Want another peek? This is Frederick, a Nazi soldier stationed in Kiev in World War II. He is a torn character who is ugly and horrifying and completely and totally sympathetic. I have really loved writing his story.
I was ten years old the first time my father took us all to Berlin. The year was 1934 and the memory dances through my mind in moving pictures, every emotion joined together in fluid motion. I remember the sights and sounds of the bustling city as we exited our train at Berlin’s Lehrter Bahnhof and moved to the Nazi provided car. The officer appointed to transport us was solemn and stern and I shrunk back in fear when he looked at me prompting my Father to pinch the back of my neck in annoyance.
He always hated when I showed any semblance of fear and I felt his disappointment as we slid into the plush car.
That trip to Berlin was the first time that I remember being in awe of my father’s status. He was so revered that as we exited the car, hotel staff hurried to us, picking up bags and rushing to our room to set it up in a fashion that was worthy of someone with such great importance.
We stood in our expansive room on the top floor of the Esplanade and looked out over the beautiful city. Talia and I pressed our noses to the cool glass and pointed out the cars and people walking far below us. I was awestruck at the bustle and energy that buzzed through the city.
“The cars look like small toys,” I cooed just before my father stepped up behind us.
“Stand up children,” he snapped, his words sharp and clipped. Talia and I stood and faced our father, my heart beating like a drum. “Good. Now, who can tell me what we worked on earlier this week.”
Because I was always so frightened of my father, it seemed to take me a long time to register any question he asked. Panic that I would produce an unacceptable answer left me mute. Talia thrust her hand in the air.
“We learned to remain quiet and calm and to not speak unless asked a direct question,” she said with a smile, her bright red hair cascading over slender shoulders. Father smiled and ran his hand down her cheek.
“Very good, my darling,” he said. “Now, Frederick,” he said turning to me. “How are you to greet any official that walks your way?”
My heart raced as I searched for the words to answer my father. I couldn’t find them, so I merely thrust my arm in the air, straight up above my head. Father sighed and shook his head.
“Yes, Frederick,” he said with a heaping portion of annoyance, “but what do you say when you greet them?”
My hand, still high above my head, shook as I searched for the greeting that I knew so well. Why did I always feel so incompetent in his presence?
Talia snapped her heels together and threw her arm up next to me. “Hile Hitler!” she said, throwing me a sideways glance.
“Hile Hitler!” I repeated after her and Father nodded at us both.
“Very good,” he said. “Now go prepare yourselves for dinner.”
©Kelli Stuart, October 2012