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A World War II era novel about love, betrayal, honor and loss, Divided focuses on a small Austrian town in the tension-filled days between the German retreat and the Russian occupation. A small unit of American intelligence agents try to root out the remaining Nazi sympathizers and prepare the town and themselves for the changes peace will bring.

"...Divided is the first novel recommended by The Reserve Officer--with no holds barred as to its excellence in treating one of the most dramatic situations in history. Against the tense background of fear and internal division that dominated post-war Kleinbach, a small Austrian town occupied by the American Army, Ralph Freedman has projected this powerful book.

"Divided ... wins ROA's recommendation as real good reading for every officer of the Armed Forces."
The Reserve Officer, September 1948.



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Author news



a novel


Ralph Freedman





Part I

Chapter One


So it was noon already.

Helmut left the barbershop after a much-needed shave. The boarded-up glass door passed him by, and he squinted into the dazzling sunshine. He held his shapeless cap in his hand. The light burned his face and his shaven head. Around him roared a din of motors and voices and the sound of many soldiers as they hurried across the square.

It was good to be clean shaven again. It was good to ignore the tall barber with the pouted lips, to laugh at their suspicious glances, to put his first and only coins on the table. He had found them on the sidewalk and they had made him a man again. Helmut had paid money like any ordinary being and laughed at their frowns.

This, then, is Kleinbach, he thought, and this is peace. This is what it feels like: the unceasing vehicles and machines; and this what it looks like: the tall bell tower hidden behind prosperous oaks, the clean air, the stuccoed old buildings subdued and gray around him.

Here it was now, the new day, with the church bells loud from the end of the square. Their sonorous clanging filled the streets, drowning the noise of the cars and the traffic. They grew louder and louder. He stood still in the sun, not yet able to grasp that the light and sound were for him, free and open. It seemed hard to believe that he was now part of it all, that the foreign machine guns in the square had not been posted for him and the helmeted soldiers did not guard Helmut Horn, an escaped prisoner, but the entire town. And he continued to stroll into the sound of the church bells.

As he reached the square, he remembered what he had set out to do and he turned to find the American headquarters. Somewhere on this square there would be an end to his journey. Somehow he would find peace and rest. He had much to say to the Americans. Perhaps he might get a job.

A heavy-set man leaned against a pillar under the old-fashioned arcade and stared into space. Helmut approached him politely.

"Beg pardon," he asked, "could you tell me where I can find the American headquarters?"

The man's gaze slowly returned from space. His attention centered upon Helmut, who knew that expression; it lingered from yesterday: the same suspicious stare he'd endured during many weeks of hiding; the pitying look as the farmwives had slipped him bread and cheese; the vacant stare of brutalized waiting before a punishment was decreed—the man's eyes contained it all. He was a fat man with a straw hat. His stubby fingers played with the chain of his watch. They pulled and tugged. Sometimes the edge of the heavy gold watch appeared from his pocket. And sometimes it remained inside and only its outline moved slowly, up, down.

The fat man had a large face, wide and round, like a church clock, and a flabby chin that almost hid his collar. The forest green coat hung loose over his bulging front—and those eyes, small and squinting, how they measured him expertly as a tailor would measure his cloth. How they stung, like nettles!

"What do you want to see the Americans for?"

The you was emphasized. The stare disapproved—from Helmut's square face and gray eyes, up to his head shaved bare in prison, down to the scar that distorted his mouth, his protruding lips, the short neck, the stooped posture, the threadbare blue coat. And then the knees. The eyes lingered on his knees.

Helmut felt himself back in the past. It seemed not so long ago after all, since he had jumped from that transport. One week. Two weeks. And now the eyes remained fixed on his pants—all that remained of his prison garb.

Helmut raised his eyes to the face. Around him, the new day stirred with hundreds of unfamiliar sounds. The air was bright on this first day. No squinting eyes could prevent him from going wherever he wished. All the foreign soldiers who strolled by in the street seemed to open doors for him, car upon car, truck upon truck, man upon man. He could laugh at the fat man. He could show his contempt.

Hiding ended when he said, "Do you want to tell me about that American office or not?" Flat and determined. Not too emotional. Just the right level. The proper inflection. Helmut saw how the man withdrew at once, turning away:

"Over there, in the town hall, can't you see?"

How could he have missed it? It was a large brick building on the opposite side of the square. A striped flag hung limp from the somber façade. The fat man had disappeared, but the squinting eyes and the hostile mutter of his voice still lingered in the air.

Helmut stood on the curb, the town at his toes: the cobbled pavement of the market square and the streams of military traffic passing by in the first flood of fresh occupation.

"No wonder they won the war," a thick voice said behind him in a heavy Austrian accent. "Look what they've got." And a female voice mumbled in assent.

He smiled, and with a fresh thought he remembered his old dream of "somehow" and "sometime" when their rule would be over and they would exchange angry words like this. Now it had come, and he delighted in grasping torn bits of English, shouted by the soldiers from one end of the convoy to the other. They drifted to his ears in a steady hum, shrill and carefree, and beneath them the rumble of the motors that poured incessantly through the narrow streets, gushed into the square, and trailed toward the large brick school building and the open highway to the north. Guns and tanks and heavy trucks laden with men who hung over the sides and whistled at the girls on the sidewalks.

"Oh, Baby!"

And small cars, and more trucks, loaded to the brim with chairs and boxes and spectacled soldiers who sat, odd and uncomfortable, between turned-up tables. The clerks, Helmut smiled to himself.

This, then, was the day that never seemed to come. During the years in prison—in the quarries, and at night in the crowded barracks—during the weeks of escape and the long days of hiding, this moment had loomed large in his mind. From the tree on his mountain slope he had watched Kleinbach: the splotches of white in the valley, the sprawling net of red and green, of chimneys, of comfort that had drifted up to his mountain aerie and had filled him with a strong longing for warmth. And now it was noon of the first day, and he stood in the center of the town, unmolested. All last night Helmut had sat in his tree, and all night he had seen the blazing sky, had heard the dark poms of guns, the quick, aching sounds of machine guns far away, and had watched the arcs of the tracer bullets passing lavishly through the night. Toward morning, flames had burst fiercely out of some roofs in Kleinbach, and then, far down in the valley, he had seen the long columns of men pushing slowly through the dawn.

Somehow, sometime, he had dreamed, and now this was it. The air refreshed his lungs in thick, cool gasps. The road seemed clear for a moment, and he drifted across. The sunshine warmed his skin to fever heat. A car came. He stopped. The helmets inside seemed to be drawn on stone. He walked on, and although his elation lasted, he was aware of fatigue clinging heavily to his muscles and his mind. His body should rest. He felt the sores, now, on his skin and the soles of his feet. He wanted clothes and sleep and warm food. He vaguely remembered a hot bath; and the idea took possession of him with furious need, but all the while the insistent spring sun burrowed deep inside him. It entered his blood—and laughed.

On the opposite side, a small band of people had crowded around the entrance to the town hall: curious passers-by and ragged vagabonds. Some of the men wore military caps. Old men and young boys in the threadbare uniforms of the dissolved Volkssturm—soldiers drawn from generations older or younger than normal recruits. Women in ragged dresses. A tall policeman stood at the door and waved angrily.

Helmut recognized the type: the former German army's equivalent to the American MPs. Austria, incorporated into "Greater Germany" under Hitler, now had abruptly reverted to its former identity. His gaze drifted to the bombed-out building nearby. A few firemen still climbed about the charred ruins, dousing the last sparks. A portion of the shop window was still intact, and the glass hung crazily above a burned hole of nothing. "Pfaffenschläger's Bakery and Café" said the sign, and a few American soldiers stood near the steps with their shouldered rifles.

The policeman raised his fist at the people and told them to move on. Strange that he could still do that, Helmut thought. Strange that he was still there on duty. And he saw the blank space on the sleeve with the swastika only now torn off: the outline of the wave of the eagle with spread wings, and the black military belt that closed tight about him. Helmut felt uncomfortable. The hard look on the policeman's peasant face: he knew it so well, that film of calculating distance. The man can't last long, he consoled himself as he pushed slowly though the group and moved to the door.

One of the men behind him lifted a hand: "Get away from that door, Big Mouth!" and Helmut wondered vaguely, for he had never heard them talk like this to policemen before.

"C'm on! Let us see the American governor. We have the right to!" yelled another.

"Sure thing! This is a democracy now!" Applause rewarded the wit. More hands were raised. The ragged group laughed, pushed. Casual passers-by drifted away as the mood turned darker. The Americans on the steps moved slowly toward the door.

"We want food!" a woman screamed. "The Americans promised. The war is over." Ten, twenty disheveled people. Either desperate or agents provocateurs, Helmut thought; people were meek today. They might stand angrily under their arcades or mutter curses behind closed doors, but they bowed before the Americans. It seemed strange, this group, out of place on the first day of surrender—or maybe just hungry.

The policeman reached for his belt where he had worn a pistol just yesterday. Today he had only a club, now gripped firmly in his hand. His blue eyes became more anxious than before and he turned to look for the Americans. They were not far away. Involuntarily he edged back step by step to the entrance of the town hall.

Helmut pushed on through the crowd. "What's your hurry?" a woman shouted. He disregarded them all, thinking of nothing but the Americans whom he wanted to see, the job that was sure to be open on this first day of peace.

For one moment the thought crossed his mind that he should leave now and return at a more opportune moment. But there was magic in the new flag that hung from the building and in the uniforms of the soldiers standing near the steps. A compulsion moved him forward, inch by inch, through the crowd. And then he stood, facing the policeman.

"What do you want?" the man growled nervously. "Nobody can get in here."

Helmut smiled. After all, the scene was grotesque. He was the future, and the policeman was the past. He had risen from the graveyards. He had hidden in the mountains. He had waited for this moment. The policeman was the last barrier at the end of this waiting.

"I would like to see the American officers. I have nothing to do with these people, Helmut answered politely. "I just want to see some American officer—for a job," he added with a naïve flush of pride.

And yet, there was again pressure in his stomach as he saw that film coming over the eyes before him. Through his fear he saw the Enemy in the official garb of the law. The abused law. The tight belt and the spotless coat. He felt the sun suddenly fierce on his shaven head. And he lifted his face to it.

The policeman, as if he had noticed the imperceptible movement, looked straight at his head and shouted," You're no better than the rest. This goes for everybody and for ex-convicts, too."

Calm, calm. Helmut twisted the cap in his hands. Don't let go, it will land you in trouble. This is still the first day. People don't learn in a day. They don't… they don't…. And the sun flowed out of his blood and left dryness behind in his limbs and the languid fluid of the old days.

The temper of the small crowd rose again, now directed at the man who had pushed up the steps, the man with the shaven head.

"Get that pig out of here. We want food!"

"No traitors!" one voice boomed and was shushed at once.

"You'd better go," the policeman said in a low voice, playing with his club.

Helmut stood. It was his only way of resisting, the only way to find an expression for his anger. He stood and stared, eyes hot, lips parched, and he remembered the soreness in his limbs. His thoughts stuck in his throat. On his neck, on his bare head, the sun still beat down, but it was a dark sun now, the old, burning sun that had curdled his blood in the quarries. Yesterday, perhaps, or the day before, he might have run up the steps and beaten the policeman in cold, uncalculating madness. Today all that had passed from him, drained with his passion into a quagmire of nothing, leaving hollow resentment inside, hollow hate. Hollow standing still, unthinking now, before the threatening policeman, before the menacing crowd.

"Probably a Jew," he heard a voice in the background. More people moved away, afraid of the outcome. The group thinned. But one whistle persisted and swept shrilly up the steps.

The American soldiers had taken their rifles from their shoulders, but they still didn't act, apparently hoping the rest of the crowd would go, too, and the policeman could handle it alone. They were reluctant to interfere, unable to understand the language, moved only by the menacing gestures that had already subsided, and reassured by the number of people who turned away and started across the square.

"Go," the policeman said.

"I won't go." The words were firm but spoken in a whisper. No one had heard them but himself and the policeman. Helmut remained upright, staring at the hostile face with a smile, a laugh in his insistent eyes.

"Do you want to go to jail where you belong?"

"This is a different day."

Helmut said it carefully, afraid of losing his composure at the sound of his own voice. But then it came. It swelled up inside him like a storm. It broke through him like the pounding screeches of a steam shovel. It seeped into his fingers, and then it surged. He ran against the policeman. The people screamed.

He was numb to pain; he had felt it so often that at first the dark blows of the club did not register. Instead, he felt the softness of the policeman's stomach. Only a few seconds, then hard boots were beside him, the American soldiers broke them apart. He felt blood—still painless—running over his face. He felt his left arm gripped by a tall soldier. He saw the brown of the shirt as he staggered, dragged himself to the wall. Then he saw the helmet partially covering the face—the red stubbled chin, the coarse neck before him, and the voice in English: "You stand there, and don't move."

