“I just meant, it lives up to its reputation of being a beautiful city, that’s all,” Peter replied.
“Yes, if there is one thing that does not disappoint me, it’s this city,” Gerda glared at Peter.
“So! Tomorrow you begin work, yes? Under the great Himmler?” Antoine tried to ease the tension.
They continued to talk but Ivy was lost in thought.

Suddenly it made sense to her. She hadn’t noticed it before because the last time she had seen her grandmother she had only been eight years old, but now it was obvious. Mother and Grandma didn’t get along because her grandmother didn’t like her father. Her grandfather did like him, she could tell. But why, after all these years, does Grandma not like Vati?

~

Ivy woke up that morning to noises louder than usual coming from outside and inside her house. The bustling streets were noisy even in the dead of night, but Ivy slept through the noise because she had been so exhausted. She could hear voices downstairs, loudly chanting.

She opened the white curtains of one of the large windows and everything looked normal outside. Ivy then went downstairs, thinking she had imagined the noises that woke her up. She stopped in her tracks halfway down the stairs when she saw a large group of men in the living room and main entrance. They all wore the dark grey uniform Ivy knew was of the SS. What were they doing in her house?

Ivy ran back upstairs and quickly changed into her Hitlerjugend uniform, braided her hair and ran back downstairs.

When she reached the main entrance, the men turned around and she saw him.

“Kristian!” she jumped into his arms and hugged him. He looked happy, happier than she had seen him in a very long time.

“How are you little one? You look lovely in that uniform” he smiled his most handsome smile.
“I’m well, big brother, how are you? Why are all these men here?” Ivy asked.
“Something very important has happened, Ivy. Come, there is someone you should see,” Kristian took her hand.

“Is it your girlfriend?” Ivy asked as they made their way to the living room.
“What? No, just come,” he laughed.

The group of men in the living room, including her father, stood around “Himmler!” Ivy whispered excitedly.
“Yes, Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler,” Kristian replied in a whisper.
“But why is he here? Why are they here? Our stuff is still in boxes, we didn’t finish unpacking.”

Kristian pulled her away from the doorway where they had been standing to the empty kitchen.
“President Hindenburg has just died,” he told her.
“Oh... what happens now?” Ivy asked.
“Everything happens now. Hindenburg was the last obstacle that stood in the Führer’s way. The Führer is already passing new laws and he has just merged his Reich chancellorship with the Reich presidency, which means he has ultimate and absolute control over the country,” Kristian said to her in a low voice.

“We gathered here to swear an oath to the Führer, it was ‘I swear by God this sacred oath: I will render unconditional obedience to Adolf Hitler, the Führer of the German Reich and people, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and will be ready as a brave soldier to risk my life at any time for this oath,’” Kristian said and he looked around.

“Do you remember what I said to you a while back, Ivy?” he asked her.
“Yes, is it happening?” she replied.
“Yes, it finally is happening. And… how do you know I have a girlfriend?”
“It was a guess,” she shrugged.
“Well, good guess,” he smiled and kissed her forehead.
“I want to meet her!” Ivy said to him.
“Okay, soon you can meet her,” he turned to the SS soldiers who were leaving and calling him.

“The Führer needs security tightened here in the city, we have to go,” one of them said to Kristian. At that moment, Commander Himmler walked towards the entrance, but he saw Ivy and stopped for a second, then turned around and stepped out the door. Ivy caught a glimpse of a smile on his face before he left.

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