Finishing his breakfast, Hermann looked down at himself to make sure there was no jam on his suit. He wiped bread crumbs from his mouth with the back of his big hand, and then remembering the linen napkin in his lap, he cleaned his mouth again, hoping Luise had not seen his error in manners. Hermann knew it was important to look his best on this day. His position as one of the supervisors on the U-boat allowed him the privilege of being at the commissioning ceremony, and he would mingle with people who were in a social stratum far different from his own. Hermann was forever conscious of having pulled himself out of the ranks of an ordinary welder to that of a supervisor of many men—and burns on his hands and arms from the welding torch proved it.
At the ceremony, Hermann knew there would be various Third Reich and Kriegsmarine dignitaries as well as family members of the original U-26 commissioned in 1913. Sadly, with a twinge to his gut, Hermann remembered that boat was lost in the Gulf of Finland two years later during the Great War. He had worked on that boat too, but as a mere welder. Hermann shook his head in wonderment; his job was to make streamlined killing machines, a tube of metal holding sweating men in the depths of the ocean. When he thought about it, in the dark of the night, he questioned how he faced his work every day.
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