“Waiting & Remembering”
For the past 17 years, at 3.35 a.m. each morning in his comfortable Munich bedroom in the suburb of Haidhausen, Walter William Kypper opened his eyes and thought to himself, “I’m alive,” as the night departed and the dawn arrived. Walter had always considered this an awesome achievement. He had survived 95 years. Or was it 96 or 97, or perhaps 100 years? A full century!
He had ceased celebrating birthdays after his 90th. It was all a waste of time, he complained, and who needed them? He reasoned that he really should be dead, like so many of his friends and foes. Yet he had not departed this world overnight, but had been spared to live and fight through at least one more day.
Walter reached for his pulse, felt it and relaxed somewhat. All seemed perfect, now recording a firm 60-beat stroke rhythm. He could take it for granted that he was alive and kicking, as they say. So, bring it on!
As Walter slid his hand out of the bed frame, he played a silent drum roll on the pine bed frame with his arthritic fingers and waited. Within minutes, a wet nose had discovered his digits and licked them affectionately. Yes, he was alive! And eagerly greeted by Putzi, his ageing, yet always affectionate German shepherd, the frightened animal he had rescued years ago from the lower Munich cruel criminal classes he had once known so well as a serving police officer.
In fact, Putzi had entered his life dramatically many years ago as he made his way home late from a Mahler concert, the 5th symphony actually and his late wife’s favourite work by that composer. Walter couldn’t remember who was conducting that night (obviously no one of importance), but the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra had performed as superbly as always.
As he had passed a darkened alley, sounds of whimpering and laughter had flowed out. Turning quickly to investigate, Walter witnessed three men of unknown origin torturing a cowering dog tied tightly to a lamppost. Their cruel sport was to flick lighted cigarettes and fireworks into the dog’s thick coat and face, and then take turns in kicking this defenceless animal. He decided he was having none of it and quickly sprang into action, just as he had in the old days.
Remonstrating with them, without warning he quickly took them out of their bullying behaviour with fists used often in his youth to fight communists on the streets of Berlin and Munich in the 1920s. Within minutes, the three lay on the ground crying and moaning in pain with broken noses, missing teeth and a shattered eye socket. Maybe one was dead. (Like riding a bike, street fighting was something you never forgot, although it now goes by the name of “self-defence”).
Walter gently untied the animal and carried her home wrapped in his warm overcoat. There he bathed and dried her many bleeding wounds, fed her by hand and named her Putzi after a white rabbit he had owned as a small boy on the farm. He and the dog had been inseparable ever since.
The old man now stepped out of bed and prepared himself for what was to follow at his bedside; he called it his morning devotion. He never felt ancient, as he had got into practicing his own version of callisthenics. Because of this daily assault on his body, he felt supple and fit afterwards. Perhaps it was all in the mind! He had been introduced to these exhausting exercises in 1946 in an American prisoner-of-war camp that housed suspected Nazis.
The soldier, according to memory, was a Master Sgt. Larry O’Brien from Butte, Montana. He had also unfortunately introduced Walter to Lucky Strike cigarettes and Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum. All that would change when he was sent to Nuremberg, where the regime was different but bearable. He had survived that comfortably until he was later delivered unexpectedly to the Russians for interrogation. Now that had been difficult and at times dangerous and suicidal, yet he had come through it. Yes, he had survived! Many others like him now lay dead somewhere in Russia, alone and forgotten, perhaps buried under modern sports arenas or car parks.
Putzi trailed him into the hall of his Munich house, then was allowed outside to perform her own morning perambulations in the small park opposite.
In the compact kitchen, Walter Kypper prepared to break his nightly fast by preparing and firing up his aging coffee percolator. This morning, as all others past, he sampled his usual Dallmayr Prodomo coffee, or his morning “fix” as he liked to think of it. He had long ago happily forsaken tobacco and its dangerous addictions and exchanged them for healthy walks.
As he spooned the required amount into the simmering water, he remembered his dear wife Karin as he had always done for every hour of every day for well over fifty years. Long ago, she had her own habit of gently spooning a generous portion of Jacobs Kronung into the bubbling percolator to brew her own favourite reviving coffee. Then he recalled how they had kept company long ago in another wood-beamed kitchen many years earlier in their happy, loving Bavarian home. In those lost days of the past, they would simply sit at the table and listen to each other’s plans and dreams for the coming day with no newspaper, radio or television to interrupt or distract them from each other’s sole attention.
