A Son of Kristallnacht

kristallnacht

Found at the Yad Vashem website.

Moshe Katz was trudging home late from his clock repair shop. It was so hard to believe this could happen in Dortmund. Just weeks ago, all the Jews who the Germans believed came from Poland were expelled in a single night. His good friend and neighbor Gersz Blass, his wife Else and their three little ones were just…gone. There was talk that the synagogue might be dismantled soon.

Katz thought of himself as a German first and a Jew second, and yet it was as if the pogroms and inquisitions of the past had returned. His Papa tried to warm him before he died. Zeyde used to speak of the horrors of being a Jew in Russia. How…

A hand grabbed him from behind by the collar and pulled him into an alley, almost making him drop his lunch box. The meager receipts from today’s lackluster business were in there, pathetic, but it was all he had to feed his family.

“Please, please, don’t rob me. I’m poor. My family…”

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Death Visits Mexico

San José el Huayate, Chiapas

© Google 2017

“Seems your U-boat made the wrong turn.”

Figured German was the only language he and I had in common. Hate in his eyes confirmed it though he was also looking down the barrel of my Colt .38.

Heard about the Nazi sub sinking off Mexico’s west coast. He’d made it to San José el Huayate to board a tramp steamer headed for Chile, then get to Argentina.

Six years ago, Algimantas Dailide was a Lithuanian police officer who arrested 12 Jews. Gave them to the Nazis to execute. One was an old, kindly Rabbi who’d never hurt anyone. I’d caught Dailide hiding in this tacky shack. Bet he never thought he’d die here.

I pulled the trigger three times and he dropped like a sack of onions.

“That’s for you, Zayde.”

Los Angeles Private Detective Noah Katz replaced the Colt in his shoulder holster and walked back outside to face the dawn.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction writing challenge. The idea is to take a Google Maps image and location and use it as the prompt to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to San José el Huayate, Chiapas, Mexico.

I sometimes wake up with strange ideas. I don’t know if this was part of a dream or just my sleepy imagination at work, but I had an idea for a Jewish Private Detective named Noah Katz. He operates in Los Angeles in 1947 and is a typical “hard-boiled private eye” except that he’s Jewish and has to deal with a whole bunch of post-war anti-semitism.

Just about all of his clients are Jewish, of course. Most non-Jews who need a shamus go elsewhere. I pictured a scene where a voluptuous, cleavage revealing, (very non-Jewish) very curvy blonde enters his office to hire him, sending his hormones into overdrive as well as his suspicions.

That’s as far as I got because I finally woke up enough to get out of bed.

I looked up the Google maps location on the web and interestingly enough, the Wikipedia page came up in Swedish. Translating it into English didn’t yield much interesting. Images depicted a sleepy, rundown looking bunch of buildings near a beach.

I looked up Chiapas state with the idea of somehow inserting Katz and 1947 into a period piece set in Mexico. Still not much so I winged it.

Since it’s 1947 and Katz is Jewish and this is in Mexico, I decided he was after a Nazi war criminal on the run. I looked up 10 Most Wanted Nazi War Criminals hoping for one who had never been found but no such luck. The only one on the list who fit that profile was Adolf Hitler and I’d already covered that angle a few weeks back.

So I settled on Algimantas Dailide who, in real life, made it to the U.S. after the war and in the 1990s was a real estate agent in Florida. He was eventually deported and settled down to a quiet life in western Germany. Here’s the paragraph on him I got off of History.com:

As an officer in the Lithuanian Security Police, sponsored by the Nazis, Dailide allegedly arrested 12 Jews who were attempting to escape Vilna, a Jewish ghetto in the city of Vilnius, in the early 1940s. He is believed to have handed them over to the Nazis, who presumably executed them. Dailide immigrated to the United States after the war, and was working as a real estate agent in Florida by the 1990s, when the U.S. government discovered his Nazi past and stripped him of his citizenship. After being deported, he and his wife settled in the small town of Kirchberg, in western Germany. Though a Vilnius court convicted him of war crimes, the Lithuanian government made only half-hearted attempts to bring him home to stand trial, and in 2008 a high court in Lithuania ruled Dailide’s health was too poor for him to serve time in prison. Meanwhile, he sits at No. 4 on the SWC “most wanted” list.

I decided to re-write history so that Dailide hitched a ride on one of the last U-boats out of Europe only to have it become disabled and sink off the west coast of Mexico, far from his destination in Argentina.

Katz has an informant who passes along these details (this part would need a lot of work for an expansion of this tale) and the Detective tracks Dailide down in Mexico to settle a personal score.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The Acropolis by Night

“You know we could be shot for this Manolis.”

“You’re worried about a Nazi bullet, Stefanos? How about we don’t fall first and break our necks.”

“I’d rather break my neck than hide like a coward from those bastards even one more day.”

The two teens faced the dangers of climbing to the uppermost point of the Acropolis by night in Nazi occupied Athens motivated by a common enemy. Manolis became a resistance fighter to help free his country. Stefanos and his family were hidden from the Nazis by Manolis’s Greek Orthodox parents. Never in the two-thousand years that Romaniote Jews had been living in Greece had the Church been so kind to them.

