Another Pre-Teufel incarnation
After I wrote the piece I posted about the fire in the barn, the pre-Teufel idea turned into a book of letters I was writing with an acquaintance. That imploded fantastically, but I can post my side of some of these letters. I would still like to do a novel as a series of letters. I do have the beginnings somewhere of another one.
My Dear Herr Doctor,
I do hope this letter finds you, and finds you healthy and in good spirits. I am in Baden Baden taking the waters with my grandfather. I do so enjoy it here. My grandfather comes here often for his health, and usually insists I join him. I don’t mind, especially, as I enjoy the spa, but the society of old Prussian Junkers can be a little tedious. They are so hideously proper! But I do escape from time to time and get into mischief.
It is perhaps imprudent of me to be the one to initiate contact, but my situation has changed somewhat since I met you last month in Nurnburg. I thought that I should perhaps explain, so that your letters are not summarily returned to you.
The Graf, my grandfather and guardian, was quite put out by my little trip to the rally last month and has decided that it is time for me to take an extended tour of France and England. We have distant relatives in England; the Graf refers to it as the curse of Queen Victoria, and I will be going to stay with them for a while. My grandfather has a rather tepid view of the present government, and does not appreciate my sister Lieselotte involvement in the party. He is especially irate for her taking me to the festivities. He thinks that I will get taken off on some foolish Fascist crusade and it will end in my ruin. What silliness! He is so very hidebound by the old ways, but then he is seventy-four.
In an effort to escape the tyranny of the elder generation, I have made an arrangement with my ‘twin’ Piggy. I apologize, Piggy is my eleven months older brother, Manfred. Usually he is a right swinehund, but since his own little difficulties with the Graf, he and I have formed a little alliance. The Graf forbade him from joining the Hitler Jugend, and bundled him off to Italy last year. Now he is ensconced at Heidelburg university, a member of the party, and more than willing to forward your correspondence onto me. At first he was quite reluctant, but when I informed him you were an SS Mann, he immediately agreed, and, indeed, approved. It is his very great wish to join the SS when he is out of university. One can only imagine the apoplexy that will be had by the present Graf if the future Graf dons a black uniform! So forward anything you might wish to send me care of Piggy Von Ausbach, 658 Kinderstrasse, Heidelburg, and he will pass it along.
I should close this off here, you might not want to be bothered by the silly ramblings of a girl you squired about at a rally. Now that I have written this, I almost feel quite foolish. I don’t know you, and you may have changed your mind about wanting to correspond with me, and yet, I must admit a certain thrill at the thought of receiving a note from the proverbial voice in the dark. That is how I see you, quite dark and mysterious in your uniform. Now! That was entirely too bold of me, but I will not rewrite this page.
Helene Mariana Von Ausbach
November 30, 1934
Mein Herr Untersturmfuhrer,
How very pleased I was to receive a packet from Piggy and find your very kind letter inside! It was here waiting for me when I arrived in London. What a wonderful surprise to have waiting for me! My cousins were all a flutter wondering who you are, but you are my little secret. And like right proper English Misses, they read french and some latin, but positively no German, so you can remain my secret. My sister, Galiena, on the other hand, is much harder to redirect, and she would not approve. Galiena is very aware, one might say, of the Von Ausbach name, and of propriety. How dreadfully dull! I would rather be an actress and have fun than be a stuffy old Von Ausbach like Galiena. Or like the Graf. After I wrote you last, Galiena and I took the train to Paris. I wanted to stop and see the battlefields of the last war, so we took a side trip to Ypres. When we were there, we were very careful to speak in our very best English, as Germans don’t seem to be held in very high regard there. I don’t really understand why! It was almost twenty years ago, after all, and just as many Germans died there as French and English! It made me very sad, Doctor Wieland, to see the trenches. So many dead there. It was raining when we went to the battlefield, and it was as if the very earth was crying. We were not the only visitors, we met several English, French, and even Americans there. One English lady was funding the search for the body of her lost son. There were many such excavations in progress. This leads me to think that war is not a good thing. Women should not have to wait for years to be able to bury their children.
Galiena and I introduced ourselves as the great nieces of Baron Moreland, as it seemed more politic than to say we were the granddaughters of the Graf Von Ausbach. Much was said about the foul bloodlust of our people, and about how we started the war, and I almost felt ashamed to be a German. My father died over the Eastern front in a Fokker, and my father’s friend and Piggy’s namesake, the Baron Von Ricthofen died over the Western Front. The French and English weren’t the only people who died here, and yet they made me feel ashamed. It has weighed very heavily on me, Mein Herr Untersturmfuhrer. I don’t like this feeling. What is so terrible about being a German? Why is it so wrong?
Galiena and I met our cousins Sidonia, Jessamine and Blaise in Paris, and we had quite a gay time. Blaise has just become Baron Moreland, and is quite impressed with himself. We managed to pull the stuffing out of old Galiena, and we acted quite scandalously. Sidonia even convinced Blaise to take us to see La Baker. That was very exciting, and it gives me somoething to hold over Galiena, for if the Graf found out that I was there, he would be most displeased, and she, as my chaperone, would be in the soup.
I don’t think that I like the French. They just seem to hate us so, but it doesn’t stop them from taking our gold to buy their dresses. Would that be hypocracy? I think it is. Paris was beautiful, but I think I am done with it for now. Now England seems to be much more fun. Blaise calls me ‘old bean’ which amuses me excessively. He even promised to sneak me out of Galiena’s clutches and take me to a jazz club. It seems very important to Galiena that I form an attachment to Blaise, but I don’t really understand why. She mentioned that I should take this opportunity to find a husband, but I feel too young for that. And why would I find an English husband?
