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Dunleavy follows Luise and her group of Jews
- part two of our serial
By JON CLEARY
LUISE GRAZ, former operatic singer, is leading a group of Jews from a Displaced Person's camp in the American Occupation Zone in Germany, and making their way to Palestine. Luise had seen her mother dragged to the gas chambers by order of Nazi SS officer DR KARL BESSER. After the war the Jewish organisation Bricha is smuggling her and her group to Palestine. A similar German organisation Spinne is smuggling away wanted Nazi war criminals. They include Besser who, instructed by Spinne agents FISCHER and POHL, and renamed HALDER, has been practising medicine in Kalburg and is to be reunited with his wife ILSE and their two sons. BEN KEPPEL, a Bricha man, drives Luise's party away in a stolen American truck. But it collides with an American car carrying the camp director ROY DUNLEAVY, Keppel, shoots him and the driver. MAJOR MATTHEW DUNLEAVY, Roy's brother, is following them and is in love with Luise. The escapees have reached their first safe house, a farm school at Rennwald. FRAU KOGAN injured in the collision and the GRUNFELD sisters are ill: LAZAR, the farmer, tells Luise and Keppel he ls suspicious of four Polish workers who claim to have come to him from Bricha. Luise, is horrified by Keppel's callous murders. NOW READ ON.
THE NEXT MORNING, Luise woke depressed, disturbed by the sound of church bells down in the village. The other
three women in the room with her were
still asleep. She got up and went downstairs. Keppel. Lazar and another man were in the kitchen eating a breakfast of boiled oats, sausage and bread.
"Did the church bells wake you9" asked Lazar. "That's the only thing I have against the priest here. Every morning in the week he rings those bells. Oh, this is Zalman."
Luise noticed that Lazar did not give the third man a given name nor introduce him with the customary polite Herr. There was no intimacy between the two men,
none of the camaraderie one would have
expected in a community as small as this.
Zalman was of medium height, with pale cold eyes that weighed everything like a pair of scales.
Luise had seen his type before, the sort who has been exploiting their fellow victims as soon as the concentration camps had been opened and the walking skeletons had staggered out. She shivered
and drew her coat around her.
Zalman poured her a cup of coffee, handed it to her with a slightly mocking
graciousness. "That will warm you up. Fraulein. Though you shouldn't be shivering in a coat like that, camelhair.
"How would you know?" Keppel said. He seemed surer of himself this morning. "Herr Lazar said you were a farmer."
"I was, too. A successful one. I bought my wife a coat like that, once." He had the quick mind of the easy liar. "You'd have been a boy before the war. Keppel. You
wouldn't know how well some of us lived then. Even Poles."
Keppel looked ready to argue, but Lazar jerked his head warningly and stood
"Herr Keppel, we have to arrange for Frau Kogan to be taken down to the hospital."
Luise stood up hurriedly: she didn't
want to be left alone with Zalman. "I think
some of her things were left in the truck last night. Ell get them -"
"There was nothing in the truck," said Zalman. "I came down last night, took it up to the other house. Our own truck is out
in the barn now."
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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 119
Keppel spun round. "Who gave you permission to touch that truck?"
"It's an American Army truck. Who gave you permission to use it?" Zalman stood up, unhurriedly. "The truck is safer up at the other house. Keppel. We're too close to the village here. Right, Herr
Lazar nodded reluctantly. "It is safer up there. But you had no right to move it without telling Herr Keppel."
Zalman shrugged. "From what I gather, he won't be using it again. He and his friends will be gone tonight. What happens to us if we're caught with it?"
He is far too smooth. Luise thought: one jump ahead of the rest of us.
She went to prepare Frau Kogan for the trip down to the hospital in Innsbruck. The rest of the day she managed to remain busy within the house; it was a pleasure to be in a house again instead of a camp hut.
Now she enjoyed the simple diversion of wandering from room to room through Frau Lazar's big house, wrapping around herself once more the atmosphere of a place that, irrespective of what other uses it was put to, was a home.
Some of the other women followed her
example, touching furniture, fluffing out cushions, dusting ornaments, taking in through their fingertips the feeling of a memory that had almost faded. Frau Lazar, an understanding woman, left them to their enjoyment.
In the afternoon Luise sang to the children, the first time she had ever done so. It was Rebecca Klein who got her started. "Fraulein Graz, were you a singer? What did you sing? Why don't you sing any more? Fraulein -?"
It was easier to sing than to answer questions. Her voice was as true and beautiful as it had ever been; but not strong enough, she knew that, and she stayed with simple songs that were no real test. Then she saw several of the adults standing in the doorway of the big room where she had been entertaining the
"Beautiful," said Judith Winter. "You should sing more often."
Frau Kogan had been taken down to Innsbruck by Lazar, her husband accompanying her. Luise had arranged for the Grunfeld sisters to stay here in the house for another week, then they were to be taken down to Innsbruck, put on a bus for Garmisch, where Luise told them to give themselves up to Major Dunleavy, who would see that they were returned to Camp 93.
By then she and the rest of the party would be aboard the ship that was waiting for them and they would be headed for
Palestine. The Grunfeld sisters would be
subjected to questioning about the deaths of Roy Dunleavy and Martin, but that couldn't be helped. It would not be the first time they had been questioned.
Irma Grunfeld, the younger sister, spoke to Luise as she came into the bedroom. "Fraulein Graz - my spectacles. 1 dropped them in the truck last night when we were getting out -"
Luise tried to hide her annoyance: why hadn't the woman mentioned her loss earlier in the day? "I'll have to go up to the other house, Fraulein Grunfeld -"
She put on her coat, went downstairs and was asking directions from Frau Lazar
when Keppel came into the kitchen. "I know where the house is. Til take you."
The road led up through snow-covered fields. The second house was at the end of
a lane, surrounded by a cluster of sheds and a huge barn.
Suddenly Keppel stopped, one arm going up in front of Luise to hold her back. She stood stockstill, staring at what had stopped Keppel. The door of the big barn was open and Zalman and another man were loading cardboard cartons into the back of the army truck.
"Let's go back," she said softly.
But they were too late. Zalman turned, saw them, said something to the man up on
the back of the truck.
"We're loading stuff that has to be taken down to the village," said Zalman. "They buy from us and we buy from
"What do they buy from you that's in American Army EX cartons?" said Keppel. "It's black market stuff! Cigarettes or something!"
"Don't shout, son," said Zalman quietly. "It's really none of your business
Keppel shoved his hand into his greatcoat pocket. Luise knew what he was going to do, was not surprised when his hand came out with the gun in it.
"Ben, put it away!"
"Stay where you are, Zalman," Keppel said. He motioned with the gun at the other man at the back of the truck. "Come out and join him. Put your hands up."
The burly man, watching Keppel closely, moved forward and stood beside Zalman. He half-raised his hand, then saw that Zalman still had his by his sides. Zalman looked unperturbed, smiling thinly. But Luise knew Keppel would
shoot if one of them made a move.
"Ben, please -" she began entreating.
"You don't belong here." said Zalman. "You'll be gone tonight, so what's this got to do with you?"
