Meeting “Uncle Ernst,”
and the First Lady
of the Party
Captain Ernst Rohm finished his stein of pilsner beer with a belch, then dismissed the group of hangers-on at his table as he turned towards Walter and enquired with genuine concern, “Have you somewhere to stay in Munich... any relatives or friends?” as his forefinger stroked his upper lip.
Walter sadly shook his head saying, “No, Captain.” This was indeed correct. Walter really was homeless, but hardly homesick!
Rohm then took out of his uniform pocket a black engraved notebook whose cover emblem Walter did not recognise; it may have been a Masonic symbol. The captain quickly scribbled down an address on a page before tearing it out and offering it to Walter, saying with a smile, “There’s a comfortable bed for you at one of my barracks. Just present this to the sergeant-at-arms at the gate, and he will find you somewhere to bunk down for a few days. Remember, it’s not the Adlon or Horcher, my boy, but the food’s the best and your bed will be comfortable.”
Walter had no idea what or where he was referring to, only later discovering that the Adlon was the most famous hotel in Berlin, and Horcher was a much researched restaurant frequented by Göring and other fawning fascists in the town, none as fastidious as Der Führer in what he favoured to sample and eat. It was always difficult to reserve a coveted table if you didn’t have the right connections. In fact, Horcher catered all the special events at Hermann Göring’s country retreat at Carinhall, when he requested their culinary services, especially when entertaining visiting foreign figures.
Later, Göring’s first wife Carin would be interred there in pomp, laid in a purpose-built crypt after her death in 1931. In fact, Walter was to become familiar with this ceiled crypt of Carin Göring, as his own career in the Nazi party increased. In the meantime, Walter had much to learn about the high and low life of the Munich and Berlin elite.
Rohm then addressed Walter kindly, “You can stay there until you get back on your feet. It’s the least I can do for dear Colour Sergeant Kyper’s son. Oh, by the way, let me know where your dear sister is living in Berlin, and I will arrange an annual allowance to be posted to her. I hope it aids her a little, and if you like you can tell her it’s from yourself.”
Rohm gently punched Walter on the shoulder and dismissed him rather like one of his army acolytes. Walter was immediately impressed by this genuine kindness shown to his family and would not forget it in the future.
Over the next few weeks Walter was to observe the fearsome Freikorps paramilitary fiercely functioning under his command; fighting on the streets was also frequent, with fists, clubs and pistol butts used on lawless Munich communists, anarchists and agitators. At the time, Munich seemed to be a menacing town where law and order in many of its districts had almost dissolved into anarchy. Always a proud royalist by conviction, Rohm had no compassion or concern with the “curse of godless communism,” as he explained it graphically to any audience who listened.
His soldiers’ venom also stung those fawning political foot soldiers of socialism, as he called them. Somehow, they were always bringing up the vanguard of any convenient revolution presenting itself. Their ambition was to transform Munich into a socialist satellite beholden only to Moscow’s will. Rohm simply knew this “red” menace had to be exterminated like stricken sewer rats. Not to be permitted under his watch! Only brutality from the bullet and brawn by his men would finally bring Rohm’s law and order to the city.
Of course, Munich was his “manor” which he knew so well and loved. He was indeed master of the so-called “Munich militia,” a title Rohm rejoiced in with relish. It’s true that many of those Munich men would later merge into the Brownshirts to serve and support the fledgling Nazi party, then in its embryonic state.
A few days later, Walter was sitting in the barracks canteen enjoying a tasty beef stroganoff with some of the younger boisterous soldiers when Rohm’s adjunct tapped him on the shoulder saying suspiciously, “The captain would like to see you...now!” This sounded like an order and not a suggestion. Walter’s heart sank with trepidation, and any appetite evaporated.
He laid down his cutlery and followed the adjutant to Rohm’s office, speculating what his future fate might be. Had he heard something somehow about Walter’s father’s murder, and by Walter’s own willing hand at that? Once inside, he found Rohm seated behind a large oak desk littered with folders, newspapers and army manuals on assorted weaponry. Walter had heard somewhere that he was affectingly known as the “Machine Gun King of Bavaria,” after it seems he concealed large caches of weapons from the authorities. This was indeed the captain who had crushed the communist clique in Bavaria with his always-loyal troops. A popular soldier and political organizer par excellence. This was the Ernst Rohm whom Walter now stood before like a nervous schoolboy, waiting for his chastisement.
He then looked up and said with interest, “Well, Kyper, have you made any decision about your future?” Walter shook his head. This was not what he had expected to hear. “No, Captain, not yet.” He paused then enquired, “Would you consider that the army might possibly be the career you would want to follow and explore?” Again, Walter honestly shook his head, “and definitely not the church,” Rohm laughed.
Both families were in fact practicing Protestants, Walter was to learn later. So, was this perhaps another thread of friendship, if you can call it, that was developing between them since his arrival in Munich some weeks ago? Then he said quietly, “Let’s sit down, shall we, and talk about it?” Walter had often been aware that when he stood awkwardly before any person of authority seated behind his desk, he was addressed as Kyper, and all very formal. Only once such person had got up and walked around the desk would it be Walter.
With that, Rohm stood up and ambled around from his desk, leading him to the sofa where they sat down. Then he enquired, raising a ragged eyebrow, “Have you thought about the police force... I ask because I suggest you would make a fine officer in the criminal constabulary. You know, Walter, we will one day require dedicated young men rather like yourself to be a thread of the tapestry for what stretches ahead for Germany and her appointed destiny. Make no mistake, Walter, this party, my party, is on the march.” His voice was now rising. “In time, nothing can or will hinder its progress throughout the fatherland and later the world. The party will be Germany, and Germany will be the party.” He paused and smoothed his fitted uniform jacket saying quietly: “Your father would be proud of you, Walter, and so would I.”
