"A Request and a Warning"
Several days before their future wedding nuptials were announced, Karin suggested they perhaps motor out to the atmospheric Lake Starnberg region. Here historically in 1886 King Ludwig of Bavaria was discovered face down in the water. A memorial cross marks the spot. (see picture).
His then walking companion, a doctor Gudden was also located near him. No water was found in the king's lungs. No autopsy was performed for some reason on the doctor's dead body. Both deaths were viewed with suspicion.
Karin had always adored the ambience of this enclosure. Its mystery she believed still permeated into the trees and the water. She now gazed in awe and admiration at all displayed before her like an unrolled landscape painting.
They had both decided that morning to pack a picnic hamper and as well as bottles of 'Gerolsteiner' water to then escape to the country. This, they surmised, would allow them some private time in preparing for the coming wedding.
This was not the first time of course that Walter had visited this secluded spot. Frequently in the past both he and Heinrich had delayed their journey back to Munich after their recruitment outings for the party. Once there, to enjoy refreshments and freshly baked pies kindly offered to them by rural party members.
Karin had informed Walter on the road there, that she had always harboured a suspicion about what had happened in this historical page of Bavarian history. She was also convinced that Ludwig had been murdered.
"He was a goodly king and loved by his loyal subjects," she declared. A true and faithful visionary rather akin to our heroic Norse leaders of old".
She and Carin had naturally discussed this Munich mystery many times without arriving at an answer. Both were in total agreement about its terrible outcome that ended Ludwig's life that June day long ago.
The picnic being finished, they sat looking across the water. Her eyes then closed and she started to recite an unknown passage from Shakespeare that he was not then familiar with:
"Thou knowest the mask of night on my face,
Else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek,
For that which thou hast heard me speak tonight,
Fail would I dwell on form-fain fain deny,
What I have spoke; but farewell compliment!
Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say, 'Aye.'"
She opened her eyes and whispered: "It’s from Romeo and Juliet my sweet. Poor tragic Juliet who truly loved her Romeo but was sadly lacking in the political machinations of Verona that were being waged against her family and her true love".
"Are we a modern Romeo and Juliet?," he asked to hoping to revive her spirits.
"Hardly, we’re akin more akin to Tristan and Isolde," she replied with a resigned sigh.
"Ah the great Wagner?," he suggested. His musical knowledge was still inadequate.
Then she became pensive asking: "Will we be genuinely happy? Because happiness has so often eluded me in the past. Will it be snatched away from me yet again?"
She was referring to her own family tragedies of her past and the betrayal of her friends.
A chill breeze then arrived from the lake causing her to whisper as she shivered: "Is it the spirit of king Ludwig? Is he present with us? Somehow listening to us?"
She looked around her as if expecting an apparition of the deceased monarch to appear before her with open arms as if to claim her for his own. She became intense in her manner, chewing her bottom lip: "The only spirits here Karin," he laughed now holding her closely, "are from discarded wine bottles ditched from some travelling circus." This seemed to diminish any doubts that now happily deserted her.
Yet she was continuing to show discomfort from the cold that was still attached to her body. He then stood and walked to the car and there reaching for a plaid blanket he returned to tuck it gently over her legs.
Sitting closer to him now as they sipped their coffee she quietly asked him about his own sister and how old she was. He offered little information; much of it was still painful for him to share. Then she spoke almost wistfully of the member of her own family that was rarely mentioned.
"I had a dear sister once and her name was Ingrid and she was three minutes older than me, can you believe? We were identical twins and I loved her very much. We were inseparable, we did everything together," she laughed.
"We used to throw nuts at the red squirrels in our garden hoping to see if they would be able to catch them, which some times they did. We even created our own vocabulary that no one else could understand so we could speak secretly to each other".
She laughed again remembering that little secret they shared with each other.
"Mama spent hours shopping purchasing identical outfits for us both. We had to be immaculately presented whenever we were on public display, of which there were then, many occasions".
"Mama was continually reminding us that we were doctor Auer's daughters. And we were never ever, she insisted, to bring his name into disrepute because we were special...the doctor's daughters. We never did of course nor would we ever contemplate such a thing. We both loved him too much. Then there was that dreadful day of the accident which I always blamed myself for."
Walter knew something about this family tragedy of course from what he had heard from Heinrich. She relived again those endless terrible days as her injured sister lay in a coma in the hospital slowly descending into death as the doctor had informed them.
Karin had never deserted her bedside knowing that if she did she was somehow abandoning her sister in this her hour of need. Then suddenly Ingrid had departed and foolishly Karin had complained to her family that Ingrid had not even whispered a last goodbye to her.
Later after the funeral, her mother continued her daily domestic chores as if her daughter were still occupying the house. Clean ironed clothes would be laid out for her each morning by Gertrude. A place mat with her initialled serviette ring was set at the table for all family meals. Her wardrobe remained complete, with new matching outfits purchased for her and Karin.
That blood stained dress however was now sealed and should never be discarded her mother had insisted, but to be preserved eternally in tissue paper.
