A short story about a Hitler youth.
Coen tried to swallow the large lump that seemed to lodge in his throat, his heart pounded against his chest and he could feel beads of sweat along his neck and forehead. The burning of the books was meant to be something great, it was meant to symbolise the power and greatness of the Nazis, yet as he threw a book in the fire, he could not help but feel slightly dead and lost inside.
It left a bad taste in his mouth and left him parched for water.
Everyone cheered as the last book was thrown, black smoke billowed into a column and Coen could hear the laughter of other Nazi youths. He should want to be a part of this, he should want to feel good about the burning of the books that challenged the Fuhrer, he should want to exterminate every book that the Jewish rats wrote their lies in and he should want to shout the words “Heil Hitler” with conviction and passion.
He found it impossible to do so though, he loathed everything that the Nazis stood for.
Coen looked behind him trying to see the dark streets through the mass of screaming Aryan youths, their hands flailing in the air as a Nazi leader stepped up to the podium, ready to vomit hate and lies to the deaf minds. It was strange; the possibility of so many people following just one man, hanging on his every word as if anything he said might bring them closer to salvation and peace. Coen sighed as he realized that his friends and classmates were silently listening to the leader and now he would find it impossible to leave the crowd when they were completely silent and still.
Begrudgingly Coen stayed at his spot, hoping that she would know the situation and wait for him in the dark streets. The leader spoke, his voice carrying itself across the streets, “The Jew is the enemy and destroyer of the purity of blood, the conscious destroyer of our race,” Coen could feel his blood boil as the leader remained standing and barking profanities about the Jewish people and Coen found himself tuning out, instead his mind wandered to her, to what it would be like to be with her at this very moment.
“Heil Hitler!” The familiar declaration of devotion to the Fuhrer ripped Coen out of his reverie; he forced himself to stretch his arm out in the salute, but his mind denied his voice to utter the words.
In minutes the bonfire was roaring again as Jewish artefacts and the Torah were tossed into the flames, the black smoke hung like a cloud over their heads and the air became thick with ash. Coen knew now was the time to meet her, when everyone else was busy having ‘fun’ burning things, he can steal away into the streets and hold her without being seen.
Moving quickly and carefully Coen twisted out of the crowd, swearing quietly at the contrast to the close proximity of the fire and the chilly winter air. Hugging himself close to his chest, Coen jogged down the dark, wet streets of Munich, the dim lights from apartments reflected against the puddles on the cobblestones and the loud beating of the drums at the bonfire were becoming distant.
“Giselle.” Coen called out, his breath condensed into a white mist as he called out her name. He knew that going to meet her was a risk, a far greater one since they were meeting in the middle of a book burning, but his body, heart and eyes begged for him to see her, begged for him to hold her and begged for him to touch her. He could not deny himself what he wanted and needed.
Coen stopped in his tracks as he heard footsteps against the cobblestone, his eyes narrowing trying to see through the darkness and for a fleeting second he thought perhaps someone had followed him here. However, he melted as she wrapped her arms around his neck, he relished in her sweet scent of vanilla that seemed to eternally linger on her skin and hair and he indulged in the idea that she was created for him and him alone.
Coen gave his heart and soul to Giselle.