The good Nazi and the secret offal parties
Hans Reiter was a good Nazi.
Not only was he physically the perfect model of the Aryan race: blond, six foot six, intelligent, strong and brave, but unlike many other Nazis, including most of his regiment, he remained loyal to the Nazi regime even after the German army was in furious retreat from the Russian army, loyal even in the prisoner of war camps, leading renditions of nationalistic songs, sometimes in the middle of the night.
Of course, his enthusiasm for all things Nazi earned him more than his fair share of abuse. He was the recipient of many a beating, both in the camp and later, in American-occupied Cologne. But Hans didn’t care, being beaten up by an invading army spurned him on, made him even more vocal for the need for Germany to become independent, to remove the American curse from its streets.
After his release from the camp he made a living as a handyman, for he was a skilled plumber, electrician, and mechanic, as well as a more than capable builder, all skills much in demand in post-war Cologne, whose buildings were as bomb-damaged and demoralised as the people. Of course many could not afford to pay for repairs, and Hans was willing to help those without money in return for just a meal, or a service, such as darning his shirts, sometimes he would simply do jobs for free, especially for the elderly and sick.
To make a living he worked hard, and long hours, and as a consequence his name spread, and he became much in demand. Though this verbal network, he got to know fellow Nazis.
Of course, after the war, there was almost universal denial, the leading lights of the Nazi party, and many of the civil servants and military commanders, were on the run, fearing being charged with war crimes. Hans was never in danger from these reprisals, as he had only ever served as a private and had fought in the front line against the Russian army and had never been personally involved in the Final Solution, nor any of the related atrocities. However, a great many of his fellow Nazis lived in terror of being found out, the lived under false names, and spent their lives in shadows, in constant terror of being recognised.
Hans would spend many an evening with these Nazis, reliving the good times and speaking of a future where Nazism would return and they would defeat the American and Russian invaders. Of course, there was no realistic hope of any of these dreams coming true, in truth the meetings were no more that get-togethers of like-minded people, fellow enthusiasts, with neither scheme nor hope of their dreams being delivered now that the great Nazi army had been crushed and humiliated.
As a bright, handsome, and enthusiastic advocate for the Nazi cause, Hans was renowned as a good companion by his fellow Nazis, even those reclusive individuals in hiding who avoided all company, were willing to make an exception. Plus, many of them needed repairs done, a dripping tax fixing, a light circuit replacing, a small hole in the wall needing filling, and Hans would do these jobs gratis for his fellow Nazis.
One evening, at one of these meetings, Hans was told that a senior figure in the Nazi party would like to meet with him. Hans knew the name well, it was a politician he had travelled several miles to hear speak when he was younger, in the days when Nazism was the next big thing, the coming way.
“But he would not want to me with me, I am just a private, a nobody.”
“Ah, but he has heard of your enthusiasm and would like to meet with you. He is keen to engage the next generation, for when the time comes again. The Fourth Reich.”
And so Hans was asked to expect a visitor, to prepare a private dinner party, just him and the senior Nazi. He made plans as secretly as he could, trusting only his closest friends. Hans would like to have prepared the finest of meals, steak and champagne, but the only meat available was offal and the only meal he was able to prepare with these ingredients was a stew. He had less problem with the wine, as he had done the odd job for a vintner, and though he had no champagne, he was at least able to offer a French wine that would have been fit to grace the table of the senior Nazi in his glory days, when the Third Reich was on the rise.
The senior Nazi was just as Hans had remembered him, kind, engaging and generous. He praised the wine, comparing it with the great wines he had tasted at Hitler’s table, and he refused to accept Hans apologies for the meat. “There is nothing wrong with this meat; heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, these are all good meats, nourishing, full of strengthening iron and vitamins. The inner organs, the vital organs, hidden away but without which there is no life. Like Nazism today, hidden away but vital.”
