Hans, Germany 1940
In the summer of 1941 Uncle Felix was very busy. By now I knew the signs. I had, like a small mouse, sat in the corner and quietly watched the preparations for the attack on Poland in 1939. Now there was something going on and… provided I didn’t ask, I would soon find out what it was.
The answer came with a car that rushed Uncle Felix to Paderborn in North-Rhine Westphalia… the site of the Wewelburg Castle, the spiritual home of the SS.
Although the name used for the castle was now the SS School at Haus Wewelsburg no actual teaching took place there. Uncle Felix said that “scientists” (I could hear the irony in his voice when he said scientists) were doing “research” (more irony) in “racial science”. To speed things up, let’s assume he was pretty cynical!
The Reichsfuhrer-SS had taken over the castle in the mid-1930s and had restored it to become a place for the most senior levels of the SS to meet and hold ceremonies, a sort of Nordic Vatican. He had intended that it become an SS Nordic academy, but it never really progressed further than a place for the SS to eat, drink and be exhorted to do things for the Fuhrer that they could never admit to outside those walls. It was a very dark place!
When we arrived the guards were not best pleased to hear that Uncle had his nephew with him. They sat me down in a guardhouse. That was pretty boring until my friend, the Reichsfuhrer’s secretary, suddenly appeared with a pile of mail for the guards to post.
“Hansi, Hansi what are you doing here? Have you been arrested? Do you need Herr Himmler to rescue you again?” He could do ironic too! Herr Brandt quickly released me from the guards and swept me off with him for a personal tour of the castle.
The ground floor room of the North Tower of the castle, the Obergruppenführer Hall was laid out like the Arthurian Round Table with a newly completed green and grey mosaic floor. It looked like a really complicated twelve pointed Swastika known as the Sun Wheel. This he said was planned to be where the SS Generals would meet, like the Knights of the Round Table.
He explained that the Sun Wheel was significant in the Germanic mysticism adopted by the SS. In their thinking the sun was the strongest and most visible expression of God. They believed that the number twelve was significant for “the things of the target and the completion,” whatever that meant! It was all very romantic but didn’t seem very grown up to me. I wasn’t sure what the Reich needed at this stage of the war, but I was pretty sure that it wasn’t a mosaic floor!
I asked if it was true that the Holy Grail had been found and brought to the castle. He crossed himself and said that he prayed not. I wasn’t sure that he was totally on the side of the Reichsfuhrer on this subject… but I didn’t say so.
He pulled himself together, and said that Herr Himmler had not really wanted a Grail castle, but that the SS theory behind the runes and symbols had turned out that way. There was a lot more to see, many rooms, which regardless of Herr Himmler’s intentions had Grail names.
There was a blacksmith’s forge in the castle yard so that the new wrought-iron furniture and fixtures, fire places and so on could be really authentic. Even the cutlery had runes cut into it. I was still not sure that this romantic fluff ought to be so high in the Reichsfuhrer’s list of priorities. I would have a lot to talk to Uncle Fritz about on the way home.
Our last stop was to see Herr Himmler’s private collection of weapons… now that was genuinely fun. I couldn’t even lift some of the swords!
Afterwards we went to the SS canteen for cake and coffee while we waited for Uncle Fritz. Herr Brandt had been careful to keep me away from the conference rooms, but I saw a lot of very high ranking uniforms, mainly Generals. Something was up, and I heard people say Barbarossa. Each time they seemed to look round furtively and were clearly not happy to see me within earshot. I was beginning to wish that Uncle would hurry up. I wasn’t sure it was a safe place to be.
As it happens, I didn’t discuss any of that with him in the car. What I hadn’t been intended to hear didn’t seem a sensible subject for gossip!
It was on 22 July 1941 that the Fuhrer launched Barbarossa… his invasion of Russia. We heard that it was an enormous attack. There were 3 million Germans plus another 60,000 Italians, Finns and foreign allied soldiers. We all held our breath hoping that the Fuhrer’s gamble would succeed.
A few days later I was with Uncle Felix when he was summoned to treat Himmler.