Once there, to be placed delicately along side their mother's wedding trousseau. This stained garment of Ingrid's would be retained and locked in her mother's own mahogany wardrobe to which, only she had the key.
On the girls' birthday, an additional decorated named cake for Ingrid was ordered and placed on the table next to Karin's. And of course, with the appropriately lit candles.
Her art and music classes were never cancelled. On Karin's birthday her mother would measure her height and mark it with a pencil on their bedroom wall placed by Ingrid's name of course.
Karin had come to accept that her sister had never really departed the family house. But now according to her mother, Ingrid was away enjoying a well-deserved holiday visiting relatives in the enchanting Loire valley.
By now the temperature had dipped by the lakeside yet the simmering sun still weaved patterns onto the lake's tranquil surface. Somehow Karin seemed oblivious to its performance, perhaps still buried in a reverie of her lost sister's memories. Walter then placing both her hands within his confirmed quietly, that Ingrid would and should not be overlooked on their very special day that was approaching. He then confirmed that: "There will be an extra place mat set for Ingrid at our wedding breakfast table and she will be seated next to you, of this I promise".
And so it was as he had promised, Ingrid's name was presented on a deckle edged printed card placed on the crisp tablecloth. The calligrapher had beautifully scrolled in purple ink "Ingrid Edelina Auer."
Karin would place his precious wedding souvenir into her purse and it would accompany her everywhere for the rest of her life.
She was so overcome with this generous unexpected gesture from Walter that her eyes flooded with tears. He then quietly announced: "And my darling Karin, your darling sister Ingrid will accompany us on our," he paused for effect saying, "honeymoon".
"Honeymoon? You have arranged it already?" She blurted out in confusion and joy.
"I have indeed," he replied, "because you and I will be going to Zermatt. It's Switzerland's highest mountain you know".
"And on a clear day Karin, you can view Germany, Italy and maybe Austria," he enthused excitedly. She looked at him in amazement as if a rose bush had just sprouted from his head.
"What a wonderful and lovely surprise. Why I will be able to bring my ice skates as well."
She did not have the heart or inclination to share with him that she and her family had holidayed in that resort only three years ago. She hadn't forgotten the day either, when a young skier had collapsed in front of them having just stepped out of the ski lift, suffering it was assumed from a possible heart attack.
Fortunately her father had acted quickly even accompanying the wounded boy to the local hospital. The skier she remembered did indeed survive his coronary and returned the following year. He even posted them a post card having fully recovered.
"Skating,!" he proclaimed in mock alarm. "It's much too dangerous for you to attempt!"
"I will have you know Walter Kyper that your future wife qualified for the 1926 Olympic Games for figure skating in Chamonix ... so there!" The discussion was finished as far as she was concerned.
Later she drove them both back to Munich. Walter it seems was still having driving lessons and would actually pass the test, much to his surprise.
"Do you believe in predestination Walter?" She had surprised him by posing this unexpected query.
He paused before answering: "Rather like the Calvinists and the Buddhists maybe?" She nodded as he pondered this unexpected question for minute silently watching the countryside rush past his passenger window.
"No," he replied gently. "I believe in the now, the world that we live and exist and eventually die in. Simple as that".
He hoped this was the answer she expected to hear from him: "Because we shall never journey through this life again and that's for sure!" He wondered if this blunt answer would offend her? She answered him quietly saying: "I'm not sure, I'm just not sure. But if so then we must cherish and appreciate each hour, each minute.
Fate has somehow brought us together after all for whatever reason. So let us be happy," she finished positively. His answer had obviously satisfied her curiosity it seemed, for the time being.
Earlier as they had gathered up their belongings she had reached out for an empty mineral water bottle and from her bag she extracted a small notebook imprinted with her name.
She scribbled a simple note and signed it with her propelling pencil. Then reaching for the head of a yellow rose snapped it and gently rolled it up until it would slide into the bottle. Along with her note, she screwed the top back on to the head of the bottle.
Then walking towards the lake, she threw it far into the depths of the water and watched it bounce towards the region known as 'Lake Island'.
Usually referred to by the locals as Ludwig's island hideaway where it was claimed that he had ordered the palace's gardeners to plant a thousand rose bushes.
She did not inform Walter what she wrote in the message that was contained in that bouncing bottle, or of its purpose.
A magnificent pair of swans glided past her and knowing of their life long commitment to each other, she took this as a favourable omen of their own forthcoming married life.
Whilst motoring back to Munich Walter prepared himself for his appointment with her father in an hours time. He would be seeking a blessing and his consent to marry his only surviving daughter.
Then the car pulled into the gravel driveway of the Auer household.
Walter climbed out of the car then kissed Karin and arranged to liaise later in the garden. He then approached the study door and quietly knocked. And was quietly summed by the doctor to enter.
Walter entered and was invited to be seated opposite the doctor's overcrowded desk. The office presented an arresting aroma of cinnamon and cigars that assailed him.
It was rather a refreshing aroma that quickly reminded him of Goldsteins, his favoured barbershop that he frequented in the Gartnerplatz in Munich.
