Peter's Story

"I used to ask her, what did it mean? How was it then? How was it that she could stand in the Hauptplatz, a young girl, and stretch her arm out and Ziegheil? I've seen the photographs. One of the hands raised in salute is my mother's. We talked, we still talk about it, but there is not really an answer.

"She believed. She was an innocent. She got carried away. She never got over it. That moment in Hitler's house remains the high point of her life. All else that happened since, she knows; everybody knows; but as a young girl, finding herself on his Berchtesgaden couch, - she never forgot, how could she?

"No matter what questions I ask, it is a wall between that generation and those that follow. They secretly dream still of how it could have been. We know how it was."

Perhaps it was Peter, perhaps someone else, who told this story. It doesn't matter. At the bar it is so easy to confide things, and then afterwards you wonder who said what. He talked, the person who told this story, about the visit of his mother to Berchtesgaden with her school class; how she fainted, - fainted - from the terror of seeing in person, up close and breathing, Adolf Hitler. How they carried her into Herr Hitler's living room, and placed her gently on his own divan (Under that dreadful painting? I asked, but they shushed me. Shshsh.) and when she came to and looked up, he says she drowned in the dark eyes of the Führer himself.

"We used to talk about it," he said, setting up the bottles. "For hours we talked, but I still don't understand."