When he came out afterwards, I was waiting with the secretaries. He was clearly trying to keep a straight face, and not really succeeding. My friend Brandt, Himmler’s secretary looked up at him and broke into a broad smile. Uncle Felix then told me the first half of the joke, but the best bit… the punch-line, Brandt told us!
The Reichsfuhrer-SS was furious. Heydrich had once again been indulging his whimsical fantasy of being a heroic fighter pilot. Himmler had not been happy when he had done it during the invasion of Poland. At that time he could perhaps have found something more useful to do.
But… this time…
Heydrich now had his own plane, a Messerschmitt 109 that he had borrowed from Luftwaffe General Ernst Udet. In exchange he had given Udet police passes to roam about Berlin after curfew and during air-raids. The passes were perfectly sensible, but Heydrich had used them as leverage to get his own 109.
He had joined a fighter squadron whose Barbarossa mission was to prevent the Russians from destroying a bridge over the Dniestr River. Just after lunch they met heavy flak. His plane was hit and with a badly damaged engine he made a forced landing in marshland… behind Russian lines!
Back at the airfield there was a great panic. How could they explain that they had lost the head of the secret police behind Russian lines? They feared that either Heydrich was dead or he was in the hands of the NKVD, the Russian secret police! It was obvious which everyone secretly preferred!
But that wasn’t the punch-line.
Himmler’s secretary could no longer contain himself…
“Oh… he’s safe, the awful man is safe… but…”
“How can the fact that he’s safe be so funny?” I asked.
Heydrich being safe was hardly a matter for jollity, after the events of Bad Godesberg.
“It’s absolutely priceless. One of our forward patrols found him, more or less safe. But…”
Humour had overtaken him again! When he calmed down…
“Later in the evening an infantry officer called in. He said that while on a penetration patrol behind the Russian lines they’d rescued a downed pilot. He was not badly hurt but he had clearly hit his head… He kept insisting that he was head of the Gestapo!
At this point he was laughing so much that we had to leave, before the noise attracted Herr Himmler. Presumably he didn’t think it was nearly so funny… or Uncle Felix wouldn’t have been needed in the first place.
That was the day Uncle Felix bought me a glass of wine to toast the best joke the Party had managed in many years.
These side trips with Uncle Felix could indeed be great fun. We visited some interesting places while he followed the Reichsfuhrer-SS around. Every time Himmler visited somewhere that was giving him trouble he would develop a bad stomach cramp, and of course, my uncle was the only person who could fix him.
So we visited places like shipyards and the Krupp munitions factories. One after another such places caused Himmler grief. First, to justify poor output they said that they suspected sabotage. Then to increase output they wanted camp labour. When they had camp labour they suspected it of… and so on without end. No wonder poor old Herr Himmler’s stomach gave him trouble.
I wasn’t concerned though, each time I got an interesting tour while Uncle fixed him up.
It was a tremendous education in what was now really important to the Reich. But… I still think that of all the things that the Party thought important, the castle at Wewelsburg must have been the biggest waste of money!
There was one aspect I didn’t like though… the camp labourers. Places like the big shipyards at Bremen even had their own concentration camps to supply labour. Because I was in the Reichsfuhrer’s party, many managers assumed that I was aware of what was going on in the camps. One of them even went so far as to tell me how little the labour cost to feed… “Because there were plenty more if they didn’t thrive on a thin soup lunch.”
“Thrive?” I asked…
“Survive for the three months we are expected to keep each intake!” He answered. Then he clearly wondered whether he should have said it.
I was certain that he shouldn’t… He shouldn’t have been even thinking it! I couldn’t understand what an apparently nice man, with photographs of his family on his desk… what was such a man doing? He had set out in his career to build ships!
I was beginning to suspect that our nation was not quite what I had been brought up to believe. At thirteen, you can silently disapprove, but there is not much else you can do.
That was a hard winter. The armies in the east were coping with both the weather and the food supply. The idea had been that they would live off the land but the Russians had burnt everything as they retreated. Every meal the army ate was therefore one that had to be sent from Germany. It took a while for that food to be replaced from the occupied nations. In the meantime, times were hard… and so was Herr Rohme.