“We’ve reached it, Stefanos. Untie your end and I’ll get the other.”

“I’d love to see how fucking Tsolakoglou will explain the absence of the Reichskriegsflagge to the Nazis in the morning.”

I’ve taken some liberties with history but not too many I hope.

The Axis powers did occupy Greece starting in 1940 and did so until 1944. Few Greeks cooperated with the Italians and Germans and passively or actively resisted them.

According to Wikipedia:

Active Greek resistance started immediately as many Greeks fled to the hills, where a partisan movement was born. One of the most touching episodes of the early resistance is said to have taken place just after the Wehrmacht reached the Acropolis on 27 April. The Germans ordered the flag guard, Evzone Konstandinos Koukidis, to retire the Greek flag. The Greek soldier obeyed, but when he was done, he wrapped himself in the flag and threw himself off the plateau where he died.

The story about two Greek youths taking the Reichskriegsflagge (Nazi flag) from the highest point of the Acropolis by cover of night is true, however the boys were actually Manolis Glezos and Apostolos Santas, neither of them Jews.

I replaced one of the boys (please forgive me Mr. Glezos and Mr. Santas) with a fictional Jewish teen because many Jews were saved, including the Romaniote Jews who have lived in Greece since Biblical times, by Greek Orthodox Christian families. Again, according to Wikipedia:

The Archbishop of Athens Damaskinos ordered his priests to ask their congregations to help the Jews and sent a strong-worded letter of protest to the collaborationist authorities and the Germans. Many Orthodox Christians risked their lives hiding Jews in their apartments and homes, despite threat of imprisonment. Even the Greek police ignored instructions to turn over Jews to the Germans. When Jewish community leaders appealed to Prime Minister Ioannis Rallis, he tried to alleviate their fears by saying that the Jews of Thessaloniki had been guilty of subversive activities and that this was the reason they were deported.

In response, many Jews joined the EAM-ELAS resistance fighters and worked with their Christian neighbors to oppose the terrible evil of the Nazis. Oh, “fucking Tsolakoglou” refers to General Georgios Tsolakoglou who had signed the armistice treaty with the Wehrmacht and was appointed as chief of a new Nazi puppet regime in Athens.

I wanted to write a story befitting the American observance of Veteran’s Day but the location of Athens, Greece selected by the Pegman didn’t lend itself historically to such a tale. However, reading the history of the Nazi occupation of Greece, I was able to craft my wee tale in honor of all men and women of courage who have risked their lives in the battle against evil, both past and present.

My wife’s parents both served in World War II (her Mom in the Marines and her Dad in the Navy), my Dad was an Air Force vet and my son David served in the Marine Corps. Today I honor their service and the memories of my Dad and my wife’s parents, and all people who have served their countries with honor and distinction. Thank you all for your service.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The Non-Memorial

Berlin Holocaust Memorial

Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Credit: Getty Images

“I don’t get it, Sheldon. What’s the big deal? It’s just a bunch of blocks.”

“Great place to party, though. It’s like a maze in there, Linda. Get a bunch of people together, bring some weed, and no one can find you.”

“We didn’t come here to party, Sheldon. We’re touring Holocaust Memorials in Europe this summer. But this one in Berlin doesn’t even vaguely mention Shoah.”

“Quit living in the past, Linda. Loosen up.”

The young girl looked down at her shoes, fighting back the tears. “I can’t”. Her Bubbe died just four months ago. Linda could still hear her voice singing her to sleep when she was little. The image of the tattoo on Bubbe’s arm, the one the Nazis gave her when she was a girl, never left her.

Linda looked up and in the distance to their right, she saw a group of young Neo-Nazis laughing.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image as an inspiration to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150. Today’s challenge takes us to the city of Berlin.

This news article at Haaretz explains the controversial history of the Berlin Holocaust Memorial, so I won’t include the details here, except to say that we must never forget Shoah and we have a duty to not only remember the past but to make sure we never repeat it.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The Collector

singing

© The Storyteller’s Abode

Sidney Feldman finally acquired the crown jewel of his collection, an original Joyce, circa 1897, simply titled, “Woman Singing.” It had been taken from its Jewish owner by the Nazis in 1939.

Feldman found it at an estate sale and knew immediately what he had. True, he could have returned it to the owner’s heir. He was even acquainted with the family.

But he was a collector, and the painting was priceless.

He heard the music the second night the painting was mounted in his private exhibition room. He staggered there and sat on the floor. The melody was mesmerizing. Feldman was there for days listening to her exquisite voice, his piano playing, watching the girl endlessly turning pages of music for her Father.

He died of thirst a week later. The maid eventually discovered the body. The authorities investigated and found dozens of items in the Feldman collection that rightfully belonged to others.

“Woman Singing” was returned to the great-granddaughter of the man who died in Berchenwald. She donated it to Yad Vashem in Israel.

This was written for the FFfAW Challenge-Week of March 28, 2017. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long, with 150 being the ideal. My story word count is exactly 174.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.