"Break it up!"

The crowd had suddenly increased to clotted groups of curious spectators.

"Break it up!"

More soldiers ran out of the town hall, tall men with large MP's painted on their helmets.

Moved by the uniforms, the crowd dispersed at once. Murmurs sprang up.

"We want your governor of Kleinbach," one of the crowd shouted. The Americans shrugged their shoulders, not understanding but guessing from the menacing gestures. "We want food!" yelled another. The Americans moved down the steps in a tight line. Traffic halted. Other soldiers armed with rifles ran toward the town hall.

Even now, the remaining crowd did not disperse. They moved in a small block across the square, and the soldiers, following their orders, ran behind them and scattered them under the arcades. Meanwhile, Helmut leaned against the wall, wiping the blood from his face with a khaki handkerchief one of the Americans had provided.

Two of them stood before him now. The tall, stubble-chinned man who had aided him first, and a short, slim boy with anxious eyes. He looked at them and listened to their talk. Now, he felt the pain.

"Poor idiot," the younger man said. "A shaved head. Must be from a concentration camp. We should have fired these Nazi policemen the moment we moved in."

The stubble-chinned man lit a cigarette and flipped the burning match down the steps. The policeman had withdrawn inside. American soldiers stood guard now.

"Looks pretty lousy to me, this guy," he said and inhaled deeply. "May have suffered a lot and all, but I just can't get all hot and bothered about them like you. Those cops have a job on their hands. Have you ever been a cop at home?"

The boy shook his head.

"If a guy has orders to let nobody in and some bum tries to get in, what else can he do? You're too soft, Jack, way too soft. You'll never be an MP."

"An American would have handled it different."

The tall soldier shrugged his shoulders. "How? Do you understand their lingo? There are so many in those camps, too. We can't make exceptions for all of them. Listen, Jack. You just got here. Stick around for a while. Believe me, I've been through a lot of this."

For a faint moment Helmut believed that Jack would answer, that he would throw the lie back into the other soldier's face. His pain burned fiercely, and his mind dangled in mid-air, above the quarries and wire he had barely escaped, suspended over the main square of Kleinbach and the town hall and the two American soldiers who stood at leisure and talked. And suddenly the words formed on his tongue, the first words spoken in that foreign language since he had left the schoolroom: Have you felt? What do you know, soldier, what do you know? He tried to think of something else, but the words did not come. The words were thick and round and slick in his saliva, and so different from the speech that was inside him:

"Did you live in a graveyard?"

"You speak English?" Embarrassed, Jack tugged at his belt, pushed his helmet back on his head, toward his neck.

"A little."

"You do?" The tall soldier showed no trace of discomfort, but both of them remained motionless, surprised.

Helmut had said nothing, really. It had been inadequate. And yet it had been something they were able to understand, that had got across to them. The square below was almost normal again, almost the way it had been before he had crossed the street. Military cars again and trucks. Would they never end? So many cars.

In a gesture of appeasement the tall soldier produced a package of cigarettes and held it out toward Helmut.

"Take one, kid. Always good to find someone who can talk in this damned country."

His manner was still offhand and superior, but his contempt had left him. There was no apology in his face when he lit the match. The flame flickered before Helmut's eyes and he felt the raw gasps of smoke running down his throat—for the first time in years. It scratched and burned. It scraped the skin of his tongue and his chest as he breathed it deeply. It climbed into his nose.

"Good, eh?" the stubbled soldier laughed. "You ought to get some clothes on, kid, and some hair on your head." Jack had withdrawn and shouldered his rifle.

Helmut saw the big man before him and wondered, bewildered, what the soldier had meant. He had been a bum in his eyes, and yet…. He could not finish the thought. The policeman returned with an American officer.

"Here he is, sir." The policeman clicked his heels correctly, stiltedly, in sharp contrast to the two American soldiers who hardly changed their positions when the officer approached. Jack saluted at last, casually. The other soldier gripped Helmut's hand, shaking it. Then he turned around slowly,

"You're O.K., kid," he said to Helmut. "Just get some clothes on. Your talk sounds all right."

What talk? Helmut thought. Five words in their language. He turned to the officer in hope, but he was taken aback at once when he saw the stern look, the unsmiling face, the severe helmet with strange letters and decorations.

The officer spoke in halting German. "You resisted the law." His eyes, once fixed, now strayed about furtively in search of someone to help. As if he were looking for a dictionary, Helmut thought.

He answered in English. He had learned something. Perhaps the officer would be impressed, too. "I liked to see American officers for a position," Helmut said. "Just position. I speak English, German, French. I got out of concentration camp. I escaped. I want to work."

The officer was only slightly impressed. His helmet reflected the afternoon sun with faded grandeur. Military, Helmut thought with a sudden wave of resentment. And he saw thousands of helmets covering the earth and darkening the sky with their dull glint.

"You speak English? Good. But don't you know there are orders, man?" He paused and looked at Helmut, the torn coat and the bleeding head. Then he smiled. "Good grief. Of all the ways to apply for a job! Where do you live?" the officer asked abruptly.

A shadow fell over Helmut's face and he struggled for an answer. If only he knew addresses in town, names of streets. He already felt what was coming. An address, an address. But the more his mind searched, the less he found one.

"Do you know where he lives?" the officer asked the policeman with a shrug. The man's face brightened at once.

"Tell him where you live! The Herr Offizier wants to know," he ordered sharply in German, looking straight at Helmut, triumphant.

The rage came back into Helmut's face, but he ignored the policeman. "I hid for weeks, sir," he said in English. "I have no place right now. I was hoping…"

The officer gave him the once-over. "Look," he said, trying for the best way to put it. "I know how you feel. You'll get a job, sure, but we've got to feed a lot of people right now. You heard the crowd. We've got to get things straightened out. You'd better go inside with this policeman. We'll have to clear up your case. And get your head treated first."

"Why don't you let him try, sir?" the tall soldier asked. "Those DP camps around here are all crammed full of German Nazi refugees.

The officer turned to the soldiers. "You'd better get back to your posts, men. We can't do a thing with this man right now. Perhaps later. Do you want to feed him?"

"We could keep him in the company, sir," Jack said, naïve and childlike. "He could do some typing for us. His English will pick up."

"I can," Helmut said quickly. "I can typewrite. I can translate."

The officer glanced back at his disheveled appearance, the prison pants, the faded coat, the bald, shaven head, bleeding above stooped shoulders. "You get back to your posts now," he said to the soldiers and watched them saunter down the steps toward the destroyed house next door.

The American guard who had replaced the policeman stood squarely in front of the town hall, staring absently into the square at the tumultuous life below.

"And now go get your face treated," he turned persuasively to Helmut, "and wait inside. We'll have some people screen you and…" He stopped.

"And then?"

The officer did not finish his sentence. He looked at his watch. "Take him to the police station," he said to the policeman slowly, in his halting German, "and let him wait. Someone will question him later."

Helmut watched the officer stride away before the rough hand of the policeman touched his arm. His eyes followed the tall man down the street, rounding the statue commemorating the First World War. At the door he turned once more, the policeman impatient behind him. And there was the statue, large and icily erect beside the moving man—the bald monster on horseback gazing with unseeing eyes toward the north, the dark chain of the Moravian mountains.


The nauseating stench of the Sanitätsstube—the clinicbroke harshly into Helmut's consciousness. He had stood and waited in the corridor in the long line of people being treated for minor wounds, mostly still from last night's fighting. Moans and whimpering mingled with curses quietly uttered. The glances continued to flicker over his shaven head, and one girl burst out, her bloodstained arm in the air:

"The Americans shaved your head, eh? The bastards. We do that only to traitors. Did you scream?" she asked solicitously, her eyes pitying him in her own discomfort.

Helmut continued to stare ahead. He was too weary to answer her, too weary to say either yes or no. He waited, seeing before him the medical office, hastily established only today amid desks and bureaus. A large bottle of antiseptic stood on a typewriter, in teetering balance.

The same old stares when he was admitted to the clinic. Bottles were scattered about between wads of cotton. Austrian police officers sat around, still in their old uniforms but with a conspicuous absence of swastikas. An American soldier behind a desk in the rear wrote busily. A light space on the wall showed where Hitler's picture had just been removed.

"Come over here, bird," one policeman shouted with a glance at his head. The Austrian in the white coat smiled a little, somewhat distantly, but he smiled. As always, Helmut thought, just as before. Little happens in one day of surrender.

All fight had gone out of him. He felt only the stench of stale blood and antiseptic and the sweat of the many unwashed people who had passed through and gone.

The doctor's hand gripped him roughly. Cool cotton touched his scalp, lingering with a heavy burn. Numb, he moved on down the line. A police sergeant put a bandage on his head, fastened it quickly with tape, then released him and told him to go.

The corridor outside was dark, and in the dim light that drifted through the shattered windows, he saw the long, patient line. Next door he heard laughter. American voices. A few steps hurried across. Doors were opened and closed. Far away, in a different world, he saw American men, figures in dark brown or shady green, their uniforms still torn and slovenly as they passed beneath the hall light. Still dirty from combat, some wore their helmets. The straps dangled loosely down their cheeks and knocked slightly against their shoulders and necks.

"Come over here."

Trapped again. Another policeman. Another Austrian, another harsh glance at his shaven, now bandaged, head. He followed the policeman closely, back down the dim stairs to the ground floor and the tiled hallway and into the office with the low ceiling and the many colored signs.

It was a makeshift guardroom, hastily set up. A large, crudely painted sign was suspended over the main desk.



Behind a desk on the left, an American officer sat writing. Next to him, behind a table, an Austrian policeman worked beside an American soldier who had many rows of stripes sewn on his sleeves. They were looking at a broad-shouldered farmer with his arm in a sling, hobnailed boots on his feet, and a proud stare for his questioners.

"How long were you Zellenleiter—a Cell Commander?" the policeman asked slowly, suppressing a yawn. The American soldier, unable to follow, drew circles on a piece of paper.

"Come on, don't stare," Helmut's escort urged. They moved into the back of the room, where more people were sitting, separated from the desks by wooden bars hastily erected. Helmut climbed over them and looked for a seat. All chairs were taken. He walked to the back wall and let himself slide down on the floor. The policeman walked away and reported to the desk. An Austrian and an American soldier were standing guard before the partition.

The smell in his corner was thick with sweat and discomfort. Opposite, staring at him unseeing, a woman chewed busily on a crust of stale bread, gulping, her teeth grinding it. She was a large woman with heavy breasts. Next to her sat a lean youth with a thin, oval face and deep-set eyes. His coat was half open, revealing a light brown shirt, the remnant of a Nazi uniform. He smoked a cigarette greedily, a long column of ash dangling from it and then scattering over his lap. When Helmut saw the old man with the thin nose who spat yellow blotches on the floor, he'd had enough of looking. He closed his eyes. Even so, he could still see the crowd around him imprinted on his inner eyelids, mixed with red circles and blue rings with black spots in the center. They rotated quickly. The smell persisted, blended with that of cheap tobacco. The sound persisted: the gulps and the hiccups and the crunching of the woman devouring crust upon crust of stale bread.

No names were called. The policeman on guard waved at the persons selected to step up to the desk. Another one led them outside. More arrived all the time. Chairs became free, then were occupied again, a steady coming and going. Helmut remained on the floor, leaning against the frigid wall, still dreaming that his lucky chance might come through those dingy walls and cast a bright torch into the grimy office.

"Hey, you!"

They meant him. Helmut gripped the crumpled cap beside him and climbed over the partition. Near the wall, an American soldier bending over a typewriter looked up and whispered to his companion. He walked on—a long pilgrimage to the desk. He stood and looked at the policeman and the American soldier with the stripes. The officer on his left had stopped writing and was reading a newspaper. Shoving aside a confused jumble of inkstands and blotters, the policeman looked up.

"Your name, please."

"Helmut Horn," he said slowly, and then with sudden vehemence he added in English: "Concentration Camp Gross Rosen, No. 45697." He looked straight at the soldier, who had dropped his pencil and was staring at him.

His anger subsided as if after a daring stroke. There was a hush in the room. They all had heard the name Gross Rosen and they all saw the bald, wounded head and the thin prison pants. Prisoners never came around Kleinbach. Far in the back, the fat woman stopped crunching her crusts. The young man opened his coat inadvertently and showed his brown shirt, then closed it again quickly.

The American officer behind the desk dropped his paper. He opened his fountain pen and took a white sheet of paper from a drawer. "What did you say?" he asked and leaned back in his swivel chair. "You speak English, I notice."