Now he looked at Walter, pensively waiting for an answer, and the answer that he wanted to hear would be his acceptance to his suggestion. What choice did Walter now have? It seems, as usual, that the Captain would accept no argument. The discussion was over as far as he was concerned. With that fait accompli, he then relaxed.
Rohm nodded, shook Walter’s hand and stood up to reach for a letter from his littered desk and hand it over. It was addressed to the police station superintendent, of course, a public official who had been long ago been comrade-in-arms of Captain Rohm, serving perhaps on the western front, would you believe? Walter quickly realised that Rohm must have been aware all along what his answer would be. So, was Walter so easy to read? Well, obviously the captain surmised that he was. By accepting this suggestion, young Kyper now embarked on that slippery road to deception and deceit. There would be no later retreat. His entry into the Munich milieu was decided that morning in the office of Captain Ernst Rohm and, it seemed, his future mentor.
To Walter’s surprise, he was accepted for mandatory basic training for the force, and was even more surprised when sworn in as a junior officer in the Munich police. He enjoyed the employment, and the easy camaraderie with the other cadets also helped. This stood him well and prepared him for his determination to be a policeman with pride in the uniform and all it should represent to the public. No women then, of course, to distract young men in their determination to protect and serve the good citizens and burgers of Munich.
In those days, the police were obliged to wear their uniforms at all times. This was absolutely mandatory! If they answered a front door even at a relative’s house, they first had to put on their uniform jacket. Or if they were just relaxing in shirtsleeves in their own rooms, the same procedure applied. One station sergeant even used to inspect the men’s fingernails to make sure they were spotless before they left the station. He would insist on it. Promptness and pride in the uniform was always a preparation in those working days, and most of the officers were very patriotic, of course.
A few weeks later, after finishing a night shift Walter noticed Rohm’s adjutant waiting for him. “The boss wants to see you,” he informed him, pointing his thumb to the barracks. Walter followed the adjutant into Rohm’s office, where he was again seated before a pyramid of paperwork now piled up high on his desk, plus a holstered revolver lying there on open display. Walter assumed it was primed to fire. Rohm enquired how he was adjusting to the life of a policeman. In fact, he had heard encouraging reports about Walter’s progress. The young police wondered from whom, and was there anything that this man did not know about anything in Munich? Much of it would arrive at his desk from his well-oiled Munich network of informers who marched to Rohm’s drum roll of requested information, for a price of course.
Again, he departed from behind his desk, and led Walter to the same horsehair sofa where they seated themselves. “Now Walter,” he began, “it’s no secret that my two passions in life are politics and soldiering.” Then he made himself comfortable, and Walter waited for what was to follow. “You may not know that I almost died of the Spanish flu, and that I sustained painful war injuries during the Great War. Of course, your dear mother herself sadly succumbed to the flu, as you informed me some time ago, and I feel for your loss. Our mothers should be everything to us, in how they encouraged us and loved us.” Walter nodded in silent agreement, wondering where all these platitudes were pointing to. But survive he had… somehow. Soon after, Rohm joined the NSDAP, where he became acquainted with young Adolph, just then a struggling commercial artist of some talent. “Now it’s also no secret that such brave soldiers and those courageous conscripts, including your late father, were stabbed in the back brutally by Jewish communist war profiteers on those battlefields of blood. As a patriot, I had to avenge their deaths, because nobody else would or could. I felt it was my divine duty. You know, Walter, I lost many friends in the war and I still remember them every single day. Sometimes at night, when sleep deserts me, which is often, I hear their voices crying for vengeance as I see their lost faces. I now propose to you and others that our party, although small in membership today, will one day rule Germany and avenge their untimely deaths. Only then can we serve and safeguard our nation, forged long ago, and then secure its future. I believe that out of our previous pain, one day very soon... a future and faith in the Fatherland can and will become our divine destiny. Then, Walter, we must be prepared to be part of its progression, or we shall perish pitifully!”
Once again, Walter was aware they were now on first-name terms. “I believe, as do many others, that our party will turn a historical page in preparing Germany’s greatness once again. Call me a pitiful patriot if you like, Walter, but I stand by my convictions and remember those sadly slaughtered for their beliefs on the soil of the western front. I believe that if those lost comrades were here now in Munich with us today, they would march shoulder to shoulder on the long, sometimes lonely road that stretches before all of us. We will become a united nation once again, remembering those Teutonic warriors of old forged in the fires of war, bloodied in the battle for the future of our fatherland. We were humiliated and humbled at the wickedness of Versailles in 1919. It will never happen again! It will never be allowed to bring shame again to Germany and her people, I will never allow it!”
Walter wondered where this vitriol was going. After all, he had little interest in politics. “Now Walter,” he had calmed down, “I’ve arranged with your station superintendent ‒ he’s an old comrade of mine from the army ‒ to allow you some time to assist at the party office here in Munich.” Looking at Walter with interest and expectation, he added, “Now, how do you feel about that... would you be interested?” He turned and looked at Walter, waiting for his hesitant reply. “Of course,” Walter replied. Once again, how could he refuse any request made of him?
Through Rohm’s influence, for the first time Walter’s mother, following a miserable life of long and merciless taunts from his monster of a father, and his sweet sister were not facing the degradation of starvation or eviction, something many other Germans were suffering daily. Walter’s career prospects in the Munich police looked very promising indeed. He leaned forward and gave his consent.
