Thank you for coming back to read yet another episode of FLIGHT AT PEENEMÜNDE. That's a real vote of confidence.
Please let me know if I'm succeeding in entertaining you at vichowel (that's one 'L') at aol.com.
We return to Berlin with this chapter -- I hope you appreciate the Horst Wesel Lied, the Nazi party anthem. I had to search long and hard for a good translation. I was really drawn to the Hitlerjungen song that appears in this chapter. I'll always remember how it was presented in the biergarden in CABARET -- the beauty of youthful naïveté and horror at knowing the evil directing it. And the even worse evil that is to follow.
The cards have now been stacked against Lord Molloy. Before you start believing he should have been taken out and shot, remember -- he's on Churchill's side, even if he is a complete snob (look at the Bush-ites -- there has to be something good about at least one of them). Molloy's mostly good (unlike the Bush-ites); and Alan is definitely not bad. Please remember how absolutely stupid one or the other lover (or the antagonist) in a romance novel behaves to show that s/he is in fact in love even as s/he does her best to show that s/he isn't (Makes sense, doesn't it? Still, romance is the genre that has the loyalty of 65% of all fiction readers). I do hope that I'm not too obvious playing with the formulae of the genre.
The story is being told in rotation from London to Germany and back. The atmosphere of the story will be considerably darker in those parts of the story that has his Lordship in Germany.
The copyright to Flight belongs to me. It cannot be reprinted in any medium without my express permission. If you're under 16-18 yos, you shouldn't be reading stories from the Nifty archives -- however, this story will not lead you into orgasmic prurience (mum and dad can read it over your shoulder, in other words). If you enjoy reading stories stored at Nifty and are delirious that they are free, donate a couple of bucks to Nifty so that those stories will continue being free to you.
As I sat up in my bed, Agatha Christie's latest novel spread open across my belly, I had to admit that the Nazis had proved they could put on a good show. In exposition after exposition since Sunday, earnest young men with scrubbed faces and exemplary muscled bodies explained the intricate workings of shiny new machines that would do anything to soil and plants a farmer could conceive of. Other earnest young men touted the wonders of German fertilisers and the German science that had manufactured them. Young women with toothy smiles and perfect legs breathlessly led any on-looker in making the proper "ohs and ahs", presumably at the perfection of German engineering and science as opposed to the beauty of Teutonic genetic strands.
The Nazis were themselves German, of course. And Germans had been known to be more than simply incapable of humour in their seriousness. The seminars were as boring as I remembered lectures being in the most obscure subjects I had taken at university. One needed to be a Nobel laureate to follow the chemistry in more than one offering on fertilisers and their proper application to soil that I attended. Another that I sat in on explained in the smallest possible detail how to increase milk production -- from fertiliser to cow and back.
The agricultural conference the Foreign Office had convinced me to attend for King and country had proved abysmally boring. I was more than happy that I had thought to bring along several of dear Dame Agatha's crime novels. At least, my evenings had been interesting and pleasant after I retired. And I didn't miss Barry too badly.
The last night of the conference, I found myself musing about myself, my American lover, and my friends as I lay in bed, finally tired of Dame Agatha's tales of murder amongst the upper classes of England.
I had already accepted that I was Wildean in nature before I left London. I also knew that I loved Barry Alexander.
I now could understand the public transformation Molloy and von Kys had undergone since our days at Oxford. In Molloy's case, it was familial pressure to be normal that had taken him to the altar. For von Kys, I suspected it had been social pressure to conform.
At least with Molloy, marriage and family had not been enough to hold him to the normality his father had forced upon him. I suspected the same to be true of von Kys, were he to give his sexual desires free rein. Janus' tastes had been too like Molloy's when we had pleasured each other in my rooms at university. He, however, was German; and I was seeing what I already had come to expect from my earlier association with him -- Germans seemed more capable of creating compartments for themselves in the world, their urges and feelings at least, than other men.
From what I had seen during the conference, Janus von Kys had made himself strangely a-sexual in the years since we were at university together. There was no longer about him a sense of sexual interest towards me or towards the young men who hawked the farm wares and glorified the thousand year Reich on the main floor with their Teutonic virility. And I had not seen him show interest in the shapely young women who aided those young men so earnestly selling German engineering, science, and German genetics to the conference's delegates.
In addition to the two noblemen I had known in a biblical sense, there was Alan Dudding. He had been my third regular sex partner at university. Unlike Molloy and von Kys, however, he had refused to surrender to the demands of society. If anything, he seemed to have become proud of being Wildean since his student days, only quietly so. More importantly, he seemed to have become comfortable with himself, somehow simply accepting his nature and refusing to hide from it.