Sometimes, he recalled how a little boy would nestle against her body for warmth and comfort at the breakfast table, then come to sit on his lap and sometimes spill warm milk onto his black insignia uniform. How he missed them both more and more each day as he grew older. Time never could or would heal his album of memories and its treasure trove of reminiscences.
He had always fed Putzi before himself and frequently reminded her of this selfless sacrifice, but she always ignored his gentle reproach. He would miss her company and affection and much more, he now knew. Maybe Putzi was now the only surviving friend he had ever known since Karin’s death so long ago. He had once attempted to paint a portrait of Putzi but realized very quickly he was no artist; it had been an interesting experience all the same. He pondered a pointless question: would she miss him, or was he just a feeding receptacle who took her for long meandering walks in the rain or shine.
His thoughts shifted to an article he had read years ago in one of the American papers in the city library that he visited each day, where he could sit and peruse all the German papers and other foreign newspapers and magazines. Time magazine was a favourite. Now, the item he remembered concerned an elderly American theologian who had owned seven or eight German Shepherds, can you believe? (They were all dead now, of course.)
Yet this man, whose name he could not recall, had claimed in an interview somewhere that all eight dogs, long dead, were sitting and waiting for him to appear in heaven or paradise, just listening for his own German word of command when he died and supposedly joined them in this heaven that allowed domestic dogs to inhabit such a sacred location. Walter thought it was a nice idea for believers who accepted the afterlife. As for himself, he did not adhere to such notions. Well, not very often anyway! He sat at the small table, reaching for the delicious Lambertz biscuits to enjoy with his steaming coffee.
His appetite now later satisfied, the elderly gentleman entered the bathroom and shaved with precision using his traditional razor. He had no time for electrical appliances that only did half the job and called themselves shavers. The house also lacked any looking glasses, a choice made at least one decade ago. He remembered and smiled how in 1941 Reinhard Heydrich had said to him in almost an conspiratorial whisper one morning in the communal bathroom in Berlin: “Walter, my dear boy, you must always see it as your duty to be clean-shaven. Remember, you represent the party, the country, and the Führer.” Had Heydrich offered the same stupid suggestion to Hitler and Himmler, both of whom boasted toothbrush moustaches under their noses?
Ah, Heydrich, what a strange person he was! But what a musician par excellence! How he could draw out musical magic on that violin of his, using those long sensitive fingers to coax any melody, almost out of the air.
Walter liked him and sometimes sadly remembered his witty jokes and many kind favours done without asking. Those delicate hands of Heydrich, as powerful Reich security directorate and as head of Interpol, had easily and happily signed hundreds of death warrants, maybe even murdered a few people in the cells of Prinz-Albrecht-Straße in Berlin, the H.Q. as well as abode and lair of Heydrich and his willing staff of enforcers, where “guests” did not have to pay for their enforced treatment. An old joke remembered by so many traumatized inmates, not to mention the infamous “Hotel Kitty,” another favourite haunt of Heydrich! No, Walter had never visited this dubious establishment, nor had he any desire to do so.
Some (but not Walter) even predicted that Heydrich would eventually become Hitler’s heir apparent.
Of course, Heydrich’s vanity (no doubt about it) would lead to death in Prague in 1942 when he allowed himself to be driven to his office in an open-air car, rather like President Kennedy had that day in Dallas in 1963. Heydrich the pilot had often flown alone over enemy territory, until forbidden by Hitler to do so. A wonderful listener, vain but foolish. That was Heydrich, the so-called “butcher of Prague,” now gone but not forgotten, if the History Channel is anything to go by. But more about Heydrich later.
I’m sure that today both Himmler and Heydrich would be delighted in this immense interest in their lives some seventy years after the cessation of the war and their deaths. It’s surprising there isn’t a Heydrich & Himmler appreciation society supported and promoted by loyal aficionados around the world. Would Walter be an honouree member, you may ask? Ah, that would be telling and best to say “no comment”.
Walter turned his face away from his blade and slapped a generous amount of toilet water onto his chin and cheeks, then smoothed his hair down with pomade. He finally felt ready to face the world, or more importantly to face any visiting Munich police, that is, if they decided to visit him this morning with an immediate judicial warrant for his arrest. Would they ring the bell or assault the front door with boots or sledge hammers?
