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A Chronicle of Subversion in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy

from The Chamber Pot of Santa Chiara

H.D. returned home to the vicinity of Frankfurt at the beginning of September 1945. Like most returnees, he was unemployed, but also full of expectant enthusiasm for participating in the spiritual reconstruction, the attempt to remove the foundations and habits of fascism—from the right and from the left—which were so ingrained in the Germans. There were only a few people with whom he could associate, for only a few had had the strength and the good fortune to keep themselves at an uncompromising distance from National Socialism.

from Augusta and Topolino

…“Combing out” was understood to mean interrogating individual prisoners about their civilian occupation, age, and health, and when the results looked promising, separating and shipping-out skilled workers and assistants for construction sites in Upper Silesia. Assigned as a driver and interpreter, H.D. could not avoid his superior’s exploitation of his linguistic knowledge in the combing out. He consoled himself with the thought that perhaps he was a somewhat better interlocutor for those being interrogated than someone with no feeling for the injustice involved. He tried to encourage them by saying that it was better to work in your own trade than die slowly in a prison camp. He was convinced he was recommending the lesser of two evils, but felt depressed even so. He could not help thinking of the platform at Auschwitz and the order, “One to the left! One to the right!”

from Railroad Tracks

They hadn’t planned to go to Auschwitz; it hadn’t even crossed his mind. But suddenly it became the focal point of the whole journey—to see the place, after forty-seven years, which he had visited ten times—I.G. Farben had had its construction site there—between March 1942 and November 1944. In July 1943, when the murders had reached a high point and everyone was talking about them at the construction site, H.D. realized that the horrendous atrocities of the Nazi regime would end only with the loss of the war. From that point on, he had decided to do his best to help bring this about.