Rohm shook Walter’s hand, then reached into his uniform and withdrew a sealed letter, handing it to him and saying, “Well done, Walter, you have made a wise choice. Now, here is a letter as an introduction to Herr Himmler. He’s a good man, a loyal party member, but he is on his own much of the time, apart from some part-time volunteers who drift in and out when they feel like it. If there are any problems you think I should know about, you can always reach me through my adjutant.” Walter stood up and departed to destinations unknown, rather confused but inspired to do his best for Rohm and for himself. Within a few weeks, Walter had become a member of the Munich police force and soon to be a paid-up party member (he hoped) of a political party of unknown aims or aspirations.
Some days later, Walter located the office at number 50 Schellingstrasse. This was the third party headquarters. It was fronted by two fearsome foot soldiers, both wearing faded civilian fatigues. This would later change to the full displayed S.A. uniform, probably on orders from Rohm. Eventually, Walter was nodded through the oak door after both men inspected his letter to Herr Himmler. One young man even saluted him with a raised fist after noting his name. Once inside the lobby, he climbed the carpet-free wooden stairs to the first floor. There on the door secured to a wooden panel were the words “NSDAP.” They rather resembled being burned into the wood with a hot poker. Well, maybe they had indeed been written by someone with a hot iron. Walter knocked and waited. Then, a muffled voice called out and he cautiously entered.
The office premises consisted of five rooms, as he recalled. Structural alterations would later be arranged, thus providing a large hall to hold party meetings addressed by Hitler and others and to feature Nazi flags and other prized party possessions. The architectural drawings were prepared by Professor Paul Troost, a “scholar and a gentleman”. His designs for the Führerbau were, in Walter’s opinion, absolutely amazing. He also very much appreciated “House of German Art,” still standing supreme today in Munich. Sadly, after Troost’s untimely death in 1934, slippery, sly and suspicious Albert Speer attempted to occupy the absence left by Paul, but failing miserably.
Incidentally, Paul’s wife Gerdy was an ambitious architect and associate in her own profession and also a close and dear friend of Walter’s wife Karin. After Karin’s death, Gerdy designed a detailed devotional stone sketch for her headstone; sadly Walter was unable to secure the services of a stonemason to complete it. Gerdy Troost died in 2003 aged 99 years old. A remarkable lady, and a true daughter of the Reich.
Walter entered Himmler’s office for the first time. There was a single telephone line, along with a small kitchenette and unlit stove, a cupboard and shelf. A toilet was situated on the next floor, which appeared to have been in residence since the Franco Prussian war. Inside, there was a small sink with deep rust stains on display. A polished tin mirror with spider cracks deep in the glass was somehow fixed to the wall. To finish its awful appearance, there was also cracked broken linoleum in a dirty shade of green to greet you as you walked into the kitchenette. Walter felt it was all very bizarre. Was this to be the political party that would make Germany powerful and proud in the future? Again, all very strange, he felt, as he walked towards the closed door.
Oh, and one office typewriter, can you believe? An ancient Erika machine to be used by all. None of them could type professionally, of course, although Himmler had a better understanding of the machine than the rest of them. They just simply relied on two fingers to compose a letter, which was hopeless. They also had occasional unpaid volunteers, wandering in each day, whenever they felt like it. At the time, the office was not in a position to arrange a salary. However, each volunteer was offered a meal ticket to be presented at a local café where they were provided with a free hot nourishing meal. All were very grateful, according to what Walter heard from many of Rohm’s men who also dined there. Later, Himmler somehow secured the services of a Frau Elsie Stein, the widow of one of Ernst Rohm’s fellow officers. This dear lady would arrive daily and arrange the correspondence in some workable order. After all those years, Walter could still hear her (new) typewriter clattering away like machine gun bullets, as her nimble fingers marched across the keys. She always remembered their respective birthdays as well, bringing in a small cake and birthday card for each man. Bless her.
In fact, in the late 1960s Walter accidentally met her in Berlin, and they later reminisced a happy hour away over creamy cups of cappuccino with cream cakes added to that treat, happily laughing and recalling those Munich days of long ago. They were, she informed him through tears in her eyes as she departed, some of the happiest days of her long life.
A note of interest pertaining to dear Frau Stein concerned Reinhard Heydrich and spoken to Walter just days before he departed in September of 1941 to Czechoslovakia. She reminded him over coffee and biscuits of this typewriter tale that the four had tolerated in those distant days of the 1920s in Munich, and pre-Frau Stein’s awaited arrival. He himself had also shared a typewriter in 1931 in the Führerbau, it seems, with one of his S.S. colleagues.
History reminds us that in 1940, the German army (the Wehrmacht) occupied eleven countries, as well as intervening in Africa and the Middle East. They were invincible then, it seems, or so they thought. Heydrich then laughed, saying, “Now my dear Walter, we now own millions of typewriters of all makes and conditions in all these countries, and a legion of typists await our command. Sadly, none of us in the highest echelon of the party can type professionally to save our lives... sad, isn’t it? So, I say a toast to dear Frau Elsie Stein, wherever the dear lady may be.” He then held his champagne glass high to mark her memory as Walter joined him in the toast. These were the final happy words he ever spoke to Walter.
As Walter enjoyed reminiscing, he realized that Heydrich should have been sitting in the hallway along with Walter and Putzi, waiting for the long arm of the law to thunder on his front door to arrest him for his “crimes against humanity” or however today’s courts classified them. But he still missed the “old chap” and his kindness to him and to Karin. He did perhaps wonder if he was his only true friend in Berlin and Munich at the time. He wasn’t sure Heydrich had really ever sought or favoured friendships, as the man had once suggested to Walter that he had perhaps acquired too many foes instead of friends.