He certainly could not allow brute force to be initiated. It would frighten Putzi and his dear next-door neighbour, the widow Mrs Daluege. This lady would be an important factor in his immediate plans if and when he was in fact arrested any morning, then taken away, never to set foot in his comfortable house again. Led out in cuffs for the prepared media to see and gloat over his humiliation!
He certainly knew all about signed arrest warrants himself and early morning assaults on front doors. He had signed hundreds of such documents with a flourish himself, using his Montblanc fountain pen, a treasured gift from his devoted wife Karin on their wedding day, then in those far-off days of the 30s and 40s.
Walter had himself usually been present when suspects were dragged away from their warm beds and roughly shoved into waiting trucks, still in pyjamas, frightened and confused. Later, the prisoners would be delivered to the Munich police station to be photographed and processed. As deputy chief of police with special responsibilities to Reichsführer Himmler, Walter Kypper would only be waiting to initiate the interrogations of these so-called enemies of the Nazi state. The air was always filled with fear emanating from the new arrivals, and Walter would have it no other way. He was a true master of that useful tool of persuasion, achieving glowing results.
Today, he arose as Putzi pulled at his trouser leg, reminding him that he was running late for his daily morning routine in the hallway. The old gentleman quickly rinsed the china plate, cup and saucer, wiped them dry and placed them in the cupboard cabinet. If the police arrived this morning and took him away, he would not be needing them again for breakfast. That would be provided by the State!
Reaching for his suit jacket hanging from the back of his chair, Walter put it on and walked into the dimly lit hallway, Putzi following him without prompting.
There he reached for his aging Crombie overcoat and black soft felt hat, donned each of them and sat down slowly onto a high-backed chair. By his right foot was a small overnight hold-all Hermes bag he had treated himself to many years ago.
Putzi obediently curled up by his right foot and descended into peaceful sleep, probably chasing dreamy birds and rabbits she never caught. He reached for his faithful 1924 silver collared Malacca walking stick with an engraved inscription on its handle that mysteriously read in Gothic script: “With many thanks to Admiral Von Witzell,” whoever he was.
In fact, he had “requisitioned” it from one of the upmarket houses he and his officers had raided in the early 1940s and acquired it for himself simply because he liked its shape. Wasn’t that the prerogative of Munich’s deputy police chief? He certainly did not think it would be missed, not after all this time anyway! He rested his chin on its silver handle, closed his tired eyes and waited.
Walter Kypper had performed this repeat performance religiously every day for six years (or was it seven?) excluding Sundays, Christmas Day or Erste Feiertag, as well as the debauched New Year’s Eve plus a few “lost” weekends and religious days of observance. Of course, even police officers yearned for some time away from the job (and not necessarily with their families, according to what he read in the trashy newspapers today).
Of course, this was not true in his day, during the 1930s and early 1940s. Hadn’t the Führer abolished the Christmas celebration, replacing it with the bleak Norse winter solstice?
Of course, after the 1943 catastrophic collapse of the German army on the Russian front under Von Paulus, everything changed dramatically. He recalled that many families he knew had reinstated the traditional Christmas with its ceremonies, as it quietly re-entered the homes of many grieving German families, offering some semblance of comfort and peace.
In fact, it was thought by some that these pagan celebrations had never gone away. In his own boyhood home, Walter and his sister, his drunken sadistic father and his deeply religious Lutheran mother had always assembled on Christmas Eve for the festive Bible readings heard and remembered in days of old. These were later followed by favourite carols such as O’Tannenbaum or Stille Nacht. Ah, happy days of his youth, he thought. Of course, none had been aware of the wizened hand of death to descend upon Germany in August of 1914 with the advent of the so-called “Great War.”
Today, it was a peaceful morning of reflection as Walter dozed in his draughty hallway in that leafy Munich suburb. It offered Walter Kypper the rare opportunity to relive and sometimes enjoy and appreciate the highs and the lows of his long life that spanned over 95 years (or was it 96 or maybe 97?). He didn’t care! What was it the English used to say with a smile, “Who’s counting?” Well, he certainly wasn’t going to attempt such a foolish exercise. The past was gone, dead and departed.
Now, he dozed fitfully and listened for any suspicious activity outside his bolted front door. Of course, if his aged ears failed to alert him, then Putzi’s primed “radar” ears certainly would not. She would instantly caution her beloved master of danger descending onto the waiting Kypper household, offering him a low growl of warning.
