The Price
Chapter 4

Guests of the Gestapo

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Now that I was finally locked up and left alone for a time with the light out, a great weariness came over me. My nerves, which had stretched until I thought they would snap, began to relax a bit and calm down. The darkness was comforting, somehow.
Summary
After two days of nervous expectation, the Gestapo showed up at the author's workplace and arrest him. They took him to his house and spent an hour searching it, finding nothing. Then, they took him to a concentration camp that was in a wing of the largest prison in Hamburg, and put him in a cell.

Karl-Heinz' parents had not been home when the Gestapo brought him there to search, so they had no way of knowing he had been arrested, and the police would not tell them anything.

He was treated roughly, but his cellmate–a Dutchman who refused to work for the Germans–had been beaten very badly in the roughly ten days he'd been incarcerated. Soon, however, the SS showed up and abusively interrogated him, attempting to get a confession from him. He only admitted to "allegedly listening to an enemy broadcast" after being hit in the face with a metal key ring.

The SS immediately began psychological torture by doing things like coming into the cell every twenty minutes or so, checking the cell toilet, looking around, and leaving. Each time an SS man entered, they were required to stand at attention and call out their names, like "Prisoner Schnibbe, in protective custody!" The SS would even wake them up intermittently to do this, so that they were never really rested, and always had to be on their guard.

Almost every day for three weeks, Karl-Heinz was chained to a group of other prisoners and taken to be interrogated at the Gestapo headquarters. He saw Helmuth there; his face was puffy and bruised from beatings. He also caught a glimpse of Rudi.

They were forced to stand with their noses against a wall for hours, waiting to be interrogated. Sometimes they would lose their equilibrium and fall, at which point the SS would kick them until they got up again. They would even throw glass ashtrays at the prisoners as a means of enforcing their rules.

During the interrogation session, he was punched and kicked, but he maintained that he had only tried to listen to the radio once, but the reception had been too bad. Ultimately, however, "the questions were designed to find out who was behind [their] group. The Gestapo simply could not believe that a teenager had masterminded what we had done."

After some time, Karl-Heinz was moved to another prison, where they were treated better. However, his cell was above death row. Between five and fifteen people were executed every day, and some of them were hauled away, screaming.

At this point, his parents were informed of his whereabouts and allowed to visit him. His dad got sent to work in a munitions plant, but his mother came. She was allowed to see him for all of five minutes, while he was handcuffed to a guard, once every four weeks.

He was in that cell for six months, alone most of the time, with no idea what was going to happen to him, and only little bits of old newspaper (which he was given for toilet paper) to read. At this point, a man delivered the government's formal complaint against him: "conspiracy to commit high treason," and "treasonous aiding and abetting of the enemy." They were to be tried before the "blood-court," which he assumed meant that they would all be killed.

Here, Karl-Heinz mentions that Helmuth had been excommunicated ten days after his arrest, but that no Church court had officially been convened about it. After the war, one of the local leaders "made sure that Helmuth's 'excommunication' was corrected."
Analysis
One thing to note here is that Hollywood depictions of Nazi police and soldiers has not been exaggerated in its brutality.

In this chapter, we also have another example of the Newspeak from 1984. Just as Orwell's antagonists, IngSoc, have a "Ministry of Love" that beats and tortures its prisoners, here the prisoners are required to refer to themselves as being in "protective custody," as though they were being protected.

It is also important to note the dehumanizing Nazi attitude towards others. We are seeing this in modern times, as Leftists, for example, post on Twitter that the children of Trump supporters should be thrown in a wood chipper [1], or that people who don't want babies murdered should be "treated like Nazis" [2].

The final thing to discuss here is Helmuth's excommunication. This has been used by some to "prove" that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days Saints supported the Nazis. As Karl-Heinz makes clear, however, this was not done officially, and it was officially reversed. He concludes with the thought that, whoever did it, and for whatever reason, "If they can forgive us, we certainly can forgive them."


References:

[1] MAGA kids go into the woodchipper’: Disney producer tweets violent threat against Covington boys (abovetopsecret.com) <http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread1230154/pg1, accessed 2021-02-09.>
[2] Harvard Law Professor Says Pro-Life Christians Should be Treated Like Nazis (lifenews.com) <https://www.lifenews.com/2016/05/09/harvard-law-professor-says-pro-life-christians-should-be-treated-like-nazis/, accessed 2021-02-09.>
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