I had just returned from a winter at school. I walked from the porch to the gate, gazing at the rising sun. It was a cool spring morning, with chirping birds, and the fragrance from our orchard shifted from apples to the cherries.
The mooing of our cows brought me out of my gaze, and back to reality.
I milked the both cows, slopped the pigs, hayed the horses, and was walking back to the house with fresh eggs when I felt the ground rumble. I stopped and looked toward the dirt lain that ran in front of our house.
Soon I could hear the sounds of motorcycles, trucks, and tanks. I knew what they were from the nightly radio broadcasts from Munich, and the magazines, and newspapers at school.
I had no way of knowing that the stain and stench of insidious Nazi evil was approaching.
Then, there they were, the war machines and soldiers of the Nazis. So close, I had to step back. I looked up at the soldiers who stared back with blank expression. The fumes from the tanks made me dizzy, and my eyes water.
"Heinrich! Come here," my father Kurt shouted.
I walked backward to the porch.
"Stay away from them. Do not stare at them. If they talk to you, just be polite. Nothing more. Understand?" Kurt firmly stated in a tone of voice I had never heard before.
I felt shaken, like I had done something wrong.
"But father, they are our solder?" said Heinrich.
"They are that Hitlers' soldiers," Kurt said in a sad voice, adding, "They are not Germanys soldiers."
"Is not Hitler our Fuhrer?" I asked.
"Hitler is insane. How he got to where he is remains a mystery. While I'm thinking about, your 16 next month. They will try and take you. I want you to go to aunt Gilda's until the war is over. And please, no arguments." Kurt said in the same sad voice, as he walked slowly back into the house.
Heinrich sat on the steps and watched the army pass by. After a while, he went back inside the house and asked his father if he knew where the soldiers going.
"They are going to Dachau," Kurt said.
"I rode my bike down there, and there is a road block," Heinrich said.
Kurt jumped up and grabbed him by the arm. "You never go there again. Do you understand?"
"Yeah, yeah. I understand," Heinrich said in a scared voice, adding, "What's so bad about Dachau? I have passed by there many times."
"Many things have changed since you have been at school. We were told that Dachau was for traders Well, not true Now they kill people Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, the disabled, and anyone else the Nazis consider a threat. Even 16-year-old boys. Remember the Goldbergs? They were shot two months ago, and Silvanus Heron? His family was taken a week ago," Kurt stated, in his angry voice rather than his sad one.
"Gosh. The Herons' daughter was three of four years younger than me. With all of those soldiers, they must be killing a lot of people," Heinrich said, looking at the floor.
"More than that, a lot more. I suspect they are going to invade Poland," Heinrichs mother Addilyn inserted.
"The radio from Munich says all Hitler wants is peace," I stated.
"Nazi propaganda. Hitler wants the whole world. Anyone who is not Aryan, must be terminated. Anyone," Addilyn said.
"Are we Aryan," I asked.
"Yes We are " Addilyn said, adding, "Yes we are, as much as anyone can be. That however, will prove not to be a good thing."
"All of the other nations will crush Hitler, and he will take Germany to the sewer with him. The rest of the world will hate us. What did they teach you about World War l?" Kurt asked.
"That we lost because Jews and Communists betrayed us," I replied.
"Not so. We declared war on the world, and we lost. Now, this Hitler person is doing it all over again. It's insanity. Just plain insanity," Addilyn stated.
"Did they teach you what we did to Guernica?" Kurt asked.
"No. What is Guernica?" I asked.
"A small village Hitler wanted to test his Blitzkrieg bombing on. Just unarmed civilians. Now I'll bet he does the same to Poland," stated Addilyn, with a worried sigh and clinching her book with very tight grip.
A week or two later, father told me the covered trucks were taking people to Dachau for extermination. I half thought he was just trying to scare me so I would stay away from there.
April and August where hot and full of hard work. Then on the first day of September the sky was full of planes. The noise was astounding, it rattled my whole body. All of the statements on the radio preached peace. Now I knew the true meaning of propaganda.
We stood in the yard watching the planes, and the heavy equipment thunder by. Mother said, "There goes Poland!" All of the stories they that been telling me now made perfect sense.
"Good thing you did not go to aunt Gildas," Kurt said, with both eyebrows raised.
"What about school. It starts in a month," I said.
"We'll see, when it's time. There may not be anymore schooling," Addilyn stated with a blank stare.
However, the school sent a notice that attendance will be required starting August 1st. I could hardly wait. With so many Nazis roaring back and forth 24 hours a day, I felt like our peaceful world was gone forever. Plus, the stories coming out of Poland prayed on mind. I could not stop thinking about what we were doing.
Father took me to the train station to catch the train to Karlsfeld. While I was waiting, a car with three Nazi officers in the back seat stopped at the station platform.
"Good morning young man. How are you?" asked one of the officers.
"I am fine. How are you?" I asked back.
"Where are you off too, may I ask?" another officer asked.
"School. School starts tomorrow," I said.
"School! How would you like to be a one of the Third Reichs magnificent warriors?" said the officer.
"I just turned 17," I replied. My knees began shake.