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TWO

Kripo headquarters lie on the other side of Berlin, a twenty-five-minute drive from the Havel. March needed a statement from Jost, and offered to drop him back at his barracks to change, but Jost said no: he would sooner make his statement quickly. So once the body had been stowed aboard the ambulance and dispatched to the morgue, they set off in Marchs little four-door Volkswagen through the rush-hour traffic.

It was one of those dismal Berlin mornings, when the famous Berliner-luft seems not so much bracing as merely raw, the moisture stinging the face and hands like a thousand frozen needles. On the Potsdamer Chaussee, the spray from the wheels of the passing cars forced the few pedestrians close to the sides of the buildings. Watching them through the rain-flecked window, March imagined a city of blind men, feeling their way to work.

It was all so normal. Later, that was what would strike him most. It was like having an accident: before it, nothing out of the ordinary; then, the moment; and after it, a world that was changed forever. For there was nothing more routine than a body fished out of the Havel. It happened twice a month derelicts and failed businessmen, reckless kids and lovelorn teenagers; accidents and suicides and murders; the desperate, the foolish, the sad.

The telephone had rung in his apartment in Ansbacher Strasse shortly after six-fifteen. The call had not woken him. He had been lying in the semi-darkness with his eyes open, listening to the rain. For the past few months he had slept badly.

March? Weve got a report of a body in the Havel. It was Krause, the Kripos Night Duty Officer. Go and take a look, theres a good fellow.

March had said he was not interested.

Your interest or lack of it is beside the point.

I am not interested, said March, because I am not on duty. I was on duty last week, and the week before. And the week before that, he might have added. This is my day off. Look again at your list.

There had been a pause at the other end, then Krause had come back on the line, grudgingly apologetic. You are in luck, March. I was looking at last weeks rota. You can go back to sleep. Or He had sniggered: Or whatever else it was you were doing.

A gust of wind had slashed rain against the window, rattling the pane.

There was a standard procedure when a body was discovered: a pathologist, a police photographer and an investigator had to attend the scene at once. The investigators worked off a rota kept at Kripo headquarters in Werderscher Markt.

Who is on today, as a matter of interest?

Max Jaeger.

Jaeger. March shared an office with Jaeger. He had looked at his alarm clock and thought of the little house in Pankow where Max lived with his wife and four daughters: during the week, breakfast was just about the only time he saw them. March, on the other hand, was divorced and lived alone. He had set aside the afternoon to spend with his son. But the long hours of the morning stretched ahead, a blank. The way he felt it would be good to have something routine to distract him.

Oh, leave him in peace, he had said. Im awake. Ill take it.

That had been nearly two hours ago. March glanced at his passenger in the rear-view mirror. Jost had been silent ever since they left the Havel. He sat stiffly in the back seat, staring at the grey buildings slipping by.

At the Brandenburg Gate, a policeman on a motorcycle flagged them to a halt.

In the middle of Pariser Platz, an SA band in sodden brown uniforms wheeled and stamped in the puddles. i Through the closed windows of the Volkswagen came the muffled thump of drums and trumpets, pounding out an old Party marching song. Several dozen people had gathered outside the Academy of Arts to watch them, shoulders hunched against the rain.

It was impossible to drive across Berlin at this time of year without encountering a similar rehearsal. In six days time it would be Adolf Hitlers birthday the Fuhrertag, a public holiday and every band in the Reich would be on parade. The windscreen wipers beat time like a metronome.

Here we see the final proof, murmured March,watching the crowd, that in the face of martial music, the German people are mad.

He turned to Jost, who gave a thin smile.

A clash of cymbals ended the tune. There was a patter of damp applause. The bandmaster turned and bowed. Behind him, the SA men had already begun half-walking, half-running, back to their bus. The motorcycle cop waited until the Platz was clear, then blew a short blast on his whistle. With a white-gloved hand he waved them through the Gate.

The Unter den Linden gaped ahead of them. It had lost its lime trees in 36 cut down in an act of official vandalism at the time of the Berlin Olympics. In their place, on either side of the boulevard, the citys Gauleiter, Josef Goebbels, had erected an avenue of ten-metre-high stone columns, on each of which perched a Party eagle, wings outstretched. Water dripped from their beaks and wingtips. It was like driving through a Red Indian burial ground.

March slowed for the lights at the Friedrich Strasse untersection and turned right. Two minutes later they were parking in a space opposite the Kripo building in Werderscher Markt.