"I do." Helmut turned to the left, and as he looked across the wide glass-top desk, he suddenly felt small and pitiful in his torn clothes with his bandaged head and the crumpled cap in his hands, twisting it like a serf approaching his master with a petition.

The officer looked both detached and distinguished. His shirt was clean. A golden chain fastened on his shoulder swung toward his breast pocket in a wide curve. There were shining insignia on his collar. A neatly painted helmet lay on the desk with a large emblem and the letters APM printed neatly below. His brown hair was clipped and groomed. His lips were thin, His neck long and slender, his shoulders wide. His hand, with a heavy ring, held an unlit pipe.

"How did you get in here?" he asked. "We're screening Nazis."

Helmut laughed, but not with amusement. There was a strange tickle in his throat, and he longed for fresh air as never before.

"I was sent in here by the guards," he said, avoiding mention of the other officer. ‘There was an incident. I wanted to see the Americans for a job."

The policeman who had been on guard outside rushed in to explain the situation. Helmut watched him almost without concern. He had little hope.

But the officer wrote on his paper. He apparently understood some German.

"I don't know what to do about you," he said frankly to Helmut. "I can't tell you about jobs. I don't know if you speak the truth. I don't know what the captain wanted to do with you; he isn't here now. You'd better go upstairs and see some people who are more concerned with details, O.K.?" He smiled with perfunctory kindness and then returned to his newspaper.

"Where do I go?" Helmut asked the American soldier behind the desk, trying to avoid the policeman.

"Room H-4, second floor," the soldier answered with a glance at a notebook on his desk, and as Helmut turned away, again followed by a policeman, he heard the soldier's voice in very bad German: "No go! He can alone!"

Helmut looked back at the soldier and smiled. The policeman stood at rigid attention and saluted. The salute looked odd in the informal room. In the back the young man cleared his throat while Helmut walked out with a spring in his step, swinging the door shut behind him.

The staircase was as dim as before. On the next floor the line at the dispensary still moved slowly toward the clinic where the police doctors were working. An American was inside now, too—an American doctor. Helmut saw him in his uniform, gesticulating impatiently at the Austrian in the white coat, desperately trying to make himself understood. Toward the end of the corridor, nearer the hall light, he detected a light smell of cigarette smoke and a sound of thumping boots.

ROOM H-4, said the sign on the door. Helmut knocked. A bright brass handle adorned the wide, old-fashioned door. He entered when there was no answer. A few civilians lounged in bored patience around the room. The chairs were again all occupied. An American guard leaned against the window, a pistol hanging from his side. He came over to Helmut.

"What is it you want?" he asked. He spoke good German, with an American drawl.

"I was sent from downstairs," Helmut said diffidently. "They say you handle details." He was glad he could answer in the soldier's language. Already it came easier, more fluent.

The guard laughed and switched into English at once. "Sure, sure," he replied. "Just wait your turn. We've got so many details today, we don't know how to handle them all."

"Next!" a sharp voice sounded from another door that opened to the left. Helmut saw only an American uniform shirt. The guard pointed at a heavy-set man, who rose grumbling and staggered through the door.

"You were in a concentration camp?" the guard asked curiously, remaining at Helmut's side.

"Yes, and I got into trouble already today."

"Say, you seem to be! What did you do? Beat up some Nazis? They should let you guys loose on all of them. It would save us a lot of work." The soldier mopped his brow with a large handkerchief to indicate the amount of work.

"They say I have no place. I must go to a camp," Helmut said anxiously. "Do you think I have to? I escaped before."

"You'll just see Sergeant Rosen in there. Good thing he's on duty. He's a Jewish refugee from Germany himself, but he's now a U.S. citizen serving in our army." He'll take care of you. Are you Jewish?"


The soldier laughed again with sympathy. "Say, don't sound so discouraged. You don't have to be, you know. There are lots of Americans who aren't, even if Goebbels never thought so."

Helmut was a little bewildered, and yet, this was a great deal more like the reception he had expected. These were the tall, laughing Americans he had thought about when he had seen their columns in the dawn.

The solider tightened his belt. "How was it in the concentration camp?" he asked curiously. "I never got to see any of them."

"You missed nothing," Helmut said. "What can I tell you? It takes years. Much too hard in English. I must learn more first to speak your language."

"Tough, eh? I guess it was tough. We saw pictures of ‘em around here. We made the Krauts look at ‘em"

"How do you speak such a good German?" Helmut asked suddenly.

"We speak it at home still," the soldier answered. "My dad's a real Dutchman. We could never wiggle out of it. He wouldn't pass us the potatoes unless we asked for them in German. Kartoffeln," he mimicked.

Helmut smiled.

The soldier looked at his watch. "Four o'clock already. Rosen will be off soon. They're going to close the interviews and send the rest back to jail until tomorrow. I want you to see him. You don't want any more jail, do you?"

"Not much," Helmut answered. The joke hit again hard, and the fear returned to his stomach, and the rage, both pressing down on him with full weight. So he had not weathered it yet. He was still a prisoner. He looked through the window, where he saw the spire of the church on the opposite side of the square piercing the sky. The soldier had left him. He heard his steps moving toward the other room and the hard knock on the door. Then he walked in.

A few moments of waiting, and suddenly his mind almost ceased to respond. There had been too much of it, too long, too hard. He had waited for years in the quarries, for days in the mountains, for hours in the dingy office downstairs, and as he closed his eyes, he still heard the thick grinding teeth of the woman chewing the crust of stale bread.

The soldier appeared from behind him, through the door by which Helmut had entered. He beckoned to him. The men waiting in the room craned their necks, then relapsed into their dull stare ahead. They seemed to think of nothing. Helmut thought of nothing when they walked along the corridor, just a few steps, to the next room—of nothing except the numbness in his mind and the dim hope that he might not have to go to jail. Perhaps not… perhaps.

The door opened to the right and closed behind him. The soldier's steps faded away. Helmut raised his eyes and blinked against the glare, the sun bright though the window; and up again, from the checkered rug to the heavy, brown furniture, the paneled walls, the cheap pictures, the solid cabinet, and the wide desk in the far end of the narrow room. Then he saw the man: a thin mask of pallor, short black hair, a long nose, slim with an impressive hook that bent down capriciously over his sensitive lips. He would have been ugly if it had not been for his large, violent eyes and the winning irony of his mouth. Helmut saw the arm clad in the American uniform shirt with a long row of stripes. And then he heard the voice with the brisk North German accent.

"Sit down. What's your name, please? We'll take care of your troubles at once."

"Helmut Horn." He sat down on the wooden chair before the desk and met those violent eyes across the top. "Concentration Camp Gross Rosen," he added.

"My name is Paul Rosen, not Gross Rosen," said the man in the uniform. And after a pause, "That's where they held my brother. Perhaps I'll hear something—sometime."

"I hope so," Helmut said warmly, and he felt safe and close. "You can always hope."

"Yes, there's always hope. I'm a Yank now, you know," Paul Rosen added with a bit of pride. "I got away from the Nazis just in time—family all dead, though." He paused, staring at the papers on his desk. "But I got to the States about six months before the U.S. declared war. I volunteered to fight Hitler and they gave me my citizenship. Naturalized me."

Helmut nodded solemnly. "Then you're one of the few lucky ones."

"Yes." Rosen remained silent for a long moment, then with a start, "Now, Herr Horn, let's get to your troubles." He picked up a sheet on his desk. Helmut recognized it as the one from the officer downstairs. "Tell me about it."

And then he began to talk. It came slowly at first, as he carefully told his story: about the fat man whom he had asked for directions, and the crowd angry for food, and the pieces of Nazi uniforms on this rebellious crowd, and the cocky policeman, and the two soldiers, and then the officer who had sent him inside. But then, suddenly, he lost control.

Past the silent man across the desk, beyond the bright afternoon sun that came through the window, his mind spanned decades. The days and nights of clandestine work during the first few years; later the growing danger; how all the others had dropped away; how he had sat alone, reading forbidden books in the dark and had hidden them in the oven. His first years at the university, and then the war. How he had refused the offered chance for a commission and how finally he was sent to Poland with a labor battalion. And all the stories of Poland, the sights and the torture and his contacts with the underground. How they had finally caught him, court-martialed him, and how he had done it again and had been dishonorably discharged and turned over to the Gestapo.

And then the long years in the concentration camps, in the rock piles, in the glowing sun and the snow. The burning sores inside and the lighter days. The easy commanders and the harsh ones. Some deals that could be made and others that were impossible. The guards who could be bribed with a salami from home and the guards who went around swinging a whip.

And then the night of the transport, the crowded freight train moving slowly south from the Oder to the Danube ahead of the Russian advance. The air-raid stop and his jump into freedom, while the enemy planes droned overhead, and his weeks of waiting for the war's end.

"How did you live?" Rosen asked, playing with a pencil.

"Any old way. Farm wives would slip me some cheese and a crust of bread when their husbands weren't looking. But I had to be careful. Sometimes they would call the police. At other times I stole turnips from the fields, good spring turnips, and ate them raw. It worked out, as you see."

"I see."

The silence now remained in the room. It had grown late. Five… six o'clock. Helmut had talked a long time. He leaned back, exhausted.

"I tell you," Rosen said finally, leaning back in his chair, "you've got to get out of this. But we can't let you go unless we place you somewhere, or they'll send you back to camp. I could slip you through a back door, but they'll pick you up again sooner or later. And how do you want to live?"

Helmut shrugged his shoulders.

"Wait a moment." Rosen got up from his desk and walked outside. In the thin light of the corridor his figure disappeared and his steps died away, first harsh and loud, then lost behind the sound of a banging door. A chorus of noises drifted into the office, loud and chaotic. Doors slammed. Shouts. Steps up and down on the stairways. Scraps of sentences in English and German. And then there were footfalls in the corridor, nearer and nearer, one slow and heavy, one light and quick.

"O.K., Rosen," Helmut heard a deep, drawling voice, "you take him over to the house. We'll see later…. I have to rush. He can always stand a meal, I guess." They both laughed. Then the slow feet moved away, pounding on the stairs.

Rosen appeared. "So far so good. You're not free yet, officially, but I'll take you along."

The sigh of relief was at once broken by strain. Not free yet? Then he had not been free. Even his muscles withdrew.

"Where?" Helmut asked suspiciously.

"Don't worry, don't worry." Rosen picked up the military cap from the table and placed it carefully on his head. "Let's go and have a meal. How about that? It's going to be good. One of the boys requisitioned eight pounds of steak when they arrested some Zellenlieter this afternoon."

Paul Rosen talked continuously while they walked out of the door, down the dim corridor and the staircase, still filled with the soap-and-ether smell of the dispensary. "You're going to like the other men. Lot of trouble on our job, and quarrels and disagreements, but we work together all right. It won't be hard for you to be accepted. They need interpreters very badly here. I'm the only real one they've got right now. The boy in the front room belongs to division headquarters, and the general has asked for him back. Probably to requisition a villa for him." They both laughed at that, and Helmet wondered at Rosen's frankness.

"Oh yes, you'll be delighted to know what kind of job you're getting into," the man now added as they crossed the main hall. "We're a small group called the CIC, the initials for Counter-Intelligence Corps." Two soldiers stood guard near the entrance. In the office to the left, people still moved about, pushed back and forth by one of the Austrian policemen. And then, through the growing tension in Helmut's chest, Paul's voice came again with surprising intimacy: "We're arresting Nazis and Nazi suspects."

For a moment Helmut was speechless. Then an intense joy tingled in his hands and tickled the corners of his mouth. They stood in the wide entrance door, above the steps and the square below. The guard pointed at Helmut and Rosen showed his pass.

"We're taking him along," Rosen answered. "Here's my authorization," and he produced a dog-eared document. The soldier hardly looked at it.

"O.K., pass," he said with a grin, "and don't forget," he yelled after them, "The next time you catch one of them Nazis, just save a souvenir for me. The old lady would love it."

"Sure, sure," Rosen called over his shoulders as they descended the steps. They crossed the street cautiously through the heavy streams of traffic. A few soldiers sat on the curb, spitting gum under the moving wheels. One of them laughed. They walked along the sidewalk of the main square. People passed them: old men with high hats, young boys in Volkssturm clothing. And the girls in their peculiar dresses, wide red skirts with white aprons, or colorful frocks. And the American soldiers in their uniforms and heavy helmets, their rifles slung casually over their shoulders.