All was well, so far, at exactly 5 a.m. on a Monday morning. For now, waiting would commence for him and Putzi as it had done for seven years or 2,520 days by God’s calendar, not counting Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and maybe Yom Kippur, not forgetting Fridays and Ramadan for Muslims. This had not been the course of action in his day, obviously, when he was the powerful deputy chief of police for the city of Munich and answerable only to his friend, the all-powerful Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler.
He suddenly felt a gentle movement on his left foot from Putzi, but she was not forewarning him of any approaching danger, only of her dreaming, simply causing her nose to flutter and a soft whimper being expelled from the throat of her now-silent sleep.
Then invisibly invading Walter Kypper’s nostrils was the precious perfume used daily by his beloved wife Karin. It was the fragrance of the unique Van Cleef perfume, previously packaged and prepared by Alfred Van Cleef in Paris in 1906. It silently pervaded his hushed hall, or so he thought, and silently lingered like a morning mist evaporating all around him.
He speculated if he was perhaps dreaming. Or was it just a chemical imbalance erupting in his aged brain, mocking him with memories? Ah, how he still missed Karin with her love and her laughter and her full and affectionate understanding of him. He remembered all she had bestowed upon him unconditionally as a precious gift to him. Karin had molded him into the man he would become. He owed everything to her and would never deny it. He would be forever humbled and grateful to her. This woman who had honoured him by becoming his wife so long ago. Karin was all that he had ever wanted or wished for. There would never ever be another like Karin.
Memories of his childhood now invaded his mind, always in sepia tones for some reason. This would change dramatically when he first encountered Karin in her family home so long ago. As a young policeman, he had wondered at her beauty when she descended the spiral staircase, rather like a vision from heaven, to stand before him. He remembered her as a vision of soft Renoir pastels. In fact, her favourite French impressionist was indeed Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
His memories drifted toward his troubled childhood and all those selective memories presented in a raw tableau of terror, usually inflicted upon him by his overbearing father, if he was in reach. His much-lamented late mother now entered his meaningful memories; he recalled her as a pious but sometimes pitiful woman always pursued by poverty and pain. Barging back into his mind was his father, the senior Kypper, a punishing smiling sadist, a physician of pain who viewed his family as failures unfit to bear his name, subject to his daily sport of beatings.
Young Walter William Kypper had been born in 1900 on a small farm outside Munich. Along with a younger sister Eloise, the Kypper family somehow survived those pre-war years on a bleak smallholding they tried to maintain. He often remembered how his mother would place his meager evening meal on the table before him and his sister. He would ask her, “Where’s yours, mama?” and with a smile she would say frequently, “I’m not hungry. I will have something later.” Of course she never did, simply because there was nothing for her to eat. Ah, the love of his dear mother! He remembered her with fondness and gratitude.
In August of 1914, Kypper senior excitedly entered the kitchen and announced to his family through an alcoholic fog (of course!) that he had voluntarily enlisted in the Kaiser’s army, stating with a sneer that, “I’m doing it just to get away from this worthless family of mine.” Later, they jubilantly watched him saunter away with his comrades full of pitiful pride and patriotism into the mists of Munich to enlist into his regiment. Both Walter and Eloise prayed fervently he would not be marching home anytime in the near future.
In the ensuing war’s weary years, few letters arrived home from the front to the family. Occasionally, a few old German papiermarks were enclosed when he cared to remember to enclose a pittance for food. He spoke of how the war was only for real men, rather like him then serving under Captain Ernst Röhm’s command. It seems Walter’s detested father had also taken to sampling the disgusting delights of brothels in Belgium and France and anywhere else where he could pay to indulge his perverted tastes. Yet somehow, this soldier’s three dependents survived bleak wasted war winters that offered only starvation and cold to millions like themselves.
The Kaiser’s soldiers suddenly returned home humbled and humiliated. In 1918, the war was now kaput for them.
Throughout Germany, anarchy and unemployment paraded openly on the streets of the metropolis, and life and hope were cheap commodities. A vacuum of power was created by the Kaiser’s unexpected abdication. The person to fill it in the future was yet to be presented to the people of post-war Germany. To many, communism was the only answer to this political and economic running sore.
