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Friday, August 28, 2009

Chapter One: Roses at Noon (the creative nonfiction novel about the White Rose)

May 1, 1942
     It is so cold today. Cold and snowing. I wonder if I am making the biggest mistake of my life. Yesterday I footed numbers in Daddy’s office, checked his arithmetic to keep his clients happy. He had the heat turned up. Even Inge laughed now and then.
     But today, today. The signs flashed by, Mering, Nannhofen. I told myself over and over, Sophie, you have waited two years to be in Munich with Hans. With Hans!     I will admit it out loud. It was great fun seeing him waving to me from the platform. His arm around Traute, that casual romance that gives him the very breath he breathes. She looked the picture of elegance, every hair in place, her shoes matching the skirt she wore. I really should not like her, you know. But there is something so un-Nazi about her, we are at once kindred spirits.
     We rode the streetcar out to Dr. Muth’s. If Hans had not told me volumes about this Catholic scholar before, if I had not met him myself a few months ago, I would have packed my bags and headed home. Home to Ulm, where that heated office burns me with its boring nothingness, and we all agree on politics. But in the time it took Dr. Muth to put on tea, I did not know myself.
     Hans had warned me about the professor’s penchant for penetrating masks. I thought I wore mine well. You know what I mean. That Sophie mask that tells the world I am in control, that I know what I want, when and where. But with a few words, Dr. Muth rips it off, ruthlessly, like you rip a bandage off a child.
     We were talking about this and that. Knowing that Dr. Muth concurs with our conclusions about, about Hitler, I courageously talked about our need to do something. You know I have felt this way a long time now. We jabber and prattle about how awful that man is. Daddy even got arrested for calling him the divine scourge on Germany.
     But none of us does anything about it. We talk, and the more the cheap wine flows, the grander our schemes. So I casually mentioned that opinion, feeling a little bolstered by Hans’ presence. And Dr. Muth fixed those blue eyes, blue eyes of lightning, not of sky, directly on me. ‘And, Fräulein Scholl, what basis do you find in the Bible for what you propose?
     Traute rescued me by steering the discussion to the magazine Dr. Muth publishes, or used to publish till the Nazis shut him down. But I know he has not forgotten the question. I will have to find an answer for him.
     Hans, my dear dense brother, soon caught on to Traute’s defense. ‘Sophie, let’s celebrate your birthday at my place tonight. Should we invite all our friends, or would that be too much for you?
     And with that deft maneuver, we were out his garden gate, back on the street.
     Funny, but I had nearly forgotten the cake Mama had baked, and the bottle of wine Daddy had donated. I would have preferred waiting till tomorrow, when I shall see Fritz. But I could not spend one more minute in that house, with that question hanging over me.
     I persuaded Hans to keep the party small. He knows these people, and I feel like I should too, the way he talks about them when he comes home. But all at once, I stood overwhelmed.
     Overwhelmed by the swastikas on every house. Munich… The very best of our country has been violated, raped by men in brown. Venetian beauty defiled by shrines to criminals. The artists I cherish, the Noldes and Geyers who paint with color so vibrant, they make the world sing, they are burned and banned. In their place, hideous murals sully grand edifices.
     Hans and Traute have learned to cope with the devastation. When we passed Hitler’s “House of Modern Art”, Hans whispered in my ear, ‘Sopher, you like the wienie palace?’ I had heard that joke before, but seeing it firsthand, I erupted into giggles. First time I felt good all day. This Parthenon with columns that, yes!, were a tribute to proud Bavarian sausages. At best.
     They left me alone in his room for an hour or two. The Blue Horses that survived Hans’ own arrest a few years ago comforted me strangely. I resisted the urge to hang the picture straighter. I must have slept, lulled to sleep by the aroma of a lone jasmine in an airless room. For it was nearly dark when Hans and Traute returned, bearing food.
     ‘We invited Christl and Alex,’ Hans said, waiting for my reaction. I could not think of two people I wanted to meet more.