Down below, the church nestled under mighty oak trees, and here they walked under arcades. The second stories of the houses protruded over the street in this section, and wooden pillars supported them, provided a roof under which people stood and talked. Here, life flourished even on this first day of surrender: fat farmers shook their fists in well-fed discontent, thin women from Germany who had fled before the tide of the war, and little boys flinging casual insults at each other back and forth across the street and whistling at the cars and guns that still passed by ceaselessly. The houses were dark and somber with gingerbread façades, yet soberly narrow. In the center of the square stood the First World War Memorial with its granite horseman, and, on the other side were low houses and white shops, sleepy in the sun like cats purring under the oven at nighttime.

"It's all so beautiful," Helmut said, still dreamy, "the sunlight and the buildings. I looked at them for eight days from the same hole in the mountain. The same wide square and the church in the midst of oak trees. The same hustle on the pavement. And everyone was comfortable under their red roofs."

Rosen was silent. The church bells had stopped pealing in the late afternoon. They had rung for hours, for it was peace not only in Kleinbach but in all of Europe. May seventh, and Paul explained that the American commander had sent a request to the sacristan to ring the bells.

They turned up a narrow street to the right and passed by the churchyard. In the background they saw a few lights flickering through the colored glass and breaking against the white walls and the foliage of the oak trees.

Soon they reached a low building, a former cobbler's shop with a smashed window. Looking back, Helmut could see the charred, smoldering block behind the church where the shells had landed. They climbed stone steps, pushed open a heavy door. Scant light drifted into the hall through broken, dirty windows.

"Only temporary," Rosen said with an ironic apology. "Our boys of the CIC don't live like this for long. We just have to get the wife of Kleinbach's party leader, the Ortsgruppenleiter's wife, out of her villa. We expect to move in tomorrow morning."

Helmut nodded, dimly aware of the change in the hall light, the change in the dusty pattern on the stairs. They opened a door on the left. With a vague sense of courtesy he held the door for Rosen and waved at him to enter first. "We're a little more informal than that," Paul smiled, but he accepted the gesture. Inside, a dark little apartment cluttered with boxes and furniture scattered in the corridor, and some military bags. A clock hung crookedly on the wall, showing the wrong time. There was a smell of absinthe and burned sugar, then a bright scent of meat and the sound of laughing voices from the adjoining room.

A door opened, and a tall man appeared. He wore no shirt, but had a Russian fur cap upside down on his head, pushed toward the back of his neck. He had muscular arms and a toothy smile. "Oh, Rosen brought the new guy. Frank mentioned him before he took off like a bat out of hell. Get in here and help with the steaks, fellows." He swung a German field knife with a cannibalistic gesture.

Helmut hesitated a moment before he stepped through the door, taking in the grimy walls and the dim bulb at the ceiling. But it was a house, a house with people and the sizzling sound of fried meat from the smoky kitchen beyond. Sudden laughter seemed to spring out of hidden nooks, unseen voices from corners next door. A tide of warmth ran down his neck and moved slowly through his body and then enclosed him: very quiet and almost alone.


The man with the fur cap stood with his broad back to them when they entered the kitchen. The skin on his neck creased with each movement. Khaki pants slipped dangerously from his wide, straight hips. He reached for salt. His fingers ground in the white cloth bag, and the grains snowed on the meat. Hands flat, he pounded the slabs on the table, turning and twisting them and then placing them in the pan, almost gingerly now. Another man, slim, blond, and finely built, stood next to the stove cutting thin slices of potato into a wide bowl.

"Come on, you two, get your sleeves up and help Jim slice those potatoes!"

"Wait a minute," Rosen said. "Jim, this is Helmut Horn, our new interpreter, we hope."

The young man dropped the knife and wiped his hands on the towel tied around his waist. "How are you, Helmut. My name's Jim Atwood."

"How do you do," Helmut answered timidly and took the outstretched hand. The grip was tight and pleasant. The eyes were wide and full of twinkling blue rings circling around a sober, black spot.

"Don't listen to Murdoch," Jim Atwood continued. "He's really not half as bad as he sounds. Just likes to see people work. We got along O.K., though, before you two came in. So why don't you wash up first?"

"O.K., O.K.," the broad-backed man muttered, turning a steak in the pan. It sizzled. Then he looked at them: "And I guess Atwood introduced me already. My name's Ken Murdoch. Glad to meet you, too, Horn."

"Thank you," Helmut answered, more bewildered, and took the offered hand.

"Now show him where to get washed up, Rosen, and get back here in a jiffy. Frank will be back in half an hour and that big-mouth Gary, too. We want to eat then." Murdoch stretched out his arm to grab another steak.

They turned to the door and as Helmut gave a final backward glance, the two figures moved like puppets in the light. There was a cupboard, a dirty floor, soiled tiles on the walls, and the setting sun seeping curiously through the half-broken window.

The bathroom was as dirty as the rest of the place, full of stone and debris that had fallen from the roof when a dud hit the upper stories. A sharp smell of burst pipes and clogged plumbing filled his lungs. But the water, dipped out of an army can on the floor and poured slowly into the basin, felt cool on Helmut's face. The soft, cold soap Rosen gave him spread lavishly over his face and neck, his arms and hands. When he dried his face, he saw his own features in the faded mirror, fresh despite the dullness on his forehead, the strange absence of hair, the bandage, and the old scar on his mouth.

Outside, in the kitchen, Murdoch said, "Funny guy, this Horn. He looks like a sap to me."

Atwood answered quietly, "I wouldn't know at first glance, Ken. He's been through a lot; you can see that all right."

Then new steps came up the stairs and turned toward the front door.

"Hi." the voice shouted and moved into the kitchen. "Boy, what a smell!"

"Find us more Zellenleiters, those Cell Commanders, with ten pounds of stolen steak in their basements, and we can have this every night, Frank."

Rosen came back into the bathroom. "Come on," he said to Helmut. They passed through the corridor and stood in the kitchen door.

"Here, Frank," Paul Rosen said, "this is Helmut Horn, the young man I talked to you about. Horn, this is Frank Hanson, our chief."

The back that had been leaning over the kitchen table now raised itself and turned around slowly. A round, laughing face and brown eyes, a thin, undistinguished mouth. "Say, I'm glad to meet you, Horn. Stick around for a second, and we'll have a talk." He bent over the table again and picked up a slab of steak that had just been flung out of the pan with one of Murdoch's skillful movements. He took a knife and cut off a piece, pushing it into his mouth. "Damn good," he laughed, chewing. He grinned at Helmut and sauntered over to him at the door.

"Come on now, Rosen," Murdoch shouted. "Get going on those potatoes. Atwood should take a rest for a while!"

Helmut was leaning against the door frame when Frank Hanson turned to him. "Let's go talk next door, Horn. I heard most of it from Rosen, but I'd like to talk to you directly."

"Yes, sir," Helmut said and walked politely behind him.

What had been the living-room was in a state of complete disintegration. The walls had been partially burst open by the concussions across the street and the dud that had fallen on the house. Faded wallpaper still clung to the larger areas of the walls. The corners were bare. White plaster sifted from the gaps. They sat down on two worn leather chairs before a broken bookcase. The white dust coated both chairs, and they wiped it off haphazardly.

"Rosen introduced us, Horn. My name's Frank Hanson. I'm the commanding officer of this team. Rosen probably told you about the nature and purpose of our work."

"A little," Helmut ventured, anxious to hear more.

"There isn't much to say. We're a counter-intelligence team engaged in all kinds of work, mainly finding Nazi renegades who might still be dangerous to us. This much should suffice. You'll understand more about the job as you get into it." His tone was brisk and businesslike. The boyish laugh had gone from his face and he looked tense and serious. Helmut liked him instinctively.

"Though we often wear civilian clothes as a kind of camouflage, we're a military organization, Horn, and as such you, as an actual civilian, will have to begin under some sort of supervision. We have only your word for it, but it's a word we'll trust." He looked up sharply. Helmut sat crouched in his chair.

"Thank you," he said helplessly.

"But as you've probably noticed, we're not too military in our ways. We don't have to care about those things here. We've got a certain job to do and that's all there is to it. We have no ranks, officially. I'm in charge. That's all you have to know. The other men are agents. You and Rosen are our interpreters."

So he had been accepted. And yet he did not stir. He did not run to the broken window and yell into the street that he was free at last. It was a slow anticlimax that released the lump in his throat, imperceptibly, almost, smoothly disappearing with a faint echo of joy that pulsated in his hands and his lips. He wanted to say something.

"Thank you so much, Mr. Hanson. I will do my best, my very best. I will learn better English and I will do anything you order. This is more than I hoped. This is better. I try to…"

Hanson waved his hand. "O.K., O.K. I guess you'll work out. With a little good will we'll all get along." His smile was of businesslike benevolence. He rose as briskly as he had begun. "Now let's have some chow."

"Oh, by the way," Frank asked before they had reached the door, "you won't mind wearing an American uniform, will you?"

"A what…?"

"You can't run around like that, Horn," he said with a quick glance at the jacket, the prison pants. "You'll have to go on missions with us looking a little bit better. Our prestige would be gone in no time." He laughed.

"Certainly not!" Helmut saw himself already walking down the wide main square, an American soldier, at least in appearance. Completely free. He would laugh at them all. Oh, how he would laugh!

In the kitchen, the three men had set the table. Plates were mixed with tin mess cans. Hot coffee steamed in tall army mugs. They grouped themselves quickly around the table.

"Gary isn't back yet." Atwood picked up a big steak and put it on his plate.

"Probably got himself a broad," Murdoch said and helped himself to potatoes.

They chewed silently. Rosen filled Helmut's plate. And when he saw all the food piled before him, he realized how hungry he was. He had forgotten about it in the excitement of the day. Hunger had crouched deep in his stomach, but now, raucous, it sprang out of his body and seized upon the food. It was good food, but it passed down his throat hard and hot: his tongue barely touched it. Only his sense of smell was wide open and his teeth tore into the heavy fibers, broke them apart, and he swallowed.

"Hey there, Helmut," Atwood laughed, "don't eat your mess tin. Have another."

No shyness could stop him. No words could disturb him. He ate until soft warmth settled in his stomach. Then he leaned back. All eyes were on him, laughing.

"Good thing we got ten pounds out of that Zeilenleiter's basement. It was sure time you got something inside you, wasn't it?" Frank Hanson asked good-naturedly, picking a large fried potato out of the pan beside him.

"Yes, I had hunger," Helmut looked about him, slightly embarrassed.

Murdoch struggled with a can of California peaches that by a miracle he had discovered among their dwindling rations. "Never mind that. You've seen nothing until you've met Gary King. He eats three times as much on an ordinary day."

"What's happened to him, anyway?" Rosen asked.

Frank shrugged his shoulders. "He's been out on that mission to the north end since early this morning. God knows where he's been keeping himself."

"Mark my words, mark my words," Murdoch insisted, still struggling with his rations can.

Atwood dragged a large water can from the bathroom and placed it on the stove. The wood fire crackled and snapped. The comforting smell of fried meat, the acrid smoke of burning wood now mingled with the sharp tang of cigarettes. Helmut took one carefully and hefted it between his fingers. He thought of the one he'd had before—from the soldier at the entrance of the town hall—and then he suddenly laughed. They looked at him, wondering. Their eyes asked curious questions. Suddenly, he felt the floor sliding under his feet and he got up. Slowly he walked to the door, still laughing, with the floor rocking under his feet. This strange day! His ears hummed with wonderful sounds. His mind raced with stray, incoherent thoughts. The smoke of the cigarette filled his mouth and his throat, stung his eyes. And yet he laughed. From the night on the mountain to the morning of hope and the long afternoon in the guardroom. And now he had finished a steak. Now he would put on an American uniform. Now he would have money to use and food to eat and a job to work at. It made no sense to him yet, and it was surely not humorous, this sudden change in his fortune. And yet he laughed in his strange, nervous way, while the floor still swayed under him and the warmth in his stomach congealed to a heavy vapor that slowly rose to his mouth.

After the food had burst out of him in the sour smell of the bathroom, he felt light and relieved. The floor became still and solid, and he returned to the kitchen, where the entire group was now busy washing their mess gear and plates and scrubbing the pots and pans. Helmut took a brush from the table.

"Come on, drop that, kid," Atwood said sharply. "You better go next door and sit down for awhile. You look like a ghost."

For a moment Helmut wanted to protest. Then he felt the weakness in his hands and he left the brush and the pots behind and went slowly to the living-room. He stopped in the door. He'd not answered anything. Would they be angry at him? And yet it was so difficult at this moment to form those strange English words. He moved to the nearest chair, his body indifferent to the sharp edges of plaster scattered on the seat. He had no strength to move farther. His arms hanging over the sides of the chair, his legs wide apart and stretched into the room, Helmut fell asleep. The pallor ebbed, gave way to fresh blood, and calm rose within him and dispersed the dreams of his past.

