From Darkness

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Chapter 22: Führer

“I miss BDM, I miss being in it. And being with so many friends, and the field trips, and scavenger hunts, the campfires, and oh… singing! I don’t think my voice is great, but I miss singing. I wish we hadn’t grown up so fast. I’m so jealous you get to be a Gruppenführerin,” Ivy said to Liesel.

“My job isn’t fun like that though, you try overseeing two hundred girls and you’ll know…” Liesel replied.

“Yes, but they look up to you and admire you. They want to be like you when they’re older,” Ivy pulled out a red dirndl from her closet.

“Well, I can’t deny that bit. But it’s only because of my Vater’s job. It’s not just anyone who gets to attend his birthday gala, we’re special, you and I. But we haven’t earned it,” Liesel flipped the page of the book she was reading.

“Let’s earn it then. I don’t think I want to be a teacher anymore. We should both quit and become nurses. We’ve already had that first-aid training with Dr. Bauer, remember? We could give back to the Reich as nurses.” Ivy proposed.

“I don’t know about that, Ivy. I know you enjoyed the medical training but it just isn’t for me. I’ll think about it, though, I can’t be a Gruppenführerin for much longer,” Liesel said.

“Fair enough. Do you know what your parents are gifting our Führer?” Ivy wondered.

“A painting by Tiziano… some Italian. He will like it, I’m sure. He likes art and he likes Italy,” Liesel giggled. “And your parents?”

“He will love it, I’m sure. My Vati is giving him a relic as well, the helmet of Flavius Aetius, the fearless Roman General,” Ivy answered.

“That must have been greatly expensive...”

“We really owe it to the Führer that we can afford it.”

“His own gift?” Liesel asked, and both girls burst in laughter.

Ten beautiful dirndls lay on Ivy’s bed. The sun was shining bright, birds were chirping happily. It was the 20th of April, the Führer’s 50th birthday. The entire country was celebrating. Reports of people celebrating as far away as Australia were being broadcast on the radio. Everybody loved their Führer. The biggest celebrations of all were taking place in Berlin. That day had been declared a holiday.

Ivy’s birthday had just passed, but unlike previous years, it hadn’t been a big deal. She had spent her birthday like any other day; yet she had been awaiting the Führer’s birthday with anticipation. She received old German and Spanish books as gifts. They were, of course, approved to be sold and read in the Third Reich. She had sacrificed some wonderful books during the book burning six years prior, so she was now happy to collect any book she could.

Along with Liesel and their parents, Ivy would be attending a military parade during the day, then a birthday gala for SS and Nazi Party members in the evening. Those were among the many events organized by Minister Goebbels. Ivy was especially looking forward to the gala, it would be her first real chance to speak with the Führer.

“What do you think of this emerald green one? Too green?” Ivy asked Liesel, who sat on an armchair reading Jubiläumsausgabe, an anniversary issue of Mein Kampf. Although she had already read the Fuhrer’s book, every child in The Reich had, she had purchased that one because it was a luxury edition which celebrated his birthday. It was encased in royal blue leather, with a golden sword on the cover.

“That one’s great,” Liesel replied without looking up from the pages.

“Liesel you’re being a great help,” Ivy crossed her arms in frustration.

“Look, I already told you which one I liked, and you said it reminds you of Christmas. What would you have me do?” Liesel closed the book.

“The red and green one?” Ivy picked up that dirndl and contemplated it.

“Yes, that one. It looks very Bavarian. That’s what you’re going for, right?”

“You’re right, it ought to remind him of Austria the most…” Ivy said.

“So, there you are. I know they’re elegant and made of silk and all that, but I still think you should wear a normal dress like the rest of the women who will be there,” Liesel told her.

“No, no, this is just as appropriate in places like Munich and Vienna, it’s only Berlin is so modern, so far north, it’s not customary to wear it here. He will notice me in this dress, you’ll see,” Ivy smiled.

“I would be jealous if I were Uli,” Liesel winked.

Ivy laughed and said “Jealous? He’s been here for nearly nine months and he still ignores my attempts! We’re past jealousy. Besides, the love I feel for our Führer is a different kind of love, not like what I feel for Uli…”

“Really? You’re not going to tell me you don’t find him the least bit attractive?” Liesel grinned.

“Our Führer? Ugh Liesel, you’re gross. He’s too old…” Ivy frowned, but Liesel’s grin finally made her give in and smile. “Okay… fine, I think he’s very charming. Don’t you?”

“He is charming, and his eyes are such a beautiful light grey. But I just admire him so much. He saved us. We ought to love him faithfully, it’s the least we can do. Anyway, I probably have more posters of him than you do, so I can’t make fun of you,” Liesel looked around. Most of Ivy’s bedroom walls were plastered with posters from BDM, a lot of them were just of the Führer.

“I’ll just go with this one!” Ivy held the emerald dirndl in the air, victorious. “Look at the golden embroidery, it’s gorgeous. I know he’ll notice me in this one, I know it. I hope he’ll talk to me though. What’s he like?”

“He’s really nice, but it will be crowded there. So no progress with Uli, still?” Liesel said.