"If you're caught, the French will close
this school -"
Zalman shook his head. "They wouldn't do that, Keppel. The French don't care - every Jew in Europe can go to Palestine as far as they're concerned - they turn a blind eye to it -"
The gun quivered slightly in Keppel's hand, his voice trembled with the fury he was suppressing. "We could never use this farm as a safe house again, once they had
to raid it -"
Zalman started to move forward, but stopped as Keppel brought the gun up. "Fraulein Graz, quick! Go back to the other house. Bring Lazar here!"
Luise ran off quickly, not to help Keppel, but to prevent more bloodshed. She was halfway down the lane toward the road when she heard two shots, then three more; even her inexperienced ear told her the last shots came from another, heavier gun.
Then she heard the truck's engine roaring, and saw the truck come skidding out and speeding down the lane. She caught a glimpse of Zalman at the wheel. The truck then swung out on to the road and was gone from sight.
Luise, her face spattered with mud. started running back up the lane. Then she saw Keppel, covered in mud, walking unsteadily down toward her.
"I'm all right." He was limping, but he was ignoring it, hurrying as fast as the damaged leg allowed him. "We'll have to get started now! If they're picked up by the French or the local police - !"
.'Were you hit?"
"Only by the truck. There's nothing
broken, but it's going to slow me up. I should have killed them at once! You can't talk to people like that -"
"Ben, you can't go on killing people just to set us to Palestine. Your job is to get us to that ship, but do it without using your gun again."
He stared at her a moment, then he turned his back on her and went hobbling
off down the lane.
Down on the main road from Innsbruck Police-Sergeant Pohl was coming up on his old motorbike to say farewell to the man he knew as Dr Haider. He was enjoying the thrill of being part of an underground
He came round a bend and saw the truck speeding down toward him. As it went rushing by, Pohl caught a glimpse of the sign on its door: U.S. Army something. Damned Americans, what were they doing here in the French Zone? The Brenner road carried a lot of military traffic, but most of it was French and English.
Then another glimpse registered: that of a face behind the wheel of the truck, lt had not been that of an American: it had been a familiar face, that of one of the Jews up at Rennwald.
He had avoided going up to Rennwald; it was not part of his beat and he wanted nothing to do with a village that harbored Jews. But one of his junior officers had pointed the man out to him down in Innsbruck, said he was from Rennwald but spent several nights a week in Innsbruck, always with certain characters who were on the books at police headquarters.
They were watching him because any man who kept the company he did would eventually be up to no good.
Pohl rode on up the road to the home of Herr and Frau Frick, where Dr Haider was quartered.
"You look worried." Besser greeted
"I wonder if Herr Frick would mind if I
used his telephone? I want to call headquarters."
Besser left Pohl by the phone in the hall, went into the room he had used as his surgery, and looked around at what he wanted to take with him. Nothing: this had been no more than a railway waiting room
where he had filled in time till the word
had come from Spinne. There was nothing in the room that would identify him.
He sat down at his desk, trying to restrain the impatience and excitement he had felt since Pohl had come and told him he was to be on his way again at last.
Use and the children were already in Italy; Fischer had taken them over" the border last night and they were now
waiting for him in Merano.
He loved Ilse with a devotion that had been a mild joke among his fellow officers a"d he knew that she loved him with the
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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 121 "Herr Doctor?" Pohl knocked, then
edged into the room. "Forgive me. I had to make that telephone call - a police matter. Someone we want to pick up for questioning. One of the Jews from Rennwald. And now it's goodbye."
"Goodbye, Pohl." Besser shook the policeman's hand. "Be patient. The French will be gone eventually and things will be just as good again as they used to be."
"Perhaps." But Pohl's doleful tone didn't suggest any optimism. "But we need you Germans to lead us -"
"We'll do that again," said Besser, but didn't expect it in his lifetime; better to head for South America, the land of the future. "The truck will be on time
It was, exactly on time. Besser, the collar of his overcoat turned up against the night cold, had been waiting no more than five minutes when the truck came up the
Brenner road from Innsbruck. His two
suitcases were put in the back of the truck, then he climbed up into the cabin beside the driver, who introduced himself as Metz.
"It may be sticky up at the border post. They still have their alert on," he told
"But they're not looking for me."
"No." Metz never asked why the men he drove were wanted by the Allies; he did the job for money and too much knowledge might bring some moral responsibility. "I gather you were told they are looking for some Jews who killed two
Americans over near Gartnisch?"
"Yes." He wasn't interested in the Jews, unless they threatened his own escape.
"Police headquarters down in Inns- bruck picked up two Polish Jews carrying black market cigarettes in an American Army truck. The truck seems to have been the same one that carried the Jews over from their camp near Garmisch."
"Where are they - the Jews, I mean?"
"Nobody knows. The Poles were from Rennwald - we just passed the road to it back there." He nodded backward. "The
police and the French are up there now
looking for the other Jews. If they've caught them by the time we get to the border we may be lucky."
"Where did you learn all this?"
"Your friend Sergeant Pohl. He came to warn me just as I was pulling out. It was too late to cancel the trip." Metz looked in his driving mirror, stiffened a little. "There's something coming up behind us very fast. If we're pulled up, don't say more than you have to. They told me your French isn't very good."
Besser felt himself suddenly beginning to sweat. He had never thought that he would not make it to South America: as he had blocked his mind against the moralitv
of what he had done in the SS. he had also
blocked out any thought that he might be captured.
All one needed was a certain amount of caution and the same amount of luck. And
already it looked as if the luck had run out.
Then the beam of the overtaking vehicle's headlamps swung out and a moment later a jeep went speeding past. In the beam of their own headlamps Metz saw the markings on the rear of the jeep, suddenly laughed with relief. "Just Americans! They have no authority in this zone - we're all right."
Besser too, relaxed. "Have you lost any of your - er clients so far?" he asked.
"Not yet. The -English are the main hurdle and they're more concerned with stopping Jews. You'd almost think the English had fought the whole war just to hang on to Palestine."
Then they were approaching the border post. Both of them sat up again, apprehensive of all the activity that suddenly confronted them. The casual midnight crossing that had been hoped for might have occurred on another occasion; but not tonight.
Trucks and cars were queued up at the barrier; soldiers and police moved up and down the line. Every driver and passenger was being made to alight and every vehicle was being searched.
"All this for a truckload of Jews?" said Besser. "Even if they did kill a couple ot
Metz shrugged. "The English and
Americans have no sense of values."
The first man Besser saw when he got down from the truck, on a French
corporal's orders, was Sergeant Pohl. He stood beside a tall American major who stared with stony-eyed disappointment at each vehicle as it was released and drove away. Pohl looked at Besser and his hand
started to lift in a salute.
Besser turned his head before the stupid policeman gave him away. He had caused
all this trouble, with his damned
punctilious sense of duty. If Pohl had left
the Poles to their black market, this border
post wouldn't be looking like a Nuremburg
"You are with UNRRA, Dr Vence?"
Besser gave his attention to the corporal, who was examining the passport and travel documents Besser had given
him. When Besser had been handed the
papers by Metz, he had noted the name by
which he was to be known but he hadn't spoken it aloud.