     Alexander Schmorell arrived first, doffing his beret and kissing my hand. Before the second sentence, I found myself calling him Schurik like everyone else, blessing him with the Russian name that connected him to his homeland. And separated him from the insanity of our Volk.
     And I don’t have to tell you that for half a second, I could not even remember Fritz’s name. Schurik embodied everything I have wanted Fritz to be. He made me laugh, he made me forget that I was being demure, he made me feel like a lady, every bit as pulled-together as Traute.
     When Christl showed up, the other three reacted with an emotion I have never experienced. This tall, lanky farm boy folded himself into the room. It was like their backbone had straightened or their vision re-focused. Christoph Probst, this Christl, brought pictures of his babies, news of his wife, that village decency that knows little of goose-stepping or Sieg Heils.
     He also got us going on a game he had conjured up on the way to the party. We tried to stump each other on famous literary quotes. Sounds boring, I know, yet it was anything but. Of course, someone had to quote Novalis, and I think Hans was the culprit. He likes Novalis’ view of going to the edge of the pit before finding the way home. And we debated Goethe, a trivial debate to be sure, but not completely without merit. Can someone who never lived a single day of misery really write? I say no. Goethe lovers find themselves forced to defend the indefensible.
     I enjoyed being among friends who read banned literature. There are not many places in Germany these days where one would dare quote from Heine or Stefan George or Spinoza. But in this room, not to quote our greatest poets and thinkers was unthinkable. Traute assured me she would introduce me to the booksellers who stocked these good books.
     And I cannot tell you what it did for me to see Hans among these people. You know how he has those mood swings that make him impossible to love. I can never forget how badly he treated Lisa Remppis, my best friend. She tolerated his ups and downs far longer than any woman should, and he still trifled with her feelings for him. I think he only wanted her when she finally had enough. Some stupid nonsense about writing her name out in bread crumbs when he was in jail for, well, for... But by then, she had called it quits.
     I don’t have to tell you about Rose Nägele. One of the dearest women our family has known, hard worker too, bright girl. Did Hans’ sexual addiction start with Rose, or was that the first we knew of it? I wish I knew. But he never should have hurt her like he did.
     He seems to have learned from those failed courtships. He and Traute cuddled off and on, teased each other like friends do, yet it is clear that he loves her deeply. Things are different with him and Traute. Maybe he has finally found someone who loves him with all those faults he usually hides so well. She knows every wart and kisses them into diamonds.
     In the middle of our lighthearted fun and scholarly debates, Hans dropped a bombshell on us. He dramatically pulled a piece of paper from his hip pocket and began to read. Words about a madman who spreads lies till they become truth. Not till they are believed as truth, like we define Goebbels’ pathetic and provocative propaganda. But until they become truth. The more he read, the more you could see the sheer terror on our faces. Terror at the reality of the world portrayed in that poem.
     He sat down, quite satisfied with himself. And none of us knew who wrote the text. I thought he had. My brother is articulate and passionate about his writing, and words like that flow from his pen with no effort at all.
     But Gottfried Keller had written it, well over a hundred years ago. Schurik immediately devised a plan for forcing every German to read it. ‘We will rent planes and drop millions of these from the skies on every city in Germany.
     And though they joked with him about the extravagance of his idea, threatening to put it all to his rich father’s account, no one contradicted him. I found that extraordinary, but said nothing.
     Someone (and it was not Hans) remembered that we were here to celebrate my birthday. A little early, to be sure, but the cake would not keep another eight days.
     And dear Schurik, he who has stolen my heart, suggested we head down to the river. We dug through the mounds of junk in Hans’ desk drawers till we found twine ‘to cool the wine the Russian way,’ Schurik said with a mysterious smile. And Traute managed to find five things that held liquid—I dare not call them cups or glasses—and four forks and a spoon for the cake. I think part of the strength of their relationship is that she does not try to organize Hans’ life.