Munich daily held its breath to see if it would become a soviet satellite republic beholden only to Moscow. But the Bavarian Freikorp of Captain Ernst Röhm had other ambitions regarding how to eradicate this disease of imported socialism from Russia. It would not be allowed to germinate in Munich or elsewhere in Germany, at least not under Ernst Röhm’s watch anyway.
A failed and penniless artist from Austria known as Adolph Hitler, now a demobilized soldier, somehow stumbled onto that Munich stage. All around him he witnessed danger and despair. He must have wondered where he would fit into the maelstrom that was Munich at the time. Perhaps he should renew his painting, or perhaps study architecture once again, although neither of these callings had offered him anything in the past. Instead, he became a spy and was ordered by his army superior to watch the small German Workers’ Party (DAP), then boasting some fifty-plus members.
Surprisingly, after attending one of their ward meetings, this former soldier learned that its few bored members were singing from his own political song sheet. He would later decide to join its ranks and within a short time would graft his own extreme 25 political points into their own manifesto. Startlingly, new paid-up members would soon sign up with excitement, after hearing him argue with conviction for the coming of a new nationalistic Germany. Later, Hitler decided to rename it to his own wishes as the German National Socialist Workers Party or the “Nazis,” and maybe he just designed that notorious far eastern swastika flag we all recognize even today.
He had also discovered that he had crucial rhetoric and orator skills. In 1921, he was now party chairman. Soon after, violence between bloodied battling brigades would spill out onto the streets and mother Munich would be the willing midwife. Hitler and the Nazi party were now on the march.
Young Walter Kypper was oblivious of these minor political earthquakes exploding in Germany and especially in Munich. In fact, he had his own immediate family fears to concern him. Quite simply, his angry father had written to inform them that he was returning home, now as a wounded veteran. More ominously, he threatened changes on the home front, promises that would later translate into terror for the defenceless waiting Kypper family.
At the end of the war, Kypper senior stumbled home, probably drunk, with so many other disillusioned soldiers. Exhaustion and anger were etched on his face. He was literally half the man he had been: a beaten soldier minus a right arm and with a shattered leg amputated below the right knee. He soon became an argumentative alcoholic addicted to his drink, specially binging on cheap potato wine and blaming the Freemasons, the Jews, their Jesuit stooges and homosexuals. This sickening tirade from his lips had become a daily diet that the family had to expect and endure. His town tavern-drinking friends enjoyed hearing what he proclaimed to them about these enemies of the new post-war Germany.
The only man always spoken of with respect and reverence by him and by many others from his old regiment was a certain Captain Ernst Röhm, his old commander. This courageous captain had allowed Kypper senior the so-called honour to carry the company colours high into battle.
Following his demobilisation, Kypper’s anger and frustration regarding his physical condition knew no restraint. There were daily assaults performed with his one arm tightly clutching a heavy briar walking stick, frequently used against young Walter, sometimes in the barn but more often at home. Later, crude propositions and intimate groping of his defenceless daughter Eloise began to be a nightly occurrence coming from this pitiful pervert of a father.
Walter’s defenceless mother would always leap to her feet to defend her frail daughter’s honour, only to be knocked senseless by her brutish husband. Those were terrible times in the Kypper household. Yet Walter contained his temper and bided his time. Matters would soon be brought to a final head.
The opportunity arose on March 17th of 1920. It was a dark night, and his father was staggering home drunk from the local tavern in the town, somehow attempting to sing some crude brothel song when he stumbled and fell badly. His wooden crutch had snapped in half, propelling him into the stinking and steaming pigsty. Unable to extricate himself from that mess, he remained trapped in the pigs’ waste as it washed over his head and body.
Walter was sleeping but heard his sodden father calling out his name for help. A jump from bed, a quick dress and he was soon walking out to the farmyard to find his father lying under the moonlight in pig swill and excreta. Turning to his son, he croaked through tears of self-pity, “Help me up, son. Don’t leave an old soldier here... please!”
Walter climbed down into the sty and looked down at the despised wretch his father had become, or maybe had always been. Using the heavy rubber heel of his right boot, he pressed upon his father’s scrawny neck, manoeuvring it slowly into the stinking swill. He then shifted his heavy boot onto the submerged head and forced his father’s face deeper into the slime with all the force and anger he could find.
Within minutes, his father was dead, or so he hoped. He waited as his own anger abated, and then he ambled back to the silent sleeping farmhouse. Once inside, he wiped his soiled boots clean and pondered what he had done to his despised father. He felt nothing, only freedom and invigoration from what he had just carried out on the old soldier. It was simply a task he had to perform, and nobody else would save the family.