He coughed, made his voice hoarse, apologised for his bad cold. His French sounded passable in his own ears; behind the corporal he saw Metz nod approvingly. The corporal handed back the papers.
nodded that they could move on. Besser climbed back into the truck with Metz.
At the British post down the road they were stopped again by Italian police and some British soldiers. Then they were peremptorily waved on by a British
"How far to Merano?" Besser asked
"About forty kilometres. It's all smooth riding from here on."
"The worst is over." Besser sat back to enjoy the rest of the journey.
Back at the border post Dunleavy, trailed by Sergeant Pohl whom he had picked up in Innsbruck, walked across^to his jeep and got in beside Charlie Lincoln.
"Where are you going, Herr Major?"
"I don't know that it's any of your
business, Sergeant," said Dunleavy evenly. "But I'm going to Merano. Where that guy we questioned down at your headquarters said those Jews might be headed."
It had been a long hard day for Dunleavy. He hadn't got to bed till after midnight last night and he had been woken at seven this morning by the sergeant on duty at the Provost Marshal's office, with a report that the stolen U.S. truck that Dunleavy was seeking seemed to have passed through the border post into
"How did it get through?" Dunleavy demanded. "I mean, if it had our DPs on it?"
"Search me, Major."
By eight-thirty Dunleavy and the
Provost Marshal were closeted with the Garmisch area commander, an officer from the Judge Advocate's division, and two officers on detached duty with the
"I want to go after these DPs, sir," Dunleavy said to the area commander, "even if it means chasing them right to the bottom of Italy."
Formalities and protocol had to be considered and discussed, but half an hour later, Dunleavy had the required permission and was on his way south with
Dunleavy still couldn't sort out the angry confusion he felt about Luise Graz. The fact that she had stood him up on a date meant nothing. But he had sized her up as a woman with principles. And a woman with principles didn't run off after
she had seen two innocent men killed. Especially one who had been as sympathetic to the DPs as Roy had been.
He checked in at French headquarters
The French were politely correct but not really interested in two dead Americans and some fleeing Jews. He was free to travel in their zone, they told him, but if he found his quarry he should come back and ask them and the local police to do the arresting.
By one o'clock in the afternoon Dunleavy was at the Brenner border post.
He was still there at six o'clock when the
message came through from Innsbruck that the truck he was looking for had been picked up with two Jews in it. By seven o'clock he was in police headquarters with Captain Corbot, the French captain, and Pohl and another Austrian policeman, interrogating the two Jews.
He had been disappointed to find that neither of them was from Camp 93. but at least they had had contact with those other
Jews: the truck was the link.
"You'll make it easier for yourselves if you tell us where we can find Fraulein Graz and her friends, especially a guy named Keppel," he told them.
"Perhaps we should use Gestapo methods on them. No offence, gentlemen."
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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 123
Captain Corbot. punctiliously polite, looked a the two Austrian policemen who bowed their heads stiffly.
"We been through it with the Gestapo." Zalman spoke English with an American accent. "I was also in Chicago, eight, ten years ago. I been through it with your guys,
"So you know what to expect." Dunleavy knew he would only use force as a last resort: but he wasn't against using the threat of it. "We go to work on you. you still keep your mouth shut, then you get five to seven years -"
"Five to seven? For a little black market stuff? Don't make me laugh. Major. Well get a year at the most. They ain't keen on filling up jails here in Austria."
"You'll get more than a year in jail, Zalman. Accessory after the fact of a murder, aiding and abetting the escape of a
"Hey. wait a minute, we dunno anything about any murder! They didn't say anything about killing anybody. Who
"The Camp Director and my driver."
Zalman looked at his companion. Rawicz. said something to him in Polish, then looked back at Dunleavy. "That's different. I swear to you we didn't know anything about that. This guv Keppel, he took some shots at us and we just took off
"Keppel's the man we want." Dunleavy said. "Where can we find him? Are they up
in - where is it0 Rennwald?"
"Maybe they're still there. If they ain't, then you better start looking over the border. 1 didn't talk to any ot this lot. but Merano is usually the next stop."
"How do you know? You been to
"Sure. We been working both sides of the border - we take our stuff wherever we got buyers. But I dunno where the safe house is in Merano. Lazar, the guy up at Rennwald, he let slip, one day" we had
people in Merano. But we never went near
"You know how it is. you can't do business with our people, they ain't got any dough. The Jews are the real losers in this
Corbot looked at Dunleavy. "Do you want them any further. Major?"
"No. TU have someone come down from Garmisch to pick up the truck. I'm going up to Rennwald. if it's OK with you."
"I'll send four men with vou. just in
case there's some trouble."
But the search of Rennwald was fruitless. Lazar was quite adamant there had been no party of DPs staying at the
Yes, he knew Zalman and Rawicz, a couple of criminals he was sure, and liars to boot; he wouldn't believe their story of how they had come to be in possession of a stolen U.S. Army truck. The farm hostel was nothing more than a training centre for Jewish boys.
Ask the Bürgermeister or the village priest, both of them honest men. Which Dunleavy did and got the same reply. As far as the Bürgermeister and the priest knew, Rennwald was not a staging camp
Frustrated. Dunleavy at last gave up.
"OK," he said to the French sergeant in charge of the soldiers who had accompanied him. "they were here, all right. But they've gone and they won't be coming back. Thank Captain Corbot for his co-operation.
"I'm going up to Brenner, see if the DPs try their luck through there in another
But the DPs did not come through and at midnight Dunleavy set off to continue the trail south into Italy.
The silence and icy cold of mountains had been all about Luise and her wearying group for the last twenty-four hours. As Keppel had told her, after leaving Rennwald they would have to go by foot
over the mountains.
This was a bad enough ordeal for them all. And then tragedy struck.
It was as they made their way perilously down a steep incline, slippery with ice, that the handcart carrying all their possessions tore away and crashed over a sheer drop, carrying with it Michael Klein who tried vainly to hold it back.
They were fortunately close to their next safe house, a farm run by Luigi
Bonetti and his two sons. But their new
hosts proved to be surly and unco- operative, even in the face of their tragedy and grief.
Only grudgingly did Bonetti allow one of his sons to go back with Luise and some of the men to collect the smashed body of Michael Klein and their scattered belongings, then permit the body to be buried in an unmarked corner of the farm.
It was a saddened party that set off next day after a cold uncomfortable night in a draughty barn, with even Anna Bork trying to comfort the distraught, heartbroken Frau Klein and her two little daughters.
They were all silent and exhausted when at dusk they came down the final mountain slope toward the main road where. Keppel had told Luise, a truck would be waiting to take them on to Merano. their next stop.
Luise was at the head of the group as they came round the last bend and almost walked into the truck parked in the shadows. Two men appeared from the darkness on the other side of the truck, one of them flashing a torch on the ground in
front of him.
"Keppel?" he said.
Ben Keppel stepped forward and the
man who held the torch turned it onto himself. He wore the uniform of a British army sergeant. Luise caught her breath and heard the gasps behind her.
Keppel said, "You are Elkin and
Strauss? This is Fraulein Graz."
Sergeant Elkin switched off the torch, said in English, "Welcome to Italy, Fraulein Graz. And your friends."