I suspected that I would be emulating Alan Dudding as I lived my private life -- if Barry Alexander was willing to share it with me. I could not see myself herding any part of my nature into a tight compartment and locking it away -- as von Kys appeared to have done in order to be accepted in this new social order that was Nazi Germany.
I supposed I could marry and produce an heir. I should. It was certainly my obligation to the people beholden to Petersholme. If that did happen, however, it would be with Barry Alexander's active acceptance. And it would be the poor woman I married who would have me leave her bed to return to the young American. That is -- if Barry Alexander wanted me in his future.
I realised that I knew far too little of my love's plans for himself. I most certainly intended to correct that omission in my knowledge the moment that I had returned to London.
A single, sharp rap sounded through the thick wooden door of my room. I was instantly pulled from my thoughts of young Barry and nearly dropped Miss Christie's book about murder on the Orient Express as I pushed myself from the bed and pulled on my dressing gown.
I crossed to the door and opened it. The young corporal from von Kys' entourage clicked his heels and stood at attention in the hall facing me.
"Yes?" I asked, making no move to invite him inside.
"Herr Baron, the Graf would appreciate your joining him at the Schloß Kys after the conference has closed tomorrow afternoon," he said in German. "He also invites you to attend a party with him tomorrow night at Reichsführer Himmler's home." The youth paused, seemingly unsure of the remainder of the message he was to repeat. " The invitation to Schoß Kys is to inspect his cattle, but he would also be honoured to introduce you to the Grafchen."
I smiled at the lad's confusion. "I am at the Graf's disposal," I told him and, as he nodded and turned, shut the door.
* * *
I sat between an Italian and a Hungarian in the Metropole's auditorium after lunch the next day listening to some overweight farm ministry functionary define for us how great Germany had become under the guidance of the Nazi party. Presumably, it was a point my hosts were unsure I had learnt from three days of exhibitions, seminars, and lovely young men and women making the functionary's same points over and over again.
From the zealous clapping from either side of me, I gathered that the Hungarians and Italians were from their countries' respective farm ministries, rather than being farmers themselves. The men around me certainly seemed too conversant in German to fit my image of farmers from those poor countries.
I craned my neck and looked around the auditorium -- without, I hoped, being too obvious about how bored I was becoming. I saw a number of my fellow delegates had slumped deep into their chairs, their heads lolling. I grinned. At least, I wasn't the only one bored by the pompous man in his brown uniform. I was, however, one of the few of us who was managing to keep his eyes opened.
I looked up at the stage when the rotund man screamed "Heil Hitler!" into the microphone and thought that really was a rather rude way of waking everyone up. I watched as the officious, rotund functionary gathered up his notes and march to the steps at the side of the stage. The curtain began to rise and I realised we were unfortunately not yet finished.
A tuba omphed. I raised a brow and looked for the band I hadn't known was in the auditorium. A squad of men marched to the centre of the stage to the accompaniment of the tuba. They were dressed in brown -- trousers, shirt, and cap. Each wore a black armband, a blood-red swastika on a white field at its centre. And each carried a swastika banner. They continued to march in place once they had reached the centre of the stage.
The music swelled and the lead two men took a step forward, their faces caught in the light from the flood lamps, their arms hoisting their banners.
"Hoist the banner high!" they began to sing.
"The brownshirt marches with silent steps."
A drum joined the tuba. The rest of the squad continued to march in place, their banners rising and falling as the men moved their arms. Other instruments joined the tuba and drum, and I was hearing the Nazi party marching song.
"Brothers! We march against the red threat
We shall stop them in their tracks.
Feel the spirit of our ranks. March to it!
The path is clear for the brown battalions.
The path is clear for the men of the storm battalions
We raise the swastika proudly!
The hope of millions.
The day of freedom dawns!
Raise the banner high!
I stared at the performance before me, my jaw agape. This was supposed to be a government-sponsored conference. As it was ending, it had suddenly taken on all the trappings of a political party's rally.
I pulled myself from my shock. And shuddered. Upon reflection, I could see the Nazi party anthem was inspiring. I had found my feet beginning to tap. Yes, it was inspiring -- offering pride and justification to blind ignorance.
But I also understood why the dominant feeling I had encountered my first day in Berlin was fear. I too would stay frightened if I had to face the possibility of men such as these marching up to me -- especially knowing that they could publicly shoot me as the Gestapo had done with that young soldier at the Bahnhof.
