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.

Eden Denied Her

hotel eden

Hotel Eden, La Falda, Argentina. December 2004 – From Wikimedia Commons

“Senora, everyone else has fled. It is not safe for you here.”

“A moment longer, Juan.”

They stood by the car looking at the distant Eden Hotel. Then the ten-year-old boy emerged from the shadows.

“I got it for you. He visited here once in disguise as did Herr Goebbels,  Herr Eichmann and many others.”

“Let’s see it Adolpho.” Juan took the box and handed it to the German. “Your husband’s legacy, Senora. You are to carry on here in Argentina.”

She held the strong box like fragile porcelain smiling bitterly at the child named for her husband.

Juan ushered the pregnant woman into the car and then got behind the wheel. “You and your child will lack for nothing.”

She muttered, “It was Adolf’s last wish that I raise his unborn son to follow him. The Reich will rise again, and this time we will have the bomb too.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction writing challenge. The idea it to take a Google maps location and street view and use it as the inspiration to craft a story no more than 150 words long. After a great deal of editing, my word count is down to 150.

einstein eden

Undated photo of Albert Einstein posing with a group of visitors at Argentina’s Eden Hotel

Today the Pegman takes us to Córdoba Argentina. The city itself has an incredibly rich history and I was considering a tale perhaps having to do with the Jesuits but then, given my recent interest in World War II and the old atomic weapons programs that were under development by the Axis powers, I thought about how many high-ranking Nazis used Argentina as a sanctuary at the end of the war. That’s when I discovered The Eden Hotel in La Falda, not far from the city of Córdoba but still in Córdoba Provence. I looked at another article and discovered that the hotel was owned by and sheltered Nazis before and during World War II, though shortly before the war ended, an anti-Nazi movement took over the country and seized the Hotel.

Legend states that Adolf Hitler once visited the Eden in disguise. The Hotel had a radio antenna strong enough to receive Hitler’s public radio broadcasts live, and it was later discovered that the owners had actually bankrolled the early Nazi party, funding Hitler’s rise to power.

Although it is a virtual certainty that both Adolf Hitler and his wife (they were married shortly before committing suicide) Eva Braun died in Berlin on 30 April 1945, there have always been rumors up to the level of conspiracy theories saying that Hitler, Braun, or both managed to escape to Argentina. When I was growing up in the 1960s, any number of movies, television shows, and books, leveraged these rumors to tell tales of a mythical rising of a Fourth Reich, like a phoenix from the ashes of the Third.

hitler and braun

© dpa/Corbis – Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun 1944

I leveraged all of that for my wee tale, a pregnant Eva Braun arriving in Argentina, contacting Hitler’s underground network of supporters, retrieving a metal strong box hidden in the Eden Hotel, perhaps by Hitler himself, containing the nuclear secrets of the Nazis, and with the amassed wealth of the Reich now at Braun’s disposal, she brings up Hitler’s son to follow in his bloody father’s footsteps.

I hadn’t thought about this while writing the story, but it later popped into my head that I once saw a film called The Boys From Brazil starring Gregory Peck and Laurence Olivier. It was based on a 1976 novel by Ira Levin about the Nazi “Angel of Death” Dr. Josef Mengele somehow managing to create numerous clones (at the time of the novel, all aged 13 years) of Adolf Hitler with the insane idea of recreating both Hitler and the Reich.

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

I’ve written an expanded version of this story that offers a bit more than I could squeeze into 150 words.

The Apparition

hammerfest

© Google 2017

Nine-year-old Erik Lund quietly crept out of Hammerfest’s historic Hauen Chapel. He never knew his great-grandfather and didn’t understand why people were upset at his death. Bored with the service, he went outside to play in the snow-covered cemetary. That’s when the man in the old-fashioned uniform appeared.

“You must not be here. Go back inside.”

Erik had seen men like him in a history book. They were called Nazis. They’d been here a long time ago.

“Who are you?”

“A man who regrets many things.”

Erik was too young to understand, but captivated by the stranger.

“Go inside to your family. Go!”

Erik started to get scared, turned around, and ran. He didn’t see the apparition vanish. He didn’t see the seventy-year-old unexploded German mine the ghost had kept him from detonating.

The next summer, a groundskeeper would find it and have it safely removed.

hausen chapel

Hauen Chapel in Hammerfest – found at Wikipedia

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw weekly photo prompt based on a Google maps location. The goal is to write a piece of flash fiction no longer than 150 words. My story is 146 words long.

This week the location is in Hammerfest, Norway. After doing a bit of Wikipedia research on the town, I discovered Hammerfest had been occupied by the Nazi’s during World War II. When they left in 1945, they destroyed almost the entire town. Only the historic Hauen Chapel pictured just above this commentary, survived.

I also found out that to this day, mines and munitions left over from the war are still being found and disposed of. I decided that a long dead German soldier, regretting his role in Hammerfest, came back one last time to save a child from the consequences of this single Nazi’s actions.

For more stories based on this week’s prompt, visit InLinkz.com.