Historical fiction: The tragic life of Albrecht von Haar in journal format
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Category — Everyday life

Death threat

I received a death threat his week. It is my first. I am treating it seriously as some of my academic colleagues have also received such threats. I contacted the Berlin police and have recorded a complaint.

The threat was hand-written and placed in a simple envelope with a swastika stamped on it. Strangely, there was also a soiled boot heel mark on the back of the envelope used clumsily as a seal. Not very subtle, all in all.  The police were somewhat sympathetic, but warned me that the threat could have been made to appear to come from the Nazis when it fact it may have come from some other quarter. The writer, or writers, warned me to stop publishing comparisons of German economic and military moves to that of Japan… particularly Japan’s Manchurian invasion and Chinese machinations. The note also referred to my Jewish heritage  and that I should leave Germany for my ‘health.’

By taking the threat seriously, I think I’ve done the prudent thing. I’ve taken out a 25,000 mark life insurance policy that is payable to my brother Hans. I had dinner with him last night  and  explained the whole situation. I asked that he take care of Ada  if something should happen to me. He was quite upset, but I insisted that he give  15,000 marks to Ada and the rest to himself. My father in Bavaria is fairly well off with his pension and his book revenues, so I’m not so much worried about him and my mother. Ada and Hans, on the other hand, could use some help if I disappear from the scene, so to speak.  I am not going to tell Ada of this affair as she would only become overwrought and would insist that I curtail certain aspects of my publication. That I will not do.

Hans asked me if I had any personal protection, such as a gun or even a knife. I do not, but I replied that I will give it serious thought.

January 23, 2011   No Comments

What is happening to us?

I overheard a stupid remark this morning in a cafe on Wilhelmstrasse.

“A German must not like jazz, just as a German man must not like a Jewess. This is what the Nazis say and I have come to agree with it. I also prefer proper German music like marches, folk music and the classics. Wagner and Strauss, of course, are my favorites.”

What rot! The man was a young officer in the Navy and a simpleton.

My offices are near the government center in Berlin so I frequently encounter military officers in the area pubs, cafes and restaurants. I wanted to confront this ignorant man, but got up and walked away. My coffee was still hot and so was I.

This evening I made it a point to play my records of Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Bud Freeman and Edie Condon.

I will not tell my mother what I heard, but I will certainly tell father.

January 31, 2009   No Comments

So it begins

January 1932. So begins my account of the rise of Nazism, or perhaps more appropriately, of Hitlerism, in Germany.

The main purpose of this journal is to document the changes I see occurring in German politics and foreign affairs. Keeping this journal is dangerous for me, my family, and my work. It is dangerous  for my mother, father, brother, friends and sources. However, I feel a desperate need to chronicle these chaotic and frightening times.

My name is Albrecht von Haar and I am the editor of the Periodical of the Society for Geography (PSGB) in Berlin. I am unmarried and live and work at 23 Wilhelmstrasse, Berlin. My official residence is located on the top flat of the PSGB office building.

My father is Karl von Haar, Professor General of Political Geography at Munich University. He is generally credited with the concept of Geopolitics – which is the notion that a nation is an organism in need of breathing and breeding space. In Germany’s case, this particular idea has been interpreted by many nationalists as a God given right for Germany to expand eastward through the Slavic countries and beyond to the Russian steppes. I have expressed to my father that such an interpretation is not only historically incorrect, but dangerous. I’m not sure he agrees with me.

At this time I am closely following Adolph Hitler, the Austrian-born rabble-rouser who has become a household name in Germany and appears to enjoy fashioning himself after Italy’s fascist leader, Benito Mussolini. Hitler’s own fascist political party, the NSDAP (The National Socialist German Workers Party, also known as the Nazis), has infested the Riechstag and made the parliament a laughing stock. He has now moved from Munich to a hotel apartment in Berlin, just down the street from my apartment, where he holds court as if he is already Reich Chancellor.

Hitler has a large army of militant followers. Some estimate the number to be 200,000. If so, this “personal army” rivals or exceeds the current size of the Reichswehr, the German military, as permitted by that damned Versailles treaty.

I don’t know Hitler personally, but I know that after a failed putsch in the 20’s he has risen rapidly in German politics during the past several years, developing his ultra-nationalist and racist political ideas. Last fall the Nazis won over six million votes in local elections. Old man Hindenburg is still Germany’s  head of state, but Hitler and his ruffians are rapidly making political inroads. It seems Hitler learned from his unsuccessful violent attempt to overtake the government in 1923. Now he is wrapping his hands around the Wiemar Republic’s neck and slowly strangling it, lawfully, by winning local elections and filling seats in the Reichstag.

I am fairly well acquainted with Rudolph Hess, one of Hitler’s lieutenants, and personal secretary. My father has known Hess since having him as a student in Munich before the putsch. I met Hess several years ago and discovered we are both Anglophiles and discovered a common liking for horoscopes and ancient runes. We have had many discussions about foreign policy, the British Empire, and Germany’s future. He is not a brilliant man, but he has Hitler’s ear and I hope to use that relationship to my advantage. We meet in Berlin at least once a month. I’m hoping that I can use Hess to influeince the Nazi inner circle.

With the rise of the Nazi’s, I see a storm gathering on the horizon. Just yesterday, Hitler said that if he became head of the government, he would stop paying war reparations. This stance does not sit well with France and England. Many fear a Hitler government could lead to another terrible conflict in Europe. I am one who fears the Nazis and their actions.

Enough for now, I am off to take a stroll in the nearby Tiergarten with my friend Ada Ortrun. After dinner together, I plan to see Fritz Lang’s “M.” I will go see it alone. The film may be too frightful for Ada’s sensibilities. I hear it is still playing in a theater on Friedrichstrasse.


January 18, 2009   No Comments