I remembered the song then -- and the composer. Horst Wessel. Some pimp who had joined the Nazis and imagined himself a poet while he rented out his girls. He'd been killed in some ruckus before Hitler came to power; but the party had made a saint of him. A pimp. A man with no sense of pride or even duty. A man who used women and men's desire for them.
I tried to imagine the tramps at Euston station when I arrived in London after the summer doing something like this. I tried to imagine the Labour party putting thugs in uniform and glorifying them. It was an impossible exercise. Englishmen still had pride in their country. England still meant something to them. No sane Englishman would be a part of this. Despite the daftness of Sir Oswald and his little group of Nazi thugs, England would never become like this.
And, by God, as long as I held my seat in the Lords, I would do everything in my power to make sure it didn't.
The SA squad marched quick time into the wings when their rousing song was over. Everyone in the auditorium leapt to their feet and right arms were rising all around me. "Sieg Heil!" someone yelled and his call was echoed throughout the chamber, over and over. More than two hundred of my fellow delegates were quickly going quite mad.
"Sieg Heil!" thundered most of their voices in unison.
I shuddered. Such madness.
No. Not even red Labour would ever resort to this sort of thing. They were English, after all.
The curtain began to descend on the stage and the room's lights dimmed around us. Silence was an immediate presence as row after row of my companions sat back down. I could have heard the proverbial pin drop.
The curtain began to rise again in darkness. The auditorium's lights came back on dimly. The stage's spotlights were on four prepubescent boys standing in military formation in the centre of the stage. They were all blond, their short hair plastered to their skulls. They wore starched brown knee trousers and white shirts with the ubiquitous swastika band on each arm.
I admired them for the perfection they promised. The boys began to march in place, their young faces suddenly stubborn and their eyes focused on the back of the auditorium.
One of their number broke ranks and stepped resolutely up to the microphone. One spotlight fixed on him, bathing his face in its warm light as if he were an angel. His companions marched to the other side of the stage where they halted and came to attention, watching their lad as he opened his mouth and began to sing in a clear tenor.
Clear, yes; but soft -- almost relaxed. I relaxed, staying with him.
"The stream in the forest runs free,
The branch of the Linden is sleepy and green,
The Rhine gives its gold to the sea,"
he sang, the words gentle, his voice calm and bell-like. A nice child's poem put to music, I thought and relaxed further into my chair. The boy was angelic looking, the spotlight focused on him.
"But somewhere a glory awaits me,
Tomorrow belongs to me."
Glory? What was this child singing? I sat up in my chair, realising that there was a tension to his voice now, growing and taking control of it even as the words again returned to the calm, familiar things a child would see in his home.
"A babe in his cradle is closing his eyes,"
"The blossom embraces the bee,"
I glanced at the other three boys nodding their heads as they counted off the beat.
"But as soon as there is a whisper..."
the four sang out, joined perfectly.
It was a shout, a call to action. A command. Around me, chairs creaked and scraped.
"Tomorrow belongs to me."
The cadence had become a march.
"Tomorrow belongs to me."
Around me, men were rising from their chairs, their voices joining those of the boys on stage. Baritones and basses worked towards an accommodation with the young tenors. The single boy's tenor rode stridently over the other voices.
"The morning will come when the world is mine,
Oh, fatherland, fatherland, show us the life,
Your children have waited to see!
Tomorrow belongs to me!"
I stared at the four children on stage as they repeated the chorus three more times. They were so innocent still. I remembered another young man, perhaps a decade older than these boys. As he ran towards my railway carriage less than a week ago. As two men shot him, downing him in front of me. The fear as his eyes pleaded with me to help him before they reached him and carried him off. This was their tomorrow, debased and hellish as it was.
I remembered the hundreds and hundreds of young men in their feldgrau uniforms standing in formation before that east-bound train. I saw the future then -- not just of Germany, but of the world.
I realised I was the only one in the auditorium still seated. More than two hundred delegates stood at attention around me, their right arms raised in the Nazi salute, singing about a tomorrow no sane man would see except in his nightmares.
"The morning will come when the world is mine!
Oh, fatherland, fatherland, show us the joy!
Our tears have longed to see."
More than two hundred voices sang as if it were a hymn at the centre of their faith. Two hundred voices in rapture, glorifying hell become heaven. The auditorium vibrated with the joy of these people giving vent to their deepest political desire. I slumped deeper into my chair and wished I were in London in Barry's arms where I would forget the insanity in the world.