Helmut floated. He was held up by a giant hand, suspended in space. Below him were black clouds of revolution. Below him, dark bodies hung out of shining windows in awkward postures. But he floated above. He wore a coarse uniform shirt and a pistol hung at his side. The hand rocked him carefully as a mother would rock her child.

A shrill sound swept up to him. And now the hand wavered, trembled… dropped him. Helmut fell, deep. He held his breath and dropped. His mind clung to the rush of scents and feelings. His mind clung to the words:

"Uh, what's that?"

He opened his eyes. A thin, narrow-shouldered man stood before him. His mouth was twisted in a sneer.

"What are you doing here?" asked the man.

Helmut rose with a start. "I am Helmut Horn," he said in the manner he had learned. "How do you do?"

"At least you speak English," said the man. "O.K., tell me what you're doing in our house."

Helmut's will stiffened against the contemptuous eyes, the sarcastic mouth, the superior voice. "I am working here," he answered, looking steadily at the man. The sleepiness had dropped from him.

"Working?" the man asked. "You call that working? I saw you sleeping while your bosses were cleaning the kitchen."

"I was not well. Would you ask your bosses in the kitchen?"

The man turned away. "Never know what that guy Frank's bringing in here." Shaking his head, he trudged out of the room.

Helmut tightened his belt and tied his shoes, his anger hot within him. He wiped his face and his bare head, careful of the bandage. Then he followed the man to the kitchen.

They all looked flushed when he entered. Their work was done. The dishes were neatly stacked on a sideboard. The man was leaning against the window, his legs crossed, smoking a cigarette.

"Say, you haven't met yet!" Atwood exclaimed with forced cheerfulness. "Helmut, this is Gary King, one of our agents. Gary, this is Helmut, our new interpreter.

"We met," Gary stated.

Helmut nodded.

"Now let's get this straight, Gary King." Frank Hanson was sitting on the kitchen table, playing with his field knife. "We're going to work as a team, and I won't have you mess it up. We all have to prove ourselves. So has Helmut. Got that in your head? Now—what did you do today?"

Gary changed his position only slightly. He crossed his arms and looked defiantly at Frank. "The Ortsgruppenleiter's family will move out tomorrow and we can get in after lunch. They'll leave the keys in the door. I also inquired around the neighborhood for possible suspects. It was pretty tough with my German."

"That's what we've got Helmut for now, to relieve Paul," Frank said. "Go on."

Gary lit a fresh cigarette with the butt he held in his hand. "There is a farm woman across the street, not far from that villa we'll take over tomorrow. They all told me to grab her. She used to be active even in the illegal party before '38. Her husband was the Zellenleiter of that district before the war. He's now a prisoner somewhere in the British zone of Germany—a former SS officer, too. She's still bloody and unbowed, they say, and makes remarks about us every time she meets anybody. Besides, she's got a brother who served on the town council until we moved in. So I guess it's a pretty clear case. I don't suppose we'll be able to hold her for long, but we might get a lot out of her, anyway."

Frank deliberated. Then he turned to Atwood. "You got the list of arrests for tonight, Jim?" Put her on it." And turning back to Gary: "We saved some chow for you."

"A dame!" Murdoch exclaimed rather belatedly, getting up from his chair. "I told you fellows. I told you. Send out Gary King, and if he does come back with a suspect, it's bound to be a broad."

Gary King ignored him. "Thanks. I'll eat right away. Just let me get washed first." And sighing and patting his hair in place, Gary left the kitchen, an air of silent discomfort remaining behind him.

"How do you feel now, Horn?" Frank turned to Helmut. "Do you think you'll be well enough for the raid tonight?"

"Of course," he answered eagerly, trembling with excitement and fear that they might leave him behind. "I feel now better. Surely."

"Well, get dressed, then. We'll have to start right after sunset to get in all our arrests. I'm glad you're better. You slept over an hour, you know."

"Thank you," Helmut said without apparent reason. "Thank you very much."

"Don't thank me so much. Go over and see Rosen. He'll give you some clothes."

A few minutes later, Helmut again stood in the narrow bathroom, the clothes over his arm. Now he didn't notice the smell nor did he see the sun beyond the dim broken window plunging toward the horizon. His hands clutched the coarse brown wool of the shirt. His fingers passed over the trousers, touched the buttons and the soft white underwear. His palm stroked the thin woolen socks. He picked up the refilled water can from the floor and watched the clear coolness gushing into the basin. And now he stripped: his clothes, the prison pants, the jacket, the soiled shirt, and nothing underneath.

His anger at the new man who had stepped into his sleep now drowned in the freshness of soap and water. He let the sun's rays seep into his body: the setting sun through the window. And he took scoops of water and splashed them against his skin, breathed harder and splashed more. Water and soap, over and over, and on the floor lay the crumpled remnants of his past.

He stood before the mirror, adjusting the shirt collar that scratched his neck. The uniform pants, snug and long, with straight, sharp creases, made him look taller. Slowly he pushed the web belt through the loops. With a gentle tug, he lifted a corner of the bandage on his head. The wound was dry, beginning to heal. Now he'd have a new scar to harmonize with the old one at the corner of his mouth. Lowering the bandage, he placed the flat cap on his head. He looked strange to himself, and so new. His face was pale in the growing darkness that now began to creep thinly toward the setting sun. His frown deepened under his hat: the scar and his lips, thick and protruding, still the same; but the bare, wounded head was now covered. His eyes were clear in his shaven face. Once more he tucked his shirt into his trousers, tightened his belt. Once more he turned back and forth before the mirror, staring at himself.

"Hey there, Horn, come on now. We've got to get going!" Murdoch's voice yelled from the kitchen.

"Yes, yes. I come." With slow steps he joined the men from the kitchen who crowded to the door.

"Be good, now!" Gary shouted.

"You hold the fort," Frank answered.

They went downstairs and into the street. The spring air was cool, but warmth lingered on the pavement. An acrid smell of burned lumber came from the destroyed buildings nearby.

"Say, now you look all right," Murdoch laughed when he caught sight of Helmut. "GI from head to foot."

Rosen and Atwood ran toward the flattened block, where cars were parked. Helmut trotted behind, down the cobbled street, watching the last sunlight fade between the trees by the church. He thought of the dirty clothes on the floor of the bathroom. He saw his arms in the new shirt swinging back and forth and again he laughed.



Chapter Two


Below them lay Kleinbach with its straight main street, the arterial road that pushed up from the Danube to the green foothills of the Czech border in the north. Grain sighed on both sides of the dirt road, unmolested by the war, and at the corner beyond, near the narrow lateral highway, they saw a few villas with their wide windows and bright modern façades. A decayed manor stood not far from the bend; farmhouses with their straight-backed chimneys shouldered each side of the road as if defending it.

It was the afternoon of the first day of surrender, and the soldiers had just arrived on these northeastern outskirts. Sitting on the wooden fence, they ate the tawny, grease-covered pork from the tin cans on their laps. Their helmets lay on the ground at their feet or were still on their heads, pushed away from their foreheads. Their rifles leaned against the wooden fence and sometimes slid toward their knees.

Frau Heinrichs watched them narrowly from the little farm near the dirt road and thought of her grandchildren in the German Army, and Illy saw them from the field opposite while she milked her cows and thought of the Enemy who had invaded her town.

The soldiers craned their necks and whistled when Illy plodded across the field, carrying the heavy bucket of milk to the large cans by the fence. She was tall and slender, her thick blond braids wound tightly on her head. A blue dress hung loosely from her shoulders, cheap cotton covered by the brown jacket of the Girls' Hitler Youth. Her lips were full but drawn in as if she resented them. She was handsome and might have been beautiful had it not been for the hardness of her face or if she'd had a spark of grace in her movements. A dog lying under the cart near the milk cans stopped barking as she approached.

Why do they stare? Illy thought. What do they want of me? And with a whoosh, the foaming white liquid gushed into the strainer. She felt the bucket trembling in her hand as it slowly emptied itself. The milk poured steadily, trailing its thin stream over the metal below, merging to a cataract on the sieve. Slowly, painfully slowly, the bucket grew lighter in her hands, but the voices continued. They whistled and yelled in a language she could not understand. "Sister," she heard, placed with emphasis at the end of a sentence. All she could think of was steel as white as the milk, but sharper.

She walked away from the fence, turning her back on them and their voices, shutting her ears to the foreign sounds. She knew soldiers. She had heard and enjoyed voices like that many times in the past, but those had been her own soldiers—hers. They had gone back to their tanks and their trucks and had ridden south into Italy or east into Russia, fighting. But these soldiers on the fence were of the enemy, and their cheers stung her with bile.

The war was over, she thought, after so many years; and with this idea turning back and forth in her mind, she followed the cow, Minnie, the black and white one with the oddly shaped horn. Each time she stepped close, the cow moved away, and in a slow march across the meadow, Illy followed Minnie's whim. She was glad to walk away from the fence, away from the laughing soldiers. But suddenly the cow turned and started back. Illy caught her at once and placed her hand soothingly on the animal's back. The cow stopped and waited, chewing, for the tedious process of milking. Sitting on her little stool, Illy saw the soldiers once more, and the old woman, Frau Heinrichs, from across the road, bringing them a bucket of water that they seized upon greedily.

Once cornered, Minnie was the best cow to milk. Motionless, she stood beside Illy while the young woman arranged the bucket between her knees and once more touched the stool to make sure it was firmly placed on the ground. At first it was a pleasure, the strong feeling of accomplishment as the smooth flow of riches came from the udder and filled the bucket with unruly foam. Then Illy grew weary again. It was not really the milking—she'd done that all her life—but a general weariness after the years of never knowing what to do first and the past day of seeing the foreign flags in her own town and of hating the enemy. There was Little Horst to be fed and the house to be kept—and then, with a slight pang of fear, she remembered the people who were crouched in the hayloft in the barn. There had been twenty this morning. Some had drifted off during the day, but the bulk had decided to remain until the first two days were over and the Americans would be less likely to send their patrols up the hill. Then they would slip away to the north and get lost in the mountains, that handful who had decided to keep the faith. And in her fear there was pride—the strong feeling of having done her part. Her imagination, subdued by the daily tasks, freed itself from its fetters and soared over the fields into the heroic past: her defense of the faith, which would surely be her future. And the shadow of fear subsided.

The enemy soldiers were still there, sitting by the dirt road and drinking the water Frau Heinrichs had brought. The rough, flabby surfaces of the teats abraded Illy's palms. Her muscles ached, and her imagination flagged under the weight of other, more mundane memories: Cows and chickens, baby and garden, and the limping brother to send to the office at dawn. For a moment she forgot the war and the people in the barn in resentment against her brother, who in all these years had never, ever, tried to help her. He would limp off to his comfortable office in the town hall and not return until late, lest some work on the farm might still have to be done. There was much even a cripple could do—wood to be chopped and chickens to feed—but Illy worked alone, only helped at times by a young girl from town. Once she had decided to use a Polish prisoner, but, as a German woman alone, it had been difficult to keep him. Ugly rumors spread, and strange-looking men with boots came into her house to see where the prisoner ate and which place he had been assigned to sleep. She'd disliked those visits and the suspicious faces of the neighbors in town. Her racial pride had been, after all, one of the rare dignities left to her amid the muck of the stables; so she soon dismissed the prisoner and sent him back to his camp.

Her strokes became slower as her wrists began to ache. Then Minnie was dry, and she rose to return to the milk cans. She was pleased at first to see that the soldiers had moved on. But their absence brought back the lost war as vividly as their presence might have done, and her own misery blended with the thought of the war, no longer a war, and the Party leaders who were no longer Party leaders, but were hiding in her hayloft. As Illy lifted her milk again to pour it through the strainer, Frau Heinrichs came out of her door and hobbled across the dirt road to retrieve her bucket that stood near the fence, now almost empty. Illy cursed through her teeth when she thought of the service the anxious old woman had rendered to the enemy soldiers.

"Them is human, too," the woman muttered apologetically, and as Illy turned her back she shrugged her shoulders, opened her toothless mouth once more in a helpless grimace, and shuffled back across the road.

The day had been almost hot for spring, and the long blades of grass felt cool and refreshing around Illy's bare legs. She was always barefoot in the meadow, careful of cow manure, and she enjoyed the cool moisture of the grass clinging to her feet. Only when it snowed would she wear the high black boots her husband left behind when he went off to war. She thought of her husband as she poured the milk, and with a sudden pang of fear realized that the end of the war might bring him back. He had been on leave twice since he'd gone away, both times unchanged: the same arrogant man with the same harsh and peremptory demands.

Now the milking was done and Illy covered the cans to load them on the little dogcart a few feet farther along the fence.

"Come on, Hector."

