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TWO

Pain and exhaustion stalked him. To keep awake he talked.

I suppose, he said, we have Krause to thank for this.

Neither of them had spoken for almost an hour. The only sounds were the hum of the engine and the drumming of the wheels on the concrete road. Jaeger jumped at Marchs voice. Krause?

Krause mixed up the rotas, ordered me to Schwanen-werder instead of you.

Krause! Jaeger scowled. His face was a stage demons, painted green by the glow of the instrument panel. All the troubles in his life could be traced back to Krause!

The Gestapo fixed it so youd be on duty on Monday night, didnt they? What did they tell you? Therell be a body in the Havel, Sturmbannfuhrer. No hurry about identifying it. Lose the file for a few days

Jaeger muttered: Something like that.

And then you overslept, and by the time you got to the Markt on Tuesday Id taken over the case. Poor Max. Never could get up in the mornings. The Gestapo must have loved you. Whom were you dealing with?

Globocnik.

Globus himself! March whistled. I bet you thought it was Christmas! What did he promise you, Max? Promotion? Transfer to the Sipo?

Fuck you, March.

So then you kept him informed of everything I was doing. When I told you Jost had seen Globus with the body at the lakeside, you passed it along and Jost disappeared. When I called you from Stuckarts apartment, you warned them where we were and we were arrested. They searched the womans apartment the next morning because you told them she had something from Stuckarts safe. They left us together in Prinz-Albrecht Strasse so you could do their interrogation for them

Jaegers right hand flashed across from the steering wheel and grabbed the gun barrel, twisting it up and away, but Marchs fingers were caught around the trigger and squeezed it.

The explosion in the enclosed space tore their eardrums. The car swerved across the Autobahn and up on to the grass strip separating the two carriageways and they were bouncing along the rough track. For an instant, March thought he had been hit, then he thought that Jaeger had been hit. But Jaeger had both hands on the wheel and was fighting to control the Mercedes and March still had the gun. Cold air was rushing into the car through a jagged hole in the roof.

Jaeger was laughing like a madman and saying something but March was still deaf from the shot. The car skidded off the grass and rejoined the Autobahn.


In the shock of the blast, March had been thrown against his shattered hand and had almost blacked-out, but the stream of freezing air pummelled him back into consciousness. He had a frantic desire to finish his story -1 only knew for certain youd betrayed me when Krebs showed me the wire-tap: I knew because you were the only person Id told about the telephone kiosk in Billow Strasse, how Stuckart called the girl but the wind whipped away his words. In any case, what did it matter?

In all this, the irony was Nightingale. The American had been an honest man; his closest friend, the traitor.

Jaeger was still grinning like a lunatic, talking to himself as he drove, the tears glistening on his plump cheeks.


Just after five they pulled off the autobahn into an all-night filling station. Jaeger stayed in the car and told the attendant through the open window to fill the tank. March kept the Luger pressed to Jaegers ribs, but the fight seemed to have gone out of him. He had dwindled. He was just a sack of flesh in a uniform.

The young man who operated the pumps looked at the hole in the roof and looked at them two SS-Sturmbannfuhrer in a brand-new Mercedes bit his lip, and said nothing.

Through the line of trees separating the service area from the autobahn, March could see the occasional passing headlight. But of the cavalcade he knew was following them: no sign. He guessed they must have halted a kilometre back, to wait and see what he planned to do next.


When they were back on the road, Jaeger said: I never meant any harm to come to you, Zavi.

March, who had been thinking of Charlie, grunted.

Globocnik is a police general, for Gods sake. If he tells you: Jaeger! Look the other way! you look the other way, right? I mean, thats the law, isnt it? Were policemen. We have to obey the law!

Jaeger took his eyes off the road long enough to glance at March, who said nothing. He returned his attention to the Autobahn.

Then, when he ordered me to tell him what youd found out what was I supposed to do?

You could have warned me.

Yes? And what would you have done? I know you: youd have carried on anyway. And where would that have left me me, and Hannelore and the kids? Were not all made to be heroes, Zavi. There have to be people like me, so people like you can look so clever.

They were driving towards the dawn. Over the low wooded hills ahead of them was a pale glow, as if a distant city was on fire.

Now I suppose theyll kill me, for allowing you to pull the gun on me. Theyll say I let you do it. Theyll shoot me. Jesus, its a joke, isnt it? He looked at March with wet eyes. Its a joke!

Its a joke, said March.


It was light by the time they crossed the Oder. The grey river stretched either side of the high steel bridge. A pair of barges crossed in the centre of the slow-moving water, and hooted a loud good morning to one another.

The Oder: Germanys natural frontier with Poland. Except there was no longer any frontier; there was no Poland.

March stared straight ahead. This was the road down which the Wehrmachts Tenth Army had rolled in September 1939. In his mind, he saw again the old newsreels: the horse-drawn artillery, the Panzers, the marching troops Victory had seemed so easy. How they had cheered!

There was an exit sign to Gleiwitz, the town where the war had started.

Jaeger was moaning. Im shattered, Zavi. I cant drive much longer.

March said, Not far now.


He thought of Globus. Theres nothing there any more, not even a brick. Nobody will ever believe it. And shall I tell you something? Part of you cant believe it either. That had been his worst moment, because it was true.


