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Date Posted: 13:57:53 12/14/09 Mon
Author: Fel
Subject: Re: My impressions
In reply to: Debi 's message, "My impressions" on 10:25:22 12/13/09 Sun

>I haven't really read anyone else's comments yet, so
>if I sound redundant, ignore me ;-). Take what helps
>you, leave the rest.
>>Excerpt from Look Upon The Ash
>>by Shauna Tevels
>>copyright 2009.
>>Posted for critiquing purposes only and does not
>>constitute publication.
>>Heinrich opened the wide french doors opening out onto
>>the balcony. The stench of the camp assaulted his
>>nose immediately.
>> “Dear God, Wilhelm! What’s that awful smell?”
>> “You’ll get used to it after a while. Living in such
>>close proximity with them, the stench permeates
>>everything.” Wilhelm put his arm around Heinrich’s
>>shoulder and turned him back into the room. He
>>grabbed the handle of the door and pulled it shut
>>behind him.
>> “How can you live so close to them? Doesn’t it
>>bother you to have rats and vermin living so near to
>>good, upstanding Germans?”
>> Wilhelm smiled. “Of course it bothers me, little
>>brother. I must make sure that all of these men and
>>women are working for the good of our country. If it
>>wasn’t for that I’m sure that I would have given the
>>order to have them all shot down the moment that they
>>step off the trains.”
>Wow, that's powerful, made even more so by the
>casual dismissal from Wilhelm. The fact that they are
>referring to human beings with such casual

Yeah. When I first heard them talk like this in my head, I was wondering if I could even attempt at writing something so foreign to my way of thinking.
>> Heinrich grinned. He was exceptionally proud of his
>>older brother the Kommandant. For years, Wilhelm was
>>more of a father to Heinrich than their own father who
>>spent his time managing his clothing factory and
>>sleeping with all of the girls who worked at the shop.
>> It was Wilhelm who taught Heinrich how to shoot a gun
>>at age eleven, and it was Wilhelm who explained to him
>>why the Jewish people were a growing problem. When
>>Heinrich was finally old enough to join the army, when
>>he turned seventeen, Wilhelm made the recommendation
>>for the boy to be an SS officer. Now that Heinrich
>>was nineteen, he had been transferred from service in
>>Russia to his brother’s camp in Poland.
>Did they make SS officers this young? I don't know,
>I'm curious. Or is he the Nazi equivalent of an ensign
>or something? Still an officer but lowest ranking
>among them?

Heinrich would be the U.S. equivalent of a captain at this point. I'll have to do some more research to see if his age is way too young for this. I'm thinking that I might be a year or two off, but I could be wrong.
>> Heinrich had not seen his brother for three years.
>>Phone calls and letters were all that he was able to
>>do. Now that Heinrich got a good look at him under
>>the lights from the numerous lamps around the room, he
>>saw that Wilhelm had changed. The once jovial,
>>friendly face, now showed hard lines of distrust and
>>anger. Eyes that were once open and clear blue were
>>now cold steel blue-grey. No laugh lines showed
>>around his mouth or crinkled the skin around his eyes.
>> His blond hair was thinning on the top which
>>necessitated combing his hair back over his skull
>>instead of to the side like Heinrich had always
>>remembered it.
>Would Heinrich take a moment to wonder why his
>brother had become so hardened? Might there have been
>a hint from past letters, or rumors among the ranks to
>clue himin? Or did this come as a surprise to see him
>like this?

With Heinrich being on the front, it was very hit or miss on whether or not he got any letters or mail, so seeing his brother like this was a shock to him.
>> Wilhelm directed Heinrich into an arm chair, while he
>>poured them both a liberal glass of wine. Wilhelm
>>gave Heinrich his drink as he moved to sit on the arm
>>of the chair opposite him. They sipped their wine
>The use of the word 'wine' twice so close together
>made me pause for a second.