(Walter attempts to paint a portrait of Putzi)
Like many others who had known and worked with Heydrich, Walter was shocked, but not surprised, at the assassination attempt in Prague in 1942, which was followed by eight painful days of lingering before death claimed him. He had always taken risks, of course. On that fatal day in Prague, Heydrich had foolishly pursued his assassins instead of just ordering his chauffer to speed to safety. One mistake too many he had committed!
Naturally, Karin wanted to be with Lina in the hospital and comfort her and her young family but Himmler overruled it, citing security reasons. Walter was later informed that when Himmler heard about the serious condition of Heydrich in the hospital he openly wept. Heydrich also possessed a memory for all phone numbers and could even recall every telephone number he had ever been given or dialed, as well as all the details of his official Reich statistical reports. Both Karin and Walter naturally attended his funeral held in Berlin at the Mosaic Hall in the Reich Chancellery. Heydrich’s grieving wife Lina was absent, as Walter recalled, as she was expecting a baby. However, Walter remembered commiserating with Heydrich’s two charming sons, young Klaus and Heider, whom they both knew previously from sharing happy family picnics with them and their parents.
Incidentally, for what it’s worth, Heydrich played his violin beautifully on the occasion of Walter and Karin’s third wedding anniversary, apologizing profusely that he had not been able to perform at their wedding. He chose to perform for them Robert Schumann’s beautiful rendition of Traumerei. Walter had never heard it interpreted with such raw emotion then or since. Karin wept openly that evening, as did Carin. Sadly, some months later Carin died in Stockholm. Attending this orchestrated funeral requiem were the Reich’s three ringleaders: Hitler of course, plus Himmler and Göring. However, Walter couldn’t recall seeing if Goebbels attended. Karin was always very emotional at these painful party and maudlin memorials. As he recalled, gripping his gloved hand, she kept repeating over to herself like a mantra through tears the words, “Poor Lina, poor Lina, poor Lina.”
But that was Karin, with her attributes and aspirations to aid others in their angst and agony, somehow always sharing their sufferings and sadness in their sorrows. Walter realized that she had enough empathy and tenderness for both of them to disclose for any day that demanded it and to anybody who needed it. But, it was always a dilemma for him, something that never could or would diminish with time, in spite of his trying.
Back in the office, the sole occupant whom Walter was to meet and present with Captain Rohm’s letter of introduction arose to greet him with an outstretched hand. “Walter Kyper,” he stated with a warm, engaging smile, “I’m Heinrich Himmler. Welcome to our humble abode.” With that, he gestured to a waiting chair, enquiring if Walter would care for any refreshment. He politely declined this kind offer. Himmler himself, if Walter could recall, was sipping from a tall glass of green tea as he sat down to open and read Rohm’s introductory letter. He personally could never stomach the stuff, although he had been informed by nutritionists that it was based on an oxidation process and was rich in herbal benefits, or so they claimed. Himmler was of average height, perhaps 5 foot 8 inches, with receding chin and effeminate hands. He reminded Walter of a friendly schoolmaster perhaps, a teacher of geography, with his pince-nez somehow safely perched on his nose and a set smile on his face that never seemed to vary. He would later be described callously as a colourless man with petty bourgeois tastes, something both his enemies in and out of the party whispered about him. Yet Walter warmed to him and felt the feeling was mutual.
Himmler had been born in Munich and was now organising the Nazi propaganda machine for that city, as well as being involved in securing cash to support the party newspaper Volkischer Beobachter through advertising, now as the Deputy Reich Propaganda Chief, an award he was very aware about. He always spoke about himself with a minimal amount of modesty, later informing Walter that he had enlisted in Ernst Rohm’s militia in 1922 as a young standard-bearer for the regiment (reminding Walter of his late unlamented father), later joining the party in 1923 after the failed premature putsch in Munich.
Years later, when Rohm disputed with Hitler and departed Germany in 1928 to Bolivia, of all places, to organise their disorganised army, it would be Himmler who corresponded regularly with him. After Hitler’s urging, Rohm apparently reluctantly returned to Germany in 1931 to lead and reorganise his Sturmabtielung or S.A.
Himmler was always the perennial planner, in everything he did and perfected for himself and the party. Rohm, on the other, was a short-term subscriber to the suggestion of “what will be, will be” (or “qué será, será”). It’s no secret now that with Rohm away on active service in South America, Himmler quickly created his own private army, the S.S. (Schutzstaffel, or security guards) to reform that political vacuum. Both organizations are still remembered, and in some cases “revered” today, by many Nazi fanatics, or so I read.
Heinie, as he was known to friends and close colleagues, was later to marry, and the family would be blessed with a young daughter named Gudron or nicknamed “Puppi.” Himmler adored her, of course. He often brought her to his office in Munich and later to Berlin. There was even a photograph in the press archives of him with young Gudron taken on one of his frequent visits to Dachau K.C., probably by his personal photographer. Also beaming down at the little girl was Karl Wolfe, Himmler’s chief of staff, a man who led a charmed life after the war. Walter remembered reading numerous fairy tales then to Gudron in Berlin, “Hansel and Gretel” being one of the many that excited and terrified her. She would often plead to have him read it to her again and again. Walter once tried unsuccessfully to introduce her to the popular happy Heidi books (his favourites) as an alternative to her reading, but she found them boring and silly, and they were quickly discarded.
