The train pulled into the Haupbahnof in Berlin. The station much like the one in Warsaw was massive. People scurried from one platform to the other. A train pulled in and another one left. A conductor blew his whistle and an engine roared. With his valise in hand, Pytor walked with the crowd from his train. The line was orderly as he stepped through the doors to the outside. There was no rain and he had to squint into the setting sun. In every direction Nazi flags flew from each building.
He decided to walk instead of taking a cab. The Polish foreign office was kind enough to provide him with a tourist map. He studied it. He was in the Mitte section. The envelope that Katalyna gave him was addressed to a Frederick Kaddoch, Adlon Hotel, across from the Brandenburg Gate. He located it on his map along with the British and American Embassy that was nearby. The Jewish area called Scheunenviertel (Barn Quarter) was also within walking distance of that hotel.
Cars and people were everywhere. Unlike Warsaw, if there were beggars they were not seen. No garbage or papers littered the sidewalks. Stores even at this hour were full of shoppers. Every few blocks men dressed in brown shirts, black pants, high leather boots with Nazi armbands stood on the corners. They like the flags that flew in the breeze reminded everyone of the Nazi presence.
He gawked at the sites around him. It was only nineteen years since Germany lost the Great War, but there were no signs of defeat. There was a vibrancy not felt in Warsaw. He stopped at a bakery. The store still had a small line of customers. He ordered an apple strudel and a café and took a seat near the window. He took a bite. The strudel melted in his mouth. At least in one respect Herr Faber was right, German apple strudel was delicious. He put another piece on his fork and was about to enjoy another bite.
“Entschuldigen Sie mich, aber ich muss für Unterlagen fragen. Excuse me, but I must ask to see your papers.”
He put his arm down and rested the fork on the plate. He stared at her. She was young dressed in a yellow apron with her thick blond hair tied in a bun. “You want to see my papers? May I ask why?”
Her eyes rolled toward the ceiling as if he asked a stupid question.
“I am not from here. I’m on a business trip.”
“It is obvious you are not from here. There is a law in Germany that no business can serve Jews. Are you a Jew?”
He hesitated for a second. “Of course not. I am Polish.” He went into his coat pocket. “Here.” Katalyna’s envelope along with his passport book was in his hand. He motioned for her to take the passport.
“What is the packet?” She asked.
“A letter I forgot to mail.” His calmness surprised him. Inside, fear ripped through him. She took his document and he returned the letter to his coat pocket.
She glanced through the pages and handed the passport back. “Sorry to have inconvenienced you, but one cannot be too careful.”
“I understand.” He picked up his fork. His hand was steady.
“I am going to the post soon and will be happy to mail your letter.”
He held the fork halfway from the plate to his mouth. “Don’t trouble yourself…”
“No mein Herr it is not a bother. It is rude to ask for identification. I don’t like it, but I have to. It’s the least I can do.”