     We had the city almost entirely to ourselves. Our Luftwaffe has been so merciless in its bombings of the English that we fear the day retaliation begins. It has not started yet, but everyone lives behind walls of black curtains. The air raid shelters are often better stocked than our own kitchens.
     We walked dark streets to the English Gardens, and I fingered the cold cement wall that divides Schwabing from the Gardens. Schwabing, heart of the university district, home to artists and actors alike, draws its life from the Gardens. In this patch of earth, German efficiency is buried among dense shrubs and wonderful forests. I understand why Hans’ letters home spoke most often about his time in these Gardens, walking in the rain, breathing the last remnant of pure air in a place so brownly defiled.
     A great harvest moon hung over the river. Christl wished out loud that his family friend, Emil Nolde, could see this yellow orb and paint it. I tried not to express my astonishment that Christl actually knew someone whose work I studied and imitated. I must have been bad at disguising my surprise, because Schurik mentioned that Nolde had painted a portrait of Christl and his sister Angelika. No wonder Hans spent as little time as possible in Ulm. These people fed his soul.
     Oh, and the twine! Schurik tied it around the bottle and dragged it in the icy river. The feel of doing something distinctly Russian must have ignited the passions he cannot hide for long. Because we sang his songs of the Volga, melodies swaying in moonlit birch trees and steppes that never end, tunes no Bach-fed brain could ever sing. We sang his songs that speak of death, and hardship, and the pain of living, all tinged with silver and gold and horizons sparkling with dew. All in the darkest, richest, minor keys on earth, a darkness and a richness banned from Aryan ears as too Jewish.
     We found a level place next to the river, a river that hardly compares to the great rivers of Ulm—the Iller and the Danube. This Isar flows dirty, more a canal than a river. In fact, in places only the canal that parallels the river is navigable. But if you must have a city, you should have a river, and the Isar is better than nothing at all.
     The hilarity of Christl’s game segued into muted discussion no less intense than the debates of Hans’ room. I am the only one of the group not studying medicine. Over cake and wine, after the embarrassment of toasts in my honor, we talked about the internships they had recently completed.
     Schurik explained for my benefit his distaste for medicine. His father, a well-known physician in Munich, more or less forced him to study. He wants to be a sculptor, but that matches neither his father’s nor the government’s view of what is good for young men to do. The least detestable alternative was to acquiesce to his father’s desire, since that also meant a near-exemption from active duty in Hitler’s army. But after the war, he wanted to pursue the things he cherished: sculpting, painting, and piano. And he wanted to go home to Russia.
     Hans lapsed into his melodramatic style of story-telling to describe his work at Schrobenhausen. He had treated frost-bite victims from the winter’s devastation in Stalingrad. He must have forgotten that my Fritz is headed to Russia soon, because he described the fingerless hands in gory detail. But he ended with the observation that if he had ever doubted his love of medicine, the internship had restored the passion. For he saw that healing was something God let him do. He could not undo all the evils our country inflicted, but he could heal, one person at a time. And after the war, he could do even more.
     Traute nodded vigorously as he spoke. Her permission to study medicine was likely granted due to her father’s rank in the National Socialist Party, since we women are expected to be reproductive units, with minimal education wasted on us. When it was her turn, she whispered that after the war she wanted to be the best doctor in either Munich or Hamburg (her hometown), if you-know-who did not pass laws that kept her from practicing. Without her saying a word, we knew how absurd, yet how necessary, it was for her to whisper those sentiments at midnight, under a harvest moon, in a deserted city.
     Even I noticed that Christl was being quiet. I thought perhaps he had fallen asleep, since he does have a newborn at home. But Schurik knew his friend better. ‘Christl, Christl,’ he shook Christl by the knee. ‘What are you thinking? What do you want from life?