Okay. I'll get rid of one of the wine's there.
>>companionably for a minute, before Wilhelm blew out
>>his breath in a large gust, and looked Heinrich
>>straight in the eyes.
>> “Look, Heinrich....God! I don’t know how to say this
>>without sounding like a total fool!” Wilhelm ran his
>>left hand through his hair and tried again.
>>“Heinrich, this place isn’t like the front lines. The
>>people here aren’t trying to kill you at every step.
>>Here we just watch them to make sure they are doing
>>their jobs and that things run smoothly.”
>> “You can’t honestly think, Will, that I don’t know
>>what the difference is? It is what they had me doing
>>up there.” Heinrich stared at his brother for a long
>>minute, waiting until their eyes met again. “You don’t
>>know what it is like there. You can’t know what a
>>relief it is to be away from all of that.”
>> “Yes. Well. Don’t worry about it anymore, Heinrich.
>> You are safe here and I won’t let you be transferred
>>over to another front unit.” Wilhelm clapped a hand
>>down on Heinrich’s shoulder and gave him a gentle
>>squeeze. “ I am sure that Elsa will be happy to see
>>you here. Ever since I got the telegram that you were
>>coming here I have scarcely stopped telling her about
>> “Are the children here, too?” Heinrich asked, looking
>>forward to seeing his nephew and new niece, not to
>>mention his sister-in-law.
>> “Josef is with Mama and Papa and Kate is here with us
>>since she still needs her mother.”
>> “Of course. Can I see them now?”
>> “I think Elsa took Kate outside for a walk just
>>before you came. But you can see them when they come
>>back in, naturally.”
> Officers really kept their families nearby like
>this? Wow. Did they live in the camp or in a house
>nearby? This is probably explained elsewhere and
>Heinrich might not know, since it is from his POV.
>Ignore my babbling ;-)

Yes, the Kommandant would have his house either right inside the camp or right outside the gates. Wilhelm's house is right outside. Babbling is good. I tend to babble quite frequently myself :)
>> Heinrich smiled and took a long drink of his wine.
>>The chair he was sitting in felt remarkably good to
>>him, after the long train, truck and car rides he had
>>just gone through. He had assumed that he would have
>>been given leave to visit his parents before having to
>>report for duty with his brother. Instead he was told
>>to report directly for duty. Perhaps he would be
>>allowed to see their parents if they came for a visit
>>with young Josef.
>> “You look like you’re about to fall asleep right
>>there in that chair.”
>> “I feel like I could do just that.” Heinrich said,
>>setting his glass down on the little side table next
>>to his chair, and stretching his arms up over his
>>head, let out a loud yawn as his shoulder joints gave
>>a loud pop.
>> Wilhelm laughed and set his own glass down next to
>>Heinrich’s. “Come. Let me show you where you will be
>>staying.” He lead Heinrich down the hall to where
>>their jackets and Heinrich’s gear had been left by the
>>door in the foyer. As Heinrich was gathering up his
>>belongings, Wilhelm checked his pistol and put it into
>>its holster before putting on his coat and hat. “You
>>never know when you might need it, little brother.”
>> Heinrich nodded and followed 'Wilhelm'? 'his
out the door.
>> The guards saluted and swung open the gate in the
>>chain-link fence. >link exist then? of was it some other kind of fencing

Not a silly question at all. I'm not sure if chain link was in use then. I'll have to look that up.

