31 January, 1933
“The grand city of Berlin lies milky in the morning light. Amid the avenues and alleyways, tram stops and department stores, a little girl by the name of Rosa Klein hurries through the freezing air to buy some rolls for breakfast. Along the broad pavements she runs, her footsteps resounding on the flat-faced buildings. She turns onto the Wilhelmstraße, giving a wide berth to a man crumpled drunkenly in a doorway, a trail of vapour from her mouth lingering in the air beneath a canopy of tram cables.” Read more
“They haven’t seen her yet. Rosa glances swiftly left and right, then slips through a doorway and crouches in the stairwell, in the shadows, out of sight, watching. Such camaraderie they exhibit, these Nazi boys, such confidence; there is a hierarchy in their world and they are at its zenith, with their clean red armbands and neatly combed hair, and pins and badges and epaulettes, their patent boots striking the flagstones defiantly like the beats of a tightly-skinned drum. They glow, those boys, there’s something about them, like gods almost, like angels.” Read more
“Rosa begins to walk, dictionary in hand; this is may be the first time that German shoes have struck this particular pavement, the first time even that a German person has walked along this road. Not a single aspect of the street bears the remotest resemblance to Berlin; there are no tenements stretching into the air, no half-pyramid stacks of stone steps, no lines of stucco along the buildings, no wooden double doors leading into courtyards, no advertising pillars displaying political slogans. Here, instead, there are individual houses with porches and hedges, gates and fences, front gardens and notices about dogs.” Read more
“There it is: the lament of Moaning Minnie, creeping up to a fever pitch, that solemn whine of the night, warning against hostile aircraft overhead. And now the guns sound, they can be heard pounding in the distance like thunder, that didn’t take long– and there, the giant heartbeat of the bombs, goodness but the enemy is almost at the gates, this new wave of intense raids has taken us all by surprise, just when we thought the enemy were on their last legs; we may be worn down by years of hard work and meagre rations, but what choice is there but to get on with it?” Read more
© Jake Wallis Simons 2011. All rights reserved.