     When Christl looked up, the tears were streaming down his cheeks. ‘Listen to us,’ he nearly shouted, caring little whether Nazi mole heard him or not. ‘You all know what Manfred tells us is going on in Poland. They are slaughtering Jews, murdering innocent children. And we sit here and talk of medicine and art. After the war, after the war, we say. Not just you. Me too. I am guilty too.     ‘But what am I going to tell my children? That their daddy was too much of a coward to do anything? That their daddy did not love them enough? After the war, after the war. Well, listen to me. After the war, the rest of the nations will have the right to say, You Heines, you Jerries, you damn fools, why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you resist?
     I know I did not breathe for the longest time. The cold night grew colder still. Resist. He had said the word. Resist.
     All the euphemisms we had used – I had used – to this point melted into the river. “Do something about Hitler,” or better yet, calling him names like divine scourge, I think all that camouflaged our very inactivity. My diary is filled with entries that talk about what I want to do, but what have I done? Nothing, absolutely nothing.
     Traute spoke first. ‘Christl, be careful. What you just said can cost you your life.
     Hans and Schurik jumped to Christl’s defense, assuring Traute that he was simply thinking out loud. But the hard look she gave them was my first clue that something was behind Christl’s statement, that this particular well ran deep among the friends.
     I slept in Hans’ room that night. He took the floor like a good brother, while I slept in his bed, determined not to think about when he had last washed the sheets. We were both restless, but turned out the lights and pretended to rest.
    I must have fallen asleep, or not, because I heard planes overhead. The retaliation had come, we must find our air raid shelter. Loud, louder, they were almost to Schwabing, and I was paralyzed with fear, I could not move from the bed. Suddenly the sky turned blue, and the bellies of the planes dumped Gottfried Keller’s poem over the city. The room was blanketed with sheets of whitest paper, strong words of lying despots on the bed.
     ‘We simply must get a duplicating machine,’ I heard Hans shout over my shoulder. ‘We simply must get a duplicating machine.
     Only now, I was awake in a quiet room. ‘We simply must get a duplicating machine.
     I sat up, a wave of cold air rushing under the down comforter. 'Hans Fritz Scholl,' I demanded of my mumbling brother. 'Traute was right. You are up to something. Tell me about it now.'
     ‘It’s nothing, Sophie,’ he assured me, stuttering a little like he does when he’s not telling the truth. ‘Go back to sleep.
     'I will not go back to sleep,' and suddenly I was more awake than I have ever been in my life. 'You are planning some form of resistance, and I want to know what you are doing.'
     Under cover of darkness, in tones softer than dawn, Hans spoke of the plan they had concocted. The concept of resistance had been slow in coming to my brother and Alex, Schurik. When Traute showed up from Hamburg where they had circulated Thomas Mann's Responsa, and when Christl's words turned to wisehs for action, they had decided to print leaflets they could circulate, telling what they knew of Hitler’s atrocities.
     They figured that if the man on the street knew that Hitler was rounding up Jews by the thousands and shooting them, that he was allowing – if not encouraging – his soldiers to rape children and exercise bestial, deviant behavior at will, that the whole of German society would rise up and overthrow this evil government.
     Schurik had already researched how to have the leaflets printed up. Hans occupied himself with reading literature like the Gottfried Keller piece quoted tonight, finding quotes from impeccable German sources to convince fellow Germans of the truth. They’d even drafted a couple of leaflets on weekend trips to Bad Tölz, sitting in front of the fire in a mountain hideaway. They had figured out that it would not do to cite American or British writers or politicians. We needed to concentrate on words that were familiar in households with a basic German education.
     Did you hear that? I said 'we', and that is exactly what I felt as Hans talked.
     Of course, he protested when I announced my intention of joining their movement. First, he protested my use of the word movement, since that makes it sound like a well-organized machine. But mostly he protested my involvement. He forgot that, as my brother, I know how to work him. All it took were a few well-placed threats of telling Mama what he is doing, and he agreed to let me in.
     I decided then that he is right, we simply must find a duplicating machine. And I already have a plan.

