HISTORICAL NOVEL BY INGRID RIMLAND
ABOUT THE GERMANS IN THE UKRAINE, IN THE U.S. AND IN GERMANY DURING WW2
[*In Berlin during breaks in the bombing raids, a German woman, Heidi, is talking to a 13-year-old German visitor, Erika, from the Ukraine – then part of the Soviet Union – who has been staying with her and her daughter Lilo by arrangement of the German military invading the Ukraine.]
…But Heidi now was on a roll and would let nothing stop her.
“We must seek truth from facts. We can’t depend on slogans. Some people claim this is about the click of heel on heel, but that’s not it at all. It’s not that we’re the best. It’s that we are the first to want to be the best, and that takes discipline. There is a price for what we want. That price is steep. Perfection can’t be had for free. We are the first who said: ‘We’ll pay. No price is steep enough.’”
At that, she bent and picked the portraits of her fallen sons out of the shards of glass and said without a tremor:
“This isn’t about superiority. It’s about inequality. We won’t stay down and shuffle. We will not genuflect. We choose to lift ourselves. We say ‘No!’ to a world that’s as sick as a worm-eaten apple and as smelly as yesterday’s socks. We dislike usury. We hate corruption. Waste. We want a healthy world. Not rotten teeth, enormous warts. We don’t want to spread disease the way mongrels pass on to each other their fleas. A life without hard rules is hardly any life worth living. That is my firm opinion. We want a healthy earth. We don’t want cities black with soot. We don’t want people mating motley-style until the world is gray on gray and all distinction gone. Nobody argues that an ass should be a horse. Nobody doubts there is a difference between a thoroughbred and a mule. If you ask me, there is a clear-cut difference between a sheep dog and a poodle. Let poodle mate with poodle.”
While Erika sat wide-eyed, slurping her ersatz coffee, Heidi continued firmly, facing her:
“I’ll never understand why they should hate us so for our self-esteem. They say we are too proud – as though that were a stain. Why shouldn’t we be proud, since it has cost us plenty? Of course we are proud. It’s the prerequisite for getting anywhere.”
“I bet they never thought it through –“ Particularly, the Americans.
“Of course they didn’t. They were fools. And it will cost them plenty. They’re perfectly willing to spend millions on improving the bloodlines of their horses-yet not one cent on their own young. That’s their business, I suppose. But see? It isn’t our business. Their bloodlines won’t be clean. Ours will be clean, and getting cleaner. Why is that thought so threatening? Use your imagination. You know what Yahweh said – the God of Israel? ‘Do not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.’ I’ve always asked: ‘Why not?’ What is it about evil that shuns examination? The blaze of sun may be too hot for maggots underneath a rock. It’s nature for a flower.”
The world no longer smelled of mildew, cigarette stubs, and kerosene. It smelled of spring, and Heidi filled her lungs:
“Here’s what I’m telling you. It’s up to you. Few will be left when this horrendous massacre is over. I have a feeling you’ll be left. And I don’t ever want you to forget: the sparkle of life comes only from bodies and minds that are clean. I know that I’m saying it badly, but what I’m telling you is this: you’re moral if you obey nature. There is no other way. Nature has put its fingerprint on you – its racial fingerprint. And if you violate that fingerprint, if you blot out that fingerprint, then nature knows. And it will cost you plenty. You’ll lose what’s best in you. You lose what’s clear and sharp in you. You’ll give up your identity. You’ll be like a plant without light. If you don’t value what you are – precisely who you are, an Aryan! – You’re stepping off the ladder that your forebears built for you. As you descend, illness rises. As smut grows, beauty wilts. There’s no equality in nature. There’s only love of order, symmetry and strength. Nature is truth, no matter what the slogans. Nature scorns everything alien. Equality is alien. If you decide to violate nature, the children you’ll bear will be handed a bill for what you forsook. The world you forfeited. For slogans. Don’t do it, Erika. Don’t ever let self-serving people paw your soul by palming off their slogans. You have a mind. You’ve got a brain. At least write your own script. While there is time. While you still can. For it could happen that –“
She stared into the distance with wide unseeing eyes. But then she leaned forward into a small nod:
“One way or another, this war must end, but that’s not the last word on the matter. The next war has already begun. The coming war will sap our blood for alien interests until we get things straight. We must start somewhere, darling. We must love health over sickness. Mind over money. Light over dark. Grace over smut. We must declare precisely what’s grotesque, and what is beautiful. With all the strength at our command, we must hate everything that’s hideous and love that which is lovely. A dauber should not have the right to call himself an artist. A flaccid mind can’t shine a beam of thought. I know that there are people in this world attached to the opposite view. What of them? Ask yourself. These people are our enemies. They love their money more than self-respect. With us, it’s the other way around. We’re paying for our principles. We’re paying with our children’s blood. That will not be ignored.”