The German shepherd that had lain under the cart came out without a sound, wagged its tail and gazed at her adoringly while she gripped the heavy cans and placed them on the cart. Even in her weariness this muscular feat gave her pleasure, a feeling of strength and of conquest. There they stood now, the four heavy cans on the cart. She placed the sieve lightly on top, fastened the dog's harness to the cart, and took the handle.

"Let's go."

The dog pulled with her, and they moved down the meadow and a few meters along the road. It was not until they reached the entrance to her farm that she noticed columns of smoke still rising from the shelled district and, far off, the enemy flag waving from the roof of the school building to the south.

She ordered the dog to stop and shielded her eyes against the sun. There was little to see. Dusk had almost come, and the sky, still full of warmth, spread a thin vapor over the town. She resolved not to go down there unless she was forced, not to move through the streets that would certainly be crowded with enemy soldiers, or see the flags that would probably hang from every house wall in the town. They're not going to put their striped flag on my house, she decided, but as she was about to turn away, her eye was once more arrested by the sight: the steeple near the market square embedded in green foliage, white and fashioned after the Alpine pattern, the balcony bell tower, the narrow white church, and as her imagination penetrated the vapor of dusk, she saw around and beyond it, the red roofs and balconies, an odd assortment of buildings. The foreign soldiers would sully them all by their presence, and with a wave of resentment she turned back to her house.

Hers was a small house, one of those low white buildings with thatched roofs that are the mainstay of Austrian farms. An ample yard, the traditional manure pile. Farm implements were scattered about, on the left the barn with its wide door and the wooden shutters of the loft, the small doors of the stable closely adjoining the house that looked bright and friendly by comparison. Illy pulled the cart inside the barn onto the concrete floor, unharnessed the dog, and led him outside to leash him to his shelter near the gate. Then she returned to unload the cans. The perfume of hay from upstairs drifted down to her as it had always done, and only a faint rustle reminded her that she was not alone.

Back in the house, angry voices rose, the ever-quibbling Klaiber family who had rented her two attic rooms. "Hansl," the female voice screamed, "didn't I tell you not to lie? Didn't I? Didn't I?"

An adolescent voice cracked amid a bellowed reply. Illy shook her head, but she remembered at once with a touch of gratitude that Frau Klaiber knew about the men and women in her hayloft and at least seemed to have been as enthusiastic about taking them in as Illy herself.

Concerned about the refugees, Illy moved toward the high ladder that rose half the height of the barn and climbed a few rungs. The white face of a woman peered anxiously through the half-dark above.

"Frau Anschaffer, is that you?"

"Certainly, Hanni. Don't be afraid. Are you still keeping your guards posted at the window?"

Illy climbed all the way and crept through loose hay in the loft. Blind for a moment, then, as her night vision returned, she made out the contours. Hanni Streiber, former leader of the Party Women's wing; Carl Handtner, with his bulging stomach, the Kreisleiter—the former provincial leader—and far back in the corner, with that defiant stare, Rudy Baumgartner of the Hitler Youth, three who had tried to lead the Volkssturm in their last desperate attack. Even in the half-light Illy could see the loose sleeve where his left arm had been shot away in the war. Ten, fifteen disheveled people were lying in the hay, or sitting up with crossed legs, chewing on blades of the dry grass. Illy crept slowly to the center, then let herself down, digging her bare feet into the hay. She drew in the fragrance, the lingering dust, and her imagination soared fresh and triumphant. She looked around and saw the faces of those who had been forced or had chosen to hide. The flabby face of Carl. Hanni's tense stare. In the back, Rudy's grimly closed mouth. And she felt warm and less alone than she had in years.

"Listen, all of you," she forced herself to sound cheerful. "I'll get you some blankets and coffee in a minute, prewar bean coffee I've stored in my bin. Anything else you want?"

"Some food," Carl said, crawling forward and patting his stomach. Somehow Illy did not like that gesture. It was not the demand, but the self-satisfied gesture.

"That's understood," she said a little more sharply than she had intended. She had never really liked this man Handtner, even when he had been in the full glory of his position, giving all the orders she had readily accepted during the years of his service. But now everything was different and he was a victim of the enemy like all the others.

"What do you want, Carl?" she asked more warmly. "I still have quite a bit in my larder."

"Cheese," Handtner stated after some deliberation.

"And cheese it shall be," Illy said. "Any more wishes?"

The orders came in quickly. Hanni wanted boiled eggs, and even Rudy relaxed enough to ask for ham.

Illy fixed the orders in her memory. "And now be careful, folks! Nothing will happen here, except that you know that our Ortsgruppenleiter's villa is right across from here at the intersection. The Americans were roaming around there this morning, and it seems that poor Frau Gellhäuser will have to move out with her children to make room for some of those Yanks. I don't think they'll come tonight, but if they should, you'd better get out. Keep your guards posted at the window and behind the barn door after dark."

She was about to crawl back when she saw Handtner waving his hand angrily. "I don't care how many guards you post," he said, "but I want no part of being a guard in the middle of the night."

Illy shrugged her shoulders with renewed disgust. "Why don't you take turns, make out a schedule?" she asked the others.

"Yes, but he doesn't like being a night guard, yet we all do it, Frau Anschaffer. Each of us is supposed to stand guard once by day and once at night," Hanni said quickly.

"You seem to forget, Fräulein Streiber, of whom you are speaking," the fat man said stiltedly, rising from the hay.

"Kreisleiter," Rudy said wearily from the back, "I'll take your turn." There was a long silence, as if they were all ashamed.

"We can split it up," Hanni suggested timidly.

A burly man roared suddenly from the far end of the loft: "Kreisleiter, hell! He's no Kreisleiter no more."

They all turned to the man who had spoken. He was tall as well as burly, wearing only faded blue work trousers and nothing to cover his hairy chest. He had a cold pipe between his teeth.

Handtner quivered with rage, but controlled himself. Illy said in haste, "Please keep quiet, folks. It isn't that important. There will be a day," she straightened visibly, "when Carl Handtner will be our Kreisleiter again. Until then, and while we're all in hiding, let's not forget who he is."

If the burly man objected, Illy did not hear it. She crawled back to the ladder and climbed down. A cold lump grew in her throat. She wanted to retain the warmth, the feeling of togetherness with the men and women in her loft, but the quarrel, the pettiness, seemed to dispel the warmth that still lay on her fields as she crossed the yard.

Once back in the house, Illy savored the sweet smell of soap and of scouring that drifted into the corridor from the kitchen flagstones.

Inside she heard steps, a soothing voice, and the loud, hungry cry of Little Horst. Frau Klaiber stood in the door to her bedroom speaking to the child.

"Thank you, Frau Klaiber," Illy said hurriedly, walking to the cradle. "I was late getting through with milking and I had to take care of our guests."

The other woman nodded, a plump woman in her middle thirties, her hair fastened in a small knot, plain in a dark dress and a striped gray apron. "How are they?" she asked timidly. It seemed that her fights with her two half-grown boys took all her strength, leaving her confused and unhappy whenever she was away from them.

"Fine. Could you help me make some coffee for them and a few sandwiches? I have to take care of Little Horst first."

Illy picked up the child and held him against her while one free hand smoothed the bed linen. His eyes were wide as if he were expecting something. Illy did not return the look. Gently, she placed the child back in his cradle.

"Now be quiet," she whispered and walked to the kitchen where she turned on the light and found with satisfaction that it was working. Then she set about building a fire in the stove.

Frau Klaiber ran about preparing sandwiches and making coffee. Meanwhile, Illy went to the barn and filled a pitcher with milk for Little Horst. As she hurried back to the kitchen, it struck her that the milk was hers, to drink or to spoil. There would be no dairy cooperative, no Party directives, no military confiscations, unless the Americans came, and she would pour her milk into the yard before she would give it to them.

Little Horst was shrieking angrily, stormily, when she returned. While Frau Klaiber talked continuously over her sandwich-making, Illy skimmed the milk and poured the remnant into the bottle, pulling the thin, old nipple over it and stepping to the gas stove, she turned it slowly, methodically over the flame until the milk was warm enough. Then she returned to her child in the adjacent bedroom.

"Come, Little Horst," she murmured.

The child clasped the milk bottle and sucked greedily. At first he looked toward her, still with that waiting stare, but then he became absorbed in his task, leaving his mother to clean the room. She had slept half an hour before milking time—an unusual thing for her to do—and her bed was still disarranged. In haste, she straightened the blankets and placed the chairs in order with exaggerated care. Outside it grew rapidly darker. The child dropped the bottle and began to whimper again.

"Quiet now," she turned to him with a show of softness, tucking in the blankets and feeling whether they were dry, then leaving after giving him a last smile. A smile and glance were the only affection Illy ever allowed herself to show her child. She rarely kissed him.

The kitchen was dim now in the half-light as Frau Klaiber poured the coffee. The strong smell of fresh beans, so rare in recent years, filled the kitchen with a homey scent of the past, Illy thought as she moved to the table. She brought out a basket from the larder and packed the sandwiches. Frau Klaiber had done good work. Everything seemed neatly arranged. Now Illy picked up the two large coffee cans that she often took out into the fields.

"Are you turning in now, Frau Klaiber?" she asked with her distant formality. "Thank you so much for helping me out."

"I might," the woman answered, wearier than usual and with a peculiar note in her voice.

"Anything you want?" Illy asked before she turned to the door.


"Good night, then."

"Good night." Again dragging, hesitating.

Illy shook off a vague feeling of unease as she walked across the yard and entered the barn.

"Hello!" she called from below.

"Hello, Frau Anschaffer!" Hanni's face showed again.

Illy climbed with the basket and put it into the hay.

"Oh, thank you, Illy," Hanni whispered.

"Coffee's coming up!"

There was rustling upstairs and talk in low voices. She took one can and climbed up, then returned for the other. "I have all the blankets piled in the stable," she said. "I'll get them at once."

The dark mare breathed quietly, lying flat on her side. Hay lay scattered before her and some scant oats in the manger. There, on the feed box, she had stacked the blankets—horse blankets and some from her household. She took an armful and returned.

Two more trips with the blankets. Her guests had grown noisier with the food.

"Illy Anschaffer, my girl," she heard Carl Handtner's voice from the back, you are a marvel of a Hausfrau. That cheese comes straight from the gods."

Illy ignored him. "Anything more you want?" she whispered to Hanni, and then, "Keep your eyes open, people. Be careful. If the Americans come around tonight, just get out and hide. The window is open, isn't it? I'll make sure that you can reach the outside ladder."

"Don't worry, Frau Anschaffer, we can," a voice approached from the rear of the hayloft. There as a rustling noise. Rudy Baumgartner edged close; his face, tense as always, now seemed almost bizarre in the rising moonlight that drifted into the barn. "Most of us are going to make a run for it tonight, Americans or no Americans. Thanks for everything, Illy. And give my best to Big Horst when he comes around… and if…."

"Anything you say, Rudy," Illy whispered back. "I'll pass on your regards to my husband. He ought to hide, though, when he comes in." Rudy laughed lightly and withdrew.

"Don't see why we can't have a night's sleep," she heard Handtner's voice again. "Well, we'll see."

"Try to put the blankets back in the stable before you leave," Illy warned once more. The empty basket was now handed back to her, and she climbed down the ladder. When she returned to pick up the cans, she quickly whispered to Hanni, "If you haven't the time to store the blankets, just bury them in the hay. I'll find something to say."

"Oh, Illy!" Hanni exclaimed, and before she could draw back, the woman had bent over the edge of the loft, put her arm around Illy's neck and kissed her. Illy withdrew quickly and the kiss landed on her forehead.

"Good night," she called cheerfully in a low voice.

"Good night," whispered the chorus.

The rungs of the ladder scratched the soles of her bare feet. The concrete was cold below, and she picked up the empty basket and cans and made for the yard. Outside it was cool and starry. A band of light still lingered on the horizon. She shivered and looked about, but there was no noise, no movement in the dark corners of the yard, the wooden gate, the low doghouse, the hulking manure pile to the right. There was no clear reason, either, for the sweat that spread over her skin, gathering cold on her arms. She bolted the large barn doors.

Upstairs at Klaiber's, all lights were dimmed. When Illy walked into the kitchen, she found Frau Klaiber standing where she had left her, leaning against the table. Illy approached, her chest suddenly heavy.

"You're still here?"

"Yes, Frau Anschaffer. I… I… just wanted to tell you… I… I got a call from my sister. Lisl, you know… the girl who lives further up on the hill. Her husband's not… not back y-yet. She's all alone. She sent her daughter down this evening." Her voice trembled more. "I… I kind of figured I might go up with the boys. Had a big fight about it, but they're coming along now. Y-you see, I wanted to go long ago. It's… al-already curfew, but we'll stay on the footpaths. I've been meaning to tell you when you came back from milking, but you needed help, sure. We'll take the footpath. They won't notice us. I… I hope you won't mind, dear Frau Anschaffer, what with Lisl alone and her husband gone. Nobody knows where he is. I'll go now. The boys are waiting." She edged to the door. "I've been meaning to tell you all evening, Frau Anschaffer. All evening. We'll be here again as soon as Lisl's husband comes back."

