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Not Dead Yet
Wood paneling covered every inch of the courtroom; the floor, the walls, even the straight-backed chairs where the jury sat. The only things in the room that were not the color of walnut were the Nazi flag draped on the wall, and Helmuth’s handcuffs. Even the Nazi uniforms that everyone wore were brown.
“…these three boys have committed high treason against the Nazi government and Hitler himself! The level of their crime has forced the court to try these minors as adults!” the prosecutor, his uniform decorated with all kinds of badges and ribbons, looked almost pleased as he informed the world of their misfortune.
Fear seized Helmuth. What about Karl and Rudi? He must keep his promise to them. He must not let them receive a punishment greater than his. He must -
The prosecutor’s speech and the jury’s whisperings were interrupted by a loud wail. Quiet at first, it soon erupted into a scream of terror.
Helmuth soon realized what it was: an attack siren.
Jurymen and innocent observers alike trampled and tripped over each other as everyone ran for their lives towards the bomb shelter. No one thought of anything but themselves. Even the boy’s guard abandoned them, forgetting the fact that he was responsible for making sure they did not run away. Helmuth, following shortly behind his fellow ciminals, was the last one to reach the shelter door.
A sound of explosion that they had never experienced but always dreaded cut out the screams, the wails, even the siren. Shrapnel whizzed past them, into them, piercing their legs, their backs, their hands. A wall of orange and red erupted all around them, keeping them from escape. Screams-
Helmuth opened his eyes, only to close them again a moment later. White, everything was so white. It hurt.
“How is he?” someone whispered, it sounded like Oma, Helmuth’s grandmother.
Helmuth tilted his head slightly so he could hear.
“Minor shrapnel wounds, possible loss or slight loss of hearing. That’s what the doctor said. Otherwise, he’ll be fine,” another whisper, lower this time. Maybe Opa?
It was quiet for a moment, then, “Do you think the Nazis will come and arrest him, take him back to prison?” Oma again.
“I hope not.”
Someone turned on the radio, tuned it in to the only station they were allowed to listen to, the German news.
If Helmuth wasn’t in so much pain, he would have gotten up and turned it off. He loved his Fatherland, but all that the Nazi government broadcasted was lies, and he hated them for it. He longed to find a shortwave radio, one that would reach signals all the way from Great Britain. They told the truth. The truth of their own losses. He remembered those long, sleepless nights at Oma and Opa’s kitchen table, Rudi and Karl always there with him, the volume on the Rola radio down low, so no one else could hear. The first five notes of Beethoven’s fifth symphony signaling the start of the broadcast, and at the end the announcer reminding them to turn the dial to a Nazi-approved station, so they wouldn’t get caught. Then, after his two friends left, hopefully without being found outside after curfew, he pulled out his typewriter, his red paper, his ink he borrowed from the church. He knew it was wrong, against the law. He knew he was supposed to honor the Fatherland and respect it’s leaders. But he also knew that what he felt, deep down inside, was what really mattered, and he felt that what the Nazis were doing was pure evil. All night he would type, writing up reports, conclusions, the Truth. The next night, Helmuth, Karl, and Rudi would venture out long past everyone else fell asleep to anonymously distribute the truth to all of Germany.
“Attention!” Helmuth’s thoughts were interrupted by a loud voice on the radio. He was surprised to hear the same voice that was so familiar to him, the one he used to listened to on the shortwave radio. “Attention all citizens of Germany! Last night, British aircraft snuck past all radar and dropped several bombs over Germany. One of these bombs hit ground in Berlin, in the same government building that Hitler happened to be in at the time of the explosion. He died shortly after reaching the hospital, and no one was willing to take his place as Chancellor. Germany has surrendered, the war is over!”