But enough of me, and my silly adventures. Tell me about you and your adventures. Are you a stormtrooper? Someone told me that you SS men were just like SA men. I wasn’t too sure. Are you soldiers? Tell this sweet girl about your codes and abbreviations! I want to know. How beautifully you marched in your columns!
Oh my. Galiena has returned and I told her I was writing Piggy. I would never write him anything so long, and so I will go. Please write to me again, Mein Herr Untersturmfuhrer! If I haven’t bored you silly with my childish rambling.
Helene Mariana Von Ausbach
Ps. It really isn’t that impressive, Herr Doctor. It just means one of my ancestors was a rather vicious Landesknecht who piillaged his way to a title
December 10, 1934
Mein Herr Untersturmfuhrer Weiland,
As they say here in ‘Blighty’, Happy Christmas. You probably haven’t received my other letter yet, but I couldn’t not send you a holiday greeting. I have just slipped you into my pile of Christmas cards, and Galiena need never know. Some what sneaky, I think!
Again, I am quite surprised by my own boldness in continuing this. Most of my family would forbid it if they knew. Proper young ladies don’t write almost perfect strangers. I know this to be true. How many times did we meet at the rally, after I collided with you in the crowd? Four? A few stolen meals together? A night of dancing. I keep thinking upon that last time we were together. When you dropped me off at my hotel, and you kissed the top of my hand, and then you slowly turned my hand over, and kissed the inside of my palm, all the while never taking your eyes from mine. The way I felt in that instant, the softness of your lips on my skin, the roughness of your moustache, the intensity of your blue eyes. I can’t seem to forget that moment. Why can’t I forget that moment?
Have a very merry Christmas, Doctor Wieland!
Helene Von Ausbach
January 6, 1935
My dear Untersturmfuhrer AND Doctor AND War Hero Wieland,
Greetings on the eve of the Epiphany! I am at the ‘Country Seat’ of the Moreland family for Christmas, but we go back to town for the season in two days. If one was Scottish, as my aunt Robena- Blaise’s mother- is, it is the festival of Hogmany. So happy Hogmany to you. I believe the tradition is to drink a ‘dram’ of Drambuie, and sing a song called ‘Auld Lang Sayne’. I don’t know what that means, and what can one say about the language of a race of people where the men wear skirts to the table! Blaise promised to wear his skirt, excuse me, kilt, to dinner this evening. I am dubious. It seems very ‘topsy turvy’ to me.
Speaking of language, the English don’t appear to speak English as we were taught in school. Blaise doesn’t have friends, they are ‘chums’, but they all refer to each other as ‘old bean’ or ‘old sport’. If something is good, it is ‘top hull’ and if someone is not quite right in the head, they are ‘barmy’ or ‘right off their crumpet.’ They all have the strangest names for each other. It can be quite perplexing. The ‘lads’ took Galiena, Sidonia, Jessamine and me to Vauxhall, and it was as if they were speaking in code half the time.
Forgive my terrible ignorance, but what is the Brown House? Is it an SS meeting place? What do you do there? Beyond have parties? I should be very honoured to be on your arm at a ball. What a wonderful thing. I do so enjoy balls and parties. I have been to so many here, but they aren’t the same as those at home. I am not entirely certain who Heinrich Himmler is, but I assume he must be the leader of the SS from his title. I wonder if he is an aquaintance of my sister Lieselotte’s very dear friend Magda’s husband. He is a government minister of some kind. Such a charming man, if a little short. He leads something called a Gaue in Berlin. I am not sure quite what it means, but I believe it is like the old Prussian Land. You would probably know better than I, as politics have never really interested me. I have been given an invitation to stay with Magda when I return to Germany. The Graf would not approve, as usual, but Lieselotte considers it quite an important connection. I find Madame Magda very charming and sophisticated, and I believe my manner was quite to her liking.
But I digress! How terrible for your family to cast you out. Family should not do such things. My parents are both dead, my father in the war, as I mentioned, and my Mother and Grandmother during the influenza. Lieselotte insists that mother died of a broken heart, however; and she would know. She was eleven when mother passed. I barely remember her. I was only four. There has just been Grandpapa Graf, and my nurse, Gudrun. How can your parents be so very cruel to you? How can they not approve of your SS? Nothing that looks so smart, and so important should be an object of disapproval. No offence to your honoured family, but they must be most grievously ill informed. Besides! Why should they disapprove of something that occupies your time? What else would you do during the day before going off to parties in the evening? I don’t think that it is healthy for young men to be as idle as Blaise and his friends. How your words of Germany stirred me. I felt that twinge of national pride flowering at the bottom of my soul. I shall most sincerely box the ears of any impudent Frenchman who dares to insult my country. How proud I am to know and correspond with a veteran of the Great war! You must have been a very dashing soldier, just as you are a soldier now. Germany will certainly prosper with such devoted warriors as your self to keep it safe. And how much better about being a German I feel. As a Von Ausbach too. We do have such a long tradition of knights in our family. The Gallery at Schloss Von Ausbach is filled with their portraits.
I know that you will endure your present conundrum with your position. Is it not the nature of man to be filled with self doubt? You say you are a drifter, and yet, it sounds to me as if you have hit dry, and very solid land. If iit is of any consolation, know that someone rather insignificant, and rather far away, believes in you. I remember from my history lessons a quote. That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Endure the man who tortures you, and perhaps one day you, too, will have someone to torture. I know not if that will bring you comfort, but it is the best inspiration I can think of.
All my best thoughts to you!