Heinie informed him that he had previously acquired a diploma in agriculture husbandry as a young man. Always a committed man of the soil and a respecter of her seasons, he was now planting the future political dogma of Nazi doctrine into the waiting desolate German landscape. Walter believed in a way he had now discovered his true vocation in the party. In those days, there were four of them in the office. Later, in 1925, it would increase to over 40 staff. This would all change dramatically in 1931 when the party treasurer acquired the building later known as the “Führerbau.” This property had been previously owned by the Barlow family and was located near the party’s administration building where Walter was to spend a lot of his own time.
Incidentally, the Catholic nuncio’s residence was situated near this building. Walter would frequently observe through his office window the stern autocratic Archbishop Pacelli being chauffeured around town in his distinctive yellow Hispano-Suiza. Paul Ludwig Troost had designed the buildings internally, later Albert Speer, a man whom Walter never cared about, entered the Nazi theatre. Distinguished historians today maintain that Speer prolonged the war from 1943 onwards, causing the death of millions then dragooned into slave labour. Well, maybe! Some also claimed with conviction that Albert Speer should have been hung at Nuremberg in 1946 by the Allies, but Speer was always fortunate and fate (if there is such a thing) seems to have “smiled on him” throughout his life pre- and post-Spandau. He had once gushed to Karin at a chancellery reception in Berlin of his personal project to prepare a thousand-mile highway from Berlin to Moscow, if and when Germany secured victory in the war, which by then, of course, was already lost.
During those times, the party continued to expand although very slowly at times. Himmler somehow had earlier acquired a possibly Swedish (Helios) modified motorcycle. It became his pride and joy. He christened the bike the “Lady Cynthia.” Walter wasn’t sure why he called her this unusual name; he never shared it with him. He informed Walter rather quietly this was to be their secret and requested it would remain so, a petition Walter naturally respected. Himmler always kept the vehicle in showroom condition, often undertaking important maintenance, a task he seemed to relish.
The work on that trusted “Lady C” bike allowed Walter, as an apt apprentice, to watch him perform such duties as oil changing, spark plug renewal and gasket appraisal. He also told him about the machination of the machine and about her joys and her quirks. He really should have been a mechanic, Walter once told him in all seriousness. However, it seems politics obviously got in the way of that trade.
In those far-off days, they were often found journeying into the countryside and stopping at small market towns to visit new members and drum up new membership for the party. Walter recalled frequently riding as a nervous pillion passenger clinging onto him through rain and snow. It was not a comfortable ride. In those days, they would arrive in a town or hamlet and set out their stall and banner in what was known then as “preacher’s corner” for some reason.
There, men of the Bible would preach the word to an assembled crowd of mockers and listeners, then once finished, usually quoting from the Book of Revelation to the crowd, Walter or Himmler would mount the stone steps in the wall or on a box and extol the benefits of the Nazi party. Somehow, they got to know many of these street preachers individually and on many occasions happily shared their lunch with them. Walter remembered they always seemed to be hungry and would never allow alcohol to pass their lips, not that he cared for it himself then or now. No food was ever scattered or squandered. They would naturally debate theology during meal times, somehow comparing the ideals of the Nazi party and the similarity with their own religious beliefs. Yes, they were indeed happy but innocent times.
During those days, Himmler and Walter attracted a robust crowd of listeners and hecklers, with no television to corrupt or distract the population. Both of them always respected these preachers for their beliefs. Himmler was especially interested in Galatians 6:9, which if Walter remembered reads, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
One of the preachers explained this as the gift of the saved or we reap what we sow. Himmler of course argued this could be construed in his mind as the coming advent in the political world of the arrival of the Nazi party. This, he argued with conviction, would see his party govern Germany in the very near future and solve many of Germany’s problems of poverty and pain. He always respected their different points of views, and so did Walter. They always enjoyed a very good-natured discussion with the preachers and looked forward to meeting them again if the opportunity presented itself, which it usually did. All shook hands before finally departing, with Himmler and Walter frequently inviting them to visit in Munich if they so wished, an offer that many did accept. In a manner of speaking, Walter supposed that they foolishly thought of themselves too as missionaries as well in some way. Many of those men, he later learned, willingly joined the party and fought in Russia against godless communism.
Yet Walter remembered Himmler could be cruel during certain occasions if the opportunity offered itself to him. For example, they were once sitting in a park finishing their lunch and watched a blind ex-soldier or sailor sitting near to them with his face lifted up towards the warm sun. Suddenly, a strong wind blew off his cloth cap, sending it to settle near Walter’s shoes. He jumped up to retrieve it and return it. Himmler quickly restrained him, whispering, “Let’s see how far it goes, shall we?” They both sat for five minutes observing the blind man now on his knees searching vainly for the cap. Soon, he had inched his way towards their bench when his hand touched Himmler’s boot. Walter thought he must have realised his cap had been there all the time, and why had this person not informed him of it? Immediately, Himmler bent forward, swooped it off the floor, saying in a kind manner, “Here you are, young man. Yours, I believe?” The veteran reached up for his lost hat, as Himmler placed it in his reaching hand. Himmler then offered the war hero a handful of coins. He accepted and slowly departed, thanking them. When Walter asked him about the purpose of that cruel experiment, he simply replied, “Because, Walter, I simply wanted to see how determined he was. Because this is the tenacity I want to install into my own army of progressive men, always patriotic to the Reich.” He meant, of course, to the coming S.S. troops.