The clouds were soft. The air was warm. And Heidi finished quietly:
“Why do they prattle on about free choice and not let us choose our way of life? Let them choose darkness over light. Lies over truth. Death over life. We choose the opposite, thanks to a man who believes in the light, and who trusts his fists – and just marvel at what he accomplished, in such a short time! For six short years there was more sky in Germany than anywhere else in the world. And, briefly, our fatherland lay in triumphant beauty. There walked among us one courageous man who said: ‘There is the path. Light over darkness. Truth over lies. Life over death. Cleanliness rather than filth.’ That’s why they warred on us –“
Erika dared barely breathe as she watched Heidi finish. They shared each other’s thoughts. They shared them with their eyes. Now Heidi’s voice turned hard.
“We will not win this war. Nature will win this war. Nature will make short shrift. They hated us. They hate us still. And I don’t mean our Aryan brothers. They are only tools. They’re not the source. The source has groundhog teeth. A hundred thousand teeth. If you permit it, Erika, they’ll gnaw out every root. They’ll strip you of your heritage. Why? Let me tell you why. That’s where your strength is. In your past. In Aryan history. The source knows that. The source fears our sense of ancestry much as the devil fears the crucifix. You must ask your small voice to the struggle. A bomb may flatten a roof, but it can’t flatten the truth. It can’t kill truth drawn from the heart of nature. Truth can’t be burned. The Führer spoke. The word is out. It’s travelling the universe.”
Heidi fastened her gaze on the portraits, and her eyes were two puddles of blue. Her sons smiled back at her, and Heidi turned a little more transparent than she already was, but letting nothing stop her.
“The earth drank the blood of my sons. They fought like lions, but they fell, because the enemy succeeded in setting brother against brother. Only an Aryan nation such as America could have defeated them. My sons sank back into the earth that gave them life, but not before they gave their best. In legal tender. Honest coin. Their brief existence filled our Fatherland with pride. Their sacrifice will count.”
It was a weighty speech. What Heidi said, people took willingly for gospel, and Erika did, too. She listened and took it all in.
“Some people may forget. The earth never forgets. No matter how our enemies distort what this was all about – my sons died honestly. They gave their life for freedom. Freedom from ugliness. Freedom from pain. From usury. From mind control that tells you straight is crooked. One day good people will start looking for the source of all of this because they’ll grasp there is no other choice. One day the world will know. One day the world will understand why we were called to sacrifice. The Führer did. He understood. He took his dagger to the boil and tried to lance the abscess. And I will tell you this: Whatever its name, it exploits the goodwill of the people. It sinks its spurs in the flanks of the world while howling Liberty! Equality! Fraternity! What bloodshed those three words unleashed! This war won’t have a happy ending. And more is yet to come. What comes will be appalling. But let me tell you this, for I may never have another chance, what with –“
At that, Heidi looked as though she were ascending a scaffold, but Heidi was Heidi, and duty was duty and finish she would, which she did.
