June 30, 1934
It was a damp and dark night in Hamburg, the air especially heavy. The Sauberzweig home, tense.
Otto paced in front of the hearth, pipe in mouth, Hamburg gazette underarm. His lips, held the end of the pipe tight, like a Rottweiler who’d found his favorite bone. A few rounds of fresh and fragrant tobacco had already been expended — room cloudy and full.
Otto’s stern expression wore consternation and complexity. Frieda sat at the desk, writing with clarity to her sister in Düsseldorf.
They didn’t have much time.
Perhaps less time than they thought.
A knock on the door.
The Sauberzweig’s both stopped and looked at the door in the parlor, eyes ablaze.
Just four hours earlier, retired General Otto Sauberzweig marched into the Schutzstaffel headquarters in full regalia to protest the unlawful and treasonous murders the night before in Wiesse. Word travels fast underground. Germany hasn’t been right since Wilhelm, but it is fast becoming unrecognizable. Vicious.
Otto looked at Frieda, Frieda looked at Otto. Another, but more firm knock.
Otto took another puff of the pipe and walked slowly to the door and unlocked the bolts.
“Guten abend General. I hope you don’t mind our stopping by so late,” a young but strong man with a crisp brown shirt led a posse of four Sturmabteilung officers. “Do you mind if we step in?”
“Nein.” Otto coldly replied with one arm across the door.
“I see.” The lad let a slow smile grow on his face, eyes locked to Otto’s. “You see General, I’m here to pay an unofficial visit this evening and thought we could sit down as countrymen and talk. Perhaps Frau Sauberzweig could join us?”
“Nein.” Otto’s reply, was more firm than the last. This time, blowing a puff of smoke forward, into the face of the young lad, who didn’t break his gaze or smile. The young man’s face held a soft glow from the interior lights but the other three who stood behind were silhouettes in the night. They said nothing but stood at ease, unflinching.
The young officer stood a moment, staring at Otto, saving face — with the exception of a new fire in his eyes.
“General I must insist we speak, out here is fine enough for the moment.” Otto kept his gaze, only using his lips to readjust the pipe in his mouth. “I understand you stopped by headquarters today to express your, grievances. I must say, leadership finds your lack of confidence,” the lads blue eyes tightened, “abrasive.”
Otto’s face was dark from being backlit but his inhale drew oxygen through his pipe and illuminated the embers to draw a deep red glow across his Prussian mustache and fierce coal eyes.
“The lads and I are here to bring you,” while trying to peer over his shoulder, “and dear Frau the opportunity to change your mind.”
“Progress is being made General. We could use men of your talent to serve this great nation again. Your reputation proceeds you, and we can certainly never forget the sacrifices you once gave. But. Now is the time to serve again. An evil is growing in this country and our leader is fighting for us, for a New Germany. One we can all be proud of,” the lad’s voice grew with excitement as if for the first time he had some hope. Otto stood firmly, one hand on his waist, hidden back as his jacket hungover, the other placed across the doorway.
“General, doesn’t it bother you to see our nation slave to the world and ruined by rich rats?” Otto caught a glimpse of a subtle movement of the guard to the left as he adjusted his hands to grip a baton. “The tide is turning. You will need to determine if you are on the side of progress or on the side of decay.”
A veteran of the Great War, a proud Prussian, General Otto Sauberzweig led many brave men into hell. He saw countless dead and dying. Otto inhaled again, a fierce highlight of his eyes wiped the smile off the young officer’s face. The moment sat in the air. The silence deafening.
Another movement yet out of complete sight by the guard directly behind the led officer.
“So General, I ask, will you join me down to headquarters where we can clear up this little misunderstanding?”
A long still pause.
Otto had seen what this new progress had to offer, what it promised. Progress doesn’t necessarily mean goodness.
The young blonde officer, still eye locked, snapped his fingers and the other three quickly drew their batons. Within a second, a rapid draw and fire of a seasoned Luger P08, hid nicely from Otto’s hip, dropped all four Brown Shirts upon the approach.
Frieda had taken a position in the side yard, Geweher 98 carefully aimed across the hood of the getaway car, just in case. Now that the guests have retired for the night, it was time to enact their planned escape to the free world —perhaps a little sooner than expected.
The “Night of the Long Knives” and its implication of Hitler’s rise can be explored with a couple of the quick links below. The story above is just a fiction, but there were many who did resist the Nazis, too few albeit.
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