The fence was topped with four
>>layers of barbed wire. Seventeen watchtowers were
>>spaced at intervals all around the camp. The sun was
>>setting below the tops of the trees in the distance.
>>Spotlights illuminated the muddy ground as they
>>trudged through the southern end of the camp. As
>>they walked, Wilhelm pointed out the tall smoke stack
>>where flame, ash, and smoke were clearly visible in
>>the failing light. Ash fell like snow all around them
>>as they walked through.
>> “That is where you will be Heinrich. In charge of
>>the guards at the crematorium. Some of them can be
>>lazy shits if you don’t watch them like a hawk.”
>> They arrived at a low stone building with light
>>glowing through some of the windows. Smoke furled
>>from the chimney stack at the far right end of the
>>house. Wilhelm knocked twice at the plain wooden
>>door. The door opened to reveal the surprised faces
>>of three men sitting at a table in the center of the
>>room, playing cards. The man who opened the door held
>>it open further and snapped a salute to his commander.
>> “Heil Hitler! Herr Kommandant, we weren’t expecting
>>you this evening. Please.” He gestured for Heinrich
>>and Wilhelm to enter.
>> “Hans. Gunter. Hermann. Friedrich. Gentlemen, I
>>would like to introduce you to Hauptsturmfuhrer
>>Heinrich von Keiter. He just arrived today from the
>>Finland-Russian front.” Wilhelm stopped speaking
>>briefly, to glance at the senior among them, Gunter.
>>Wilhelm’s look made it clear. No one was to ask too
>>many questions about the newcomer or to glory in the
>>realization that the Kommandant’s brother was their
>>newest bunkmate. “Heinrich, you’ll be on the first
>>shift in the morning. I’ll show you where you’ll be
>>stationed then. Gentlemen, have a pleasant evening.”
>> With that the Kommandant gave a little bow to the men
>>and left their company, shutting the door quietly
>>behind him.
>> “You can have the room in the back. No one’s used
>>that room, that I know of. It’s probably colder than
>>hell back there, but coming from where you did, it
>>will feel pretty good!” Gunter said in a gruff, raspy
>>voice. His blonde hair was thin, cut short against
>>his scalp. Heavy bristle graced his neck, chin and
>>cheeks. The bristle had large streaks of grey amongst
>>the blonde. “We wear the dark grey uniforms here.
>>You have a pair, yes?”
>> “Yes, I’ve got mine. Thank you. I’ve had a long day
>>traveling here. I’ll see you all tomorrow. Good
>>night.” Heinrich turned and carried his belongings
>>down the corridor on his right. He passed two open
>>doors leading to rooms used by the others. The last
>>door was closed. Tentatively he tried the handle.
>>The door opened with a loud creak. A blast of cold
>>air assaulted him immediately.
>> The room, which was barely large enough to hold a bed
>>and chest of drawers, had both windows opened wide.
>>Heinrich hurriedly closed them both. He lit a match
>>from the pack he carried in his pocket, and lit the
>>small lamp on top of the chest. A cast-iron wood
>>stove stood in the corner between the two windows.
>>Looking at the stove, Heinrich could tell that it had
>>not been used for quite some time. No soot stains
>>covered the walls, nor did any come off on his hand
>>when he brushed it along the grate inside. The wood
>>basket next to the stove was empty. With a sigh he
>>picked up the basket and went out into the hallway.
>>He stood still for a moment to let his eyes readjust
>>to the brighter light. As he got closer to the large
>>central room where the other four men were, he could
>>start to hear what they were talking about.
>'start to hear' seems a little awkward to me. 'Could
>just hear', 'was able to hear', 'able to make out',

Yes that would make more sense wouldn't it? I'll change that.
>> “Don’t know why we need another one.”
>> “Kommandant’s brother. Doesn’t look a thing like
>>him. Same color hair. Same complexion. Hell, most
>>of us have blond hair. I don’t know about those two,
>>but I burn something fierce when I am outside.”
>> “You’d burn in the crematorium, that’s for sure!
>>Even from the other side of the room, with the doors
>> “Do you need something, Heinrich?” All of the other
>>conversations stopped immediately. They did not know
>>how much he overheard or what his reaction might be.
>> “Just need some firewood. You were right Gunter.
>>You don’t mind if I call you that, right? It is just
>>about as cold back there as I have been for the past
>> “Help yourself to the wood. We try to keep a large
>>stack in here. Just break down one of the chunks into
>>kindling, and you should get a good fire going.”
>>Gunter paused for a moment and looked at the others.
>>“We’re all of the same rank here Heinrich, so we’re
>>informal when we are off duty. On duty is another
>>matter. It wouldn’t be proper to show such behavior
>>while working.”
>> Heinrich nodded and moved off to the wood pile by the
>>fireplace. He grabbed several large chunks of wood as
>>well as some smaller ones before heading back to his
>>room. Once there, it took him several tries to get a
>>fire started in the grate. When it finally lit and he
>>carefully fed the flame with fresh wood, the room
>>warmed up quickly. He opened one of the windows a
>>fraction from the top to let the smoke out.
>Doesn't it have a chimney/stovepipe? Or is it

