Welcome to part 2 of The dark secret. You can catch part 1 here.
“Anna, I want you to kill me.” He paused to let his words sink in.
Anna got out of her chair and walked towards the front door.
“Please,wait!” he called to her.
“This is fucking crazy.” she yelled as she put on her shoes. “I’m not a killer and I can’t believe you just asked me that!”
“Anna, please.” he implored. “Allow me to show you just one thing before you go. Please?”
“Make it quick.” she barked.
He gestured to the hallway to the back of the house. He began his slow walk and Anna reluctantly followed. They came to a closed door and Klaus stood before it, his body twisted towards her with his hand on the knob.
“This will make it clearer for you. Please come in.” He opened the door and she slowly walked past him into the room.
She gasped and fell back. Bracing herself with one arm, she surveyed the giant Swastika flag pinned to the wall before her. Her heart pounding, her legs nearly giving out from under her, she surveyed the rest of the room in horror. Symbols of the Third Reich were everywhere. Felt pads with medals fastened littered the tables and benches. Books with German writing on the binders loaded the bookshelves. Flags and banners crowded the walls. She turned, outraged, to Klaus, who stood there with a stone face, his chin on his chest.
“You are the first person I have ever shown this to” he said. “A tremendous, awful burden has been lifted.”
“Well Fuck you very much for that. I hope you feel better! I sure as hell don’t.” She headed out the door.
“Anna!” he called after her. “Please let me explain further.”
She spun and glared at him. “What!” she yelled. “What is there to further explain? You’re a goddamn Nazi!”
“Please come back into the kitchen and allow me to shed further light.” He stood motionlessly in the doorway to the kitchen.
“You have 5 minutes and then I’m walking. Most likely to the Police Station.”
“Fine” he replied.
They sat down in front of their cold cups of tea.
“Anna.” He slowly began. “I am not proud of my past.”
“Then why the shrine of atrocities in your fucking bedroom? Ikea closed?”
“Never mind, Not important. Continue.”
“I have that room as a reminder. Not to celebrate my past, but to punish my present. As a reminder of my horrible misdeeds.” He paused and rubbed his eyes. “But it’s simply not enough punishment anymore.”
“So you want me to kill you. Because I’m Jewish? Some kind of poetic justice or some shit?”
“Because I can’t die on my own. And because you’re Jewish it would strengthen my penance.”
Puzzled, Anna took a moment to let that statement sink in.
“Klaus, if you don’t mind me saying so. You’re quite old, certainly mother nature will do the job for you eventually. Even soon?”
“Anna, just how old do you think I am?”
“If I had to guess I would say 90.”
“Table that thought for a moment.” He stared intently at her. “May I further unburden myself of my horrible, evil past?”
“If you must.”
He began to tell her of the distinguished military service of SS Grupen fuhrer Klaus Messerschmidt, Group leader and Field General in command of Auschwitz Concentration Camp. A bright military mind whose loyalty was unquestioned by his comrades, he was the youngest Field General in the Eastern Command. He was also the most sadistic.
For 15 minutes Klaus emotionally listed atrocity after atrocity. The slaughter of those who stood before him and the shooting of any that fled. The digging of mass graves by emaciated men only to have them shot in the back by gleeful soldiers who kicked their corpses in. The separation of babies from their mothers and the one soldier who stuck a bayonet, at his command, through an infant and laughed as the hysterical mother fell to the ground in grief. She was then shot. The gruesome medical experiments on the living. The smell of the smoke billowing from the chambers that all went in but none returned. The screams and pleas for mercy. Of he and his staff cowardly fleeing when the camp was liberated.
When he was done, he stared intently through red eyes at Anna. She was stunned. They sat in silence until she spoke.
“Feel better?” she asked. “Because I sure don’t. Thank you confirming everything my grandparents told me about you fuckers.”“I feel a small weight has been lifted from my shoulders. But no, I do not feel better. I am cursed by these memories whether I share them with the world or only one person. Cursed for eternity.”
“Eternity? How so?”