“Nothing, I think maybe he’s just not attracted to me anymore,” Ivy told her.

“I find that hard to believe. I’ve seen the way he looks at you. He is just having a hard time recovering from his mother’s death.”

“I know, I know. But I just, sometimes, when we kiss… I know when he’s going to pull away and I just try… the other day I… well, you can’t tell this to anyone… I tried undoing my blouse and he got up and left!” Ivy protested.

Liesel all but laughed. “I’m sorry, it’s just so funny,” she cleared her throat. “Uli is just a gentleman, he probably doesn’t want to… you know… until you’re married.”

“Well, he should propose to me then! I broke Hans’ heart with a lie, that Uli and I are getting married,” Ivy said.

“It was a necessary lie, we both know Hans wasn’t going to go away otherwise. Poor fellow,” Liesel chuckled.

“Good riddance too, he is so boring. That brown SA uniform is just as ugly and boring too.” Ivy began putting the other dirndls away.

“Hans isn’t ugly, he’s just... not as handsome. And, admittedly, SS men are much more appealing, they look smart in their uniform,” Liesel sighed.

“Yes, especially the black uniform?” Ivy teased her.

“What?” Liesel grabbed a pair of heels out of the closet and added, “These are perfect, wear these.”

“Right, thanks. But don’t change the topic. When are you going to admit that you like my brother?”

“Me? Kristian? What are you talking about?”

“Oh, come now. You were so happy after Sara left him and so devastated when he left for Oranienburg,” Ivy said.

“Is he coming to the gala?” Liesel eagerly asked. Ivy raised her eyebrows at her best friend.

Liesel gave in. “Alright, I will admit it. I’ve had a thing for him since you first came to Berlin and I met him. But you know, he’s never looked at me that way. He sees me as his sister’s friend, as a girl.”

“You’ve got to make him see you as a woman, then,” Ivy said to her.

“Yes, because that’s working so well for you with Uli,” Liesel remarked.

“Ouch, thanks!” Ivy feigned a pain in her heart. “No, Kristian’s not invited.”

“Girls, we’re leaving. The parade will be starting soon!” Simone announced from the stairwell.

“Mama, Papa, you’re sure you don’t want to come?” Simone asked her parents one last time before leaving. Gerda and Antoine were at the Köhler house to watch the twins.

“No sweetheart, I would rather stay here with the lovely twins,” Gerda replied.

“Me too. I’ve had enough of that buffoon’s pompous displays,” Antoine said.

“Opa! You can’t speak like that of our Führer!” Ivy said, full of indignation.

“Come on, let’s go,” Peter hushed Ivy and Simone out the door. Liesel and her parents were already outside.

“Vati, you’re going to let him talk like that of our Führer? It’s not nice,” Ivy said.

“My love, it’s nothing against our Führer. They simply miss how life was when they were your age, we live in an age too modern for their liking,” Peter told her.

~

Anticipation for the parade was palpable. Berliners had decorated the beautiful city like never before, even the Olympics paled in comparison. Large banners and flags hung everywhere, from every building and every house. They waved lazily in the wind, along with long, golden strings that floated like dancing rays of sunshine. Indeed, even those whose political views weren’t Nazi and who would have normally been reluctant to hang a Nazi flag, had one flowing from their windows. Low-income families had received a generous amount of money on that day, as a token of grace from their government. Everyone had a reason to celebrate.

The parade was unlike anything they had ever seen. For four and a half hours, formations from all military branches of service marched past their commander in chief. Peter and Generals Schweiger and Von Schäfer sat in a section for SS personnel and top Nazi Party members. At the center-front of that section stood their Führer, surrounded by top commanders and leaders Himmler, Hess, Göring, Heydrich, and Goebbels. Ivy, Liesel, and their mothers sat behind all the men in uniform. Their section was for guests of honour, mainly veterans and Nazi Party and SS families. Their stands were much taller than anyone else’s, they had a great view of the whole parade.

Ivy had been hoping to see Uli, since she knew he would be in the parade. He would be marching with a large formation of Luftwaffe pilots from his academy. Although they weren’t actually pilots yet, they were still trainees, they had to march in the parade nonetheless. She knew she had missed him because soon enough 162 different warplanes were flying overhead. They thundered through the sky like loud metal eagles.

He had told her their march came before the planes. It was impossible to spot him, however, since his formation must have consisted of at least a hundred men and from a distance they all looked the same. All marching in unison, their uniforms perfect. It was like seeing an image repeat itself over and over again. Like a dream.

About 50,000 troops marched by them, or so she heard. How anyone could keep count was beyond Ivy’s imagination. Also beyond her imagination were all the different war vehicles and machines she saw. Large trucks filled with troops, artillery cannons large and small. She saw what looked like cannons, but they were nearly the length of a football field. Then there were the tanks. Massive tanks that tore up the streets. They imprinted the ground as they crushed it, and their powerful roar shook the stands.

After seeing what she saw that day, Ivy had no doubt that her Germany was safe. That if her country went to war, it would come out of it victorious. But who would want to even threaten the Third Reich after seeing such an intimidating display? Ivy wondered if the rumours were true.