She sat down on the edge of the chair. She told the blushing youngster startling things between deep sighs and many pauses. And here is how she finished:
“This isn’t our war. It never was. This war became a fratricidal war because the enemy probed for our underbelly, and found our weakest spot. We can’t relate to selfless violence, the mandate now before us. We don’t think warlike thoughts. It isn’t in our nature. We’re plowers. Tinkerers. Inventors. We are artisans. We honor soil. We strive to reach the stars. We have this weakness, though: we buy into the slogans. Somebody else’s slogans. I know this isn’t our war. It is a war of beings. And it’s cracking the skulls of small babies. America? Their bombs won’t win this war. They’ll win the battle, not a war. This war has already wounded their spirit, for melting down what nature handed them – their racial heritage – is not the way to go. Here is what I ask of you. I’m asking you to wait. I’m asking you to guard yourself so as to guard the future. Nature is working to build its best. Nature is busy perfecting itself. One day you will love deeply. And when you find a man you love, he’ll ask for an unsullied bride. In fair exchange, he’ll treat you with quiet courtesy. You’ll be his source of joy. He’ll be your source of safety. He’ll cherish you and love you because you are valuable. One worthy man. One wedding ring. A life that’s honest, simple, clean and smooth – that’s happiness.”
Ah, happiness. That’s all she wanted. Happiness. Relief and gratefulness washed over Erika like a warm, cresting wave. She felt as though she had been knighted. That ache inside was a decided mystery, but this she took on Heidi’s word: it was all natural.
”Just one last thought. If you are careful with the gifts your forebears gave to you, it means you’re opting for a solid life. You’ll have a life composed of dignity. You’ll be rich beyond all words, because you do what’s right. If you start sabotaging nature, you do so at your peril. When darkness overtakes the will, you only have yourself to blame. When you look in the mirror then, you’ll stare at the face of a stranger. What will stare back at you out of your mirror, Erika, will be somebody you once knew. That will be a sad day.”…
…[*At the train station, Lilo and Erika are hopefully waiting that the next train would have German refugees from the Ukraine, including Erika’s family members.]
There was the train, still scheduled to roll in; there were still fifteen minutes’ worth of wait left until all hope was gone, and she was hungry; in fact, famished; all she had had to eat last night was a gray herring head and half a slice of bread. She shivered, though it was mid-April; her stomach growled as if it was a tiger. She lifted her young chin and watched a plane pull up, climb high, and higher. A cloud of smoke came slowly out of nowhere and moved across the street, thinning and lifting languidly.
“You’d think,” said Lilo suddenly, “that they’d play fair. Why can’t the enemy play fair? What is it with them? Why are they bombing us? Unless we ask ourselves why they are doing this, why we are doing it, there’ll be no end to it!”
An anti-aircraft gun barked sharply, several miles away, and Lilo leaned back suddenly and squinted hard against the sinking sun where something silvery plunged from a cloud formation, releasing little specks of black that kept exploding dully.
“Vulgarians!” said Lilo, vehement, not specifying whom she meant, though you could take your guess. The lash of that young tongue was amazing. “Vulgarians! Vulgarians! They don’t know the least thing about us!”
A few more explosions, much louder and closer this time – yet the sky was as clean as a bowl.
The trees began to toss. The girls looked at each other. And Lilo said again: “They don’t know the least thing about us.”
“We need to leave,” said Erika, voice choked. “Your mother wants us home. She wants us to go queueing. Let’s go.”
“Are you my friend?” asked Lilo. The heavy rumble of artillery kept wafting over the horizon. A sudden echo rolled, diminishing.
“Of course. Why do you even ask?”
“All right, then. Listen. Let’s have a silly talk. Just never mind the bombs.”
“Now they’re bombing out of turn,” shrieked Erika, demented. “Why can’t they, at the very least, respect the rules of war?”
“They have no possible excuse,” said Lilo evenly. “It’s so oppressive! Go! If they think they can scare me, my name is Oppenpopp. They and their chocolate soldiers!”
