Shining and shimmering. Crystal clear.
A turquoise lake.
The jewel that Annelore treasured above all others.
More even than the marshlands and meadows amidst soaring limestone mountains. Jagged peaks, snow covered even in summer. Spectacular rock faces. Swirls of streams and waterfalls.
August the first it was, their fifth vacation day in the Bavarian Alps.
Fourteen year old Annelore and her brother Karl---two years older---had gone out for an early morning hike while their parents were still sleeping.
In the stillness they heard the song of the Rosefinch and the rasping cry of the Corncrake.
A roly poly marmot stood up on a rock, eager to befriend them. A hare peeked out from behind a tree. Deer drank at the edge of the lake. Golden Eagles soared overhead.
They came upon a meadow where blue gentian and monkshood, yellow arnica, Avens, pasqueflowers, and buttercups grew amidst alpine roses, pink campion, saxifrage, eyebright, heather, and bluebells.
“It’s all so lovely Karl,” cried Annelore. “I’m glad that Mama and Papa decided to vacation here. But why did we not go to Travemünde?”
Karl was about to reply when a middle aged couple approached them.
„Guten Tag!” said the man. “I am Pastor Richard Albrecht and this is my wife Ilse.”
“Pleased to meet you Pastor. Frau Albrecht,” answered Karl. “I am Karl Fröhlic and this is my sister Annelore.”
“Have you heard the news?” asked the pastor. “Of the elections?”
„Nein. Papa forbids politics on vacation.”
“Yesterday, the National Socialists won 230 seats in the Reichstag.”
Karl swallowed. “That is more than one third of the seats.”
“Are you from Berlin?” asked the pastor.
„Jå. Papa is in private practice.”
“Fritz Fröhlic, the well known psychiatrist?”
“He must have plenty of business with all the madness,” replied Pastor Albrecht.
In June Chancellor Franz von Papen had lifted the ban on the Sturm Abteilung. Since then the SA or Brownshirts as they were called, roamed the streets of Berlin inciting violence and murder. Like a cyclone the city swirled, with intrigue, rumor, and chaos.
“May we call upon your parents at your Gasthäus?” asked the Pastor.
“We’re staying at the Edelweiß.”
“We’ll stop by soon. Gruß Gott.”
As Karl and Annelore headed back to the Edelweiß, Annelore remembered her question about Travemünde, the Baltic seaside resort where the Fröhlics usually spent their summers.
“The Köhlers are vacationing at Travemünde. We are all fond of the Köhlers and you are especially fond of Käthe.”
Karl smiled. Then he turned serious.
“Annelore, the Köhlers are not Jewish.”
“What of it?”
“The Rosenblums went to Travemünde earlier this summer. They told Papa that people were building sandcastles.”
“Adults, Annelore! Adults building sandcastles and flying swastika flags from them.
“The Rosenblums also built a sandcastle and flew the Weimar colors. They went for a swim and when they returned, the flag was gone and their wicker beach seats were floating out to sea.”
When Karl and Annelore returned to the lodge, their parents were in the dining room. They enjoyed coffee and freshly baked rye bread with goat cheese.
“Let’s go rowing!” cried Karl.
The boats glided peacefully on the sparkling sunlit water. Overhanging branches reached out to embrace them. The lake was as a sheet of glass; mountains and trees, clouds and sky reflecting on its surface.
A streak of blue flitted across the water.
“A kingfisher,” cried Annelore.
Marsh Warblers, Spotted Woodpeckers, gray geese and spoonbills. A Great White Heron graced them with his presence.
Several days later the Albrechts called upon them.
„Herr Doktor, I must warn you. Hitler has demanded the chancellorship. He awaits a response from President Hindenberg. Already the SA are massing in Berlin anticipating a takeover.”
But on August 13 the pastor returned with good news. Hindenberg had refused to bow to Hitler’s demands.
“They say Hitler became hysterical and threatened to kill himself.”
“How sad,” replied Papa.
“Perhaps he should see a psychiatrist,” smiled the pastor.
The next day news came that Hitler had put the SA on furlough and retired to Berchtesgaden to lick his wounds.
“We’ve seen the last of him I think,” said Papa.
Later that evening some drunken rowdies passed by the Edelweiß chanting, „Blut muß fließen! Haut'se doch zusammen!”. *
Annelore heard a crash and the tinkling of breaking glass.
Someone had thrown a rock through the bedroom window.
She heard someone hiss.
* Translation: "Blood must flow! Let's smash it up!"
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