Luise could feel the panic simmering inside her, felt the empty sickness welling up. All this way. and Michael Klein dead, to be betrayed by Ben Keppel. "How much do they pay you, Judas?"
It was a moment before Keppel realised she was speaking to him. "Judas? What are .you talking about?"
"Why bring us all this way to sell us to the English?" Her voice was hoarse. The panic behind her had given way to growing anger. Simon Berger moved up alongside her, was ready to leap at either Keppel or
the two British soldiers, or all three of
Sergeant Elkin must have sensed the threat: the torch flashed on again. "Now settle down, all of you. Get into the truck - we don't have any time to lose, there are patrols all up and down this road." He still spoke in the abrupt tones of an NCO giving orders to a bunch of slow-witted
The group, still puzzled and frightened, clambered up into the truck. Elkin counted them as they got aboard.
"Is this all? Where's the rest of 'em?"
Keppel explained what had happened to the rest of the section and Elkin swore, "lt hardly seems worth while."
The tarpaulin was pulled down and they sat in darkness as the truck pulled out
on to the main road.
"We're waiting for an explanation."
Luise said into the blackness.
Keppel said nothing for a moment and there was a growl from one of the men. Then, his voice pained and shocked: "How could you believe I'd do such a thing - betray you to the English? These men are
on our side. We couldn't use this route without them. They belong to Bricha. "
"How do they get English uniforms? said Simon Berger. "And this is an English
"Didn't you see the Star of David on their sleeves? They are English soldiers - they belong to the Jewish Brigade, from Palestine. They were here in the war. and
in France, too."
"You mean they fought for the English?"
"Why not? They were fighting the Nazis
- I'd have done the same if I'd been in Palestine when war broke out. Elkin and Strauss were born in Palestine - what else
could they have joined but the British Army?
"They've just changed sides now, but it's in our interests for them to stay with the English. We have scores of them working
for us." He was silent for a moment, then he said. "I've told you too much."
"It might have been easier if you had
told us more at the start," said Luise.
The journey to Merano did not take as long as they had expected. Soon the truck was turning up a side road and climbing a
hill. Then it halted. The horn was tooted,
they heard a gate being opened, the truck drove in and the gate was slammed shut
A moment later the tarpaulin was flung up and Private Strauss, short, thin and happy, stood below them in the light that
came from a nearby window.
"All out!" he called cheerily.
The group clambered down from the
truck. Luise turned as a hand touched her
"This way. signorina." said a woman's
They were surrounded by nuns, ten or
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The safe house
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 125 twelve of them. Luise looked up, saw the tower against the night sky and the tall cross on the gable of the building that formed one side of the high-walled yard in which they stood. She looked back at the
nun, an older woman.
"A convent, Sister? You are hiding
"We hid them during the war." She was leading Luise and the women and children toward the house: other nuns clucked and fluttered along behind like domestic penguins. "Charity shouldn't have any armistice, do you think?"
She led them into a large kitchen where other nuns had set places at a long wooden table. "I am Sister Teresa, the Mother Superior. We are Sisters of Charity - or at least we try to be." She smiled, looking surprisingly young. "It isn't always easy."
The reunion with ilse and the boys had been everything Besser had hoped for. Early on the Sunday morning Metz had brought the French Army truck down through the mountains into Merano.
Their parting was brief. Besser picked up his suitcases and headed in the direction Metz had pointed out, walking warily through the silent dark streets, till he reached the address he had been given.
It was a three-storeyed house on the
corner of a street of similar houses. The
sign on the ornamental gate said: Pensione
He pushed open the gate and at once a light appeared behind the tiny barred
window in the front door, then the door opened and a man's head was silhouetted against the lighted hallway behind him.
"I am Dr Vence." Besser said softly in
"Come in, Herr Doctor." The man's German was good, but he was an Italian. "Madame Vence and your boys are waiting for you. Welcome."
Besser, not normally emotional in public, wept when he saw Ilse and Hans and Paul waiting at the foot of the stairs that led up from the hall. He gathered them into his arms, held them as the promise of life itself.
The proprietor of the pensione. Signor Fiesco, with an Italian sense of the occasion, had given Besser and Ilse a back room, well away from the boys, where they could enjoy their reunion without interruption.
They went straight to bed. Alternating between passionate love-making and aimless, comfortable talk, it was dawn before they fell asleep.
They were wakened by the thumping on the bedroom door and Besser got up and let the boys in. They flung themselves
at him and he tumbled back on the bed with them. "Easy, easy! You're going to
bruise me! What time is it?"
"Ten o'clock." Hans, nine years old and well on the way to self-importance, looked at his wristwatch. "Herr Fiesco said we were to let you sleep. But there is a man downstairs to see you. Father."
Besser knew who the man would be. "Tell him I shall be down in ten minutes -
I'll have a quick bath. Where did you get such a good watch?"
"Captain Gerstein gave it to me. He
said he had taken it from an American soldier in France." Hans looked at his mother, then back at his father. "Mother said I wasn't to wear it any more, but I wanted to show it to you."
"Why didn't you want him to wear it?"
Besser looked at Ilse.
"It was taken from a dead man." She seemed to shudder as she sat up in bed.
"Who was Captain Gerstein?"
"Oh, a nice man," said Hans, and Paul, the seven-year-old, nodded enthusiastic- ally. "He used to tell us stories of the fighting -"
"All right, go down and tell the man downstairs I'll be there soon." Besser didn't look at the boys as they went running out of the room, but he continued to gaze steadily at Ilse.
He could never remember her, a direct uncomplicated woman, being ill at ease before. And felt the unease welling up in himself, the sick gas of betrayal. "Who was
"He came to the house only a few times - " She got out of bed, turning her back on him, making a business of looking
for her slippers. "He was in the same regiment as your friend Gerhard Naumann. They came home on leave together -"
"Where is he now?" "Who?"
"Gerstein." He was almost choking; he could feel a trembling in his hands. "Look
She found her slippers, put them on. stood up and faced him. She suddenly
looked old and undesirable.
"Why don't you say it. Karl? Did I go to bed with him? Yes! Once - once in five years, the only time I wanted another man! No, not another man - any man! I wanted you, but you weren't available - you had your diversions in Berlin, we women heard
all about them -"
"That's a lie!" His arm quivered, he had to hold himself back from striking her. "1 never touched another woman. How could you? How many times have you seen him while I've been - while I've had my
diversions in Austria?"
"He was killed the last week of the war
- the same day as Gerhard. I never heard from him after that one night - I told him I never wanted to see him again and he understood. Tilly Naumann told me he
had been killed - I went round to her wnen I heard of Gerhard's death."
Abruptly she sat down on the bed. began to weep.
He didn't bother going to the bathroom.
He washed his hands and face in the basin
in the room, dressed hurriedly. Then, still sick with the thought of what she had done to him, he went downstairs to see the Spinne man.
He was surprised to find he was an Italian: somehow he had expected a German. Signor Lucca was a fat bald man with cold pale eyes and a cold air of efficiency. He wore a dark expensive suit and looked untouched by the war and its subsequent shortages.