It was an ugly place a heavy, soot-streaked, Wilhelmine monstrosity, six storeys high, on the south side of the Markt. March had been coming here, nearly seven days of the week, for ten years. As his ex-wife had frequently complained, it had become more familiar to him than home. Inside, beyond the SS sentries and the creaky revolving door, a board announced the current state of terrorist alert. There were four codes, in ascending order of seriousness: green, blue, black and red. Today, as always, the alert was red.

A pair of guards in a glass booth scrutinised them as they entered the foyer. March showed his identity card and signed in Jost.

The Markt was busier than usual. The workload always tripled in the week before the Fuhrertag. Secretaries with boxes of files clattered on high heels across the marble floor. The air smelled thickly of wet overcoats and floor polish. Groups of officers in Orpo-green and Kripo-black stood whispering of crime. Above their heads, from opposite ends of the lobby, garlanded busts of the Fuhrer and the Head of the Reich Main Security Office, Reinhard Heydrich, stared at one another with blank eyes.

March pulled back the metal grille of the elevator and ushered Jost inside.

The security forces which Heydrich controlled were divided into three. At the bottom of the pecking order were the Orpo, the ordinary cops. They picked up the drunks, cruised the Autobahnen, issued the speeding tickets, made the arrests, fought the fires, patrolled the railways and the airports, answered the emergency calls, fished the bodies out of the lakes.

At the top were the Sipo, the Security Police. The Sipo embraced both the Gestapo and the Partys own security force, the SD. Their headquarters were in a grim complex around Prinz-Albrecht Strasse, a kilometre south-west of the Markt. They dealt with terrorism, subversion, counterespionage and crimes against the state. They had their ears in every factory and school, hospital and mess; in every town, in every village, in every street. A body in a lake would concern the Sipo only if it belonged to a terrorist or a traitor.

And somewhere between the other two, and blurring into both, came the Kripo Department V of the Reich Main Security Office. They investigated straightforward crime, from burglary, through bank robbery, violent assault, rape and mixed marriage, all the way up to murder. Bodies in lakes who they were and how they got there -they were Kripo business.

The elevator stopped at the second floor. The corridor was lit like an aquarium. Weak neon bounced off green linoleum and green-washed walls. There was the same smell of polish as in the lobby, but here it was spiced with lavatory disinfectant and stale cigarette smoke. Twenty doors of frosted glass lined the passage, some half open. These were the investigators offices. From one came the sound of a solitary finger picking at a typewriter; in another, a telephone rang unanswered.

The nerve centre in the ceaseless war against the criminal enemies of National Socialism, said March, quoting a recent headline in the Party newspaper, the Volkischer Beobachter. He paused, and when Jost continued to look blank he explained: A joke.

Sorry?

Forget it.

He pushed open a door and switched on the light. His office was little more than a gloomy cupboard, a cell, its solitary window opening on to a courtyard of blackened brick. One wall was shelved: tattered, leather-bound volumes of statutes and decrees, a handbook on forensic science, a dictionary, an atlas, a Berlin street guide, telephone directories, box files with labels gummed to them Braune, Hundt, Stark, Zadek every one a bureaucratic tombstone, memorialising some long-forgotten victim. Another side of the office was taken up by four filing cabinets. On top of one was a spider plant, placed there by a middle-aged secretary two years ago at the height of an unspoken and unrequited passion for Xavier March. It was now dead. That was all the furniture, apart from two wooden desks pushed together beneath the window. One was Marchs; the other belonged to Max Jaeger.

March hung his overcoat on a peg by the door. He preferred not to wear uniform when he could avoid it, and this morning he had used the rainstorm on the Havel as an excuse to dress in grey trousers and a thick blue sweater. He pushed Jaegers chair towards Jost. Sit down. Coffee?

Please.

There was a machine in the corridor. Weve got fucking photographs. Can you believe it? Look at that. Along the passage March could hear the voice of Fiebes of VB3 the sexual crimes division boasting of his latest success. Her maid took them. Look, you can see every hair. The girl should turn professional.

What would this be? March thumped the side of the coffee machine and it ejected a plastic cup. Some officers wife, he guessed, and a Polish labourer shipped in from the General Government to work in the garden. It was usually a Pole; a dreamy, soulful Pole, plucking at the heart of a wife whose husband was away at the front. It sounded as if they had been photographed in flagrante by some jealous girl from the Bund deutscher Madel, anxious to please the authorities. This was a sexual crime, as defined in the 1935 Race Defilement Act.

