For the Fatherland
Faced with the dichotomy of being a German Jew in war-torn Germany, Eli Leibowitz develops Multiple Personality Disorder.
In 1942, in an effort to survive, Eli rent himself into two separate pieces, cutting away the bad part. Since he could not dispose of it entirely without perishing in the process, he drove it into hiding deep within himself. Mostly, life was easier. Today however, he’d need the part back for a while.
He lay down and closed his eyes. This was the way to his interrogation room. This was where he’d find Jacob, where he kept him safely imprisoned nearly always.
Purely a mental construct, the room was everything he dreamed a room could be. Here, he was wrapped in a cocoon of sturdy German Oak, each piece of furniture the finest available, masterfully tooled and stained a magnificent golden hue. There was an antique writing desk in the corner, delicately sculpted in bass relief. On the corner of the desk, atop the neat, red blotter, lay a handwritten invitation for an audience with Adolf Hitler. Hitler! He felt a thrill run through him as he gazed at it.
A matching book cabinet stood along the same wall to the left, a silver tea service displayed proudly upon it. The opposing wall was bare save for a cuckoo clock hung dead center. It was a perfect example of German engineering, the cuckoo never failing to appear on the hour, never losing a minute. Even the walls were Oaken. He could hear music playing softly in the background. Was that Strauss?
He could never have afforded this kind of room in his real life. No matter though. This room was as real to him as anything in the outside world. The only blemish on the refinement was the fact that he had to keep the curtains closed tightly and no sunshine could enter here. He hadn’t had time to work on the view and what was out there was… well, he didn’t have time to worry about that today. He was on a mission. A good German, he was heavily invested in the Third Reich; having given everything he had for his country. All of his worldly possessions, his heart, his soul for the fatherland.
In the center of the room he had placed a conference table and two chairs. Plain, in comparison to the other pieces, the table looked out of sorts. Eli sat down in the empty chair. On the other chair, directly across from him, sat a mirror.
“Jacob,” he called, willing the other man to appear. “Jacob, I need to speak with you at once.”
Slowly, the smooth, silver surface of the mirror clouded over and then cleared once again revealing the image of a man who looked too much like himself.
“Jacob,” he said. “My brother.”
“Hello, Eli. It’s good to see you again. You’ve been away for a long while.”
“And you’ve kept busy, haven’t you?” Eli asked. “Not a speck of dust in here and the tea service looks immaculate!”
That was Jacob for you; he was nothing if not fastidious. Having been a haberdasher in his prior life, he was prone to neatness, his fingers able to create tiny and intricate stitches, his garments coveted by all. His charm ended there, however, and Eli felt little beyond revulsion for the face that stared back at him. Jacob looked older than his forty three years, older and dogged. His nose was overlarge and his closely shaven hair too dark. He was too short, too frail, too Jewish. And his shoulders had that awful slump to them. Gone were the tailored suits of the past. Jacob wore a striped prison uniform now, heavily stained, wrinkled as though he slept in it, seldom laundered, and with ragged seams. When had he lost his sense of pride and of human decency? Eli looked away.
“You’ve been out again, haven’t you?” he asked.
Jacob’s eyes grew large.
“I haven’t, I swear!”
“Liar!” Eli shouted, slamming his fist on the table. “There’s been a discovery in the camp—a tunnel leading toward the forest. You have been implicated in this. There are those who will testify that you’ve been out.”
“I swear I have not!” Jacob answered, shock and fear registering on his face.
“Then you know who is responsible,” Eli charged. “As a member of the Funktionshäftling, the prisoner police force, you are charged with helping to keep order in the camp and with gathering information. You know!”
“I know nothing,” Jacob swore.
It was to be a long night then. As a good Jew, Jacob would hold out for as long as possible. As good a German, Eli would do what he must to get the information. And in the end, he’d succeed, though Jacob would likely weep. Jacob cried a lot and that hurt Eli. Eli sighed and patiently began again.
“You’ve been out…”
Morning broke clear and cold and Eli Jacob Liebowitz exited the prisoner’s barracks and made for the office of the Kommandant of Dachau. His face was a picture of resolve though he walked briskly lest he have the time to change his course. He was whole again, the tailor in him having stitched himself back together sometime during the long night. And he was on a mission. The fatherland needed a solution. His brothers also needed his help. As he entered the office and confessed to single-handedly digging the tunnel, he took comfort in the fact that he had done everything within his power to be a good man. He’d given all he had to the fatherland—his hair, his gold fillings, his identity, and now his life.
Later that day the Nazi’s gassed nearly a thousand Germans, good men to the last one.
written by Peazy Monellon