"I have new papers for you, your wife and your family, Doctor." His voice was gruff and coarse. "The heat has got a little more intense in the past couple of days and the organisation thinks you might cause too much suspicion if you are stopped and pretend to be Dr Vence - I'm told your French is not good."
"How did you learn that?"
"The organisation knows all about you, Doctor. Your new name is Karl Ludwig and you are an Austrian national, born at -" He looked at the papers in his hand. "Ah yes, at Linz. Do you know it?"
"No." Besser shook his head.
"No matter. If ever the matter arises you can say you left there when you were a child. We have changed your wife's
maiden name to Fischer and she was born in Vienna. The children were born in Innsbruck. If you want to practise medicine where you are going, there are new medical papers made out for you.
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"They are from your old university but in your new name. And there's your army discharge, dated last September in Innsbruck where your wife lived all the time you were away on the Russian front."
He held out the papers.
"You are most efficient. Herr Lucca."
There must have been an inflection of
surprise in Besser's voice, for Lucca's thick lips twisted in a caricature of a grin. "Some Italians are efficient. Some of us in the north, that is."
He took out a large bulging wallet from the briefcase he had set down on the table.
They were in a small parlor, with the door closed, and Besser had the feeling that this house, under Lucca, was run as efficiently and smoothly as any SS office he had ever
"Fifty thousand lire for your immediate needs, plus two thousand dollars for your use when you arrive in Argentina - dollars are more negotiable there. I understand that once you arrive, there will be someone else to look after you.
"This money, you know, is a loan from the organisation, re-payable direct to its agent in Buenos Aires on terms you will discuss with him when you see him. Sign this receipt, please."
Besser went to sign, then he saw the amount on the piece of paper. "This is not
for the full amount."
"You pay me ten per cent."
"Doesn't the organisation pay you?"
"Yes. But you do, too. Doctor. Those are my terms - the organisation understands that no one can operate in this area without my permission. The war is over, doctor. We are no longer comrades in
Besser signed the receipt in his new name. "What business are you in, Herr
Lucca, besides this one?"
"I have a factory that makes religious statues. Business is very good at present, with so many ruined churches to be built." He did up the straps of his brief-case.
"A word of advice. Doctor. Don't ask
such questions of other people - in case they start asking you the same. The SS were not popular in Italy. "New as to your
next step -
"There is a train leaving tomorrow morning. Your tickets are with your papers - you go to La Spezia, changing at Milan and Genoa. You will be met at La Spezia - the schedule is also with the papers. They will let you know when you are to board your ship for Argentina."
"Travelling by train? Is that safe?"
"Dr Ludwig, you have to come out into the open some time. You are just an Austrian doctor and his family who are emigrating to South America - a lot of
people are doing it these days, including Italians. You will be safe, so long as you don't wear your guilt on your sleeve."
"I have no guilt," said Besser stiffly. "Good day. Herr Lucca."
He let Lucca find his own way out of the house, certain that it was he and not Fiesco who owned the place. He went upstairs to the bedroom; Ilse, smelling of talc and the freshness of a hot bath, was dressing. He threw the papers on the bed.
"We leave tomorrow morning," he said. "If you still want to come -"
"I am sorry you found out about Gerstein." Her calmness added to his anger. He had made the mistake of thinking that in the five years he had been away from her she had not changed. She
was five years older, if nothing else, and that had made a difference in anyone.
"If you hadn't known about him, nothing between us would have been changed," she went on. "I love you. I am coming with you. If you don't want me to, it'll be for you to say so."
Awkwardly, somehow now at a disadvantage, he said, "There are the children - we have to stick together for their sake. Make a pretence -"
"I shan't be pretending." She began to
do her hair, leaning forward to look into the dressing-table mirror by the window.
A taper of sunlight touched flame to her hair; he shut his eyes for a moment against the temptation of it. He loved her, always would, but she had planted a worm that
could never be eradicated.
She turned, hair done, looking as attractive and desirable as he had ever remembered her. "Have your bath, then we'll take the boys for a walk."
Later, as the four of them walked down through the town, through the promena-
ding Sunday crowd, he saw that Hans was '' no longer wearing his watch. He was about to query what the boy had done with it, then changed his mind. Any further argument with Ilse, he knew, would be
He looked at her above the heads of the boys between them and she smiled at him as if nothing had happened to their happiness.
Whatever became of the simple uncomplicated girl I married? he thought And was angry at the perverse attraction
she had for him as a woman who was
proving more interesting, more puzzling
than the old Ilse had ever been. Had Gerstein done that to her?
They sat in the gardens, admired the flowers, watched the parading crowd.
"I like the Italians," said Ilse. "They
have a nice honest vanity." <
"Did you fight with the Italians in the war, Father?" asked Hans.
"No. Doctors don't fight."
Hans and Paul looked disappointed. "But you were a major, Father. You should have been Fighting!"
"If all soldiers carried a gun. who would
look after the wounded?" ¡I
"Women," said Hans, nine years old I and already decided on the status of the sexes. "What did you do in the war.
The recurring question of postwar 3 generations, Besser thought: he had asked îj his own father the same question after the ¡fl Great War. "Run along. Go over there and ^
see the river."
The boys, disappointed in a father who
had done little or nothing in the war, lett ]\¿ them. Ilse moved close to Besser. ^
"What didyou do. Karl?" ^ "That's behind us." he said shortly.
"Is it? When Herr Topp came. I asked
him why you were wanted by the t
Americans. He seemed embarrassed and -OD wouldn't tell me." She turned her head,
looked directly at him. "Are you what they ^
are calling a war criminal, Karl?"
"I told you - it's behind us."
"Perhaps it isn't behind us," Ilse said. M "Herr Topp seemed to think the hunt for war criminals might go on for years."
"Stop talking about war criminals! It's a
"It's not my term, Karl. I don't care what you did. But -"
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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 128
"But what?1' he asked sharply.
"I know you were at Auschwitz and then in Berlin - I still have the letters you wrote, though you never said what you were doing."
"You have the letters - with youT
"Every letter you wrote - they are in
one of the suitcases.
"You'll have to burn them. Just in case -"
"There's nothing in them, nothing incriminating - I was reading them again last night while I was waiting for you to arrive." She licked her lips tentatively. "Karl, were you involved in the killing of
the Jews at Auschwitz?"
He hesitated, then nodded. He had never been able to lie to her. "An order is an order. We were told some of them had
to be got rid of. But I was disgusted by
"Disgusted? Only disgusted?"
"Horrified, then. I applied for a transfer -" Now he was lying. He had applied fora transfer long before September 1941 when the firs-t experiments in gas chambers had
started. But it would sound better if he
made the gas chambers his excuse for going. "I left Auschwitz a month after the exterminations began -"
"Exterminations? What a horrible word!"
"It's not my term - it's like the one that you've borrowed, war criminals. You sound like a prosecutor," he said accusingly.
She turned her head away from him: horrified by him or just to look at the boys, he wasn't sure which. "What did you do in
Should he tell her? He decided to make it a half-truth, tried to sound like a merciful doctor: "I was with T4 - it was
the code name for our operation, we were at Tiergartenstrasse 4 in Berlin. We dealt in euthanasia - mercy deaths, if you like, lt was purely medical research, to help people who were suffering, who were more
dead than alive."