He gave the machine another thump.

There would be a hearing in the Peoples Court, salaciously recorded in Der Sturmer as a warning to others. Two years in Ravensbruck for the wife. Demotion and disgrace for the husband. Twenty-five years for the Pole, if he was lucky; death if he was not.

Fuck! A male voice muttered something and Fiebes, a weaselly inspector in his mid-fifties whose wife had run off with an SS ski instructor ten years before, gave a shout of laughter. March, a cup of black coffee in either hand, retreated to his office and slammed the door behind him as loudly as he could with his foot.


Reichskriminalpolizei Werderscher Markt 5/6

Berlin

STATEMENT OF WITNESS

My name is Hermann Friedrich Jost. I was born on 23.2.45 in Dresden. I am a cadet at the Sepp Dietrich Academy, Berlin. At 05.30 this morning, I left for my regular training run. I prefer to run alone. My normal route takes me west through the Grunewald Forest to the Havel, north along the lakeshore to the Lindwerder Restaurant, then south to the barracks in Schlachtensee. Three hundred metres north of the Schwanenwerder causeway, I saw an object lying in the water at the edge of the lake. It was the body of a male. I ran to a telephone half a kilometre along the lake-path and informed the police. I returned to the body and waited for the arrival of the authorities. During all this time it was raining hard and I saw nobody.

I am making this statement of my own free will in the presence of Kripo investigator Xavier March.

SS-Schutze H. F. Jost.

08.24/14.4.64


March leaned back in his chair and studied the young man as he signed his statement. There were no hard lines to his face. It was as pink and soft as a babys, with a clamour of acne around the mouth, a whisper of blond hair on the upper lip. March doubted if he shaved.

Why do you run alone?

Jost handed back his statement. It gives me a chance to think. It is good to be alone once in the day. One is not often alone in a barracks.

How long have you been a cadet?

Three months.

Do you enjoy it?

Enjoy it! Jost turned his face to the window. I had just begun studying at the university at Gottingen when my call-up came through. Let us say, it was not the happiest day of my life.

What were you studying?

Literature.

German?

What other sort is there? Jost gave one of his watery smiles. I hope to go back to the university when I have served my three years. I want to be a teacher; a writer. Not a soldier.

March scanned his statement. If you are so anti-military, what are you doing in the SS? He guessed the answer.

My father. He was a founder member of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler. You know how it is: I am his only son; it was his dearest wish.

You must hate it.

Jost shrugged. I survive. And I have been told -unofficially, naturally that I will not have to go to the front. They need an assistant at the officer school in Bad Tolz to teach a course on the degeneracy of American literature. That sounds more my kind of thing: degeneracy.

He risked another smile. Perhaps I shall become an expert in the field.

March laughed and glanced again at the statement. Something was not right here, and now he saw it. No doubt you will. He put the statement to one side and stood up. I wish you luck with your teaching.

Am I free to go?

Of course.

With a look of relief, Jost got to his feet. March grasped the door handle. One thing. He turned and stared into the SS cadets eyes. Why are you lying to me?

Jost jerked his head back. What ?

You say you left the barracks at five-thirty. You call the cops at five past six. Schwanenwerder is three kilometres from the barracks. You are fit: you run every day. You do not dawdle: it is raining hard. Unless you suddenly developed a limp, you must have arrived at the lake quite some time before six. So there are what? twenty minutes out of thirty-five unaccounted for in your statement. What were you doing, Jost?

The young man looked stricken. Maybe I left the barracks later. Or maybe I did a couple of circuits of the running track there first

Maybe, maybe March shook his head sadly. These are facts that can be checked, and I warn you: it will go hard for you if I have to find out the truth and bring it to you, rather than the other way round. You are a homosexual, yes?

Herr Sturmbannfuhrer! For Gods sake

March put his hands on Josts shoulders. I dont care. Perhaps you run alone every morning so you can meet some fellow in the Grunewald for twenty minutes. Thats your business. Its no crime in my book. All Im interested in is the body. Did you see something? What did you really do?

Jost shook his head. Nothing. I swear. Tears were welling in his wide, pale eyes.

Very well. March released him. Wait downstairs. Ill arrange transport to take you back to Schlachtensee. He opened the door. Remember what I said: better you tell me the truth now than I find it out for myself later.