“Anna, you said earlier that you guessed my age to be about 90.”
“I’m actually 109 years old.” He watched her intently as he said it.
“When I fled Germany, when the Americans rolled in to liberate Auschwitz, I was a senior officer of 38 years old.”
“Klaus, if this is correct, you are one of the oldest men alive. Does the Senior Center know this?”
“No, no. In addition to a false name, I provided a false birth certificate. I don’t want to draw attention to myself.”
“Because then they will track me until I am 110, 115, even 120.”
“Bullshit, Klaus. You’ll never make those ages.”
“I will if you don’t use this.” He pushed the Luger across the table. “You see, I can’t die of natural causes.”
“How do you know?”
“Because at 109 I have never even been sick with a cold. Not since the war. I believe that I am cursed to walk this earth forever bearing the sins of my past.”
Anna sat back in her chair.
“You’ve had this gun all along. Why not use it?”
“Because I’m a coward. I can’t pull that, or any trigger ever again.”
“Yeah, you’re not so tough without the evil midget with half a moustache pulling your puppet strings.”
“That’s a fair assessment. But off topic. Will you kill me or not?” he said flatly.
“Can I think about it? This has been quite an experience and it’s a lot to process. It’s not as if you’re asking me to do your shopping.”
“Of course.” he said. “Tomorrow, then?”
“I’ll tell you when I’m ready. Don’t call me.”
He nodded in silent agreement.
Anna excused herself and left.
That evening, Klaus woke to a commotion in his backyard. He looked out his window and saw someone working to a portable spotlight. He put on his robe and slippers, went down the hall, out the front door and made his way around the back of the house. There he found Anna, leaning on a shovel.“What is this, Anna?” he looked at her quizzically.
With a blank face she looked at him through the erratic beam of the work light.
“Here, put this on.” She handed him a bandana.
“Cover your eyes.”
“I will not.”
“Then I will hit you upside the head with this shovel and then put it on for you.”
He did as instructed.
She led him by the hand to where she was working. Klaus raised his hand to his face, lifted his bandana slightly and saw before him a shallow pit. She pushed the bandana down again.“Again. What is this?” he asked.
“Klaus Messerschmidt, you speak of your actions but you show only a small trace of remorse. You mostly speak of what it has done to you but hardly acknowledge the pain you have caused others. You then ask me to shoot you in order to ease your pain. But I have decided I don’t want to do that.”
“Well then, what do you plan on doing?” he inquired of the dark night.
She kicked him from behind into the ditch. He fell awkwardly, landing face down. She began to shovel dirt onto him.
“Please, Please,” he pleaded. “Not like this!”
|“Yes, exactly like this. You don’t get the luxury of being shot in the head as your helpless victims did. You’re going to feel this.”
“Please no, this is not what I meant.”
“Klaus, do you know what I do for work?”
“No, I don’t.”
“I’m a Scientist. I test theories for a living.”
“What possible theory could you possibly be testing?” he cried out.
“Yours.” She savored the moment. “You claim you cannot die of natural causes. I want to test that theory. Suffocation is a natural cause. I’m going to bury you alive.”
“Please, I beg you. Just shoot me.”
“Again, it’s all about you and your pain, Klaus. I have my own and I now am obligated to carry that of your victims.”
Klaus was crying into the dirt. She listened for a few moments.
“If you can indeed die of natural causes, then this will kill you and your justice will be served.” She began shoveling more dirt on him. “If you can’t then you will lie awake in this shallow grave for eternity, and then justice for your victims will also be served.”
She shoveled more dirt on him. The cries for mercy became softer and more muffled with each spade of earth.
When she was done she collected her tools and her light. She took a few steps on the earthen grave of Klaus Messerschmidt, War Criminal, AKA Klaus Schmidt to pat it down.
“Has the screaming stopped, Klaus?”
She gathered her tools and walked out of the back yard and down the walkway.
Looking back, she decided, as she loaded her trunk, that she would check on him tomorrow.
As she got into the driver’s seat of her car she decided that she also may not check on him at all.
She drove off.