A Totenburg a Citadel of the Dead stood on a bare hilltop not far from the road: four granite towers, fifty metres high, set in a square, enclosing a bronze obelisk. For a moment as they passed, the weak sun glinted on the metal, like a reflecting mirror. There were dozens of such tumuli between here and the Urals imperishable memorials to the Germans who had died were dying, would die for the conquest of the East. Beyond Silesia, across the Steppes, the Autobahnen were built on ridges to keep them clear of the winters snows deserted highways ceaselessly swept by the wind


They drove for another twenty kilometres, past the belching factory chimneys of Kattowitz, and then March told Jaeger to leave the Autobahn.


He can see her in his mind.

She is checking out of the hotel. She says to the receptionist: Youre sure thereve been no messages? The receptionist smiles. None, Fraulein. She has asked a dozen times. A porter offers to help her with her luggage, but she refuses. She sits in the car overlooking the river, reading again the letter she found hidden in her case. Here is the key to the vault, my darling. Make sure she sees the light one day A minute passes. Another. Another. She keeps looking north, towards the direction from which he should come.

At last she checks her watch. Then she nods slowly, switches on the engine and turns right into the quiet road.

Now they were passing through industrialised countryside: brown fields bordered by straggling hedgerows; whitish grass; black slopes of coal waste; the wooden towers of old mineshafts with ghostly spinning wheels, like the skeletons of windmills.

What a shit-hole said Jaeger. What happens here?

The road ran beside a railway track, then crossed a river. Rafts of rubbery scum drifted along the banks. They were directly downwind of Kattowitz. The air stank of chemicals and coaldust. The sky here really was a sulphur-yellow, the sun an orange disc in the smog.

They dipped, went through a blackened railway bridge, then over a rail crossing. Close, now March tried to remember Luthers crude sketch map.

They reached a junction. He hesitated.

Turn right.

Past corrugated iron sheds, scraps of trees, rattling over more steel tracks

He recognised a disused rail line. Stop!

Jaeger braked.

This is it. You can turn off the engine.

Such silence. Not even a birdcall.

Jaeger looked around with distaste at the narrow road, the barren fields, the distant trees. A wasteland. But were in the middle of nowhere!

What time is it?

Just after nine.

Turn on the radio.

What is this? You want a little music? The Merry Widow?

Just turn it on.

Which channel?

The channel doesnt matter. If its nine theyll all sound the same.

Jaeger pressed a switch, turned a dial. A noise like an ocean breaking on a rocky shore. As he scanned the frequencies the noise was lost, came back, was lost and then came back at full strength: not the ocean, but a million human voices raised in acclamation.

Take out your handcuffs, Max. Thats it. Give me the key. Now attach yourself to the wheel. Im sorry, Max.

Oh, Zavi

Here he comes! shouted the commentator. I can see him! Here he comes!


He had been walking for a little over five minutes and had almost reached the birch woods when he heard the helicopter. He looked back a kilometre, past the waving grass, along the overgrown tracks. The Mercedes had been joined on the road by a dozen other cars. A line of black figures was starting towards him. He turned and carried on walking.


She is pulling up dt the border crossing now. The swastika flag flaps over the customs post. The guard takes her passport. For what purpose are you leaving Germany, Fraulein?

To attend a friends wedding. In Zurich. He looks from the passport photograph to her face and back again, checks the dates on the visa. You are travelling alone?

My fiance was supposed to be with me, but hes been delayed in Berlin. Doing his duty, officer. You know how it is. Smiling, naturalThats it, my darling. Nobody can do this better than you.


He had his eyes on the ground. There must be something.


One guard questions her, another circles the car. What luggage are you carrying, please?

Just overnight clothes. And a wedding present. She puts on a puzzled expression: Why? Is there a problem? Would you like me to unpack? She starts to open the doorOh, Charlie, dont overplay it. The guards exchange looks


And then he saw it. Almost buried at the base of a sapling: a streak of red. He bent and picked it up, turned it over in his hand. The brick was pitted with yellow lichen, scorched by explosive, crumbling at the corners. But it was solid enough. It existed. He scraped at the lichen with his thumb and the carmine dust crusted beneath his fingernail like dried blood. As he stooped to replace it, he saw others, half-hidden in the pale grass ten, twenty, a hundred


A pretty girl, a blonde, a fine day, a holidayThe guard checks the sheet again. It says here only that Berlin is anxious to trace an American, a brunette. No, Fraulein he gives her back her passport and winks at the other guard a search will not be necessary. The barrier lifts. Heil Hitler! he says. Heil Hitler, she replies.

Go on, Charlie. Go on

It is as if she hears him. She turns her head towards the East, towards him, to where the sun is fresh in the sky, and as the car moves forward she seems to dip her head in acknowledgement. Across the bridge: the white cross of Switzerland. The morning light glints on the Rhine


She had got away. He looked up at the sun and he knew it-knew it for an absolute, certain fact.

Stay where you are!

The black shape of the helicopter flapped above him. Behind him, shouts much closer now metallic, robot-like commands: Drop your weapon!

Stay where you are!

Stay where you are!

He took off his cap and threw it, sent it skimming across the grass the way his father used to skim flat stones across the sea. Then he tugged the gun from his waistband, checked to make sure it was loaded, and moved towards the silent trees.


| Fatherland | AUTHOR S NOTE