Kein Kampf Mehr by Henry T. Smith

– Henry T. Smith –

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The scene was a scrum of police in paramilitary gear, television cameras and their slaves, demonstrators and the curious, who wanted to be there at a significant moment in history.
   “Adolf Hitler, you have just been release from the international prison at The Hague in Holland after sixty-three years. How do you feel?” The reporter thrust a microphone at the man in the wheelchair, stopping its progress a respectful foot from the target’s nose.
   “Surprisingly well, for a man of my great age.” The old man reacted with amused tolerance.
   “What was it like, spending all that time behind bars?”
   “I understand many people are making a joke about it, saying that I would not have sent so many people to concentration camps if I had known what an easy time they would have had.”
   “Actually, the political correctness mob are calling for public hanging and flogging of the people making those jokes. I take it you have heard of political correctness?”
   “An American invention. Yes.” Hitler made no attempt to keep the contempt out of his voice.
   “So, you’re saying you had an easy time of it? In prison?”
   “Well, the first twenty years passed in something of a dream. Anyone who has seen film of my trial will know that I was very ill when I was removed from Berlin.”
   “Do you remember much of how that happened?”
   “History says I was flown out of Berlin against the Russian blockade. A light aircraft landed on a section of road, which had been cleared of rubble. I have no memories to contradict history. As I said, I was very ill at the time. Which is why for most of my time at the trial, my place in the dock was taken by one or another of my Doppengänger. You have heard of them, I take it?”
   “Oh, yes. I understand there were a dozen of them, the doubles?”
   “My Zodiac, yes. Although, there were less than twelve when the war ended.”
   “I gather they took your place when you were too busy, or too ill, to appear in public.”
   “I understand all of the world’s leaders used the same system.”
   “But not on the same scale, of course.”
   “German efficiency. We always do things better than anyone else.”
   “Talking about German efficiency, I must say I’m impressed by your English.”
   “When one spends sixty-three years in a prison camp, with guards of constantly changing nationality, one learns to communicate with all of them as time goes by.”
   “So, you spent the first twenty of those years in the prison hospital?”
   “Correct. I think the doctors were hoping to acquire material to put in their memoirs; accounts of How I treated the leader of one of the world’s great nations. But I suppose they also found my medical problems of some small interest.”
   “And you left the hospital wing in 1965?”
   “Yes, one day, my doctors decided there was nothing more they could do for me. I had confounded their expectations by surviving and thriving. The best medical treatment available had cured me of all my ailments and left me much more healthy than the average man of my age.”
   “And your release day was special to you, I understand?”
   “Yes, it was July 20th. Twenty-one years to the day after my incompetent generals tried, and failed miserably, to kill me.”
   “Yes, there’s just been a film of that made. Starring Tom Cruise as Colonel Stauffenberg.”
   “Stauffenberg. If he had been serious about killing me, he should have set off the bomb himself while standing behind me, not trusted some inefficient English fuse.”
   “Your next stop after the prison hospital was special accommodation rather than the general prison population? Which was mainly general officers and high-ranking Nazi Party officials.”
   “Yes, I was moved to my personal wing of the prison camp.”
   “I read somewhere that there was some talk of moving you to Spandau gaol in Berlin. To where Rudolph Hess was being held.”
   “Talk only. The post-war government of the American zone of Germany was too afraid of the consequences of having me back in the country. There were still too many people alive who knew embarrassing details of the history of members of that government and their families. And Spandau was in the Russian zone.”
   “In a sort of international enclave.”
   “Which was still surrounded by the Russians and their fellow travellers.”
   “So you remained in Holland. You were seventy-six in 1965?”
   “That was something which caused a lot of confusion. They didn’t expect me to live much longer, my captors.”
   “I bet they didn’t expect you to outlive Rudolph Hess. Who was what? Ninety-three when he died?”
   “Who was murdered as part of a wider suppression of people who knew inconvenient truths about British policy in the early 1940s.”
   “And there was the security aspect, too.”