"Sit down Walter, I'm glad we are able to have this informal chat that you requested."
He initiated the proceedings in a friendly manner. But first he appraised this man who it seemed had captured and stolen his daughter's wounded heart. He hoped she was still considering her decision. Time would tell as they say.
The young man seemed nervous, as well he might. He himself also had been nervous when he had requested the fair hand of his future wife Monique from her father many years ago.
He liked Walter, a clean-shaven face that offered kindness, yet he suspected could be impatient and angry with fools. He had been surprised when he had eventually noticed something special simmering between the two of them.
She had after all experienced so much suffering in her short life. Yet interestingly Karin had obviously observed something in Walter that somehow appealed to and calmed her.
If Walter could provide for her future, love and security, well that was all any parent could expect for their own children's future happiness. He smiled to himself as he hoped Walter would not emulate Himmler and Hitler by cultivating a moustache of his own. Hideous things!
"You know, I have always suspected that Herr Hitler and Himmler were the true visionaries of a type in your party Walter. However perhaps Heinrich is more committed to the cause of discovery and disclosure of lost secrets of our past, such as locating Camelot and Atlantis and also his research into that still controversial “hollow earth” theory perhaps inhabited by the "giants".
"You know in the noble Book of Genesis they are referred to as 'Nephilim' in chapter six verse four I believe. And afflicted with a deformity of six fingers and toes and perhaps other bodily malformations? Some people today suspect that Bigfoot and the Yetis are perhaps related. This underworld apparently is inhabited as well with assorted demons, fallen spirits and other hideous creatures such as snakes, crabs, turtles and scorpions, some measuring over twenty feet in length...horrible and disgusting,!" he grimaced.
"You know my old dear Professor Anderson at the seminary was certainly convinced and wrote in one of his numerous published study papers of this. And in his tutorials that I always looked forward to attending that the Flood as quoted in the Book Genesis did not annihilate all of these hideous creatures. And that by some supernatural or religious means they had remained in the mountains. Then blockading the cave openings, they continued inhabiting and bred copiously.
He also suggested numerous times that there were other regions deeper within the earth reserved it seems for unexpected visitors from other faraway galaxies."
He paused as he recalled these enjoyable memories of from his youth. He then continued: "He was a marvellous man and always very kind to me. The last I heard of him was that he was on a spiritual journey to Tibet and interestingly enough to Mongolia to vindicate his controversial theories. Sadly the seminary much to their shame terminated his employment. I still wonder today whatever happened to him. And were his dreams eventually damaged as so many of our own are, and frequently!"
He searched Walter's face for some reaction then saying with surprise: "You looked bewildered at my quoted Bible verses earlier Walter. Well I have a small secret which I will share with you if I may?" Walter remembered his own sombre secret concerning his murdered father but elected to remain silent. Then the doctor proceeded saying wistfully: "Many years ago it was my late parents' intention but certainly not mine that I study and prepare for the religious life. Hopefully after my ordination to journey to Africa to serve as a Lutheran pastor. Then later to qualify as a doctor and maybe establish a local hospital rather like doctor Albert Schweitzer established at Lambarene. Have you heard of him,?" he asked.
Walter shook his head. He had noticed that older people spent a great deal of time reliving the past.
"I however decided that the vocation to be a pastor was not the path I wished to travel. It seems I had not the passion to preach and pray but rather to practise medicine.
Yet I was ordained and licensed to perform marriages and funerals, and even today as far as I know I still legally qualify. Now I never informed Karin of those religious years of my life," he shrugged searching for a reason.
"Somehow I did not think it important and I suspect that she would have showed little interest anyway. So, there you have it Walter, my own family secret."
He laughed as an inch of cigar ash snapped away from his cigar and settled on his chequered waistcoat. He seemed not to notice or care.
(Incidentally that historic Lutheran seminary that the young doctor attended and was ordained from was bombed in 1945. Over 13,000 rare books, letters and handwritten Bibles, commentaries from Martin Luther and other scholars perished in the flames).
Walter then listened to the gentle rapping of rain on the study window. He wondered if Karin had arrived back into the house from the garden to sit and wait for him inside.
"But of course you have not come here this morning to ponder politics or debate doctrine but to inform me of your future intentions towards my Karin. Am I correct?" He fixed his eyes on Walter and awaited conformation to his question.
Walter nodded saying slowly, as if addressing the Kaiser with the respect he would have expected and demanded: "It would give me great pleasure doctor to request your daughter's hand in marriage." He paused and slightly licked his dry lips.
"We have both discussed this and it is our decision, with your permission of course, to proceed with our intention to announce the nuptials."
The doctor then slowly selected a cigar with care from the coloured wooden box on his desk seen perched on a stack of green prescription pads. He offered one to Walter who declined. He fired the cigar with care rolling it around in his fingers as the leaf came alight, inhaled the cigar deeply and it seemed to meet his satisfaction. Then offered his response: "Well, I certainly have no objection and I consider it a generous courtesy of you to request my approval and I thank you. However I think I should inform you of something about Karin's early years that she may have omitted to inform you about."