May 4, 1942
     Bad news first. My plan did not work. I just knew that Fritz would do whatever I asked him to do. He is leaving soon for the Russian front, and I really did not think he would be able to refuse me any request.
     Since he is a Lieutenant in that despicable Army, all he would have had to do would be sign the requisition I handed him. He would give it to his company clerk, who would stamp it with all kinds of ridiculous swastikas. The clerk would send it to Berlin, and the Army would deliver a duplicating machine, at no expense to us, to Hans’ student company.
     But Fritz pointed out that his name would have to go on the requisition. That the duplicating machine would bear a traceable serial number. And that he would have to give a good reason for needing a duplicating machine out on the Russian front.
     He would not quit asking me why I wanted a duplicating machine. At first I told him that Inge was thinking about reviving The Storm Lantern, our private newsletter that kept our circle of friends in Ulm together. We wrote about music, poetry, literature, things that moved us and made us soar. As you would expect, it was not actually an anti-Hitler paper. Just a way for friends to stay in touch.
     We had to keep it social because of Inge. She has never really broken with her Nazi associations. She and Daddy will talk a lot about the evils Hitler brings on our society, but they continue to pursue high-ranking Nazis as clients for his law practice. Hans and I understand that our comfortable lifestyle is largely financed by these National Socialist accounts, and that makes us uncomfortable.
     Inge, on the other hand, likes to think of herself as a pious, liberal free thinker. All the while, she maintains her ties to Party officials, ties she nurtured as second in command of Ulm’s League of German Girls, the female version of Hitler Youth. So we have to be careful what we say in front of her. And Daddy too.
     Fritz knows all this. There isn’t a thing about me that Fritz doesn’t know, except about Schurik. So he was understandably skeptical when I gave that as my reason.
     So I did what I usually end up doing. I told Fritz the truth. Every bit of it. I even told him why I thought we needed to write and distribute the leaflets.
     First, he got quiet, that quiet that terrifies me. His funny, quirky face disappears behind an impenetrable barrier of coal-black ice. Those bushy eyebrows that I love to touch, they meet at the middle, and his eyes turn white hot. And he never says a word. Just this anger, this angry quiet, that pushes me a million miles away and excludes me from his embrace.
     Then slowly, each utterance enunciated separately, clearly, so distinctly, I cannot bear to be in the same room with him.
    ‘Sophie, don’t you realize that such a thing will cost you your head?
     But I must have grown up in the forty-eight hours I have been in Munich. I have never gone against Fritz’s wishes, well, except for when he and that Yugoslavian girl... Let's just say I don't like to make Fritz angry, and we have been together for five years. Yet, when he says that, when he says it will cost me my head, I realize it may at that. And in a flash of insight painful and liberating, I replied, 'Yes, Fritz, I know that it will likely cost me my head, and I am willing to pay that price.'
     We stood there for hours, days, years, not touching. I will never forget that moment. It was as if I stood in Dr. Muth’s library, books I could hardly wait to devour ignored in this eternal explosion.
     I cannot tell you now how we moved from that hotel room to the cobbled, hobbled streets of Freiburg. I never retracted my pronouncement. Fritz never agreed to do as I asked.
     But somehow, the anger melted with yesterday’s snow. We romped in Freiburg's Gothic splendor, soaking in split seconds that would have to last a lifetime. Skin on skin, we spoke of the future, of living to be ninety-five, of days when daffodils and crocus would spread across a peaceful land.
     He touched me, he touched me in ways that set me on fire, in places that uncovered all I ever want to be. You may think I am talking now only of the physical passion he arouses in me, and you are only halfway right. Because Fritz Hartnagel loves me, loves Sophia Magdalena Scholl, this imperfect woman who glides through life with a daisy in her hair and Augustine in her head. Even when I speak words of hurt and hate to him, he loves me.