Once again I needed to bury my face in Herr Rohme’s cushions and work to keep my family fed. Once again Mama was grateful to Herr Rohme for his kindness.
The cheek of the man… He said to her, with me standing beside her…
“Oh Frau Kersten, there is no need to thank me, there is no kindness involved… It gives me the greatest pleasure. You can have no idea what pleasure I get from being able to help you!”
I already knew exactly how much pleasure he got!
Mama completely missed the humour, and said to me…
“Hansi, I hope you always say “Thank you” to Herr Rohme.
I smiled sweetly and said..
“I always make sure that Herr Rohme knows how grateful we are.”
He had the grace to blush, and added some extra sugar. He ushered us out of the shop before I could be indiscreet.
In the autumn of 1942 Uncle Felix took me with him to Italy. He had been asked to visit Rome in order to treat Mussolini’s son in law, Count Ciano.
I looked forward to the trip for two reasons. The weather was going to be much better than at home in Germany, and I looked forward to seeing the dark Latin boys with huge cocks that I had mooned over in photograph albums in my Papa’s library. He had a couple of albums by Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden , and another by Guglielmo Plüschow. They contained photographs of young men and boys in the nude, or posed with antique sculpture, wearing a classical Greek tunic or a Roman toga.
Although their faces seemed to be my age, about 14 or 15, their genitals were hugely bigger than mine. I was fascinated, and when alone in my room I would use a magnifying glass to study them closely, ending my study with the inevitable proof that I was now more than ready to father beautiful blond babies for the Fatherland.
Alright… so I… but the boys were indeed very exciting. I guessed that I wasn’t the first to use the albums for that purpose… occasional pages were stuck together, which made me smile. I wondered who it had been… my father when he too was boy? What a thought!
I was hoping that just as in Bad Godesberg two years earlier, Uncle Felix would be busy. So that I would have plenty of time to wander around Rome on my own. Perhaps, just as in Bad Godesberg I might find other boys that were prepared to prove their readiness for fatherhood!
All this was extremely arousing and at 14 my juices were in full flow. Bedtime was good, but bath-time was when I could really fantasise. Our bathroom had a full length mirror on the wall opposite the bath. The airing cupboard contained all the props I needed for my solitary games. There were some dust-sheets that I could wrap around myself as a toga, and… and this felt exceptionally wrong… there were a couple of my mother’s short petticoats left from the “flapper” styles of the 1920s.
No, I didn’t dress up as a woman… I wasn’t an Army Chief of Staff in the Weimar Republic!
What I did was to wear it backwards so that it had a high straight-cut neck and then add a dressing gown cord around the waist. That turned it into very convincing chiton, the tunic worn by young Greek boys… the ephebos much loved by Plato. A good classical education is a great advantage if you want to bring some decorum and style to your masturbation!
Sometimes I would simply stand in front of the mirror, at others I would sit on the edge of the bath, crossing and un-crossing my legs until the hem rode up and I could furtively observe the boy in the mirror’s growing erection. At that point I would climb into the bath and, with my head that little bit higher, I could no longer see all of my face in the mirror. Now I could imagine that the boy in the mirror was a stranger, whose cock and masturbation I was seeing for the first time.
Sometimes I would think of the ephebe in the chiton as another pupil at Plato’s famous school. I would fantasise that he was a boy that I could go with, out onto a hot Greek hillside, smelling of thyme and eucalyptus and spend the afternoon in a shady olive grove, enjoying platonic love under a clear blue sky, with the sun a burnished bronze war-shield blazing through the leaves of an olive tree.
I admit it was a little fanciful but… it was a great deal more attractive to contemplate than a cold apartment in Hamburg in the middle of a war.
So… you can appreciate that the trip to Italy was eagerly awaited. How I would find boys to play with I had no idea, but that I should… I was determined.
I wanted to feel the exotic dark skin of an Italian boy in my hands… and hopefully, a lot more than that!
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