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I wrote a fictionlized meeting between two WWII heroes

I stumbled upon a strange idea, namely that two of the great heroes lauded after WWII were to meet in 1938. To my knowledge this meeting never took place, even though it is a theoretical possibility. So this morning I wrote short story in which this happened.


"The Disclosure", a short story by Michael Henrik Wynn

«Sieg, Heil!» the nervous man said upon entering the main auditorium in 1938, his hard polished shoes echoed against the marble tiles. Short of breath, he placed his leather briefcase on the mahogany podium, and eyed his audience with anxious suspicion. There was rustling of paper, distant coughing. The apparatus for showing slides was prepared in the wings by a neatly dressed secretary. Some of the employees seemed curious at least, while others had shown up as a matter of duty. And yawned. No doubt there were those in the small crowd for whom the word “duty” had special significance.
At one wall a long crimson flag with a swastika, on the others the long history of the company, portraits of past industrialists that had built something from scratch, and hammered out the might of the German nation from steel.
Finally, a small cortege of black suits entered the room, headed by the manager, a formal man by any standards, a man who appreciated efficiency, and man who knew he had proven his worth, and risen to senior rank.
He eyed the speaker with a certain skepticism, but with acute interest.
«My dear employees», he began upon entering the stage. «I have arrived to introduce our speaker tonight, a man of extraordinary courage and dedication who has traveled far and wide as a representative of our Fatherland, and been a unique witness. I will make no further comment, but let him recount his own story. The stage is yours, Herr Rabe. We are honored by your visit»
The tall and nervous John Rabe then entered the podium.
«As you all know, I have come from China recently, and in particular from a great city known as Nanjing. It is of the events that I witnessed there that I now wish to speak.”
“Where is this city?” shouted a man from the back. The manager turned in anger in his seat, but fell silent when he saw the face of the man in the audience, and sighed.
“That is a very good question. The city is centrally placed in China and have been historically of considerable significance for the Chinese, which is why I as a representative of Der Fuhrer- was placed there. And it was in the service of our Fuhrer and as his envoy that I was able to witness the atrocities that I am about to reveal to you, the ruthless murder of thousands of old men, women and babies by the Japanese army. It is true that we in Germany are of a higher race than other nations, but we must also act in accordance with this, which is what I tried to do.”
“But these people were of the mongol race, were they not?” persisted the voice.
Herr Rabe stopped, the light over his head was bright, it hit his face in such a way that he was unable to make out the contours of the shadow in the audience, the annoying back seat heckler. But he did not need to see the face, he knew by the authority of the voice that personal animosity would get him nowhere. He had to fall back on his powers of persuasion. At that moment, he was taken back to that recent battlefield, and to the face of an elderly grand mother. She had run past him carrying a small child as he stood on the lawn. Artillery thundered in the distance, the glimmer of explosions colored the horizon. And then the shrill cries of the assaulting Japanese. For some reason he stood watching her escape. Just as she was about to melt into the fog, a shadow had stepped out of nowhere, a sharp blade was raised, and moments later both the old woman and the child lay dead on the grass one hundred meters from him.
“Herr Rabe! Please continue”, a voice said. He shook his head, and again his was in the great hall wiping sweat off his forehead.
“Yes, I am sorry. I will do as you say. I arrived I the city of Nanjing, and took up my position at our German station, and in that position, by the grace and might invested in me by Der Fuhrer, I witnessed the most horrific scenes that any man, even those who lived through our Kaiser’s great efforts, would ever have imagined. But I will say no more. I will let you see for yourself. Lower the lights, please.”
There was total silence as the room submerged in darkness, the only sound that was heard was Herr Rabe’s nervous fiddling with the slide machine. Finally, it was working, Herr Rabe corrected his brown tie in order to breathe more freely, and the first slide appeared. It was a harmless photo of his place of work, then followed by scenic views of the city.
Herr Rabe then began to lecture on the history of the region, upon his journey and upon the great assistance provided by his staff. He praised their efforts, he praised their patriotism, and the great dignity with which they had faced hardships. But then he stopped, fell silent for a moment. His face was the only one visible in the room, hard light hit it from the side, making his worried wrinkles stand out while the rest of the room brooded like a uniform shadow in curious anticipation.
