Vladimir Oeljanov, once said “Sometimes- History needs a little push.”. Even today I consider that very quote to hold more truth than all encyclopaedia of the world combined.
But, excuse me if I have startled you with my sudden intervention.
Please allow me to introduce myself: I am a man of wealth, and taste.
What puzzles many is the nature of my game. Why am I here? That is a question even I can not answer. I like to believe I am here because it was my choice. But then again, is choice anything more than the illusion of control?
These things and more are thoughts that cross my mind while I walk among the men. ‘My’ men. I wonder, was it their choice to be here? Oh yes, I watch them, my proud clones with clean-shaven heads, gleaming black uniforms and well-feigned determination. Under loud cheers, they tear down fence posts belonging to our unfortunate victims. Poland, the land of the White Eagle.
Yes, my men like to believe it was choice that has brought them here, their will that will lead them to undoubtedly glorious and heroic victories. Yet, in their eyes I see that certain gleam.
Have you ever seen the gleam? If you’d pay attention, you would. It is the gleam of indoctrination, the end of the illusion of ‘free choice’. Even as they march gloriously under what they call civil service, I can’t help but see Goebbels whispering in their ears tales of glory, blatant lies which all men gladly take for truth.
Why am I telling you this, you ask? Well, maybe it is because I feel I should at least enlighten one of you. I’ve been around for a long, long year, you see, and this is the realisation every soldier everywhere will come to, sooner or later: With each battle you experience, reality paints a clearer picture than the glorious lies told to you by your leaders. With each carcass you throw in a hole, war becomes a longer word than glory.
But for me, war is something alltogether different. Do you understand? Of course you don’t. Let’s just say I’m just here because I am intrigued by the... possibilities times like these have to offer. This is why I quoted my old friend Oeljanov in my introduction.
Don’t recognise the name? Of course you don’t. Some people know him better under his ‘revolutionary’ name, if you will: Vladimir Lenin.
Surprised? Yes, our bolshevik friend used to be an acquantance of mine, untill he suffered that unfortunate fatal stroke. But indeed, I spent some time in St. Petersburg when I saw it was time for a change. Why? For the exact same reason I am here today.
God. Do you know what I find one of most amusing aspects of World War II? It must be the SS soldiers. Have you ever seen their attire? They wear a silver icon of a skull with crossed bones, engraved with the words “Gott mitt uns”. God with us. Does that not strike you as humorous? The world’s most elite fighting force, trained only for looting and slaughter, handling the motto “God with us”.
Not that I do not know where it came from. In fact, I was there the very day our old Kaiser wrote that line. And, to be truly honest, I was the impulse that moved his hand the day that he wrote. It is the exact same thing I proclaim to my men as we march to Poznan. “Forwards! God is with us!” I shout, and am answered with cheers and roars. God is with us. The same line I whispered into our good friend Hitler’s ear a month ago, as he pondered up in his Reichstag whether he should attack Poland or not. My name is also desire.
Indeed, god is with us.
But I am sorry, I sidetrailed there. I can see you wondering, and I know what you think. Indeed, the numbers do not add up. As I have said before, I’ve been around for a long, long year.
Did you get my name? They call me by many names. Some are agreeable and amiable. Others are strict and cold. And then there are those that simply cannot be pronounced in whatever language you might know. But what really puzzles you –And believe me, I can see- is the nature of my game.
To the point now. It’s Fall Weiss you want to know about. Well, I believe historians can tell you millions of things about the German Invasion of Poland. That it occured on the September 1st 1939, perhaps, or that it was the official start of World War II. But I will tell you something no historian knows. Because the battle me and my men fought was the battle of Poznan.
There’s not much I can tell about the battle itself, to be honest. If you want action, go see a war movie. The Polish garrison there was severely understrength and surrendered four hours into the battle After the rather dissapointing battle my men were quite bored, so I ordered them to execute the Polish defenders. All of them, one by one, in the town square. The executions lasted untill the early morning, not counting the hours we spent dumping the bodies. Hey, it kept us busy.
The battle started off quite promising I must admit, as the Poles bore down upon us with massive artillery barrages, attempting to break our ranks before we even had a chance to reach the disputably important city.
Needless to say, they failed.
The Poles fought bravely, yes, but their resistance was as courageous as it was futile. Over the course of time I have learned that, in the end, ‘honor’ or ‘bravery’ are really just words. Who has the biggest guns, wins.
During the entire battle I was followed by a young and particularly annoying Wehrmacht soldier. Think of the man that comes to talk to you in a bar and you try to ignore, as you can feel the man sapping your intellect with every word he says. Soldier Koch was that kind of man. In fact, I am baffled as how he managed to survive the first hours of the battle, completely taken in by his own endless droning at my adress. He was a devoted Christian you see. But not just any Christian, no, a nazi Christian. Never before in my life (And believe me, I have lived a very long time) have I heard the words “Hitler” and “God” used so many times in the same sentence. Isn’t religion an ironic thing, when it is being used as an excuse for mindless killing?
Yes, god was with us that day.
Koch, as you might have noticed, was very zealous, and thought of it his highest goal in life to protect his Kommandant during the battle. The entire battle. So he spent two hours following me around as I attempted to command the troops, all while Polish bombardments were ripping through our ranks and entire residential blocks collapsed around us, half Poznan burning. Despite all this, he continued asking pointless questions and telling me about his family at home and other subjects I did not care about. Just as I thought I was about to burst, a sudden hailstorm of heavy Polish machinegun fire forced me and my companion to seek shelter behind a collapsed brick wall, after which he returned fire without saying a word. When I finally thought his endless stream of pointless topics had subdued, he turned around and asked me what my name was.
“My name?” I responded, and he nodded. “If we die here sir, I want to know who I died for. It was an honor serving you.”.
Now, I like to consider myself a very tolerant man, but there are just times when your limit gets reached. But I answered him. Oh yes, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day. The way we were surrounded by a lead hailstorm, as I slowly turned towards the man, ominously.
“My name?” I repeated, and Koch nodded, his face frowned in an expression that looked like the expression illiterates wear when they are presented a book. I grinned, while a rapturous explosion spit flames out all around us, spreading a comfortable heat.
“You see, I have many names, Koch...?”
“Hans, sir. Hans Koch.”
“Hans. People call me by many names. But for you...” I gently leaned against my companion, whispering something into his ear. His eyes widened.
“Just call me Lucifer.”
Yes, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the way Hans Koch died that day: The startled expression on his face as I kicked him from out of our cover. The seemingly endless wave of bullets puncturing through his empty head, gloriously spraying blood everywhere as he went down. The screams of other soldiers as they were slaughtered in an attempt to save their empty-headed companion.
Maybe this can be a lesson for the rest of you: If you meet me, have some courtesy
Have some sympathy
And some taste
Yes, use all your well-learned politesse.
Or I will lay your soul