[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]
.The truck moved off, and Otto pulled up to the barricade.Anna stared straight ahead, praying she wouldn’t have to say anything.Just a few hours ago she had murdered two SS officers…and now she was sitting at a German checkpoint with no papers.How could she have been so stupid?Otto rolled down the window and handed his identification to the Wehrmacht officer who peered into the car.He gave it a cursory glance and handed it back.“And your companion’s?” the officer asked.“She would rather not show her identification,” Otto replied.The remark caught the officer by surprise, and it took him a few seconds to respond.“Nein, that’s not possible.I must see her identification.”The noise from the artillery shelling and the trucks passing through the other side of the checkpoint made it difficult to hear.Otto motioned for the officer to lean toward the window so he could speak without shouting.“I am a special aide to SS Hauptsturmfuhrer Dieter Koenig, and this lady is his mistress.”The officer leaned in but didn’t respond.Anna could feel his eyes looking her over.“The hauptsturmfuhrer has entrusted me to escort her safely out of the country,” Otto continued, his deep voice as calm as if he were ordering lunch.“He would prefer that she not have to produce her identification.Verstehen Sie?”Anna glanced at the officer with a quick smile then stared straight ahead.She wore one of the slinky dresses, her hair was made up, her cheeks red with rouge and her lips glossy with lipstick.She felt like a whore…Koenig’s whore.If they didn’t move on quickly she was certain she’d vomit.The officer cleared his throat.“This is highly irregular…I’m not sure…”Otto leaned out the window.“Was ist Ihr Name? I will pass it along to the hauptsturmfuhrer.I’m certain he will be grateful for your discretion.”The young officer hesitated.He glanced around then leaned in and said, “Herzog…Leutnant Karl Herzog.” He stared at Anna for a moment then stood erect and saluted.“Tell the hauptsturmfuhrer I am pleased to be of service.” He waved to the gatekeeper to raise the barricade.Otto rolled up the window and accelerated away from the checkpoint.They drove for several kilometers before Otto pulled over to the side of the road and stopped.There were still German military vehicles heading in the opposite direction, but they were farther apart now.Otto stared straight ahead, breathing deeply, sweat dripping from his forehead.Anna closed her eyes and pressed her hands to her forehead.Her temples were throbbing.“A brilliant performance,” she whispered, “although I could hardly breathe.”“Fortunately he was young—and they were busy.”“Now what?”Otto produced a map and unfolded it.“Koenig had this.I took some time to study it last night.We should come to a crossroad in another kilometer or so that heads to the southwest.” He pointed it out to her.“It doesn’t look like much on the map, probably a dirt road, but it cuts through a wooded area and leads to a town called Eupen.You should be able to find help there.I’ll take you that far.Hopefully we won’t encounter troops from either side.”Anna touched the big man’s arm.“What will you do, Otto?”“I’ll return to Germany.”Anna expected that might be his answer.The prospect sickened her.“But you’ve been involved in the murders of three SS officers.You can’t just go back.”“Nein, I can’t go back as a Feldgendarme, or a soldier of any kind.I’d either be shot for desertion or tried for murder.”“Then what…?”“Once I get back across the border I’ll continue on into the interior of the country.Germany is doomed, Anna.Russia is attacking from the east and the Americans and British from the west.Der Führer will demand a fight to the finish, but it can’t last much longer.Germany will be in chaos.I’ll just find a way to blend into the population.It’s the best chance I have.”“Why not surrender to the Americans or the British, whomever we meet first? I’ll vouch for you, Otto.I’ll tell them how you’ve saved my life.”“I know you would, Anna.And I’m grateful, but it would never work.”“Yes, it could.Otto, please—”“Anna, listen,” he interrupted, shaking his head.“Sooner or later, the Allied armies will discover Auschwitz—and the other camps.The world will be outraged.” He gripped the steering wheel and took a deep breath.“Believe me, Anna, I was there; I saw what happened.We Germans keep very good records, especially the SS.The Allies will find out I was there.My only chance is to melt back into Germany and hope for the best.”Anna stared at him through her tears.The man had saved her life.He was still putting himself at risk on her behalf.Yet, his own prospects were bleak.She knew he was right, and there was nothing she could do about it.Otto put the map away and they continued on in silence.A kilometer farther on they came to the crossroads and, darting between two eastbound trucks, Otto turned down the narrow dirt road.The radio operator sitting in the backseat of the Jeep tapped Daley on the shoulder and handed him the headset.Daley took it and put his hand up to halt the patrol.It was one of the scouts.“A car is approaching from the east, sir.”“A car? Only one?” Daley questioned.“Yes, sir.It appears to be alone.It just passed our position.We heard it coming and got off the road in time.I’m sure they didn’t spot us.The driver is wearing a German uniform.It should be approaching you in just a few minutes.”“Understood.Two of you get on the road and head back this way to block them if they turn around.Leave the other two there to cover your backside.”“Roger, that.Out.”Daley waved for his lieutenant to come up alongside the Jeep.“A car is approaching.Get your men out of the half-track and into the ditch on each side of the road.”The soldiers scrambled out of the half-track and took up positions on either side of the narrow road.The machine gunner in the Jeep readied his weapon, and they waited.Two minutes later the car appeared.The driver slammed on the brakes [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]