Good grief. It does have a stove pipe to the outside. Sorry!! No more open window. :)
>> As his head hit the pillow a few minutes later, he
>>could not believe how comfortable the lumpy mattress
>>and thin cotton sheets felt to his body.
>> The day was cold, wet and grey. Rather fitting,
>>Heinrich thought, considering the uniform he was
>>wearing and the overall appearance of the camp during
>>the daylight hours. There was no grass on the ground,
>>only puddles of mud. Out of the leaden sky came big
>>powdery flakes of snow. The snow clung wetly to the
>>wool on his coat and hat.
>> “Did you sleep well, Heinrich?”
>> “Yes, I did. That mattress has to be the best thing
>>I’ve felt in years.” Wilhelm laughed and clapped
>>Heinrich’s shoulder.
>> “Let’s get our day started then, hm?” Wilhelm
>>gestured for Heinrich to follow him through the
>>grounds. They walked together at a brisk pace.
>>Heinrich saw a train pulling into the stop right
>>outside of the main gate of the camp. Hundreds of
>>people were herded out of the cars carrying their few
>>belongings with them. Men and women were separated
>>into two different groups. Men in long white coats,
>>doctors Heinrich guessed, sorted the group further.
>>Both groups went into the building that Wilhelm was
>>leading him towards.
>> They reached a door in the side of the building. The
>>door was unmarked and rather plain in appearance.
>>Wilhelm stopped right before the door, and motioned to
>>Heinrich to open it. Heinrich grasped the handle on
>>the door and pushed. The door was surprisingly light,
>>and it made a loud thunking sound as it hit the brick
>>wall on the other side.
>> Wilhelm guided Heinrich down a short corridor.
>>Heinrich thought that they were at the very base of
>>the chimney stack, or at least very close to it. They
>>came to another door at the end of the corridor. This
>>one appeared to be made of heavy iron. Heinrich
>>thought he could feel intense heat radiating out from
>>the door.
>> “Well Heinrich. This is where you will be. In
>>there. The heat is too much for me, otherwise I would
>>take you in myself, but you’ll understand when you get
>>in there. You will be watching the Jewish scum. They
>>load the bodies into the crematorium, where they burn
>>until they become ashes. The bodies are all naked,
>>but make sure they don’t try to take anything that
>>anyone else missed on inspection.” Wilhelm mopped his
>>brow with his handkerchief, and gave Heinrich a quick
>>smile. “You’ll do fine. Right now we don’t have
>>anyone watching them in there. You’ll quickly see how
>>everything is done. Good luck.”
>> Wilhelm shook Heinrich’s hand, and turned to leave.
>>Heinrich took a deep breath, squared his shoulders,
>>and faced the imposing door in front of him.
> I like this beginning. I think it's pretty brave
>to make a Nazi officer your main character. I know
>you've said he does redeem himself, I'm anxious to
>find out how. The characters are well-defined.
>Heinrich shows some weariness or more than just body
>after his stint on the front, and Wilhelm seems rather
>tired himself. He is a strong leader it seems, but he
>does loves his brother. I'll be interested to read
>more of this story.
>Thanks for sharing!

Thank you Debi!! I appreciate all of your comments. And thank you for reading!


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