Jost hesitated, and for a moment March thought he might say something, but then he walked out into the corridor and was gone.

March rang down to the basement garage and ordered a car. He hung up and stared out of the grimy window at the wall opposite. The black brick glistened under the film of rainwater pouring down from the upper storeys. Had he been too hard on the boy? Probably. But sometimes the truth could only be ambushed, taken unguarded in a surprise attack. Was Jost lying? Certainly. But then if he was a homosexual, he could scarcely afford not to lie: anyone found guilty ofanti-community acts went straight to a labour camp. SS men arrested for homosexuality were attached to punishment battalions on the Eastern front; few returned.

March had seen a score of young men like Jost in the past year. There were more of them every day. Rebelling against their parents. Questioning the state. Listening to American radio stations. Circulating their crudely printed copies of proscribed books Gunter Grass and Graham Greene, George Orwell and J. D. Salinger. Chiefly, they protested against the war the seemingly endless struggle against the American-backed Soviet guerillas, which had been grinding on east of the Urals for twenty years.

He felt suddenly ashamed of his treatment of Jost, and considered going down to apologise to him. But then he decided, as he always did, that his duty to the dead came first. His penance for his mornings bullying would be to put a name to the body in the lake.


The Duty Room of the Berlin Kriminalpolizei occupies most of Werderscher Markts third floor. March mounted the stairs two at a time. Outside the entrance, a guard armed with a machine gun demanded his pass. The door opened with a thud of electronic bolts.

An illuminated map of Berlin takes up half the far wall. A galaxy of stars, orange in the semi-darkness, marks the capitals one hundred and twenty-two police stations. To its left is a second map, even larger, depicting the entire Reich. Red lights pinpoint those towns big enough to warrant their own Kripo divisions. The centre of Europe glows crimson. Further east, the lights gradually thin until, beyond Moscow, there are only a few isolated sparks, winking like camp fires in the blackness. It is a planetarium of crime.

Krause, the Duty Officer for the Berlin Gau, sat on a raised platform beneath the display. He was on the telephone as March approached and raised his hand in greeting. Before him, a dozen women in starched white shirts sat in glass partitions, each wearing a headset with a microphone attached. What they must hear! A sergeant from a Panzer division comes home from a tour in the East. After a family supper, he takes out his pistol, shoots his wife and each of his three children in turn. Then he splatters his skull across the ceiling. An hysterical neighbour calls the cops. And the news comes here is controlled, evaluated, reduced before being passed downstairs to that corridor with cracked green linoleum, stale with cigarette smoke.

Behind the Duty Officer, a uniformed secretary with a sour face was making entries on the night incident board. There were four columns: crime (serious), crime (violent), incidents, fatalities. Each category was further quartered: time reported, source of information, detail of report, action taken. An average night of mayhem in the worlds largest city, with its population often million, was reduced to hieroglyphics on a few square metres of white plastic.

There had been eighteen deaths since ten oclock the previous night. The worst incident- JH 2D 4K-was three adults and four children killed in a car smash in Pankow just after 11. No action taken; that could be left to the Orpo. A family burned to death in a house-fire in Kreuzberg, a stabbing outside a bar in Wedding, a woman beaten to death in Spandau. The record of Marchs own disrupted morning was last on the list: 06:07 [O] (that meant notification had come from the Orpo) 1H Havel/March. The secretary stepped back and recapped her pen with a sharp click.

Krause had finished his telephone call and was looking defensive. Ive already apologised, March.

Forget it. I want the missing list. Berlin area. Say: the last forty-eight hours.

No problem. Krause looked relieved and swivelled round in his chair to the sour-faced woman. You heard the investigator, Helga. Check whether anythings come in in the last hour. He spun back to face March, red-eyed with lack of sleep. Td have left it an hour. But any trouble around that place you know how it is.

March looked up at the Berlin map. Most of it was a grey cobweb of streets. But over to the left were two splashes of colour: the green of the Grunewald Forest and, running alongside it, the blue ribbon of the Havel. Curling into the lake, in the shape of a foetus, was an island, linked to the shore by a thin umbilical causeway.

Schwanenwerder.

Does Goebbels still have a place there?

Krause nodded. And the rest.