   “Indeed. As was stated many times, the more I was moved around, the more certain it would be that someone would let something slip.”
   “But if they kept you in the prison hospital, and then another part of the same prison afterwards, you’d be like the Count of Monte Cristo, or the Man in the Iron Mask?”
   “Except, I had no need of an iron mask to conceal my identity when I was released from the hospital. The moustache vanished during the twenty lost years. And I was just a white-haired old man and known to the prison staff by my prison number. Or the last three digits”
   “Prisoner Eight One Four.”
   “Indeed.”
   “And you spent the next forty-three, nearly forty-four years, in your, well, Special Suite at the international prison? How did you pass the time?”
   “I rattled the bars for a few years but I lost all interest in going anywhere else as I entered my eighties.”
   “That would be in 1969? The end of the Sixties and Flower Power and all that.”
   “And the start of a slide into anarchy and gangs of communist terrorists running riot all over Europe.”
   “And in your one-hundredth year, the collapse of communism and the Berlin Wall, and the re-unification of Germany. How did that make you feel?”
   “I suppose there was a certain satisfaction of being right about communism. It has always been a poison, which kills all those who embraced it. But that was twenty years ago. And to tell the truth, the so-called news on my television was no more or less real than the rest of it: the movies, the dramas, the lies they told about my younger self . . .”
   “You felt little or no involvement with the outside world? Because you weren’t engaged with it?”
   “I suppose so.”
   “Then your sixtieth year in captivity arrived and unleashed a legal storm. It must have been quite a surprise when the World Court ruled, three years later, that no country had the power to detain you for more than sixty years. Certainly not in the light of the leniency shown to many others in your position.”
   “I suppose I did derive a certain satisfaction from the embarrassment of the other world leaders when they had to admit that they had stretched legality to the breaking point and beyond.”
   “And here you are, release on your one-hundred and twentieth birthday. And probably the oldest man in the world, whose birth has been properly documented.”
   “Yes, I have already received a notification from the Guinness Book of Records, my staff tell me.”
   “But now, you are about to return to that world again. Who would you want your mentor to be to help you to find your feet?”
   “I think, probably, Tony Blair would be an ideal candidate. He seems to be adjusting well to life after leadership.”
   “I understand Chancellor Merkel has ruled out letting you return to Germany.”
   “That silly woman has failed to grasp the simple fact that the constitution of her precious United States of Europe guarantees my right to residence in any European member country. Especially my own.”
   “Which is Austria. Which is where you were born.”
   “Which became Germany. I think you will find records of my service in the German armed forces during the first war and my service in the government of Germany before and during the second war.”
   “In that case, are you really planning to return to Germany?”
   “In fact, I think Britain would be my choice. I have grown to admire the generosity of the British welfare system and the excellence of your country's enforcement of the human right to privacy. And I have long believed that Britons and Germans are natural allies. If it had not been for that upstart Churchill, Britain and Germany could have formed an alliance in 1945 which would have spared the world forty-four years of the dead hand of communist in eastern Europe. And probably also in Russia and China.”
   “I gather that, whichever country you choose as your next home, you won’t be a burden on the state. There’s talk of compensation for your illegal term of imprisonment running into tens of millions of pounds.”
   “Possibly several millions. I doubt even ten million will be awarded.”
   “Have you heard about the riots? Jewish mobs smashing the windows of German embassies and German businesses around the world in protest against your compensation?”
   “There will always be people like that. Attention-seekers, the prison psychiatrist called them.”
   “And . . .”

The interviewer managed one last word before he was shunted aside so that the prisoner could continue his progress to freedom. There were lots of other people eager and waiting to make money out of one of the most notorious figures of the twentieth century. ■

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to top of pageCreated for Romiley Literary Circle by HTSP Web Division, 10 SK6 4EG, Romiley, G.B.
The original story & this version Henry T. Smith, 2011