His unit had been warned about the extremes they would be put through while being posted here. Whether the officers who told them this meant it in the physical sense, he didn’t actually know. But while he was sitting in this office, he was as safe as anyone could get in Ravensbrück.
He hung his arms over the edge of the chair. The papers fluttered to the ground as he let them slip from his fingers. He was overwhelmed, to say the very least. He was disconcerted. This woman troubled him, even though he knew deep down she was dead. He felt guilty. As if she was speaking directly to him. As if it was his fault she had to suffer. He wrung his hands anxiously. The soldier was appalled, but at the same time lacked a genuine sympathy for her. He didn’t enjoy being unnerved in this manner, and it was her fault.
In an attempt to gain closure, he left the damp papers on the floor, and sought to carry on with his assigned work. He only got two sheets down the pile when he became irritated by it. He stared at the words on the page, but had neither the faculty nor the will to comprehend what they were saying. The numbers danced in front of his eyes. He threw them down in frustration.
He turned his head slightly and stared at the papers on the floor just next to his feet. They stood out from all the other documents. Involuntarily, he felt his frustration slip away. The papers looked war ravaged. They didn’t belong on the floor, not those. His hard resolve softened. He silently reprimanded himself for being so callous with the girl’s papers. In one swift movement, they were sitting on top of the tallest stack of documents on the table.
At this moment, the soldier really understood what his superior officers meant when they told his unit they would be tested almost beyond their limits.
The soldier couldn’t make sense of his own thoughts and lacked any ability to define what he was feeling. He was torn; his sense of duty and meticulous nature told him that he couldn’t leave a job unfinished, but another part of him was almost afraid of what was on the papers. He considered this for a moment. A smile played at the corner of his lips. His grin broadened and he erupted into laughter. What type of soldier had fear?
His comrades had charged into open machine gun fire and braved the falling shells, without wavering. Those that had served on the frontline had lived the horrors that came with it. They'd seen their own men shot down beside them as their bodies became the final resting place for a wave of bullets from the barrel of a Vickers gun. They'd miraculously survived the blast of an ML 3 and then looked down to see the burnt and bleeding hunks of flesh that were once their limbs. They'd heard the loud groans of the engines of Warhawks as they dotted the grey sky and waited for the sickening whistle of dropping explosives that undoubtedly followed.