It was one of the most fashionable addresses in Berlin, practically a government compound. A few dozen large houses screened from the road. A sentry at the entrance to the causeway. A good place for privacy, for security, for forest views and private moorings; a bad place to discover a body. The corpse had been washed up fewer than three hundred metres away.

Krause said: The local Orpo call it the pheasant run.

March smiled: golden pheasants was street slang for the Party leadership.

Its not good to leave a mess for too long on that doorstep.

Helga had returned. Persons reported missing since Sunday morning, she announced, and still unaccounted for. She gave a long roll of printed-out names to Krause, who glanced at it and passed it on to March. Plenty to keep you busy there. He seemed to find this amusing. You should give it to that fat friend of yours, Jaeger. Hes the one who should be looking after this business, remember?

Thanks. Ill make a start at least.

Krause shook his head. You put in twice the hours of the others. You get no promotions. Youre on shitty pay. Are you crazy or what?

March had rolled the list of missing persons into a tube. He leaned forward and tapped Krause lightly on the chest with it. You forget yourself, comrade, he said. Arbeit macht frei. The slogan of the labour camps. Work Makes You Free.

He turned and made his way back through the ranks of telephonists. Behind him he could hear Krause appealing to Helga. See what I mean? What the hell kind of a joke is that?


March arrived back in his office just as Max Jaeger was hanging up his coat. Zavi! Jaeger spread his arms wide. I got a message from the Duty Room. What can I say? He wore the uniform of an SS Sturmbannfuhrer. The black tunic still bore traces of his breakfast.

Put it down to my soft old heart, said March. And dont get too excited. There was nothing on the corpse to identify it and there are a hundred people missing in Berlin since Sunday. Itll take hours just to go through the list. And Ive promised to take my boy out this afternoon, so youll be on your own with it.

He lit a cigarette and explained the details: the location, the missing foot, his suspicions about Jost. Jaeger took it in with a series of grunts. He was a shambling, untidy hulk of a man, two metres tall, with clumsy hands and feet. He was fifty, nearly ten years older than March, but they had shared an office since 1959 and sometimes worked as a team. Colleagues in Werderscher Markt joked about them behind their backs: the Fox and the Bear. And maybe there was something of the old married couple about them, in the way they bickered with and covered for each other.

This is the missing list. March sat down at his desk and unrolled the print-out: names, dates of birth, times of disappearance, addresses of informants. Jaeger leaned over his shoulder. He smoked stubby fat cigars and his uniform reeked of them. According to the good doctor Eisler, our man probably died some time after six last night, so the chances are nobody missed him until seven or eight at the earliest. They may even be waiting to see if he shows up this morning. So he may not be on the list. But we have to consider two other possibilities, do we not? One: he went missing some time before he died. Two and we know from hard experience this is not impossible Eisler has screwed up the time of death.

The guy isnt fit to be a vet, said Jaeger.

March counted swiftly. One hundred and two names. Id put the age of our man at sixty.

Better say fifty, to be safe. Twelve hours in the drink and nobody looks their best.

True. So we exclude everyone on the list born after 1914. That should bring it down to a dozen names. Identification couldnt be much easier: was grandpa missing a foot? March folded the sheet, tore it in two, and handed one half to Jaeger. What are the Orpo stations around the Havel?

Nikolassee, said Max. Wannsee. Kladow. Gatow. Pichelsdorf-but thats probably too far north.

Over the next half hour, March called each of them in turn, including Pichelsdorf, to see if any clothing had been handed in, or if some local derelict matched the description of the man in the lake. Nothing. He turned his attention to his half of the list. By eleven-thirty he had exhausted every likely name. He stood up and stretched.

Mister Nobody.

Jaeger had finished calling ten minutes earlier and was staring out of the window, smoking. Popular fellow, isnt he? Makes even you looked loved. He removed his cigar and picked some shreds of loose tobacco from his tongue. Ill see if the Duty Room have received any more names. Leave it to me. Have a good time with Pili.


The late morning service had just ended in the ugly church opposite Kripo headquarters. March stood on the other side of the street and watched the priest, a shabby raincoat over his vestments, locking the door. Religion was officially discouraged in Germany. How many worshippers, March wondered, had braved the Gestapos spies to attend? Half-a-dozen? The priest slipped the heavy iron key into his pocket and turned round. He saw March looking at him, and immediately scuttled away, eyes cast down, like a man caught in the middle of an illegal transaction. March buttoned his trenchcoat and followed him into the filthy Berlin morning.


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