Whenever Himmler and Walter required petrol to complete the journey, he would say: “Leave it, Walter, let’s see how far we can travel on an almost non-existent fuel tank.” Somehow, they were always to arrive safely back at the office. Himmler would then smile like a bemused Buddha, as Walter shook his head in amazement at his accuracy in his petrol predictions.
They must have travelled hundreds, if not thousands of miles, on “Cynthia,” their trusted lady who never failed them, whatever the weather. However, one day Himmler, much to Walter’s surprise, decided it was time he had a driving lesson of his own, pulling into an empty field. He sat him on the bike and gave a brief demonstration of how the machine worked, with special emphasis on the gears and the brakes, “both very important, especially the brakes,” he informed Walter with a smile. Much to his surprise and after a few spills on the grass, Walter felt he had somehow mastered the mechanics of this mysterious machine. Days later, with a now happy Himmler riding pillion and patting him on the back and with Walter now trusting in his newly acquired road skills, they managed to arrive safely back to Munich to their waiting office safe and sound. It was an exhilarating experience he had never endured since. Walter was always thankful to him for the total trust that he placed in him and in many other ways too numerous to mention. Much of what he did for his safety he would not be aware of until many, many years later.
Naturally, most of the Nazi elite visited the party headquarters before occupation in 1931 to the so-called derisive “Brown House.”
Walter remembered Joseph Goebbels, or “the little man with the big mouth” as he was referred to by many of his numerous enemies. Goebbels would often arrive and demand that someone type up a speech he had to deliver that evening at some party function. To her lasting credit, dear Frau Stein, their popular part-time office secretary, informed him quite sharply that he must wait his turn as “she only had one pair of hands.” And wait he did! Walter found it very amusing to see him sitting in the corner, rather like Jack Horner. Little cross Joey Goebbels had to sit and sulk and wait his turn rather like a petulant spoilt little boy. How he hated Himmler, always hesitant that Himmler was hatching something horrible against him, something Himmler was certainly capable of doing!
Munich rated very low in Goebbels’ personal approval as a city, as well. But Walter supposed he was a brilliant speaker. Today he would be some pet politician’s spin physician, always painting a net of perfidious press releases. In the eyes of Walter, such people are just mavericks and masters of the media illusion. Of course, Magda, Joseph’s wife, become a dear and devoted friend of Karin, as most of the top echelon’s wives did. Walter was very proud of her and her special gift in drawing people to her and listening attentively to them, a talent he did not possess or wish to claim or exercise.
Another visitor was the ideologist Alfred Rosenberg, a complex man then swimming in the success of his book The Myth of the Twentieth Century and very proud of his personal intellect. That author once presented Walter with a signed copy of the book, which he later donated to a Jesuit library in Frankfurt (or was it Berne?). He also suggested he had been presented in 1917 (by an unknown stranger in Moscow of all places) with an original edition of the suspicious, Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, composed by a young Jesuit scholar, apparently. But, Walter was unable to memorize the meaning or message that the book proclaimed to the party and the public.
Walter later caught a whisper from one of Hitler’s office staff that even “the boss” didn’t understand a word of it, so he too was in serious literary company it seemed.
Herman Goring was another party member he encountered when their paths crossed in the early 1920s at some party soirée or engagement. He was to get to know him very, very well (much later, of course) through their wives’ friendship. Incidentally, it should be mentioned that Rosenberg had joined the party in the early 1920s, later editing the party newspaper Volkischer Beobachter, proudly proclaiming his “Religion of the Blood” theories and esoteric views of the races. It was decided that when Hitler was dispatched to Landsberg prison in 1923 he nominated the leadership of the party to Alfred Rosenberg, of all people. After his arrest, Hitler had been taken to the Munich police station which was later to be Walter’s old stamping ground. Hitler’s surprise choice of leadership of Rosenberg intrigued many, including Walter, of course.
Then there was good old Dietrich Eckart who coined the phrase “Germany awake,” or so Walter was told. Mention should be made of the Strasser Bros, whom he didn’t much care for, and Anton Drexler, whom he got along with very well. When Anton deserted the party in 1924, Walter suspected he would be dispatched the same way as Gregor Strasser had been in 1934 by the bullet. But somehow Strasser survived he did until 1942, rejoining the party earlier, perhaps to keep in Hitler’s good books. In a way, Hitler outmaneuvered all these early members of the Nazi party who tried to dishonour and destroy him. All seriously believed they could corral and control him, but they were all seriously shamed. Hitler outplayed them all, rather like a Russian chess master. No, Walter had never partaken of that game himself: it was much too slow for his taste. Today his recollections of these men were just misty memories that drifted in and out of his subconscious and sadly would not depart quietly. They now dwelt in his dreams, then disappearing like a countryside will-o-the-wisp. Today, most (if not all) are forgotten men and really just a minor footnote in the early beginnings of the fledgling Nazi party in the 1920s in Munich.
Walter remembered another important occasion walking with Herman Göring to his waiting car and being introduced to his wife Carin, then seated comfortably in the passenger seat. Göring, of course, had previously flown with Baron von Richthofen (the Red Baron) in the First World War and earned the Iron Cross and the distinguished Order Pour le Mérite for bravery. Walter was naturally in great awe of him and his distinguished war record. He could be overpowering, of course, and overbearing. Although only a few years older than Walter, Richthofen had lived so much of his life on the brink. Walter’s own life had achieved so little, and must have seemed vapid next to Richthofen’s deeds, when they discussed them.