He looked at Walter for a response. None was forthcoming.
"Karin was born a twin and with her sister Ingrid the two as children were inseparable. Beautiful girls both in looks and temperament, well some of the time that is!"
"Then near to the girls 10th birthday during an unfortunate race on their bicycles, Ingrid was thrown from her cycle, hitting a brick wall and suffered serious head injuries and a few days later she died. For some reason Karin always blamed herself for this tragedy although both my late wife and myself never proportioned any blame to her of course."
"I did all that I could medically of course in my limited way at the hospital to save her. But in this I somehow must have failed. Karin took her sister's death very badly of course, and in many ways those scars are still very raw for her and will perhaps never heal."
“I'm sure in the future she will discuss this much more with you what developed in those awful days after her sister's death and how it affected her and probably always will."
It was then obvious that the doctor had now finished in relating this painful period of his daughter's life.
He then continued speaking of what he remembered of her student days.
"Karin had always been a disciplined, devoted musician and when she was 17 she was awarded a scholarship with the Munich Conservatoire to study the cello."
"This was her preferred choice and neither her mother or myself had placed any restrictive conditions on her studies. Later she became an outstanding and gifted pupil often eclipsing most of her peer group. Whilst there she formed a friendship with two of the other students.
A dear school friend Beatrice Goldberg, a violinist and a certain Samuel Loeb, himself a talented pianist. Then with Karin's gift for the cello and organisation, they formed a piano trio offering many recitals. And I must say to excellent newspaper reviews."
He looked towards one of the overflowing bookshelves saying: "I still have them here somewhere ... I always argued that she was just as gifted as a pianist having inherited her mother's gentle touch for the keys. It had been my late wife's ambition that she herself would discover a niche for herself somewhere in the musical world. But after our marriage of course her time naturally was claimed elsewhere in the home."
He paused slowly and with reverence, turned a framed photograph of his late wife on his desk, towards Walter who immediately noticed a family resemblance of Karin to her late mother Monique Auer.
He then continued discussing Karin's once carefree student days, recalling that: "The three of them became inseparable but especially Samuel and Karin. They would go on walks together into the mountains, share picnics as well as cycling and participating in all the other sports young people enjoy."
He then paused, perhaps choosing his next words carefully saying: "I do not suspect ... and hope nothing immoral happened to Karin whilst she was alone with Samuel." He paused as if thinking about what he had just confided to Walter.
"Anyway I later discovered that he had become rather too close emotionally that is, to Beatrice. And there I believe the..." He paused articulating the next few words saying accusingly: "The duplicity developed!"
"Now it was customary at the Academy for selected students (on their professors recommendations) to enter and compete for the honour of winning the then prestigious 'Pendericki' prize."
"The competition occurs every two years you know and the successful applicant is presented with a generous cheque for 3,000 Marks, as well as the rare opportunity to study with a professional musician of their own musical instrument."
"For Karin I suspect it would have been Casals if he had been available? I had heard he could be temperamental in such matters. The Hungarian Janos Starker was another musician Karin admired. My own personal choice would have been the English musician Beatrice Harrison ... I have some of her records you know. Also the winner would be offered a recording contract with Deutsche Gramophone no less. So you see Walter it was a much sought after honour to compete for and claim this award from the musical establishment."
He then paused to proudly state: "Karin's teachers nominated her as their preferred choice to qualify for the prize. As were other assorted pupils names submitted for consideration. Samuel Loeb's name was also entered. So there was some friendly rivalry I suppose or so we thought."
"Now it seemed Samuel had started to discredit Karin's knowledge and musical abilities in a sly covert manner. There were lascivious lies being told about her at the conservatoire.
I believe they emanated from his lips (as an anonymous letter I received at the time disseminated this information). A discouraging word uttered and always presented with an insincere smile that would undermine her confidence."
"He then initiated his romantic attentions towards her naive little friend Beatrice. Later his attention to this young girl became so intense her father had to warn him from visiting the family home. He quite simply had become a nuisance."
"We later learned that Loeb had spoken to the girl's father, a musical professor himself in Berlin and one of the judges, can you believe for the 'Pendericki' prize?"
"He promised that if the girl's father did all he could to help award him the prize, he would desist from contacting Beatrice again. Pure blackmail of course! Well the prize was awarded to Samuel Loeb.
Only later Beatrice tearfully confessed to the Dean as to what had happened. Karin was devastated at what she had learned. The prize was declared null and void. But she never forgave the betrayal, as she explained it to me, from those she thought were her dearest friends. It was a terrible shock for her. And from then her resentment was used frequently against the Jewish race, their traditions and their faith."
"She quickly departed the academy and completely withdrew into her own world. She refused to leave her room. All food was declined and left untouched. It was a terrible time for me Walter. I had already lost one daughter and now I suspected it was about happen again with Karin."
"Then matters were brought to a head one night and very dramatically. I awoke to the terrible smell of burning and then looking into to the garden I could see Karin dressed in her nightwear. She had taken her cello and case onto the lawn and destroyed them with an axe. She was then proceeding to burn them, dangerously fanning the flames with her dressing gown. She then collapsed onto the lawn almost unconscious."