"When will that be?" Illy asked coldly, erect at the cupboard. "When our guests have left?"

The woman began to weep. Her head was bent forward, and under Illy's impassive gaze her tight knot of hair bobbed up and down with her sobs.

"Oh, Illy, oh, oh, Frau Anschaffer! You can't imagine how hard it is… so hard. Two half-grown boys… I'm a mother." She looked up hopefully.

"Aren't we all?" Illy asked, dangerously soft.

When she saw Illy's hard face at the cupboard, the woman's eyes grew wide with fear and she ran out at once, the door banging behind her. For a second Illy meant to follow, and a violent impulse seized her to tear the woman to pieces and to cast her out on the manure pile, part for part. She thought of the danger of letting her go with all she knew, but somehow she could not move, and as she turned back to the stove, her anger subsided, leaving emptiness behind.

The footsteps ran down the stairs, clapped across the yard. The gate sighed on its hinges. Marie Klaiber…. For a moment Illy saw her shining face, one week, two weeks, five years ago, when the swastika was still draped from every roof and wall; and seven years ago, when Marie, still a plump girl back then, had thrown flowers at the German soldiers who had marched into Austria to take them "home" into the Reich, and a few months later when they had moved on again, northward, on their tanks and trucks to claim the Germans in the borderland of the Moravian mountains—past her house in long, rattling files.

She shook her head and stepped closer to the stove where the fire burned greedily, exploding wet logs with heavy poms. And in these flames she saw Marie Klaiber's face tortured at the stake, her plump cheeks puffing through the fire and sinking into silent ashes.

Outside, the towering oak arched its branches as the wind came back driving the gray, scattered clouds that fled hastily across the sky. The room grew cold: the polished stove; the white benches and chairs; the long table; the high cupboard where her good china was stacked in tortured neatness; the splendid tiles on the floor. She put the blue kettle on the stove to make coffee again. Then she looked about, for lack of anything else to do, and strode back to see if the horse had been fed, then shuffled to the bedroom to put on shoes in the growing night. Finally she crossed the corridor amid a dim smell of polish and entered the living room that looked heavy and unused in the back part of the house. It had the dusty air of a room worn and tired from doing little, with its faded plush and antiquated furniture and the familiar oil portrait of Adolf Hitler on the wall.

It was more than rage that kept her on edge, more even than the thought of surrender or the sharp fear that the Americans might come and find her charges. It crept up her spine, entered her brain, clung to her movements as she walked: the odd sensation of being no longer at home. She felt herself to be in a hostile camp.

Her eyes caught Hitler's picture on the wall, and she climbed on a chair to dust it. Working on the portrait brought Illy back to the only world she could recognize and that still held meaning. So she remained busy with the picture, being careful about the edges, until her fear dropped away like an ugly gown and she could look hard and tight again, the pressure on her stomach dissolving into rage.

There were hoof beats outside!

Illy dropped the duster and into the corridor, out to the door, and with a sigh of relief saw the slim figure getting off the horse and leading it into the stable.

"Josef!" she cried. Her brother. They had told her he had been arrested with the Ortsgruppenleiter before they had time to move.

He scurried about as she entered the stable, and she saw that his limp was worse than before. Wounded, she thought with a flash of pity and pride. A dim lantern with broken glass hung from the ceiling. His roan mare panted heavily, and without answering Illy, her brother limped about tending to his horse. She leaned against the door frame feeling the sharp wind coming from the outside while he poured grain into the manger, dragged a coarse blanket from the feed box, and covered the animal. Illy's brown mare got up abruptly, breathing faster in the excitement of the sudden intrusion. The crippled man's forehead shone, outlined against the cool darkness of the yard, lit by the dangling yellow of the lantern.

"Come in, Josef," she said almost softly. "Let me see about your leg. How did you get away? What about that horse? Answer me!" Her voice was louder. Upstairs in the loft she heard the rustle of quickly moving bodies. She turned into the barn.

"Don't worry, people. It's only Josef Haller, my brother."

"Oh, him." That was Rudy's voice. And after a moment: "We're taking off anyway now, Illy. There are headlights of American cars all over the area. We better not wait ‘til it's too late."

In the stable next door, her brother rummaged with the gear. "All right," she whispered. Her voice was warm. "Keep off the main roads, and don't be caught. Just… well, keep off the roads."

"Do you want to take the blankets, Illy?" she heard Hanni's voice. "Then we can get out right away."

"Throw them down!"

They came sailing through the air, one after another. Then she remembered Josef again, and with some of the blankets over her arm, hurried back to the stable. He had already gone into the house. The lantern was still burning, the new mare still panting under her cover. When she returned to pick up the rest of the blankets, her guests had already left. There was no sound in the barn. She whispered. No answer.

She carried the blankets to the feed box, extinguished the light, and walked into the yard. Outside, her eyes caught the streaming headlights of cars that stood parked farther up on the hill near the Ortsgruppenleiter's home. That's why they left, she thought. And she tried to imagine Hanni and Rudy and fat Carl Handtner struggling through hedgerows and forests on their way to the mountains.

When she entered the kitchen, she saw her brother at once. He sat at the table, his trousers pulled up to show the wound in his leg. Then she saw Carl Handtner at the cupboard.


"Still Herr Kreisleiter," Handtner's voice purred with satisfaction. "Herr Kreisleiter, to be sure, until I'm settled elsewhere. Then I won't be Herr Kreisleiter until the Americans have left."

"Carl Handtner and I've made a deal," Josef explained with difficulty. Now she could see why he had not talked. There was another wound in his cheek, as if a bullet had grazed it. She hurried to the bedroom and came back with clean cloth, the one silk slip she had saved since peacetime. She tore it in pieces, and after washing his leg carefully with a sponge, wound the cloth around it, hearing Carl Handtner's talk drifting in as if from afar. What had he said? What was Josef explaining? Somehow her brain did not grasp it.

Finally she had finished. The water, put on half an hour ago for coffee, steamed away, the vapor rising over the stove and table. She lifted the kettle and filled it anew.

"What did you say, Josef?"

"He said we've struck a deal," Handtner answered. "He's got some connections down near Salzburg where nobody knows us."

Josef smiled in spite of the bandage Illy had taped to his cheek. "We'll see, Carl. Now you try to get your motorcycle. The Americans won't be back at your place for a while, and they didn't find it when they searched last. I'll meet you there at dawn. We'll get through as refugees if you make yourself look a bit miserable, and down at Salzburg we'll get fixed up all right."

"With what?" Illy asked in astonishment.

"Thank you," Josef said, holding the taped bandage tight against his cheek. "A job," he continued, smiling at her.

"What job?"

"Any kind."

"Good-by, then," Handtner said and turned to the door. And after a second, "Heil Hitler."

"Heil Hitler." Josef smiled as he said it, pronouncing it painfully with his bandaged cheek.

"Heil Hitler," Illy said. The front door slammed.

After Carl had left, she pleaded: "Please tell me, Josef. Don't leave me out of your plans. Tell me what you two are trying to do."

"There are things that are better not known." Josef's manner was suddenly abrupt, almost hostile.

"I didn't like the word ‘deal' you used."

"Neither do I, Sister, neither do I, but that's the times."

"Where did you get these wounds?"

"I was shot."

Her eyes lit up. "You defended the Ortsgruppenlieter!"

"I tried to get away to save my neck," Haller said brutally. "Sister, you must understand that this is not the time for heroic fantasies. We're living in 1945. The war is lost. The Führer is dead." He was vehement all of a sudden, and she understood now that his first silence had not been due only to his pain. "And now please stop bothering me and get me something to eat so I can get out of this place."

For an instant she saw herself kneeling down to undo the bandages, to take all her work to pieces again and send him out to his horse and the forest to leave a track of blood in the sand. But, like her anger at Marie Klaiber, this, too, subsided, and she went back to the stove to finish making the coffee.

The silence ached in the room.

When she turned, she saw that he was rummaging in his pockets. He produced a few bills. "Take them," he said as Illy went into the larder. She saw the brown money curled up on the table.

"Still German Reichsmark," he said lightly. "It won't be worth much soon, so you better get it back into circulation. A patriotic deed." He reached for bread and cheese.

"What do you want me to do with it?" she asked violently, again leaning on the cupboard.

"It's yours," he said agreeably, chewing. "Burn it if you like. I just wanted to repay some of your kindness."

The word "kindness" flared up inside her with sudden fire, but she suppressed it at once. "Where did you get it?" she pursued.

"That's my business. Give me that bread."

He devoured the black bread, spread with lard and topped with cheese. She placed the coffee before him, and he washed it down in hasty gulps. Then he wiped his lips.

"The Americans are up the road," she said. "Their car lights are flashing over the whole area. Some stopped at the Ortsruppenleiter's."

"I know, and if they come here, Illy," his voice was a little softer, "you don't know a thing about me. You thought I was captured with the Ortsruppenleiter. You haven't heard or seen me, understand?"

"Certainly, Josef," she said coldly, "only I don't know if I should lie."

His face was hard again, and for a moment they measured each other.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you," he answered, "not on your life. A baby, a farm, a husband in the SS and a former Zellenleiter, your own record in the illegal Nazi movement before ‘38—and at least three people know of your guests in the barn…"


"Don't tell me Marie Klaiber upstairs was born too dumb to know what's been going on in the barn next to her. No, I think it would be very unwise." And after a pause he continued, "I'll be all right, don't worry about me. Carl Handtner and I have some friends down at Salzburg and we can play the game as well as anyone."

"What game?"

"Anti-Nazi," he said plainly. Patting her arm lightly, he hobbled to the cupboard, found a folding knife and a spoon, took a crust of bread, and put the entire assortment into his pocket. Then he reached for his cap hanging on the door. "I've done it before, and I don't think I've got so much to relearn, my sweet. You won't get anywhere except to the gallows if you keep on like this. But stick to your guns, Sister, just stick to your guns!"


She was full of helpless fury, and yet she could not touch him; she could not hold him back. She let him pass as she had let Marie Klaiber pass before.

He turned at the door. "And take that Führer picture off the wall. The Americans might not like it if they should visit your parlor. No, they won't like it at all."

The door closed with a click while she stood by the stove. She no longer wanted to give way to outbursts of feeling: she no longer wanted to kill him. She heard him moving about in the stable. Then his steps: his long, hobbling gait and the horse's hard hoofs. A few tapping sounds, a harsh word in the yard, then the short strides of a hasty trot down the dirt road, muffled in the sand.

She looked at the tree near the window; moonbeams playing among its branches. The plates and pots stood straight and in order on the shelves. The flagstones at her feet seemed to harden in the light. The hoof beats outside grew fainter, trotting farther and farther and dying in the dark.

She was quite alone.


Illy could never remember how long she sat. It had been a cold night. The wind had risen sharply after Josef had gone, and even the stove did not warm her.

Now it was almost dawn. A pale gray glow grew in the horizon, and the tree moved less fitfully. She rose to make more coffee, looked in at Little Horst, then moved back to her chair and her thoughts. It would be milking time soon—more things to do. What would she do with the milk if no one picked it up in the morning? Time to feed the hens. The sharp crow of the rooster cut into her thoughts.

The kettle grumbled on the fire.

Then there were the steps in the yard moving to the door, the foreign sounds outside, and the sharp rapping. Fear came back into her legs and banished her wakeful emptiness, her stale fatigue.

A number of soldiers demanded entrance.

She collected her strength. "What do you want?" she demanded angrily in turn.

"Are you Frau Anschaffer?" she heard a sharp voice in the distinct intonation of Berlin. "We have orders to arrest you. Open, please."

There it was: the sense of a fist thrust against her stomach and the lump tight in her throat.

When she felt pressure against the door from the outside, she opened reluctantly. In the shadowy gray of the morning she saw three figures, two tall men and a short one.

The short man said in German, "Please get ready, Frau Anschaffer, we are in a hurry." He had a square face. His lips seemed to pout. A scar began at his mouth and lost itself on his left cheek. His eyes were large, wide and blue, and burning. He straightened his military cap.

"We might look around," he stated and waved the two tall men to follow him.

When they reached the kitchen, Illy found her speech. "What's all this about?" she demanded, facing them. "I am a woman living all alone, There is nothing here you could possibly want."

The three men walked silently to the table. The short man spoke to the others in their language, then turned to her. "You will follow us, Frau Anschaffer," said the short man.