“Walter, I would like to introduce you to my wife, the former Countess Carin von Kantzow,” said Göring, beaming with pride and pleasure. Walter felt he must now offer some description of Carin because she was so much a thread of the tapestry of his and Karin’s life. Her height was about 5 foot 7 inches, with a wistful expression etched into her face that boasted delicate features. Her brown hair was usually styled with a bob or sometimes a centre parting. She was of a slim stature, but you were immediately aware of her considerate charitable eyes (something he never could or would dismiss from his mind’s eye) as she pondered you during conversation.
Smilingly, she interrupted him with a dismissive wave of her elegant gloved hand, proclaiming, “Take no notice of him, Walter, I am now simply... Frau Carin Göring, and delighted to be so.” Then still clutching his hand, she said sincerely, “Captain Rohm [apparently she couldn’t stand the man] has informed us both of his high hopes for you, Walter, to serve our Führer and Germany in the coming years. And to avenge those poor soldiers stabbed in the back so brutally by the freemasons and the Jesuits and those wicked, wicked Jewish wolves of Wall Street.” She suddenly paused and struggled for breath, as they all waited silently for her to continue. Walter had heard she was not in the best of health, suffering it seems from a heart ailment with asthma complications. Epilepsy had even been suggested in her health prospects, but he had been unable to confirm this. Göring, now sensing her suffering somehow, stepped in and brought the conversation to a closure.
Walter stood back and wished them a safe journey home. She smiled at him, waved and was gone. Some claimed that it was she who introduced Göring to the Nazi tenets. Others claim she merely consolidated his convictions regarding the beliefs of the Nazi party’s nationalism. It’s all irrelevant now.
At the time, Walter was little aware that Carin Göring would perform an important role in his life in the years ahead. But he had always admired the lady and the demeanour she displayed towards him and towards many others before her untimely death. Walter could still picture her now with those dimples in her cheeks, her ever-attentive amicable eyes, always watching and always waiting. Perhaps pensive with her sensitive sincere smile to all whom sought her company and collaboration.
A strong yet sensitive woman he suspected was only just able to survive in a spent body, somehow trying to dismiss her disability by declaring with a wave of her hand, “Oh, it’s nothing to worry about,” and always committed to supporting her husband stoically in what they were both convinced was best for Germany, taking it into the incoming golden age.
Carin Göring was also the first citizen of Sweden that he had ever encountered; she would not be the last. After the putsch of 1923, the Görings hurriedly departed from German soil. He had been badly wounded in the groin in that street melee in Munich, later requiring copious capsules of morphine to cushion the crippling pain in the years afterwards. The couple were not to return for four years, and by then Germany and Göring had changed. Carin had previously returned to Germany alone to visit Hitler in prison, bringing him gifts of books and chocolates. After Carin’s death in 1931, Hitler would anoint her with the honour of being remembered as “the First Lady of the Party”.
Walter’s late wife certainly agreed with Hitler’s citation in loving memory of Carin Göring, she being Karin’s ever charming and forever cherished friend. These two women would, each in their own unique way, offer so much to his own life and to what he would become in the years ahead. Walter owed them both so much that he could never or ever wish to repay.
Of course, we should mention the three H’s: Hitler, Himmler and Hess. All were partially vegetarian in their favoured food “fads” and almost teetotalers, as well. Himmler, of course, never allowed any alcohol in the office at any time, something which didn’t bother or concern Walter at all. Rudolf Hess, as many know, was born in Egypt and was a serious student of the occult and astrology. Both he and Rosenberg had been participants in the Thule Society in Munich. Walter also heard that Hitler and maybe Himmler had a tenuous connection with the society, but rather for political purposes than for understanding the paranormal plane. Thule, as he later learned, was supposedly a mythical Nordic or Viking land situated in a country in the far lands of northern Europe.
Somewhere residing in its mountainous regions dwelt the fearsome god of war Thor. Many idealistic Thule members proudly proclaimed that the true Germanic race had emanated from its Aryan inhabitants long ago, coming from that land clouded in secrecy and superstition. Later, after the annihilation of Atlantis, the surviving tribal leaders and scientists escaped to Bolivia or Tibet or the Canary Islands, maybe to Wales or Ireland, it has also been seriously suggested.
Rudolph Hess once informed Walter very quietly over a cup of herb tea and carob biscuits (very tasty) that Venusian visitors thousands of years ago had visited earth, perhaps for the purpose of procreation, but learned that conditions for their survival were not suitable. Apparently, he whispered, they later journeyed elsewhere to colonize their race, but taking thousands of people from the earth with them. Once domiciled on planet earth, however, they had designed and developed the pyramids to their superior specifications, later departing in their flying crafts to Atlantis and elsewhere or to the inner Tibetan Earth city of Shambhala, once there in the icy Antarctic wilderness to establish a permanent military base for refuelling and constructing their interplanetary crafts.
Himmler and Hess, of course, certainly bought into these popular legends of Atlantis, attempting to teach themselves the so-called Antediluvian “Glozel” language of Atlantis and spoken by the Atlantean gods. Camelot and the North Pole, a supposed hollow earth land known as Agharta, the Himalayas and Easter Island oddities all came into his orbit of intellectual interest as well.
In fact, in 1938 Himmler with Göring’s support dispatched an expedition of Reich scientists to Tibet to locate, if possible, the remains of the lost Aryan race and elsewhere. Today, these beliefs are referred to as conspiracy theories, but then those words had not been used, of course, and we simply referred to them as legends. Maybe Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, and the lesser known Dromberg stone circle and Newgrange monument in Ireland probably came into his myopic research of these mysteries of the past that somehow always fascinated him.