Once upon his bed and still dressed, Walter slowly drifted into a sleep of peace, free of any pain or pity. His father would be the first person that Walter would kill and it would not be his last, by any means.
The next day, a report to the authorities brought the local policeman on his cycle to inspect the soiled stinking body. He seemed satisfied with Walter’s story of his drunken father falling into the pigpen, finding himself somehow unable to escape and quickly passing out to tragically suffocate. “An unfortunate accident,” everybody said when they heard the news in the village.
Kypper’s now washed body was quickly removed to the local church outhouse to be prepared for burial according to church custom. The cause of death reported on the death certificate was simply written in red ink as “death by accident.” The “grieving” family did not care or wish to attend the arranged church service. Later, it was unanimously decided by the “grieving” family that no headstone or marker would be paid for. Instead, his body was later disposed of by a drunken gravedigger and drinking mate of his father into an unmarked grave for a few marks, a plot situated under a dying elm tree that has since blown over.
When the “grieving” family were related this news by the church sexton, it seemed to them a very appropriate decision had been taken. They were finally able to enjoy and appreciate the rest of their future lives. It was indeed a long awaited blessing that they could all savour without recrimination for the rest of their lives.
(I have to suggest that Walter decided soon after the murder of his father never to inform his mother or sister of what really happened in the farmyard that night. It was murder, of course, and he will one day have to give an account of this and all other words and deeds to a Supreme Being. His mother on the other hand was a believer, and she must have prayed desperately to the Lord to protect her and her daughter and son from his violent anger and drunkenness and continued cruelty. So, she must have believed her violent husband’s death was a special blessing bestowed upon her and her family from God. A long-awaited answer to her constant stream of prayers).
Young Eloise began to correspond with her cousins in Berlin, learning to her joy that they had obtained a position for her in a large town house to look after the three children of a Jewish family doctor. Always of a delicate disposition, his sister was only comfortable around other children. She would be ideal as a children’s nurse, always giving them as much love as they willingly offered to her. It was a perfect situation he reasoned, for his family’s future fortunes.
Now free of family commitments, Walter kissed his mother goodbye. He had decided to journey to Munich to locate and, if possible, make the acquaintance of Captain Ernst Röhm, his late father’s hero. Röhm, the man who had survived the dreaded Spanish flu in 1918 and sported terrible battlefield wounds for all to see! For now, he would simply inform Röhm of the very “sad” news that one of his former soldiers, Sgt. Kypper, had died accidentally on his farm.
Röhm wasn’t too difficult to locate, and after asking many of the bored soldiers loitering around the Munich station, Walter was directed to a nearby drinking tavern. After being frisked roughly by bodyguards, he found the captain surrounded by the young fawning acolytes of his so-called private army or storm battalion. Looking at photos of him in later years, he somehow bears an uncanny resemblance to Oliver Hardy. Most of his face seemed to have been badly assembled by a drunken plastic surgeon, but had actually resulted from horrific injuries suffered in 1914.
At the time, young Kypper was unaware of the rumours about Röhm’s perverted sexual tastes, but for some reason the latter never laid a finger of seduction on him. For now, Röhm was only tearfully interested in the report of Sgt. Kypper’s demise. Walter also informed him of the unfortunate accident on the farm, offering an edited version which he seemed to accept, much to Walter’s relief.
Walter slowly closed his eyes and waited for a response. Röhm lowered his stein of beer, looked at him with concern in his face and enquired softly, “How is your mother, Frau Kypper? Is she coping financially? Is she well? Is she receiving a widow’s pension?” Walter informed him that she was managing, well, just about. But he knew nothing of a widow’s pension, or if indeed she even qualified, let alone had applied for it.
Walter was later to make the acquaintance of Röhm frequently after that initial meeting. Imagine his surprise just seven days later when his mother joyfully wrote with news that she had been granted a generous widow’s pension, and that it had been backdated six months. He certainly was now totally impressed by Captain’s Rohm’s influential influence, and it seemed his clout stretched even into the Ministry of Pensions' well-guarded money coffers.