"Gertrude and I together carried her back to her bedroom. Sadly over the next few days she would or could not respond to the treatment I was administering to her. I was simply observing my darling daughter fade away before my eyes. They were indeed terrible days Walter."
"I then suddenly remembered that some years before I had attended a medical conference in Vienna and there I made the acquaintance of a certain doctor Sigmund Freud. We both shared a passion or addiction you might say for the same brand of cigars," he laughed then enquired: "Incidentally Walter have you heard of him?
Walter shook his head in ignorance yet again.
"Well I telephoned Dr. Freud and he kindly offered to visit Karin. I believe he had some business in Munich anyway. His prognosis after he had spent a day with her both in the house and with walks in the garden, was that she was suffering from," he paused saying: "How can I put it? That she was being afflicted by a triple assault on her mind. She was also suffering from failed emotional stamina, or acute anxiety caused by the final betrayal by those she mistakenly thought of as her friends."
"Doctor Freud suggested that this was the catalyst that had brought her illness to a terrible conclusion that night in the garden. Somehow within her fragile mind a three-walled barrier had been erected to spare her from the 'slings and arrows' that the outside world might use again. I am of course expressing this in a layman's terms you understand. And very badly. The first wall it seems was the guilt she felt concerning her own role in the death of Ingrid (of which of course in fact she was blameless)."
"The second obstacle was the change in her mother's attitude towards the family and of her coldness towards Karin. And how her mother had encouraged this unnatural facade that Ingrid was still occupying the house."
The third of course, was the obvious betrayals by her friends Beatrice and Loeb."
Pieced together you have a three-tiered emotional rampart. That seemed somehow impregnable."
"But somehow it could be scaled doctor Freud informed me. There is always weakness in any well-defended castle it seems or as the Americans say, look for 'a weak link in the chain'. "He had by then so I heard, apparently discarded hypnotherapy with his Viennese patients. But maybe he was still practising it occasionally when required and maybe he had performed it on Karin? I don't know?"
"He would then be able to ascend that mental barrier that she had erected around herself. It was a wall of defence he informed me, to be hopefully removed brick-by-brick. Then he could peer over the other side, or so to speak. I suspect what he witnessed only confirmed what he had professionally suspected all along. That simply her mind was damaged and in tatters. But all was not lost, of that he was sure. That was wonderful to hear from him."
"I asked what he recommended and he suggested to escort Karin to a private hospital in Sigunta outside of Stockholm. There a doctor Spiro, one of his outstanding doctors, was performing sterling work with patients rather emotionally akin to Karin.
Here she could have a full psychiatric evaluation and decide then what to propose to counter her negative cognitive behaviour. Doctor Spiro would keep Sigmund informed naturally as to his prognosis and treatment and preparing for her hopeful recovery. I naturally accepted his advice."
"So we journeyed to Sweden with Karin staring vacantly out of the train window all the way. Very depressing. When we arrived we discovered the sanatorium was situated in a delightful settlement surrounded by the enchanting Lake Malaren. Placed in the mythical land of 'Sigunta'."
"There assorted animals were wandering freely around the well manicured impressive lawns. I even noticed for the first time, a llama and a camel. And a selection of sports such as kayaking, riding, archery, tennis and surprisingly golf were offered. Acting classes and fencing were also offered to the patients".
He paused as the pain left his face: "Doctor Spiro welcomed both of us and suggested that Karin speak a few words about herself to him. She still seemed unaware of where she was and what had happened to her. She hadn't spoken in a week of course and declined to say anything. She just placed herself by the open window and gazed out."
Doctor Spiro asked for some tea and biscuits to be brought to his office and it pleased me to see Karin actually sipping from her cup."
"Now in any medical facility it is a well practised procedure to place a patient under the personal care of a known 'chaperone'. This will aid, it is hoped, the new arrival to gently settle in. And to acclimatize themselves to their new surroundings and hospital timetables."
"Amazingly Carin Goring, or the Countess as I prefer to call her, was appointed Karin's companion. She herself had suffered numerous health problems that had blighted her for many years. And was making an encouraging recovery it seems. Yet strangely enough the two women quickly developed and enjoyed a friendship with each other in spite of the age difference and later becoming almost inseparable."
"Interestingly enough, as I later discovered from Carin Goring herself in this very room, that the mythical kingdom of 'Sigunta' was placed under the holy protection of King Eric the Viking. She herself of course had practised so much of this Nordic mysticism and promoted its beliefs with passion I remember, to all who would listen."
"Of course much of your own party theology is descended from various Nordic traditions is it not? And coupled with its Aryan concepts and saddled with other 19th century conservative and Christian values; you have the manifesto for a party document do you not?" He paused and with a quizzical smile on his face said: "In that very chair where you are sitting, Herr Himmler offered me a twenty minute discourse of the foundation of your party and all that it promoted and hoped to achieve...very interesting I must say!"