She sat down at the edge of a small bomb crater, still holding Winston Churchill firmly on the leash. She stroked his nose with a delicate finger. “The mutt is nervous, God knows why. Look at his fur. Here’s what I want to know. Why do they want to kill me? What have I done to them? I never bothered them.”
Something odd, shadowy, came slowly floating by, which might have been a cinder. No more than 15 feet away, it rained a few roof tiles and, oddly, timid wisps of smoke curled suddenly from a dilapidated roof, but the sky was not yet spitting fire.
“Let’s go! Begged Erika, now trembling head to toe, but Lilo kept on talking. When she was in that mood, you couldn’t get a word in edgewise.
“Here’s what I think. It must be said. They look like us. We look like them. I’m sure we could be friends. I meant to ask the teacher. Why, in God’s good name, America? I’d like to understand their point of view. I’m dying for the nitty-gritty. Right now, it’s all a mystery to me. I bet you they make fun of us. As we make fun of them. I bet you they think they are right. I bet you they think we are wrong. I bet you they think this war makes them heroes. Can you imagine that?
“I bet you anything,” said Erika, now quite beside herself, and started tugging hard at Lilo, “if we don’t leave right now and find ourselves a bunker-“ but Lilo suddenly smacked Winston Churchill hard. Now she was twice as angry.
“We’re lucky. At least we are informed, We know whose war we’re fighting. I wonder whose war they are fighting-“
“You are smart. The smartest one in class. You figure it all out. See that dilapidated tower over there?
“Yes. What about it?”
“What about it? Well, guess what? That anti-aircraft tower? Behind that row of houses?
All this was just too much for Erika. It was full overload. Her panties were already getting damp.
“Please, Lilo! Lilo!”
Why pin her timid question mark of bravery against the vast horizon that now was roaring like a lion to advertise another raid? The dog lay quivering already, his tail flush with the ground. His skin was shuddering; his hair was bristling on end; while Erika kept crossing leg on leg to forestall the explosion of her bladder.
“Those aren’t bombs,” said Lilo. “This time, they are shelling us.”
She was still stroking Winston Churchill, just stroking him and stroking him. Her eyes had the texture of glaciers. She looked up, then, and took it in-all of it, everything! In one big gulp! The sky! Vast! Virginal! And something soft and gentle and infinitely beautiful came with a ray of sun and splintered in her face.
“See? After all,” said Lilo softly, now speaking only to herself, “we can’t be wrong. That is impossible!” Above, the tree tops stirred. A tear fell smack on the torn and crumpled letter and blotched a few more words. And Lilo said with quiet simplicity:
“Look at that plane up there. Is he a fool, or what? I bet you, he is just like us. I bet you we are just like him. No better and no worse.”
The earth shook with a nearby detonation. Lilo’s eyes were two puddles of blue. She wiped a film of ashes from her face and added: “You want to know my secret?”
“Not really, no,” said Erika, drawing air in through a very wet nose.
“I’ll tell you anyway.”
“I’ve had it now,” said Erika. “I’ve had it up to here.” With nothing left but broken hope, she had her hands full with herself. She did not want to know. What did she have to counteract another bombing raid? Her lifted chin, that’s all. It was so little that she wanted. Just order. Sanity. Fair play. A full night’s sleep, perhaps, and just a fragment of a dream to help her through another weekend, now that all hope was gone.
“Look, here they come!”
Yes, there they were, all in formation, orderly, all flying death as orderly as geese. As if on smooth conveyor belts they came – the Flying Fortresses, the US Air armada.
And what they brought came from the teeth of hell.
“You know who’s up there? On that roof?” said Lilo barely audible and put both arms around her pet. “It’s Jonathan. I saw him. Yesterday. I climbed across the roof and paid him a quick visit. He’s up there. By himself. All by himself. With just one rusty ack-ack gun. With hardly any shells—“
And in response: Ack-ack! Ack-ack!