"My baby!" Illy cried out. "My farm!" And these words embraced all her fear.

One of the Americans lit a cigarette and the smoke rose in curls to the ceiling. The answer came unperturbed. "You never worried about other people's babies before—or other people's farms."

Haltingly, one of the other two added, "Please get ready!" His eyes scanned the walls and the neatly stacked china in her cupboard.

The panic inside her climbed from her stomach up her lungs as she breathed. "May I call my neighbor?" she asked quickly, "Frau Heinrichs from across the street. She's an anti-Nazi. Very good! Good! Gave water to thirsty Americans."

The short man's eyes narrowed. His heavy lips opened, then pressed tight upon each other. "Anti-Nazi?" There was so much contempt in his voice.

The tall American looked at her sharply. "Show me the baby!" he demanded. And with an instant of relief she ushered the men into the bedroom. They stood around the cradle and watched the child, asleep. She thought of curtains, torn down and twisted into a rope to choke them.

They talked to each other in their foreign tongue. Finally one of them walked out into the yard and crossed the street. She heard the gate closing behind him.

"Please be seated," she said automatically when they had returned to the kitchen. She sat by the stove, the singing kettle at her back. She did not stir. Hot water, she thought—hot water would scald them both. They would run out, screaming, the contempt gone from their faces. But there was no movement in her limbs.

The tall man who had spoken a few words in German had broad shoulders and a pleasant face. His cheeks looked reddish in the pale electric light. His dark eyes still wandered about, from floor to ceiling, then fixed on the stove, on her face.

He said something to the short man, who nodded and turned. The tall man wore different clothes. They were darker, greener. There were two US insignia fastened on his collar. An officer, Illy thought. I could even scald an officer. The third man returned and spoke to the others. He carried an automatic rifle. They all filed to the door.

"You will allow us," the officer said.

They first made a cursory search of the kitchen, not even moving her china. To her surprise they did not plunder her larder but passed it by and moved on to the bedroom, quiet and intent on not disturbing the baby. Then they went into the yard. Illy followed.

"Anything in the barn?" the short man asked.

"Hay, cows, some cans of milk," Illy answered. She had now become accustomed to the situation. Her limbs had relaxed, her fear calmed.

The men searched the stable, peered at the mare, looked at the pile of blankets, opened them, and folded most of them again. As they crossed the main barn to the ladder, Illy visualized Marie Klaiber, the tight hair bobbing up and down, the lined features of her brother at her table, and Hanni's quick arms enclosing her in a thankful embrace. But mainly it was Marie Klaiber's image that danced before her eyes while the soldiers climbed up the ladder.

Upstairs, the officer said to the short man: "Do you suppose that last tip we got down the road was good, Horn?"

And the short man shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know, Mr. Hanson. This is no proof. Children roll in hay. Hay's often upset. From this we cannot tell."

They climbed back down the ladder. Illy had strained her ears to understand them, but they had spoken in their foreign language. In the brighter light of the day, the short man looked stooped, almost uglier than before. His movements, as they crossed the yard back to the house, seemed timid, in strange contrast to his clipped voice and determined manner. They again went through the corridor of her home, when suddenly they turned left—toward her living room.

Illy remembered the picture on the wall. For a moment a new rush of fear made her stand still. Even her breath stopped. She heard the men opening the door. It screeched on its hinges. Then she rushed after them.

She stood in the doorway. She saw the men in the room. She watched the short man moving to the wall, toward the picture. She saw his hand rising, the fingers that gripped the frame. And in seconds as she waited, the blood drained from her face and the lump in her throat became hard and shapeless, slipping into her stomach, large, expanding.

"Damn this thing!"

Clear and distinct. An oath in German. Then a clatter. Her eyes, wide open, met the short man's. A patch of white remained where the picture had been, and the frame and canvas lay on the floor.

Their eyes engaged in silent combat, both wide, and at this moment, feeling the flood of hate surging against her, Illy sensed the difference. This man was not like the others. This man was not an American, no matter how often she had heard of the great number of German-Americans who spoke her tongue. This was not a foreign invader, a national enemy. He was part of her, taken out of her and pitched against her. He was a greater enemy, a more inclusive enemy—the smashed picture at his feet, his eyes raised defiantly against her. And with a melting sense of discomfort she returned his stare.

Then she dropped her eyes. She shivered. The other two men had stood still, watching the silent combat. She still saw the eyes; they burned on her forehead. Silently she went back to the kitchen and sank into her chair. The water continued to boil on the stove, large clouds of steam rising from the kettle. How often has it boiled tonight? she thought, and was seized by immense fatigue that seeped into her pores.

Mechanically she rose again and with a sudden flash of hope remembered that, in her fear, she had never asked directly why she was to be arrested. This new hope carried her quickly to the coffeepot, an odd, irrational sort of hope that sent life through her veins and flushed her cheeks. She poured water on the remnants of her old coffee, just for something hot, and drank the thin liquid in fast, noisy gulps. Then there were steps outside: Frau Heinrichs and her American escort, who followed several steps behind.

The old woman's back was bent and her eyes large and frightened. In the growing light of dawn her face looked even older, more toothless. "Illy," she said softly, "The hayloft?" and more loudly, "They're taking you. Why? You did nothing." The other men had come back into the kitchen.

"That's what I want to know," Illy avoided the short man and turned to the American who spoke some German. "Why?" A flash of hope blazed in her face.

"Reports," the American said easily in German. "You see."

The sun stood above the horizon in the east when she said good-by to her child, lying calm and still as though this were a gentle dawn and real peace. But even though she saw him lie there defenseless, she felt only numbness: no fear, no sentiment. Just hate. And she walked outside with hate as white in her limbs as the milk she had poured into her cans—the milk that would turn into steel.

"Don't forget the cows, Frau Heinrichs," she called back. "Someone will help you, and mind LittleHorst!"

She walked ahead, her brown jacket slipped over her shoulders. Her loose shoes sounded hollow in the yard. The seat of the jeep felt cool through her light cotton dress, chilly like the morning that engulfed her with its brightness.

Frau Heinrichs stood at the door waving. She held the corner of her apron tight against her eyes. She looked bent and old. The merciless light streamed through her gray hair.

And now they drove, the American who spoke some German behind the wheel. One of the men with a gun sat close behind her. She did not turn to look at the short man. His figure was felt, not seen. He was sitting next to the man with the gun, leaning far back in the wind.

They moved off the dirt road and turned onto the highway. The rest went by quickly. The Ortsgruppenleiter's villa, the short stretch of green beyond, the small meadows where the children played, and then the houses, down the hill toward the town, where the flags were waving.

The road became narrower as the array of small buildings began to appear, sharply downhill, one next to the other, hunched as if in fear. The clean doorways, the doors opening toward the street, indifferent to comings and goings. To the right, the charred block of buildings, the black, smoldering ashes, and the jagged logs pointing at random to the sky.

The church rose ahead of them: again the white building against the green of the oaks, the sparse graveyard around it, and then the wide square. They turned and moved across. It was already past eight o'clock that morning, already people everywhere. Even children already ran about, standing in the center near the First World War Memorial admiring two parked tanks—peaked monsters with covered guns. Masses of soldiers drove their splendid machines, and more soldiers marched by with their gray jackets and rifles dangling from their shoulders as they walked. A long column. A slow double file. The jeep stopped and waited for them to pass. Then they moved on.

The shops were still closed, but she caught a glimpse of Jockner the electrician's, displaying a few bright modern appliances that came to life in the sunlight as they passed. And the little candy store below, where already two children were hanging about, a brother and sister, no doubt, clutching their pennies for a small piece of hard candy as if nothing had happened. Indeed little had, Illy thought as their car passed the town hall, where people crowded together in a thin group and a civilian policeman scattered them with a pleading shout. The people lived and wondered, but they lived. Most of the houses still stood. The sky was cold and blue, and she hoped that Frau Heinrichs, despite her years, would be at home, tending her child, milking the cows.

The square narrowed to an avenue beyond the town hall—Burgstrasse again since yesterday, Adolf Hitler Strasse for several years past. They were now going downhill. An old man stood in front of the savings bank smoking his pipe. To the left, the old-fashioned buildings looked squalid and dreary, dirtier and more deserted than ever. A man staggered out of the barber shop, where no lights or movement gave evidence of life. He slammed the door behind him, and despite the movement of the car Illy saw him swaying, probably drunk. He raised his arm in the old Hitler salute. The American soldier who stood guard at the corner laughed. The short man behind her in the car cleared his throat. Illy looked back for a second and saw his eyes half-closed in the passing breeze.

Now she recognized the end of town at the bottom of the hill, the block of modern apartment houses for the city officials, and the thatched cottage at the end of Burgstrasse that was also the beginning of the highway to the Danube and the city of Linz. Old man Hanne used to live there, painting his curious local pictures. Straining her eyes forward, she could recognize the foreign uniforms guarding the entrance to her town.

Now the car stopped, and to her left she saw the courthouse, a glimpse through the doorway into the yard beyond. She got out of the car and walked ahead. The three men followed her, an uneasy procession. The corner seemed deserted, and yet she felt as if all eyes were upon her.

She thought of many things and many people. The path to the courthouse was steep, and grass grew between the cobblestones. The boarded gate gaped half open, leading into the yard. She remembered heroic stories she had read of people dying for their beliefs, and as she stepped through the wide entrance door with the heavy stone pillars on each side, she felt as if she were walking up the ladder to the gallows, shouting defiant words to the spectators below.

They were waiting in the dusty corridor. The short man continued to stare at her with steady hate. She turned away from them all, tightening her grip on the flaps of her open jacket.

The man with the key had been there, always, as long as she could remember. He came shuffling out of his private apartment, coughing and squinting at them. He rattled his keys, then climbed slowly ahead up the stairs. The American officer talked to the short man and the man with the gun. They stayed behind. Illy did not look back. She felt eyes burning upon her even as she rounded the stairs to the first landing.

"Your pockets, please." The man with the key clutched Illy's shoulder when they reached the jail on the top floor. He was a bent old man, bald except for some gray strands of hair lying oddly across his head.

"I have nothing," Illy answered coldly and stared at the steel bars before her.

"Allow me, Fräulein."

While the jail keeper's hands passed expertly down her sides, the American said with difficulty, "Not long to wait. Will question soon, and if you good, everything good. You go."

The gate opened with a moan, and she walked down the aisle, slowly following the old man, who kept his eyes fixed on the floor as if he were searching for something. The American's eyes followed her. A sharp stench hit her nose as they passed from door to door. Then the heavy key turned in a lock. The door opened with a groan.

Inside—dark at first, then growing lighter—she saw two women sitting on the bare cot. The sparse light from the window streaked through their hair. They both laughed.

Illy walked slowly inside.

"Another customer!" one of the women cried.

"Come on in, Illy, and join the party," said the other, and in the dimness Illy wondered how she knew her name. The woman spoke quickly, her words toppling over each other almost as if she were afraid of hearing the clatter of Illy's steps. "Come on, kid," she laughed, "here, have some coffee. We share our breakfast. Don't worry, there'll be more of us here. The day has just started."

Stunned, Illy sat on the corner of the cot. She felt the concrete floor under her feet. Slowly she reached for the cup. Her hand was still clenched. She hesitated, then opened her lips to the warmth, lifted the light metal cup. The shadow on the wall sprang greedily from her side and she drank.



Divided Copyright © 2012. Ralph Freedman. All rights reserved by the author. Please do not copy without permission.




Author Bio

Ralph Freedman quickly became a "new American" after he arrived in the United States in 1940. A Jewish refugee from Hamburg, Germany, he had worked on a farm in England before joining his family in Seattle, Washington, where he began to attend the University. Interrupted by 3½ years of service in the U.S. Army--including 2½ years in North Africa, Sicily and Italy--he returned to the University of Washington to graduate in 1948. After receiving his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Yale in 1954, he taught at the University of Iowa (1953-65) and Princeton University (1965-88), followed by 2 years of service as a visiting professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

At the age of 28, Ralph published his first novel, Divided, which won a significant award, after which he turned to scholarly publications. His Lyrical Novel won considerable acclaim, especially in Korea and Japan; his two major biographies on Hermann Hesse and Rainer Maria Rilke have been translated into several languages, including German, Italian and Japanese (Hesse) and German and French (Rilke).

Finally, however, after many years of teaching and writing, Ralph Freedman made good on his promise to himself as a young writer and returned to prose fiction late in life with Rue the Day, based on his experience as a soldier in Italy and as a returning student at the University of Washington. He is also at work on his memoir.

TTB title: Divided
Rue the Day




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Rue the Day by Ralph Freedman is the winner of the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Award in Historical Fiction.








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