His face softened as he now recalled his daughter's illness.
"Within weeks, all of Karin's letters to me were then full of what the two women were doing or planning for their future. She even imparted some jokes to me. Thankfully Karin was then slowly emerging out of that darkest chapter of her young life. I believe the medication prescribed such as Phenelzine or Nardil had been administered, with my permission of course, in small doses. They seemed to have aided a partial recovery."
"Well eventually Carin Goring's expected divorce was finalised. And later, after her marriage to Herman the couple relocated to Munich. She later became my patient for a short time. An intense women I suppose. Curious and compassionate about others. Yes, I would probably agree with that description, that I had heard from a friend who knew her very well."
"When later both were discharged from the hospital in Sweden, they continued their friendship here in Munich."
"I did not encourage it but I did not discourage it either. If it helped Karin's recovery I was happy. But I bided my time before I offered a clinical assessment. And all seemed to be fine as far as I was aware. An understanding of each other’s needs had developed between the two. And the friendship today is stronger now than ever between the two women. And I can only hope that some of Karin's grief is lessening and that she can now enjoy her life now as a young woman."
"So, you must understand Walter that Karin has suffered a great deal of stress. And threads of that illness may still sadly cling to her persona. But, he emphasised that word, "I have noticed daily some improvement since the two of you become romantically attached."
He sat back and silently searched Walter's face for a response, then saying: "So you have my blessing if that is what you require".
He then selected a new cigar from his box, replaced it and relit the previous one. Walter was ready to depart from the study when the doctor remarked rather nonchalantly: "One last matter of interest to me Walter is the so-called controversial "Jewish question" that I hear and read so much about. As you know I previously visited Herr Hitler professionally several times in Landsberg Prison. Later he kindly presented me with a signed dedication in his book Mein Kampf.
He then looked up at his overflowing bookcase saying: "It's up there somewhere. But if I remember correctly he talks about his intention of dealing with the Jews here in Germany if and when his party ever obtains parliamentary power at the ballot box."
"We must remember Walter that God, as recorded in the Book of Deuteronomy (7:6), how the Jewish race are His special beloved people above all people. And in Exodus (19:5) He names them as a treasure above all people. “For all the earth is mine.'"
The doctor smiled then confirmed adamantly that: "The Jewish tribes are God's chosen people it seems. Claimed and owned by Him. And a terrible wrath will rain down upon those who attempt their extinction, but maybe we can discuss this another day."
He had noticed Walter looking uncomfortable about where this discussion was leading. He continued: "Finally the strange suggestion of Palestine and Madagascar for relocation might be feasible for perhaps European Jews I suppose? But what will you do with the millions of Jews in the east? Where will they all go?"
"Certainly not to the two countries I just mentioned, because lack of space would prevent that from being feasible.
So what would be the solution? There are rumours you know about this question that cannot be dismissed nor should they be." Maybe extermination?"
"So, I take nothing for granted about what I hear and I wait for the evidence."
He noticed that Walter was still looking uncomfortable at this veiled accusation and he decided that enough had been said. He would return to the subject another day if and when the occasion arose. He certainly suspected that it would.
Then he stood up shaking Walter's hand warmly saying: "Karin has an abundance of love to offer, yet something within her shrivelled and shrunk after what she had been subjected to in her past. You know Walter, when you are married you will need a great amount of patience. Sadly today Karin's mind still remains damaged it seems to me. You, I hope, will be that loving guide to gently lead her out of the darkness of her past and into the daylight of your future married life together. And if she believes in your love for her, then your married life together will be secure. I hope.
Of course there are many bricks that are required in building a blessed lasting marriage Walter. Love and a lasting friendship is the mortar that should bind them you together. Oh and laughter also helps, or so I am informed".
He then reached forward and embraced Walter saying quietly: "Look after her Walter. Care for her and cherish her. She is all that remains of the family I once had and loved. And may I be the first to congratulate you and to welcome you warmly to the Auer family ... your new family".
He then silently slipped unnoticed a wrapped cigar into Walter's jacket pocket as he turned away.
Walter shook his hand, thanked him and departed into the garden to the waiting pensive Karin. Where to his surprise she had apparently walked in to the house and selected the largest umbrella from the stand in the hallway and had returned to wait for him in the still heavy downfall.
Doctor Auer walked back towards the window and watched his future son-in-law now talking to his daughter in the rain. She seemed to be listening intently to what he was imparting to her.
Then she jumped up and placed her arms around his neck. Relief and pleasure spread over her face. She seemed delighted at what she was hearing from him. He was pleased for her and for them both.
Then crossing the threshold of his mind and not for the first time was his lost daughter Ingrid making as always a welcome but unexpected appearance.
He then sadly speculated as to whether she would have been married herself by now and with a young family to care for. Strange that he had always been closer to her, she was so like him especially in temperament.
Even walking around the house as a little girl with his stethoscope listening to the heart rate of their then protesting family pets.
