PLAYING WITH MATCHES - MythMachine
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Chapter One

1938

OCTOBER

Passau, Germany

Heinz Schultz’s word could send a man to prison. Though only a youth of fifteen, he was strong, tall, and blond. The boys in his Deutsches Jungvolk unit esteemed him and feared him.

And they wanted to be just like him.

Mesmerized, Emil sat straight and attentive. He didn’t want to miss a thing Heinz might say or an opportunity to be noticed by him.

Heinz grabbed a pointing stick and tapped a well-worn map of Europe that was thumb-tacked to the wall. “This is a map of Europe from 1871.”

He stopped abruptly in front of another, newer map. “And this is a map of Europe as she looks now. What is the striking difference?” His eyes scanned the room before landing on Emil.“Emil?”

Emil squeaked, “Germany is too small?”

“YES!” Heinz shouted. “Germany is too small. Much, much too small.” He pointed again to the first map. “Here we were larger, though not yet great enough. And here,” he swiveled back to the second map. “We are so tiny, you need a magnifying glass to see us. This is injustice!”

The severity of Heinz’s convictions had grown since his voice had changed. It seemed to Emil that Heinz’svoice came from his gut now rather than his head and he couldn’t wait until his own voice finally changed. Not yet eleven, Emil knew he had a while to wait which frustrated him. It was hard to act tough when you sounded like a girl.

Heinz stood stiff, hands behind his back, studying each of his students until they were all white in the face with fear. He whispered, “Who is to blame?”

Friedrich slowly raised his long, skinny arm. Though the same age as the rest of the boys, he was much taller, with long, thin legs. He reminded Emil of an ostrich.

“The Jews,” Friedrich answered.

Heinz’s head bobbed in affirmation. “Correct. The Jews. And how do we know this?”

Friedrich continued, “They hurt the war effort by stirring up bad feelings against the government. We lost the Great War because people lost heart when they heard these lies.”

“Jews and Communists,” Heinz said. “They are thereal enemies of Germany.”

Emil tried to remember what his father had told him. Germany had lost the Great War because they thought they could win it quickly. They had underestimated their enemies. In the end, they hadn’t enough soldiers left to finish the job.

But according to Heinz, his father was wrong. Germany’s defeat was actually due to these other people, though, he still didn’t fully understand what they did to cause their fall.

“Wewere a great nation,” Heinz continued. “We are a great nation. And one day we will be an even greater nation.”

Emil felt like a strong wind was pressing him against the wall.

After a long meaningful pause, Heinz said. “Give me examples of our superiority.”

Emil’s hand shot up, and then realizing he wasn’t sure what answer Heinz wanted, quickly brought it down again. Heinz called on his own younger brother, Rolf.

“We are white, Aryan, and not Jewish.”

Rolf said this like he was better than the rest of them, Emil thought, just because he was Heinz’s brother.

Heinz nodded in agreement. “Others?”

Friedrich thrust his arm up again. “We are athletic and fit.”

Moritz shifted uneasily in his chair; Emil knew his hefty friend wasn’t exactly the most coordinated person. This time Emil raised his hand and left it up.

“Emil?”

“We are intelligent.” All eyes were on him. Heinz waited. Why? Should he present an example? A model glider hung above the table prompting him. “We built the Luftwaffe.”

“Indeed,” said Heinz. “The mightiest air force in the world!”

“One day I will be a pilot in the Luftwaffe!” Emil boasted. The continued attention caused crimson flares to rush up his neck.

“A noble goal, Emil,”Heinz said. Emil sat up even taller if that were possible.

Heinz then nodded to Johann who picked up his guitar and led the boys in a boisterous rendition of Deutschland, Deutschland, uber alles: Germany, Germany over all.

“Time’s up,” Heinz said after checking his watch. “But next meeting we have a surprise. There will be a test of courage. Bring swim wear.”

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