It was not the truth and suddenly he hoped she would never find out. He knew the programme had been correct, the destruct ion-of-lives-not-worthy-of-living.
He remembered the briefing he and the other officers had been given by the Director, Professor Heyde, who had been a professor of psychiatry at Wurzburg University: the 'useless eaters', the incurably sick, the mentally retarded, the very old. those who ate precious food but contributed nothing in the way of production, had to die in the interests of
At first there had been no Jews on the lists sent from the hospitals and asylums; the operation had only been extended to
th, concentration camps after the supply fren the hospitals and asylums had run
Besser had not been one of those doctors wb had indulged in only paperwork euianasía. just marking an X on the pernal files of'useless eaters' that arrived fren all over Germany, Austria and the oe jpied countries.
-le had worked as a doctor should,
tryng to see as many of the patients (he aluys thought of them as patients) peionally as possible, experimenting instantly with the quickest and cheapest
. of inducing death.
de had only become disenchanted wl:n the work had been extended to the Je s in the concentration camps, when the idling was no longer a work of mercy but a neessity to rid the Reich of the Jews.
ilse looked back at him, frowning. As thi war had gone on. she had seen Jews beig carted off. and rumors of the jocentration camps had begun to filter
She had seen the pictures the British
an Americans had released of the
skleton dead and skeleton living in the cai ps and had been physically sick: at wht she had seen, at the guilt she had felt ast German, at the thought, that she had trid so hard to deny, that Karl had
soiehow been involved in such murderous
i want to believe you -"
'Please do. You must." His hand re;hed for hers, took it; it was a moment beore he realised what he had done, but heiid not withdraw it.
'I believe you," she said and made it so nd sincere enough to convince herself
¿swell as him. "Here comes Hans and Pul."
That night there was no love-making. In th morning Ilse burned his letters in the grte in their bedroom. She had already reirned to their old relationship, as if Grstein had never occurred; but he cc ldn't accept that, at least not yet.
"We must hurry - the train could be wly," he said.
"Mussolini boasted that Italian trains al ays ran on time."
"Mussolini is dead."
When they were ready to leave he loked at the three suitcases she had
hi'Ught. "The Vuitton - why did you hing that?"
"It's such a good one. Vanity, if you like -not everyone can afford luggage like tnt. I was going to take the initials off it, h'l it would have spoiled it. R.G. - if ai.one asks, I'll say it was my mother's. *V my name used to be Gersbach or seething. Where did you get it? From
He winced. "I got it from another oiicer." He searched for a name: he was nw lying to her all the time. "Rudy hinter. He owed me some money, but
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couldn't pay me. He gave me that instead."
'i'm glad he did. It's beautiful, and so
well cared for."
He looked at the bag, wished she had left it behind. It was the only memoir he had of Auschwitz and. after yesterday's talk, he wanted no reminders. But it was too late now to throw it away, go and buy another. He picked it up and two of the others, shoving the smallest up under his
Ilse took the other two cases, the ones
he had brought with him, they said goodbye to Signor Fiesco, and left for the
The train was almost half an hour late
in starting: Mussolini was indeed dead. The delay made Besser edgy, as if it were some sort of omen that now things might begin to go wrong.
Spinne had provided him and his family with first-class seats. He put the luggage up on the racks of the compartment, left Ilse and the boys in their seats and walked along the corridor to the carriage door. He stepped down on to the platform and stood there smoking a cigarette, growing more impatient every minute as the train showed no signs of departing.
He became aware of a young woman standing some distance away who seemed to be observing him; but each time he looked in her direction she turned her head
away. She was an attractive girl, wearing a coat that looked as if it might once have been expensive.
There was an air of distinction to her
and he wondered if she was the daughter
of one of the better families of the town. Her face was unfamiliar, but she did seem to be paying him more than usual attention. His unease increasing, he wondered who she might be.
Then the train whistle blew, and the train slowly began to move. As Besser stepped aboard, the girl stepped forward and looked directly at him.
"Dr Besser?" she said.
Luise had slept so soundly that when she woke that morning she had difficulty at
first in recognising where she was. Then she saw the crucifix above the plain wooden door. As she looked at the door it
opened and Mother Teresa came in.
"I hope you had a good night's sleep.
I'm afraid most of the others were rather crowded - we had to bed them down in our dining-hall."
"You shouldn't have favored me. Sister."
"I don't think they minded."
When Luise went along to the dining-hall for breakfast, she heard a child coughing almost uncontrollably. Judith Winter was leaning over one of her twin daughters.
"She's got bronchitis - she's always had
Judith Winter and her husband Joachim had survived Treblinka because
they had been wig-makers, had been able to work in the factory where the hair shorn
from the inmates was utilised in a score of
ways as cloth for blankets, coat linings, dresses and, plaited, as whips for some of the more individual guards at the camp.
The children had survived because they
were identical twins and SS doctors at
Auschwitz had been looking for twins on whom they could conduct experiments.
"We must get some medicine for her."
Joachim Winter said. "The nuns have
Luise went looking for Mother Teresa, explained the situation. "Would I be conspicuous if I went down into the town
to a chemist's?"
"Only the rich are conspicuous these days," said Mother Teresa.
Luise ate her breakfast quickly, soup, bread and bitter coffee; then she put on her coat and went out into the yard. The army truck had gone and Ben Keppel limped across the yard to her.
"The nun told me where you are going. I'll go with you. I want to get some liniment or something for my leg. And I have to look up our contact man here. Sergeant Elkin couldn't risk staying around, he said. The English are still putting the heat on."
They walked down the long narrow road to 'the town. Merano was busy; this was a working day and it did not have time to stop and gaze curiously at the strangers in its midst. They found a chemist, bought cough mixture and liniment, then Keppel
said he must go and find their contact man.
"Do you know who he is?"
"He's a local business man, his name is
"I'll wait for you. Where shall I meet you?"
"Make it the station - it's just up there, lil see you there in half an hour. Fraulein Graz -" He spoke awkwardly. "Thank you for what you have done since we left Kalburg."
Luise put her hand on his arm, felt like a mother toward this brave, bitter boy who could so easily make her angry. "Ben, I'm glad I've done something for the cause of women. We're not a bad sex, really."
He went off up the street, limping again, and she watched him sadly. He would never relax, not even when he got to Palestine; the spring of him had been wound too tightly.
She went into a shop, bought some chocolate and candy for the children. She bought some chocolate for herself too and, eating it like a schoolgirl, walked up the street toward the railway station.
A tall man. a good-looking red-headed woman and two small blond boys had just
arrived outside it.
The man put down the three suitcases he carried, then felt in his pockets for their
Luise crossed the road leisurely. She looked again at the family, idly thinking what a handsome group they were, wondering how they managed to be so healthy and well fed; then she saw one of the boys, the taller, trying to pick up the biggest suitcase.
And suddenly the past rushed back at
her. She leaned back as if she had been hit.
The boy wobbled under the weight of the suitcase, put it down again with a bump. Luise stared at the initials on it. Then she looked at the man as he put the tickets back in his pocket and picked up the cases again.