After the meal the senior Nazi took time to examine Hans’ physic. Hans removed his shirt so that the Nazi could admire his muscular frame. He was also tested with a series of questions, which revealed him to be above average intelligence. His bravery too he could demonstrate with his collection of medals, and descriptions of how he came by them.
“Herr Reiter”, the senior Nazi said as he was leaving. “You will not see me again. Tomorrow I am starting a new life, with a new name. I am moving to Bolivia, or some such country, where my skills and ideas are welcome. But I leave in good heart, knowing that people like yourself remain behind. I look forward to returning to Germany, when you and your like are again in the ascendance.”
Hans never saw the senior Nazi again, but word of the evening must have spread, for Hans became a mecca for senior figures in the old Nazi party, all on the run and in hiding, yet willing to take the a risk, just to enjoy an offal-based dinner with Hans. They all ended the evening with the same farewell, saying that they were departing the next day for Argentina, Peru, Brazil. It was as if he became a lucky charm, a symbol that Nazism lived on, in this tall, muscular, courageous, handsome enthusiast.
And then one day he was told to expect an even more secret visitor.
“How can this be?” Hans had replied, for the people that had visited him by this team included some of the leading figures in Hitler’s inner circle, some of the most wanted men the world had ever known.
Eventually his friends were willing to confess that it was none other than Hitler himself who desired to meet with him.
“But Hitler is dead,” Hans replied. His Nazi friends shook their heads. “It is in everyone’s interests that this is believed to be the case, the Russians and Americans so that they can claim victory over his corpse, those treacherous Germans who betrayed him with surrender and desertion, so that they cannot betray him again, and people like ourselves, we cannot even trust more than a few of our own, less word of his life spreads.”
“But why has he not fled, like the others?”
“Hitler leaves the country tomorrow, though you will never be told where he is going. One thing though, you must remember, Hitler is a vegetarian. There must be no offal on the menu.”
Hans knew very little about vegetarianism, and the only meal he was able to prepare for his distinguished guest was a stew, an offal stew without the offal. It was bland, tepid and unworthy, he knew, but what could he do. The wine, for once was also a disappointment, his vintner friend was out of the area on business and he was unable to source anything other than a cheap table wine, a grey-white, which tasted like nothing.
When Hitler arrived Hans was aghast to find him looking so frail, worn and pale, like a figure two decades beyond his true age, as if Hans had travelled in time to meet Hitler in his old age, his last days, as if the war were long, long ago, an ancient scar rather than the fresh wound that still bled.
Hitler makes no complaint about the food, or the wine, but neither did he praise it. Words prove beyond him for much of the evening. Even the act of eating proved difficult, Hitler’s hands would suddenly shudder, as if overcome with the effort of eating, and the spoon of stew would spill its contents. Indeed there were long periods where Hitler couldn’t speak, or even move, and he just sat there, face frozen, looking all but dead, a zombie we would call him today, though Hans had never heard the term.
Hans tried his best to enthuse about the great years of the Nazi regime, when the German army has simply strolled through Europe, as if unopposed, about how he aspired to be the perfect Nazi. Hans towered over the great Nazi leader, a foot taller and broad as a tank, young, bright and enthusiastic, the living embodiment of the Aryan dream, a stark contrast to the weak, frail old man in front of him.
However, Hitler showed no interest in admiring Hans’ physique, and similar disinterest in reminiscing about his triumphs, nor in expressing hope for the future, for the return of the Nazi empire, for the rise of the fourth Reich. He simply ate his stew, drank his wine and sat there, as if waiting for the end of the world.
Eventually it was time for Hitler to leave. Hans knew that he would never see him again, that tomorrow he would leave Germany, bearing a new name, and would start afresh. But this was never expressed; Hitler simply shuffled to the door and exited.
A few weeks after this Hans had to move house, his landlord having sold the property to a young couple from Berlin. Hans had moved many times already since the war ended, Cologne was in a state of permanent change, but this time he failed to notify his Nazi friends of his new address, indeed he was never seen nor heard of again by any of his former friends and colleagues, and the secret offal parties thus came to a discreet end.