Then a new slide was loaded with a click resembling that of an automatic riffle: dead bodies on a road. There were coughs in the room. Herr Rabe said nothing, then loaded the next slide with military efficiency, close-ups of dead pregnant women. Then the next, children. The sight of the photos had brought back that surprising courage he had once displayed. Again he was back where it had all started. Slide after slide was loaded, it was all there: the torture, the corpses, the rapes, the blood-soaked cadavers, the screams and gazes he was unable to forget. There was something manic and automatic in the way that he loaded each slide, slowly and rhythmically as if to convince himself.
Then he sighed. It was done. They had seen what he had seen, and his mission was complete.
He asked for the lights, but had to shade his eyes as the audience re-emerged blackness. He now examined them one by one, searching for responses.
There was a young man on the front row who was on the verge of tears, but he stared to floor. Herr Rabe did not want to embarrass him. There was a balled fat man in a very neat suit with a very worried look, but Herr Rabe was unable to tell what caused that worry. Then he saw the face of the industrialist, the manager himself, thin and neat and composed. A poker face, it was impossible to say what such men were thinking.
At first this annoyed Rabe a little, but then he thought about what sort of job the manager had. It was not possible for all men to wear their hearts on a sleeve. A manager was a political pawn, as well as a benefactor for workers in times of need. It was a pity that society produced his kind, but the world was what the world was.
«I now wish to tell you about various actions that I took in the name of our great Fuhrer to prevent these horrific events, and how I was partly successful. I can tell you that...
«But what did these mongols do to merit such punishment? You haven’t told us what they have done?»
«What do you mean? Done? These are women and children?»
«Some of the most cruelest people in history have been women, Herr Rabe?»
Herr Rabe moved closer to the edge of the stage, spying into the audience. There again was that same voice, penetrating and authoritative. It was clear what he was. But Herr Rabe had influence, he would not be harassed by nobodies. If some upstart of a policeman thought he could be crueler than a Japanese samurai, he was sadly mistaken.
«Are you sure you are not a socialist, Herr Rabe?» said the voice.
Herr Rabe now stepped off the stage, and moved up the aisle passing many young and nervous clerks.
Then he saw the man, tall, neat, well dressed, a mouth twisted in cynicism and a penetrating and intelligent stare.
«Are you a true German?» asked Herr Rabe. «Can nothing make an impression upon your soul»
«Soul? You are a sentimental dreamer, Herr Rabe. You must come with me, please».
He saw the man approaching with determined steps.
«Look here, I am a representative of Der Fuhrer. I am not just a nobody. You cannot treat me this way," he continued.
Before the man reached him two men who had been seated at the edges had grabbed his arms and were leading him towards the exit.
Herr Rabe struggled, and broke free. Then he straightened his suit.
«I will not stand for this!» he shouted. «I simply will not stand for it».
But then, as he turned, he glimpsed the massive cynic just behind him, and something hit his head with such a force that he blacked out.
When he woke, Herr Rabe was in the back of a moving van, and he heard city traffic. The man was treating his forehead with some cloth.
«You need not worry, Herr Rabe. You are important and the party is grateful for your service. But your information is not wanted. I had no choice but to put an end to your performance»
«Performance? Did you not see? Are not a patriot?»
«I am a liberated national from the Sudetenland, Herr Rabe. I was thrown in prison for that, I have no need to prove my patriotism, even to man such as yourself.»
«And my slides?
«What policemen, businessmen and politicians think is their own affair»
The man then leaned back against the side of the van, lit a cigarette and sighed. He didn’t even look at Herr Rabe as the van stopped and Herr Rabe was directed toward the interrogation room.
«Here our ways separate Herr Rabe,» the man said as they stopped by a gray door.
«May I have your name, I wish to report you.»
«My name is Schindler...Oscar Schindler. You may report me, if you wish.»
And then the man turned and quietly walked towards the exit.
(edited 2 months ago)
Reply 1
I have fixed some more typos on the version on this page. I can't update the text here because then it is auto reviewed, and that is work for the moderators. I already did that twice. There is not much difference. But if you absolutely must have a version with no typos...

https://historyradio.org/2024/05/24/the-disclosure/

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