She ran for her life, through a nightmare, hugging the walls as she ran. She dove for roadside ditches and scrambled out again. A child, a living torch, ran shrieking in the opposite direction. She glimpsed that from the corner of her eye. Untold civilian dead littered the sidewalk. Out of some atavistic knowledge, she recognized the voice.
She understood it even then: this was the Antichrist!
The Antichrist was doing this, and he had dragon’s teeth. He crunched on living bone. He shredded everything. He vomited up earth and ashes that flowered in the trembling sky in huge, ballooning mushrooms. He melted baby prams; he flattened wheelbarrows; he chewed up human flesh with quiet and murderous efficiency. A child was shredded right across the street from where she stood, dazed from the noise and flashes.
The Beast! The Beast!
She couldn’t see; she couldn’t breathe; she thought that she would suffocate. Above her, something flew apart in flames and plummeted down toward her in a brilliant ball of fire. Someone shouted frantic orders. Someone else was shouting for a vanished company. The streets were filled with smoke. Shrapnel shot through the air. Thick clumps of wet soil followed, nobody knew from where.
Walls shattered everywhere. A church steeple collapsed. A large building broke in half as though it were a suitcase being opened, and out fell furniture, a baby crib, the infant still inside, clutching at its intestines as they were spilling out. Its flesh hang in tatters from its body.
She saw in passing, as she ran, that a small group of prisoners, discarding picks and shovels, had broken free and was looting a stalled train—grotesque, bizarre and definitely treasonous!—but then they, too, threw everything and ran. Huge flames were licking everywhere. Thick columns of smoke rose from a dozen different streets. Two transport trucks had taken hits; oily smoke kept pouring out of them. The trees started groaning and swaying. A Mushroom of soot ballooned up. Another roof sagged slowly and collapsed. A bridge exploded in the distance. A huge shell crashed into a wall. She pressed herself against the shuddering building, and when she thought she could, she peeked through trembling fingers. There was the train!
Its roar drowned out the feeble sound of a lone ack-ack gun, against the roaring of the Antichrist, atop the anti-aircraft tower. She saw that Lilo crouched behind a wall surveying her surrounding, still clutching Winston Churchill by the collar.
Another blast, much closer. It blew a truck aside as if it were a toy.
Somebody was still shooting from the rooftop; that might be Jonathan. By then, the street was burning on both ends, and every time the sirens wailed, she jumped again and ran, right through the screaming sirens, shrieking.
Another roof blew off. A second. And a third.
The rubble flew in all directions. Three terrifying booms, one following another, made iron rush and bite into convulsing flesh and started setting stone on fire and chewing up the pipes as if with living teeth, and it was nails dug into earth to hold herself down somehow.
The clouds were bathed, end to end, in reddish hues. A sharp flame shot up, hissing, and Winston Churchill tore away from Lilo, yelped once, did a decided somersault and fell onto the pavement with a thud…
The earth convulsed and shook. the mutt was crawling on his belly, a gash along his back the width of a hand. By then, it was almost pitch black; the smoke was that thick, growing thicker. A piece of burning wood sailed by. The asphalt started bubbling.
Another detonation lifted Winston Churchill and threw him down on the asphalt. Lilo crawled forward on blistering knees to try to reach her mutt. And then a siren howled once–sharply. And gave out in mid-shriek.
Then came a roar. There was a flash–so light that it seemed dark, so loud it caused a silence…
Excerpt by permission of the author, Ingrid Rimland (Zündel) from the trilogy “Lebensraum! The Dream of Land and Peace”
“Lebensraum! spans seven generations and 200 years. It is a story told to me a thousand times in many different voices: that there was once a place called “Apanlee” that fell to the Red Terror… The people I have tried to show to be of flesh and blood came of a tightly knit community of Russian-German ancestry…” Ingrid Rimland
To purchase Ingrid Rimland’s Trilogy “Lebensraum” go to: