The table was laden with dark bread, globs of butter and delicious jam Luise preserved every summer when fresh fruits were available. She served Hermann cheese and cold meats on a porcelain dish, and finally a soft boiled egg stood waiting in a delicate egg cup. With his big hands, it was a trying task to crack the shell with the small egg spoon Luise put on the table, but he tried his hardest to be precise about this intricate task. He always wondered how Luise could deftly clip the top off the egg with her knife, a trick he would not dare try on her clean tablecloth.
Hermann savored his breakfast meal and the conversation at the table each morning with his wife and his beloved twelve-year-old grandson, Rudolf. As he ate, he took special care to explain to Rudolf what was happening at the yard, what project he was supervising these past months, and all the complications of making sure the new U-boat was seaworthy.
Today, the sixth of May 1936, was a special day for Hermann. He was tremendously excited as he explained to Luise and Rudolf that U-26, the boat he had been working on for nine months, was to be commissioned.
“Ah,” Luise said, as she served her husband more steaming coffee. “Now I understand why you are wearing your suit.”
“Opa,” Rudolf asked as he jammed his mouth full of food, “What does ‘commissioned’ mean?”
“It means the U-boat is being formally accepted by the German Navy,” Hermann said. “It is an important ceremony and our country’s flag will be raised for the first time on my beautiful boat, Enkel,” a German term of endearment that Hermann used often when he spoke to Rudolf.
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