The belief and promotion of the Lebensraum party occupied a great deal of thought and serious discussion, as Walter recalled. The search for understanding of the occult and astrology had also gained a serious interest, gaining much credence in the upper echelons of the party at the time. However, Walter himself remained neutral and uninterested in these favoured ideas, as he was always more of a down-to-earth man, believing neither in a hollow nor a flat planet.
Walter was always grounded in thought, rather than theories. Maybe Atlantis was just a lost legend that would never be located or explained, just a manmade myth dreamed up by Plato and remembered today in just a few pages. Or perhaps it was just a road map going nowhere. Many thought Troy was just another local legend. For what it was worth, Walter suggested that Atlantis was maybe marooned under the mud flats of Doñana National Park in Spain, or maybe within the Bermuda Triangle.
Maybe Himmler, as always, knew something special about Atlantis that he did not confide in with the rest of his men. One note of significance is that one of Himmler’s favourite archaeologists, a Dr Hermann Gerhard, once informed Walter that he believed that the flats of Doñana covered the lost Biblical city of Tarshish, mentioned frequently in the Bible. The doctor was convinced that this city was indeed Atlantis, and that a cataclysmic catastrophe of some calibration had brought carnage to the city. He was convinced it was destroyed for the same unnatural practices performed and practiced in Sodom and Gomorrah. As they say, God will not be mocked!
Hitler, of course, suffered a serious passion for pastries, sweet biscuits and cakes and showed little interest in the above legends and myths of Atlantis or Camelot that Walter recalled. When there was a birthday in the office or some other commemorative occasion to celebrate, Hitler would arrive with a paper box of two or three delicious cakes, presenting them with a smile and a flourish. One always had to keep the kitchen stocked with copious boxes of “Halssen and Lyon,” the Führer’s favourite tea. Unfortunately, he insisted that Walter and the rest of them join him in sampling this beverage.
To Walter, tea was an acquired taste he could not appreciate, nor even attempt to acquire. He was always more of a confirmed coffee man himself, always enjoying that forbidden aroma where and when he could. He recalled that Hitler had a sense of humour in those far-off days, believe it or not. Yet, rather like Himmler, Hitler frowned on and discouraged listening to any smutty jokes or innuendos repeated in his company, and both men were very prudish in other matters as well. The punch line of any joke related to him was always lost, or maybe he just wasn’t blessed with a bawdy sense of humour.
Hitler’s humour deserted him, rather like the ebb tide, soon after Stalin’s slow annihilation of his tragic army at Stalingrad under the then-doomed leadership of Field Marshall Paulus in 1943. Some 92,000 German soldiers, the cream of German youth, were consigned to gulags and work camps. How terrible and how tragic it still seems today! Only later, he learned that many demoralised men would return home in the mid-1950s to their saddened and shocked waiting families. Hitler, on hearing this news in 1943, could only say, it has been reported, “The god of war has gone over to the other side.” Walter realized then that this was the beginning of the ending for Nazi Germany and the party hierarchy.
Walter also recalled that in the centre of all the coloured patisserie boxes that Hitler generously brought to the office there nestled a large cream-covered cinnamon cake sprinkled with generous mountains of chocolate flakes, rather like a queen bee. Now remember: he had been warned repeatedly by his chauffer or bodyguard not to take or attempt to select this cake at any cost, but just to leave it where it was located. One could enjoy any of the selection on display, unmarked cakes that quickly disappeared into watering mouths, but that solitary cake must sit alone in the box for consumption by someone else’s mouth, never Walter’s or anyone else.
Hitler would gaze at those present and enquire in all innocence, “Does anyone want the last one?” All would shake their heads in unison as they had been instructed to, saying nothing. “Oh well,” Hitler would say almost apologetically, “I suppose I had better finish it up then.” The solitary coveted cake would quickly slip into his mouth, always leaving crumbs on his moustache. Ah, Hitler and his craving for cakes and all things sweet! Such greed and conceit of the man! But Walter and others always went along with it so willingly, always playing his game and dancing to his demonic dance. Walter often speculated if he would do it all over again and if so, why. But looking back is such a waste of time and energy at his age; he needed to conserve all the energy he still possessed.
Captain Rohm was another welcome and fairly frequent visitor to the office, well, as far as Walter was concerned. He usually arrived beaming and bringing offerings of fruit, peaches being his favourite at the time. Walter’s late mother always insisted that it was a delicious peach that Satan used to tempt Eve in that ill-fated Garden of Eden, never an apple. On one occasion, as Rohm was leaving the office, he whispered to Walter, saying, “Walter, when we are alone, you can always call me Uncle…that is if you so wish. I would consider it a great honour.” How could Walter refuse this unexpected request, offered for some unknown motive? After all, hadn’t he offered so much for him and for the care and comfort for his sister and late mother in the past? Naturally, Walter agreed to his surprising solicitation.
He then smiled sadly, quickly saluted him and walked away into the mysterious streets of Munich, going to parts unknown or to rendezvous with some strange person.
By now, it had grown late and Walter was weary, Putzi pulling at his trouser leg in the hallway. He has been fortunate with his general health, of course, with no dysplasia attacking his legs or elsewhere. He could only put this down to the simple fact that he has been sired from healthy genetic stock. It was now time for Walter to doze and dream of those Munich nights of the past, with some Viennese pastries maybe, or perhaps several untouchable cinnamon cream cakes putting in an unwelcome appearance. He hoped not. Of course, he must be ready and responsive for an expected official visit in the morning from the Munich police with their signed sealed warrant for his arrest.
To be continued…
G. Patrick Battell
28 February 2018
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