a love story, unlike any other.
“A man must put grain in the ground before he can cut the harvest.”
That was my mother’s favourite Gypsy proverb. She used to repeat it every night when she came to give me my hot caramel malt with a sugar biscuit before I went to sleep, until she was sent to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp for protesting as a Gypsy against Adolf Hitler’s ways. Her intentions were good but she risked her life and that risk delivered. From then on I used to say it to myself when I closed my eyes to wash away the challenges of the day.
Since then I have moved on. I moved from Saxony to Berlin, Germany. I was brought up a Gypsy living in Germany but since Hitler came into power I haven’t advertised my identity as much. I even died my hair to a dull blonde, I used to have rich dark chocolate brown hair just like my mother, but these days all you see is a tainted memory. I sometimes feel like a bird with clipped wings, restrained against living to my utmost potential.
I work at the Berlin Zeitung – which is a well respected newspaper across Germany. I’m a journalist but I like to think of myself as a licensed personal interrogator. I get to interview the most elite and well accomplished people. I get to see and hear things an average German never had the fortune to witness.
I was researching a topic for my next article: “The Effect of Insiders on Parliament”, and I found a very interesting candidate by the name of Ashley Iver. A cruel but hauntingly beautiful example of what a classic Aryan should look like. He fitted my criteria perfectly, he was an inside viewer of what goes on in German Parliament. He was a member of the Iver family which consisted of his mother, Geraldine, his father, Castor and his four siblings, only one of which was married. I requested an appointment after an appointment and had had no luck until one afternoon, a soft blonde haired man with cool blue eyes, tall airy figure and firm stance walked into the office reception. He requested to speak with me and that is how I became acquainted with one of Berlin’s most sought after bachelors.
“Anouk Schmidt”, he said with a divinely numbing voice as he read from his leather bound diary. I used to hate my name but when I heard it in that voice I couldn’t have loved it more. I went on to interview him about his family and life and his influence, I wasn’t afraid to probe him, with an opportunity like this I wasn’t going to leave one stone unturned.
In no more than a month we were dating. I never really understood why he would date a mere mortal like me but he claimed it was my courageous approach to my job and to life that he thought was worthy of his love. I guess I was different to the normal red lipped, beret, white trench coat and clicking heel wearing woman that were so poised they looked like they belonged in a shop’s display window.
Ashley didn’t know that I descended from a long line of gypsies, that my mother was in Bergen-Belsen or that I was pretending to be something that I’m not but I knew that I couldn’t begin a new life with a lie enrobed path.
We were both so in love that my true colours were damasked with happiness, warmth, and beautiful diamonds and pearls. I couldn’t ruin that just yet, even if he would except me and elope with me to a hidden destination, somewhere like Spain or Puerto Rico, until one night I went home and found my mother’s favourite purple and white laced scarf, I couldn’t ignore the terrible feeling of loneliness and lustre for my beloved Mama. It then dawned on me that I had to somehow get my mother out of that concentration camp if it was the last thing I did.
I felt bad about not even dwelling on some sort of plan to free her before. I kind of just accepted that this was going to be my new life, a life without her. I weighed up the options of burrowing under Bergen-Belsen with an AK-47 and shovel or turning myself in, in exchange for her freedom. I would sell myself as a traitorous Gypsy with more passion than sense for revealing the corruption within the German Parliament. Hopefully they would set her free... Hopefully.
I then set out clothes for the morning which I tactfully chose in lieu of the cold winter’s nights, comfort and practicality. I planned to visit Ashley the next morning and reveal to him my secret and plan to free my mother. I thought this was selfish of me but I would save him the pain of turning me in himself. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw a lying, conceited, worthless and misleading woman.
I arrived at the steps to Ashley’s office just before noon. I carefully noted my last steps into a German building on my own free will. I relayed my secret to Ashley who stood there with a look of apathy sprawled across his face. I broke down at the sight of him in pain. He couldn’t help himself either; he slammed a clearly expensive vase of pitiful pansies onto the floor. He had never shared himself with another human being before and after this experience he probably will never again. I hadn’t even got to tell him about my mother yet. I sat him down and handed him a tissue.
A few tears escaped his eyes while I was in the process of telling him about my plan of freeing my mother. He looked at me and told me I was such a good person and clearly an angel sent from above to do nothing but good on Earth. After that he said no more and escorted me downstairs and into an awaiting town car. He told me that the driver would take me to the Nazi’s headquarters. Ashley told the driver something in a hushed whisper I thought it must just be directions or something. He leaned in the window and kissed me so lightly on the forehead. I was so shocked that he was ‘okay’ with all this and felt a bit hurt that he showed no remorse in the fact that I was about to write my own death warrant and even went out of his way to get me to the Nazi’s as quick as possible.
After about 2 hours of driving it finally dawned on me that we weren’t headed for the headquarters but to a mountain lodge. I screamed at the driver and told him to get me back to Berlin immediately but he just drove steadily along the mountain path. We arrived at an extravagant Hotel just below the peak of a substantial mountain. The driver quickly shunned me out the car and sped off. I went into reception and expressed my need for a taxi to get back to Berlin as soon as possible. They told me that there would be no more cars coming up this road as they were closing it in preparation and precaution for a blizzard.
They just handed me a key and sent me up to a beautiful suite. I calmed myself down and told myself that maybe a little dinner and a rest will do before I start my descent down the mountain to the nearest bus stop.
At about seven o’clock that evening I was in the dining room having my fill of energy rich foods and overindulging in foods I might never see again when I got to the camp. There was a buzz at reception as someone was checking in. I thought it strange that someone had made it up the closed mountain road so I got up to go and investigate.
I stepped into the frosted foyer and couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw my gorgeous mother standing there with no more than a flimsy dress and thin jacket and looking terribly thin. I let her name escape my lips and was surprised at the unfamiliar sound her name made. She looked at him and cupped her face in her bony hands and ran up to me at full speed just short of winding me. She hugged me with such exuberance and joy that we both couldn’t help but to cry and shout words of joy.
I quickly pushed her away as I remembered that she shouldn’t even be alive and asked how she had got here. Her expression changed from light and alive to morbidly regretful. She told me that I man called Mr Iver came to Bergen-Belsen to hand himself over for disclosing Hitler’s plans and reasoning to a journalist in exchange for my mother to be let free and put on a plane with her daughter to Spain, to make a new life there and they wouldn’t come back to Germany nor tell anyone of their experiences. They were to live life like they had never even set foot on German soil.