Karin he had always understood was more impressionable and so easily distracted. Yet of the two, Karin had always been the most affectionate. Ingrid at times would ration her responses to each parent almost as if bestowing it upon her parents as an honour. Karin always requested an extra bedtime kiss or story from him. Yet Ingrid was oblivious to whatever was offered at bedtime or not. A kiss was somehow superfluous to her requirements it seemed.
Karin would politely enquire if something was allowed and wait patiently for a reply.
Ingrid when informed something was not allowed by her parents or teachers would just shrug her shoulders and say defiantly, 'who cares' and then do it. Fearless of authority. For Karin all authority was to be respected whilst for Ingrid all authority was to be challenged.
Yet he was pleased at the way the meeting had developed. He found Walter refreshing to talk to. A good listener which would be ideal for his future role in the police force and maybe in the Government if they should ever gain authority in Germany.
He returned to his desk relit a cigar and started to read one of the American newspapers that he sometimes subscribed to. The headline shouted at him: STOCK MARKET CRASH EXPECTED!!! He decided he needed to consult one of his patients and an old banker friend Hjalmar Schacht of how this would or could affect Germany in the future.
Walter meanwhile had departed for the garden where an anxious Karin waited for him.
She was seated on a bench under the umbrella by one of the favoured marked trees, whilst both dogs’ heads nestled in her lap. All of her life she had needed to wait. And it was so annoying.
She thought first of Ingrid always having to wait for her. That doomed musical trio waiting for them to arrive to practise or perform. Of waiting frequently for a rare opportunity to talk to her mother, when she was lucid that was. But now she waited for perhaps the most crucial occasion of her life. She looked up suddenly as Walter ran towards her with a newspaper over his head. A look of concern and trepidation could be seen etched on her face. She then enquired nervously of the outcome twisting her hands together in preparation of what she might hear.
"Well what did papa say?" She looked at him with beseeching eyes, as did the two silent dogs.
"I though as it was raining you would have come back into the house?," he asked settling next to her under the umbrella.
"But we earlier agreed to meet in the garden Walter didn't we?," she replied looking confused by what he had just said." Why would I wait in the house?"
He decided not to pursue the subject.
He composed a sombre look and said in grave tones: "Your Father said ... no! His reason being that he would never allow any man to marry his daughter". He paused shaking his head saying: "Who talks to trees and listens to them with a deformed trumpet?" Then a smile slowly crept across his face.
She hesitated unsure if he was joking then realising the opposite she jumped up and threw her arms around his dripping neck saying: "Oh you,!" then playfully struck him in the chest. "I might have known you would make a joke of it. But seriously did he really agree to our marriage?" She cautiously awaited his reply.
Walter nodded a silent affirmation. Karin then placed her hand within his and then stood up. They stood now facing each other under the umbrella. She spoke first enquiring: "Is it to be you and me ... are we to be as one forever,?" she whispered. An unusual request he thought from an unusual young woman. His future bride.
"Forever and a day," he promised. The perils and pain of the future seemed far away on a distant horizon to them both that wet morning in Munich.
"So be it my sweet, so be it". Now we truly belong to each other and will always remain so." They then kissed and walked towards the fishpond followed by the family dogs. Although the rain had now ceased her umbrella it remained open for some odd reason. Maybe she expected another shower he surmised. But who cared he thought. Their journey together had started and he welcomed it.
Later that day when Walter had departed, she decided on an impulse to visit her late mother's bedroom. She seldom approached its door if at all possible, for it offered too many, still painful memories.
Sadly her mother in the final years of her life had been an unknown captive to senile dementia. Often harming herself when alone.
It was then decided reluctantly by her father that her mother would permanently reside in 'her cell' as she called it, with a daily nurse to be in attendance. Her life as a mother and wife was now completed. Now she would enter alone into an unknown region where her family could no longer comfort or be with her. Her slow demise to death had started.
Karin now entered and walked towards her mother's teak fitted wardrobe. She pulled open the door slowly and looked at the hanging apparel still in residence. It really should all have been discarded years ago she thought. Slowly she viewed the aging tissue paper that still concealed her dear sister's blood stained dress.
She moved it over and there next to it wrapped in a thin sheet was her mother’s delicate matrimonial dress. She removed it gently and placed it upon the bed then stood back and examined the intricate, almost invisible stitching placed along the hem and elsewhere.
She was startled by voice behind her, it was her fathers, who walked over and placed his arm protectively around her shoulders saying: "You of course were not there that memorable morning in May when your mother looked so beautiful in her dress. I was lost to everything around me or as to what was happening, seeing only her."
They both quietly admired the dress with a tinge of sorrow: "But sadly she left us all a long time ago."
She suddenly clutched him saying through emerging tears: "Oh papa, I miss her so much. I wish she were here today with us to hear my own wonderful news...." He gently silenced her by placing a finger on her lips saying: "Your mother deserted us all many years ago long before her death. But I will always remember her as she was before that long illness claimed her taking her away from us forever".
"But what of you and young Walter Kyper? Do you love him?," he enquired.
She perched on one of the chairs by her mother's dressing table where she remembered as a little girl watching her mother brush her and Ingrid's hair in the mirror.