Looking back now, Walter realized that Röhm was the most powerful man in Munich, with thousands of free corps soldiers and reservists waiting for his command. It was jokingly said then that no influential government minister could belch without him knowing about it. A man of many secrets was the captain, many of those secrets concerning himself no less. He it was who had previously witnessed something special in a young Hitler in 1920. He it was who foresaw somehow that Germany’s future destiny lay in this man’s hands. He it was who did all in his power for Hitler’s German Nazi party to reach its destiny. However, years later in 1935, Hitler turned his anger on Röhm in the infamous night of the long knives.
Someone once wrote that we are all scarred by shame and sin. Well, Walter’s late mother most assuredly would agree with that. What he sadly never inherited from her was her faith and fortitude! That gift always eluded him, but not his sister who read her Bible piously each night before sleep enfolded her.
Twelve months later, Walter’s dear mother succumbed to the clutches of the deadly Spanish flu virus then still ravaging most of Europe with deadly accuracy. She had suffered so much in her years married to his father, and sadly was only able to enjoy the security of the awarded state pension for a few stress-free months. She had always deserved more, yet had asked for so little in return.
Interestingly, when Walter returned to attend her funeral along with many others to celebrate her life, he saw how popular she was. That was certainly good to see. It was also time, he realized, to put his family affairs in order. And so it was that he opened her prized music box, the one that played an unknown Strauss waltz, and discovered that it held her faithful Holy Bible.
He found that it was well worn with many passages and verses marked with a pencil. Much to his surprise, he also discovered a small religious picture of some nun holding a cross, the inscription read “St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for us.” He had never heard of her or of the location, nor was he interested in finding out more about this mystery that his mother had concealed from her family for some reason.
Also in her box was a pearl rosary, of all things, tenderly wrapped in Italian tissue paper. Where had they come from? Who had given them to her, and for what reason? It remained a mystery and still does to this day, but he didn’t concern himself much about it. And thus, he realized there was nothing left to detain him on the farm any longer.
Days later after agreeing on a sale price with a local farm owner, Walter handed him the keys to the family dwelling, departed the town of his birth and never looked back. On the train to Munich, following the purchase of a single ticket, he thought to himself good riddance and good-bye to all that lay behind. He had taken nothing from the old family home as keepsakes except his mother’s Bible and her silver music box, now both secure in his cardboard suitcase. It was all that he needed or wanted, and he was on his way.
As the train rushed towards Munich and, he hoped, to a new life in that city, he remembered that the pocket of his only serge suit held the rosary and folded religious card his mother had secreted in her prized music box. Removing them from his suit, he looked at them for one last time, then rolled down the window of the travelling train and dispatched them into the darkened void. Like his past life, they had departed forever (or so he hoped) with all the painful memories of his family, his father and the farm where he died.
Young Kypper’s uncertain career in Munich stretched before him like an unknown mosaic map. He was suddenly troubled and felt ill-equipped and unprepared to navigate the unfamiliar boulevards of the big city. Walter quickly took control of his emotions, with several long deep breaths, silently counting to five and expelling his breath until he felt revived. Seated alone in his cold carriage, he waited for his travelling train to reach Munich town (hopefully on time), the car’s final destination and perhaps his.
He was now fully prepared for this great adventure he hoped would change his life forever, one he believed would be for the better.
To be continued…
The subject of this story of Herr Walter Kypper is, of course, fictional as is his family. I had recently read of an elderly German concentration guard who had waited for nearly a year by his front door for the expected arrival of the German police with an arrest warrant. This offered me the interesting idea to write about it and hopefully to extend my own idea of the fictitious Walter Kypper’s family and to examine his long unknown career in the Nazi party.
I extended my fictional aged character to have him sit and wait by himself in his hallway, now as an old man waiting for that dreaded but expected knock from the police on the door of his Munich house, naturally with Putzi his ever-faithful friend beside him. This offered me a rare opportunity for Walter to look back, perhaps nostalgically and emotionally, over his long life from joining the fledgling Nazi party in Munich then in its infancy, to later surviving in the new post-war Germany.
More importantly, I wanted to examine and evaluate the loving influence of his beloved wife Karin. She is so much part of his story, and I am happy to expand and write about her.
In researching and writing, and somehow trying to fuse some facts with fiction for our coming newsletters, I can only offer a simple but honest disclaimer I recall having read somewhere concerning this manner of writing. It reads: “The plot is fictional but has a keen ring of authenticity.”
I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it.
G. Patrick Battell
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Thank you and Maranatha!