Prologue

Prologue

Having repaired a shelf for Mutti, I stepped into Lusthaus to return the screwdriver. The cabinet stood amongst discarded furniture, its door sealed with star shaped screws. When in need of space, I had hidden amongst this oasis of junk. Many times before, I had noticed this cupboard. ‘Why would anyone seal it?’ I speculated. Anything old or quirky could occupy me for hours, and so, its temptation proved too great. Having removed the screws, I pulled it open to discover a pile of dust-laden documents. I guessed it to concern Vati and sure enough, there was his photo, a young man dressed in soldier’s uniform, on his lapel the runes that condemned a generation.

And there they were. Blue exercise books, much like those at school. “ICH SPRECHE DIE WAHRHEIT” was written in bold capitals on the front. I struggled to read the German, though I sensed substance in these compact books, the copperplate precise and orderly. On an inner sleeve, a plan depicted dots and squares. Something told me that these nine or ten volumes contained something extraordinary and thumbing through, I ignored the noise of my young family playing in the garden. I sat on the dusty sofa and attempted to read the first numbered volume, its writing unique and tiring upon the eye. I could barely decipher a word. Failing this, I thumbed through the photographs and looked at various papers, noting on one the date December 1944. Another photo showed a womn in striped uniform smiling.

So engrossed was I, that I didn't hear her approach. The rich smell of Schnitzel and the kids' quiet should have warned me. “Jeremy, are you coming for lunch?” She stepped into the shack and I was too slow to put them back. Realizing what I had discovered, she asked “What are you doing?”

“I found these…” I was caught in the act.

Storming across, she took the documents from me and threw them back into the cabinet. “I didn’t mean to…” I wanted to excuse myself.

“To what?” she challenged. “Leave them alone! It’s none of your business!” She walked out, leaving me stunned in guilt. “Are you coming then? We’re waiting!” she said in angry voice.