He was not as easy to place as the Vuitton bag. She had seen him only twice,
if he was the man: in those few moments when he had condemned her mother to death, in that minute or two when he had stood waiting for his train to leave
She stared at him, trying to picture him in uniform, to surround him with other SS
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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 132
men instead of this happy healthy family. But it was difficult: she was sick with
The family went on into the station and she looked wildly around for Ben Keppel. He would remember. But there was no sight of him.
On legs that were all at once weak she went into the station, pushing her way through the crowd that had come either to
travel or to farewell the travellers. No one had come to farewell the tall man and his family: did that mean they were strangers
like herself in Merano?
She saw them getting into a first-class carriage. Then she moved on down the platform, paused as she saw the man come out of the carriage again, light a cigarette and stand looking about him.
Luise stood by a signboard, trying to be inconspicuous. The tall man kept glancing about him and it abruptly struck her that he was nervous; almost, it seemed, afraid. He kept looking at his watch, then at the
station clock. She looked at the clock
herself, wondering how soon Ben Keppel
would arrive. She needed him; she had no idea what she would do about the tall man.
Two carabinieri were standing by the inner gate; but what could she say if she
went to them? "There is a man over there who was once an SS doctor at Auschwitz
and sentenced my mother to death. Would you arrest him. please?"
She knew of the war crimes trial that
was going on at Nuremburg. but was the tall man a big enough fish to interest the prosecutors there?
Then the train's whistle blew. The tall
man swung aboard the train, slamming the carriage door behind him. And all at once Luise was tingling with excitement, as the tall man's name came to her. clear and
She stepped forward as the train began to pull out. "Dr Besser?"
The man swung back toward her. The train went down out of the platform, Besser's face turned back toward her like a
blank disc from which her question had wiped all markings.
She watched till the train went round a
bend; then she turned and walked slowly back toward the station gate, and out to the
street where Keppel was limping up and
"Where have you been? We don't have time for sight-seeing! I couldn't find Lucca
"Ben," she said quietly, "do you
remember a doctor at Auschwitz named Besser? A tall good-looking man. He was one of those who sorted us out when we first arrived at the camp -"
"I remember him. Why?"
'i've just seen him and his family - they went out on the train."
Keppel said nothing, then he began to walk down the street. She fell into step
"He nominated my brother for the gas chamber." Keppel's voice sounded mechanical. "Kurt was only fifteen, he wasn't very strong and he had poor eyes.
Besser decided he was useless -"
"He condemned my mother, too."
"I was outside the station when the train
went out. You should have come and got
me - I'd have killed him." He touched the
pocket of his threadbare overcoat where she saw the bulge of his gun.
Yes, he should be killed. Then she was horrified at what her mind, with the irresponsibility of pure hatred, had said. Reason came back: "And got both of us arrested? Don't be so stupid!"
"If I came face to face with him - do
your think I could stop myself from killing him? Heil go free," he said bitterly. "The English are more concerned with us. And the Italians couldn't care less - they're
already forgotten they had anything to do
with the Germans."
They crossed the street, began to walk back out of town. "What about Lucca?" Luise asked.
"He was out on business, they said. They told me -" Then he looked beyond her, spun round and limped away, shouting over his shoulder, "Tell him nothing!"
She stared after him. utterly bewildered; then a jeep swung into the kerb beside her. Dunleavy grabbed her arm. shouted. "Get him, Charlie!" and she saw the young soldier running up the street after Keppel, who had already turned a corner and disappeared. Trembling, she looked up into Dunleavy's face.
"You can let go of my arm. Major. I am not going to run away."
"You feel as if you might fall down if I let you go." But he freed her arm. "I didn't think it was going to be so easy, catching up with you, I mean."
Luise said nothing, aware of the passers-by stopping to look at her and Dunleavy. So far she had seen no British army personnel, but now she saw a small truck, a desert buggy, though she didn't know it by that name, come down the street and stop in front of a large building. The two soldiers in it got out and disappeared into the building. Dunleavy
"Afraid lil hand you over to them?"
She still said nothing. Then the young soldier came back, panting a little.
"Sorry, Major." Charlie Lincoln took out a handkerchief and wiped his face. "He just disappeared. Ain't no sign of him."
Dunleavy nodded dourly. He stared across at the British desert buggy; then he
looked at Luise. "You want to make a tteal?"
"What sort of deal?" she said in surprise.
"Get in." He half-pushed her into the back seat of the jeep and they drove off up
the street as the two British soldiers came out and got back into their vehicle.
Charlie Lincoln, on a word from Dunleavy, swung the jeep into a side street and headed up a hill out of town. They drove in silence till they had turned into a lane that ran between two vineyards. Then Dunleavy told Charlie to pull up.
"Go for a walk, Charlie."
"Sure. Major." Charlie went ambling off up the lane. Luise watched him go, concentrating on him till she was sure of what she was going to say to Dunleavy. But when the words came out they were utterly
"I'm sorry about your brother. And also Corporal Martin."
'i'd like to think you mean that."
"What makes you think I don't?" She knew as well as anyone the sense of loss
one could feel.
"Forget it." Now that he was beside her. aware of her once again as he had never been of any other woman, he knew she could not have been directly responsible for the deaths of Roy and Corporal Martin. But he also knew, just as surely, that she was not going to hand over Keppel to him.
"The deal I mentioned ... If I let you and the rest of the group go, will you tell me where I can pick up Keppel?"
"I don't know where he is."
Normally Dunleavy never swore in front of women; but now he did. "You were all with Keppel when he killed my
brother and Joe Martin." he went on.
"You have no proof it was Herr Keppel."
"We picked up a couple of guys in Innsbruck. They said Keppel had a gun, had taken shots at them. If any of the others has a gun, tell me who it is. Tell me where I can pick him up, or Keppel, and
the rest of you can go on your way and lil say nothing about you to the British."
"I am not telling you where anyone is, Major. You can hand me over to the
English, if that will give you any
He stared at her in silence, his eyes narrowed. This man was nothing like the smiling Major Dunleavy who had invited her to the dance in Garmisch. At last he
said, "You know damn well I won't do
"Why not?" But she knew the answer and felt a curious thrill: one that she was ashamed of, as if it too were a betrayal, of herself. Emotion heightened, she turned her face away from him.
Dunleavy, for his part, wasn't going tc answer the direct question she had put tc him. Looking at her, even while still angr) with her, he realised that he was in love with her; or anyway as much in love a; could be expected from their limitée
"Why did you run - I mean, after yoi saw my brother and Martin killed? thought you had some decency in you -"
"Major Dunleavy. I am truly sorry -' "You said that." They would be buryin Roy today, he guessed. Perhaps he shouh have stayed at Garmisch to make the fina formal farewell, but that would have beei an empty gesture. Better to take off afte R°y's murderer and brine him back.
"I understand how you feel. But you must understand me - I have a duty too. The only thing we have that binds us, besides our being Jews, is trust."
He put two fingers in his mouth, let out an ear-splitting whistle that made her jump. Charlie Lincoln came trotting down
"Drive us back to town. Charlie, while I
They drove back to town, pulled up
outside the church.