     So when I tell you that I want this man in me, that I invite him gladly to be my partner, I want you to understand that these are not silly schoolgirl words gushed in a moment of sexual excitement. I have thought about it all evening, long after I boarded that east-bound train. I sat in my room at Dr. Muth's house that night with all the lights off, wrapped up in his scent, pondering the tumult of the day, the last of the waves still surging over me.
     And I decided that, after the war, if all he wants to do is raise chickens, then that is what we will do. I do not need Alexander’s suave sophistication, I need Fritz’s honesty. I need this person with the funny face who looks at me and sees the scholar who is a painter who is a traveler who reads Augustine who plays the organ (quite well, I might add!) who wants to be a mother, and likes the whole person, not wanting her – not wanting me – to change even the least bit. I could never have that with Alexander, and I know it.
     I remember the day I climbed the sapling, swinging it from side to side till I touched the ground on both sides, like a giant pendulum. Fritz stood there, clutching his sides and laughing, and gathered me in his arms when I clambered down, still woozy from the rush. And I remember when we stayed out all night in his car, when it “ran out of gas” – only Liesel was along as chaperone, so it wasn’t as much fun as it could have been – and how mad Mama was when I got home the next morning. She made me peel plums all day. And Fritz gathered me in his arms that night, kissing those stained fingers…
     I have already told you how hard it was to say good-bye to Fritz. He fears I shall lose my head. But he is the one headed to Russia. He knows I listen to the BBC reports, he knows I am aware that it is he who will not survive this war.
     And then all I will have left are these memories.

May 5, 1942
     Graf here. Only I wish I were not. I have been back in Munich for ten days now, ten miserable days. The time on the Russian front was heaven compared to this.
     No, I didn’t mean that. Sacrament! Heaven? That nightmare? And I mean that quite literally. I fear sometimes I am going insane, that I shall be relegated to an asylum, euthanized as a useless eater. I cannot rid myself of the nightmares.
     But what I was trying to say, and as usual I could not utter even the simplest thing coherently, is that at least on the Russian front, the people I was with could not deny the barbarism we inflicted on innocents. We witnessed it all. If I start the catalog of our sins all over again at this point, I fear I would be tempted to shoot myself.
     And that, I may not do. My Catholic faith will not allow me the only exit that would bring me relief from images I wish to escape. I need to escape.
     Here in Munich, it’s a whole other story. I say, 'I saw them shooting an entire village of Jews,' and Emil and Fritz close their ears. ‘We don’t want to hear it,’ they say, and open their Bibles to next week’s reading. How can they, how dare they read from the holiest of texts without caring that thousands were stripped naked, shot by uniformed firing squads under the authority of the Reich, and made to fall into open pits? How dare they refuse to listen when I tell of the blood bubbling up from open graves, of babies killed in mother’s arms?
     Fritz Leist says piously, ‘Willi, remember we were imprisoned once ourselves. We have suffered our fair share.
     If it were not for the fact that our churches no longer read a clean liturgy, I would bolt from their apartment, motivated by the utter disgust I feel for their apathy. We have not suffered! We were young boys arrested for holding church services instead of joining Hitler Youth. Yes, that is stupid, yes, that is perversion of the law, perversion of justice.
     But suffering? No. I reject their claim. Our cells were clean, we were fed every day, and at the end of four months, we were allowed to return home. None of us has shed one drop of blood for our faith. Emil and Fritz dare not, they dare not, on my honor, they may not, compare what we endured to what our comrades are doing to the Poles and Russians, and most particularly to the Jews.
     I stay in their apartment only because it is the last place in Munich where the word of God has not been pillaged and plundered. We still read a Bible free of Nazi propaganda, we chant old tunes that have not been made to conform to Aryan standards. And we compose new melodies to express our modern age, or at least where we were headed as a Catholic Church before we willingly signed our lives over to Hitler.
