WHAT HAPPENED FIRST . . .

Bergen Belsen 1929 .

A thin carpet of snow lay lightly sprinkled over the land . In some houses in the village of Bergen the lights had been put on but it was still early in the day .

The parents of the children from the village school had been watching the Christmas play that had been performed by the upper sixth . Now they where listening to the choir that was singing a few hymns to end the day .

As the boy sopranos filled the air, one or two mothers sniffed a little and a few handkerchiefs appeared as the song went on .

Freude Schoner Götter funken
Tochter aus Elysium
wir betreten fuertrunken
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum !

The boy that sang the solo was tall , slender , blond and blue-eyed .
His classic features caused him to be nick-named "Pretty-Pauli" among the village tough-kids with whom he was not allowed to play .

As the song went on , the silence in the hall became absolute .
People where holding their breath and watched the beautiful boy in complete fascination .
The crystal clear voice seemed to detach itself from the child , acquiring an entity of its own as it floated in the large hall over the heads of the awe-struck parents .

When the final lines were sung with professional ease and complete , serene self-control the audience trembled with an emotion impossible to control .

Seid umschlungen , Millionen !
Diesen Kuss der ganzen Welt !
Alle Menschen werden Bruder .
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt !

That night Frau Martha Räder spent longer then usual kneeling at her son’s bed as they said prayers together with bowed heads .
She hugged him and held him in her arms before she tugged him between the crisp , white sheets .

Later that evening Pauli’s parents were looking at the letter from the director of the Wiener Sänger Knaben .
"Oh Paul , wouldn’t it be nice if he became a famous singer. . . ?" Martha whispered .
"Nonsense !" Dr. Räder said curtly. "The boy is going to be a Doctor, like I am and like his grandfather !"

Unfortunately Doctor Räder’s family was killed in a car accident and the tender boy was orphaned at the age of twelve .

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WHAT HAPPENED NEXT . . .

"A very good report," Paul Räder said to Axel, standing in front of him at Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse Gestapo-H.Q. "Normally of course such minor matters never reach my desk... But then of course... that is not why you stand before me..." It was Wednesday morning now, the 6th of September 1944.

"I'm honoured, Herr Obersturmführer," the boy said in a crystal clear fourteen year old voice.

Lithe and taut, tall, slender, blue-eyed Aryan blond, the SS-officer thought. Just how much did the boy know?

"When did you see your father last?" Räder asked abruptly.

"Nearly three years ago Obersturmführer," the boy lied unemotionally. "He left us when I was eleven years old."

"Surely you know he worked at Bendlerstraße?"

"Yes..."

"Has it not occurred to you that he might be involved...?"

"I know he's been in combat for three years, Obersturmführer. The Knight's Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster... surely...," the boy said proudly.

"The highest award for bravery in combat...," Räder said pensively. He liked to think the boy was clean.

"And your brother?"

"My brother Günther has just graduated from Döberitz first and youngest of his class," said Axel.

So he didn't know. He couldn't... the boy was proud, frank and honest. Just how loyal would he be? Would he betray his father?

"You live alone with your mother then...?"

"I have been living with my group the last three weeks," Axel responded. "My mother said it would be better... for a Kameradschaftsführer..."

"From now on you will stay with us," Räder said definitely. "Report at my house this evening. Or better still, wait for me here and then drive home with me. I need an ordinance."

From the moment he had laid eyes on Axel, Paul Räder had known that the boy's influence on his life would somehow be decisive.

It had happened to him before but the experience was rare, always frightening. Three times they had been young girls, a boy only once.
That perfection and drug-like attractiveness, that uninhibited, almost cruel beauty. Everything about these rare creatures beamed sexual desirability. In their innocence they were the ultimate lust object. They frightened Räder beyond reason and he had immediately gone out of their way. Avoiding them for fear of losing himself again, the way he was once lost to that other drug.

And now this.

He knew there was no way out this time. The boy was practically offered to him. Fatherless, motherless, brotherless kid.

This time he would not back out.

.

.

.

 

Not far away a little later . . .

Casually the young American turned over.

Now that he was laying next to her on his back, Heiderund could see the shadow against the wall.

It stood up at an angle that changed with the pulsations and with the light changing with the wood fire flames it seemed to have a life of it´s own.

Suddenly she thought of that day in May, when she had seen the young stallion.
It was the first time she had thought of entering the convent where her aunt was a nun.

Heiderund had often thought about her aunt and wondered if perhaps her own tightness was a family condition, like some of the other inbred families in the mountain villages had webs between the toes.

Then the great fear came over her again.
What if she died in this remote forest cabin, hours from the nearest neighbour and with that terrible snow storms howling outside? Who would give her the Sacraments?
She would die unconfessed in the very moment of sin . . .

She looked down on him, then closed her eyes.
"It´s to big" . . . she pleaded desperately in her barely seventeen year old virginal voice.
"I can´t possibly absorb that".

"Of course you can" . . . he whispered softly in her ear.
"What do you think it´s made for . . ."