"Tm sure it was Keppel who killed my brother and Joe Martin." Dunleavy helped
Luise out of the jeep. "When you see him, tell him I'm going to take him back to Germany with me. That's a promise."
"Are you going to follow me now?"
"That's a chance you'll have to take."
But when she walked off the jeep did not follow her. She walked around town.
At last she took the risk and headed up the road that led to the convent. At the gate she paused and looked back. There was still no sign that she was being followed.
She rang the bell and a moment later a young nun opened the small gate set in the
larger gate. She stepped through and almost bumped into the fat well-dressed man standing behind a truck from which two workmen were unloading a large statue of the Virgin Mary. Ben Keppel was standing at the corner of the truck.
The young nun went away and Keppel came forward. "Did you get rid of Major Dunleavy?"
"For the time being."
Keppel frowned, looking worried, then he introduced her to the fat man. "This is Signor Lucca."
Luise looked at the truck at the half a dozen Virgins wrapped in sacking and lying on the floor of the truck. "Is this the truck we'll be going in tonight?"
"Not this one, signorina. It will be another army truck. I am just the contact."
"Are there no Bricha men in Merano?"
"There were, but they were both arrested by the English two days ago."
"Did you know that?" Luise looked at Keppel, who nodded. She looked back at Lucca. "If there were Bricha men here, why were you needed?"
"Your friends in the British Army only provide transport. I provide all accommodation - where you stayed last night at the Bonettis' here, where you will stay tomorrow night. There always has to be a middleman, signorina. Jews should
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She kept her own face under control, but she saw Keppel's stiffen. "We don't stay anywhere tonight?"
"No. It will be a long journey, over five hundred kilometers, but it cannot be helped. Something is going on down in La Spezia, where you are going, and the English are on the alert."
"Wouldn't it be better if we waited?" Luise said to Keppel.
"We can't. The ship is waiting. I don't know what else is going on - perhaps the
Bricha men could have told us that. But
unless we're told tonight to postpone our trip, we have to go on."
"I'm afraid so," said Lucca. "I have contracted to put you up for only one night here. There is another group due through early tomorrow morning, a much larger group than yours. The nuns couldn't accommodate all of you and there's nowhere else in town for you."
Mother Teresa came out of the house and crossed to the truck.
"I've looked at the statue of the Virgin Signor Lucca. It is not very good work."
Lucca shrugged. "Nothing is these days You can't expect miracles."
"I don't." Mother Teresa's smile. Luis<
decided, was just the right mixture of sweetness and ice, "I just expect value for money. I want you to take back both
"You gave me a definite order for them, Mother Teresa! You can't refuse them now. They are good statues, maybe not as good as pre-war but still good. You are not worshipping quality, you are worshipping the spirit -"
"I am paying for quality," said Mother Teresa. They moved away, taking their argument with them, and Keppel looked at Luise. "What about Major Dunleavy?"
She told him, flatly and briefly, about Dunleavy's threat.
"What are you going to do?"
"We'll have to hold a meeting."
They held the meeting in the convent dining-hall.
The group looked pitifully small. Twenty of them had started out from Camp 93 only three nights ago (was that all it was?) and now there were only thirteen of them left, including the children outside.
"If what Fraulein Graz said is true, that the American is not interested in the rest of us if he can have Ben, then we have to look out for ourselves," said Anna Bork.
"Are you suggesting we should turn Herr Keppel over to the American?" asked
"No. I'm suggesting he should make his own way to wherever the ship is. We have
come too far, gone through too much, to risk being sent back -"
The argument went back and forth with Luise saying little and Ben Keppel saying nothing.
"I suggest we vote," said Luise when she realised the argument might go on endlessly. "Those for Ben leaving us and making his own way?"
Anna Bork put her hand up without hesitation. Noah Malchek looked around, then raised his hand. Hilde Klein said, "I am sorry, Herr Keppel," and raised her
hand. Judith Winter looked at her
husband, then put up her hand, saying. "It
is for the children."
"Those for Ben staying with us -" said Luise and raised her hand, to be followed at once by David Weill, Simon Berger and
"I am thinking of the children." said
Joachim Winter in answer to his wife's
half-puzzled, half-accusing look. "But if we do not stick together now, how can we work together in the future? His won't be the only mistake any of us will make."
Too true, thought Luise. "Four to four. You have the deciding vote, Ben."
Keppel did not look at those who had
To page 139
ALL characters in serials and short stories which appear I»
The Australian Women's Week l\ are fictitious and have W reference to any living person.
The safe house
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 136
voted against him. He looked straight down the table at Luise and tor the first time she saw a look of gratitude on his face, an admission that she might be the only one he could trust.
"I'll make my own way." He stood up. 'Til see you on the ship."
"Ben, at least wait for tonight, for darkness. And what about your leg?"
"I can travel faster and more easily alone." There was no mistaking the bitterness, the contempt in his voice. "They are your problem now, Fraulein."
Despite his limp he was gone from the room before anyone could stop him. Luise turned to the group still seated around the
"There is something else I have to tell you." Luise was aware of the uneasiness
around the table. "This morning, down at the railway station, I saw one of the doctors
from Auschwitz. Dr Besser."
She had expected more reaction from those who had been in Auschwitz; the one who showed the least was Anna Bork. She got up from the table and went out of the dining-hall. Luise looked around at the
"He was with what I took to be his wife
and children. He caught the train and was going to Milan."
"Did you try to stop him?" Simon Berger
"How? Herr Berger, I wished there had been some way of having him stopped - "
"Have you thought what it would have meant? Staying here to give evidence?" David Weill shook his head. "Even if they had been interested in him . . . We can't afford the idea of vengeance. Not now."
The group sat silent for a moment, then Hilde Klein and Judith Winter stood up:
they could hear the shouts and laughter of the children outside, they were not interested in academic talk of vengeance. They went out, followed by the men.
Luise went to look for Ben Keppel, but he had already gone. Lucca and his truck of plaster effigies had also gone when she went out into the yard. But he came back that night with two more soldiers in another British army truck. He raised his hat to Luise and Mother Teresa» the only nun who came out to say goodbye to the convent's guests.
"Signor Keppel came to see me, told me he was going. I got in touch with our friends." He gestured at the two soldiers. "Sergeant Katz and Private Engels."
"Are you from the Brigade?" Luise
"Sort of, miss -" The voice was straight Cockney. "We've come up from Milan. A long way for just half a load."
"Fm sorry you're been troubled." Luise turned back to Lucca. "Have you paid
Mother Teresa for our board and
"Signor Lucca is scrupulous about our arrangements," said Mother Teresa. "Our only disagreement is about statues."
She said goodbye to the Jews, shaking hands with each one and wishing them God speed. She said goodbye to Luise last
"I only learned at supper that you were a singer. I wish you had sung for us."
"I wish I had. too," Luise heard herself say.
"Don't neglect your gift. God bestows
talent on so few of us."
"Perhaps in Palestine - " But she would need something to sing about: it was no longer enough just to sing for singing's
To be continued
(C) Sundowner Productions Pty Ltd, 1975. Published by William Collins Sons & Co Ltd, Glasgow.