     We do all this softly, because the mother of two SS men lives below Fritz and Emil, and we would face imprisonment for holding non-aligned worship. So the one thing that brings me fulfillment, this communal kyrie eleison, simultaneously leaves me knotted and cramped from the voluntary blindness to the truth.
     I have tried speaking to Fritz and Emil about doing something to rid our country of the National Socialists. But Fritz Leist, he who used to pound into our heads, ‘be doers of the Word and not hearers only,’ he now thumps his Bible and jabs his finger into my face, intoning ‘Romans 13, Willi Graf, Romans 13.
     I am so sick of hearing supposed Christians (who know better) quote that as their defense for sitting on their hands. Did they ever stop to think that Paul simply could have been wrong? What he wrote, this nonsense about being subject to higher powers, so totally contradicts everything else. What prophet would have prophesied had he listened to Romans 13? How could James have talked of faith exhibited by deeds if he restricted that faith to exclude the political?
     I know, I know, I am getting way too theological. You say that every time. But I am trying to make you understand why I am so lonely, why I have these nightmares.
     Do you know, I cannot study any more? Of my eleven courses, there are actually two with non-Nazi content. One is ironically called Spiritual Exercises in Listening with Professor Pauli. I think he’s a closet doubter, a very high compliment indeed. And the other is Professor Huber’s course on the psychology of music. I won’t miss a single one of those. He’s not a closet doubter. Huber is well-known for his opposition to Hitler. No one knows how he has lived to teach another day.
     Even in these two classes, I have a hard time concentrating. That catalog I cannot talk to you about, the catalog of our sins, interferes with the best pleasures. It keeps me awake at night, drenched in sweat, the screams echoing in my ears. I see the villages on fire, see Katja’s cat among the broken flower pots. Oddly, I don’t consider our own hunger and deprivation, eating our horses, sleeping in lice-infested straw, as worth losing sleep over. But the smallest transgression, the unburied Russian soldier, the hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war paraded in our full view, these can cause the worst insomnia.
     Something good did happen today, so you do not think that I cannot enjoy good things when they do come along. Well, really one good thing happened that led to several others.
     Do you remember Hubert Furtwängler, the fellow I was stationed with in the Black Forest? The one, along with Bertl, who kept me on an even keel in those pre-Russia days? Strange isn’t it… Back then, I thought it couldn’t get any worse. And the worst thing then was not knowing whom I could trust.
      Well, Hubert is here. Ran into him in the barracks today. I haven’t met a single other person in the Second Student Company who cares a whit about reality, about real things, about justice and honor and concepts that require a brain and common sense. So finding him here made me feel a little less alone.
     He invited me to his choir rehearsal tonight. Bach Chorale. You would not believe how incredible it felt to be in a group that has at the very least an anti-Hitler bias. Nothing concrete was said, you don’t dare when you don’t know people. But double entendres flew right and left, and never over my head. The director explained “what Bach meant” by certain passages, and in every case his interpretation had less to do with events in Leipzig those many years ago, and everything to do with God’s view of righteousness. I wish I could figure out how to say things like he did, where it didn’t come across so awfully theological, but simply right.
     Hubert was also heading to the Carossa lecture, so we both made a mad dash from the rehearsal hall to the lecture hall. We arrived a little late, so didn’t hear all of his reading. I wish I knew who the brave soul was who arranged the evening’s entertainment. Carossa is fairly blunt in his criticism of the Nazi regime, though he buries the critique deftly in stories of the days he attended the University of Munich, around the time of the World War.
     So twice in one day, I heard people mumble the things that plague me by night. I want to hear strong words, I want to hear someone denounce Hitler. But for now, I will have to be satisfied with these crumbs.
     At least the weather has changed, and it’s acting like Spring again. If I have to be alone, I may as well be active, outdoors, stay in shape. Stay busy.
     Hubert said to be patient. He said there are people in the Second Student Company who are decent and honorable. I have talked to all of them and find it hard to believe that he is right. But patience is the only virtue I have time for these days. I am so lonely.

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