"Well papa," she answered: "I'm learning to love him, but I'm not really sure?"
"Is that what I'm supposed to say?," she then enquired with a raised eyebrow. It hadn't occurred to her that her father would pose this surprising question so soon.
Well at least you are honest," he answered.
"But it can be a life long experience learning to love and appreciate someone. And I am confident you will succeed in enjoying a long and happy marriage. Yet I think of your mother each day and some times when I look into the garden I think I can see her walking there followed as always by her faithful dogs. Or when reading something in the newspaper that would have interested her, or hearing a snatch of music that she loved. Then I realise she is gone ... forever."
He sighed saying: "It's never beneficial to dwell on these things. They can be too painful." He sat down on the spare wicker chair by the bedside then lost in thought.
Karin had listened intently to what her father had shared with her. And now wishing to add a comment of her own, she took his hand and said: "I would be blessed to even have a tissue of the love that you and mama had shared with each other ...unconditionally?"
She waited for his response. He slowly replied choosing his words: "Ah, but it doesn't always proceed smoothly my darling. Love never does, but we were blessed with each other’s company and with two wonderful adorable girls. And there was a lasting bond that developed between us over time...”
Karin suddenly interrupted his words to her asking accusingly: "Did she love Ingrid more than me papa? I want to know, did she?"
Instantly there was a cooling climate between father and daughter. But he deftly dismissed this accusation saying gently: "She loved you both darling ... it's just that she always understood that Ingrid ... well demanded more of her time and attention as I well remember. But did mama offer her love more to Ingrid. No, never!"
He looked at his daughter and held her. Yes, he would miss her terribly. Now realizing she would no longer be his little girl, but another man's wife. He hoped the transition would be smooth, for them all.
Then Karin silently replaced the wedding gown tenderly into the closet together with Ingrid's soiled dress, locked it, then both departed from the unoccupied bedroom with the key in her pocket.
They then walked downstairs still talking into the garden her arm linked through her fathers.
Gertrude carried a tray of soft drinks and biscuits for them. The dogs sat waiting to see if any delights would be offered to them. Then both dogs aimlessly wandered away when nothing appeared to tempt their appetite.
"I think we should plant some more rose bushes and some sunflowers near the greenhouse." Karin suggested, appraising the well-stocked garden.
Her father agreed and added: "Let me talk to Alfred first ... as our family gardener we should respect his opinion, don't you think?" She nodded her consent.
Doctor Auer then relit one of his cigars imparting to his daughter with the unexpected news that.
"A honeymoon suite at the Hotel De La Rue in Zermat has been placed at your disposal." And no I did not pay for it. The generous donor wishes to remain anonymous. And I'm saying no more".
He then raised a subject that surprised her, but from the frown now noticeable on his face had perhaps troubled him.
"My darling, this house is far too large for your father to be rattling about in. So, I have been thinking seriously that you both join me here after the wedding. It makes a lot of sense you know, what do you think?"
Karin somehow had always expected that she would never desert this house that she loved so much. The thought of bidding farewell to her father and the house had never entered her mind. Nor did she wish it to.
"It will be yours of course one day ... I have no other family as you know, so why wait,?" he asked opening his arms in supplication.
She quietly agreed offering no opposition. Then she leaned over and kissed him whispering her thanks.
Yet privately Karin had decided for both her and Walter that the Auer family home would become the future Auer-Kyper family home. That subject was settled as far as she was concerned.
Then within the next five minutes, two phone calls came through to the house.
The initial call was for doctor Auer informing him that his patient the Mayor of Munich had suffered a slight cardiac arrest and could he come immediately if possible? He quickly departed.
The second was from Carin Goring enquiring about the expected decision of Karin's father in giving his consent to his daughter's wedding.
She was delighted when she learned about this expected news. And the unexpected offer of the family house caused Carin to inform Karin rather politely that had she not foretold this all of this news to her some weeks previously. Karin certainly recalled Carin's frequent predictions.
Carin then suggested they lunch the following day at Crittendens, a newly already established English vegetarian restaurant that Adolph had frequented and highly recommended.
"Now will you listen to your auntie Carin? Doesn't she always know what's best for you?"
Karin laughed meekly feeling very vulnerable.
"I suppose so," she replied. They then terminated their conversation with quick adieus and kisses.
Karin then called for Gus, placed his lead around the dog's neck and departed the house to take him for his stroll. Quickly she decided she would visit Carin's house instead. Once there the two dogs Chilli and Gus could play a game in the garden. She had decided she did not want to wait until the next day to share her wedding tidings with Carin. She was now elated as they set off. Now she and Carin could toast her coming happiness together.
It would be rather like the old days she remembered. She then released Gus from his lead. He raced forward excitedly in anticipation towards the Goring household. He knew the route very well. He had after all raced this way many times before when Karin had joyfully released him from his lead.
Didn't Chilli's kind owner always have a tasty treat prepared for him as well. Life was definitely looking up for both dog and his owner it seemed.
To be continued....
(C) Copyright G. Patrick Battell
(All Rights Reserved)