~

The gala took place at the Hotel Kaiserhof, Berlin’s most prestigious hotel. They arrived in the Köhlers’ newest car, a shining black Mercedes Benz type 230 of 1939. Ivy stepped inside, following her parents. Father greeted and was greeted by many people, and Simone and Ivy were being introduced to so many people they could have never remembered all the names or faces.

“Ivy, meet Herr Hugo Boss, he manufactures all of our handsome uniforms,” Peter introduced her to a short, kind-faced man.

“So nice to meet you,” Ivy shook his hand. She looked around the room as her father and Herr Boss engaged in conversation.

After being introduced for the hundredth time, Ivy finally spotted who she’d been looking for, Liesel.

“I had to run away from my parents, I don’t think I can shake another hand or mine will fall off…” Liesel whispered.

“Have you seen him? The Führer?” Ivy asked her.

“No, but I saw Herr Göring and his family, and I was introduced. Did you?”

“I haven’t seen him. I was also introduced to Herr Göring, and to Herr Himmler as well.”

“Oh… what was Herr Himmler like?” Liesel asked as they made their way through the dense crowd.

“He’s um… strange. He’s nice, but I don’t know how to describe it. It’s an odd feeling,” Ivy shrugged.

The modern, gorgeous hotel was so crowded they had to struggle to get to a corridor which they hoped led to the ladies’ room. But there were no signs anywhere, just closed doors. Suddenly, one of the doors opened and Reichsleiter Goebbels stepped out, accompanied by his wife and his young children. They walked away but the eldest daughter stayed behind. She looked at Ivy curiously and said “Hi, I’m Helga Susanne Goebbels. Your dress is very pretty. What’s your name?”

“Thank you. It’s nice to meet you, Helga. My name is Yvonne.”

“That’s a pretty name. You’re very pretty, and so is your friend,” Helga stated matter-of-factly. In that instant, Liesel was called by her family and she waved goodbye to the girls before walking away.

“How old are you, Yvonne? I’m seven years old.”

“I’m nineteen. Helga, have you seen our Führer tonight?” Ivy thought she might as well ask, it was no secret that the Führer adored little Helga. She really wanted to see him.

“Yes, I was just in there with him. He’s gotten some wonderful birthday presents, as he deserves. Excuse me… my mother is calling me,” she said and ran off.

All of a sudden Ivy felt terribly nervous. Her heart was beating furiously. She felt anxious, just to know that he was on the other side of the wooden door. She decided to stay there, to wait until he came out, despite her nerves. It didn’t take long at all. Soon enough the door opened and several men stepped out. The Führer was the last to come out, and he walked past Ivy without seeing her. She froze, she’d had everything planned out, what she would say to him, but she just froze. And then it happened.

He had seen her. He turned around and walked towards her. Oh no... she thought.

“This dirndl is lovely, are you Austrian, lovely girl?” he was talking. He was talking to her.

After what might have been a second or a minute, Ivy’s brain began to work again.

“Heil Mein Führer!” she abruptly extended her right hand. I might have shouted that. I’m sure I shouted it. Idiot…

He simply smiled and dismissed the men trying to talk to him. They all wanted his attention.

“There is no need for such formalities, I’m Adolf. What’s your name?” he extended his hand for a handshake.

She shook his hand and replied, feeling slightly more relaxed. He had a calming effect, his smile was warm and sincere, like that of a genuine friend.

They walked together, Ivy noticed that she no longer needed to struggle to get through the crowd. People simply parted and made way for them.

“I’m not Austrian, my Führer, but this dirndl is from Vienna. I was born in Kiel,” Ivy answered in retrospect.

“Well, it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen all day… and I’ve seen some great things today,” he beamed.

“Like the parade, my Führer?”

“Yes, like the parade. Did you like it?”

“I loved it! I thought it was a true example of how magnificent our country is,” she stated proudly.

“You’re such a lovely young lady, we need more German youth like you, Yvonne,” he said. This time he was being called by Minister Goebbels, and Ivy knew that their chat was over. There was something she needed to ask him first.

“My Führer, could I ask you something?”

“Anything, my dear, anything.”

“Is it true what people are saying? Are we going to war?”

“My dear Yvonne, I hope not,” he stood still and looked into her eyes. “I won’t lie to you, I cannot predict the future. No one can. I will try my best to avoid a war, but if somebody attacks us, we will fight back. Would you have it any other way?”

“I would fight back with all my strength, my Führer!” she told him.

“And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I do hope we meet again, lovely Yvonne,” he briefly hugged her and walked away.

Author’s Note:
For a look at how I imagine the main characters, as well as extra photos from the story, click on the Photobucket link in my profile. More photos will be added in time.

Gruppenfuehrerin was the leader of four groups, which led another four groups, which also led another four groups of Bundes Deutscher Mädel or League of German Girls . Basically, she was the utmost leader for a specific region.

Despite how horrendously evil Adolf Hitler was, if there was one good thing about him, I think it was that he cared about animals and he truly loved children. Perhaps he saw in them a sweet innocence that was completely absent from his corrupt world.

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