The day was bright and clear without the usual fog coming off the Weser River. Rudolf and his best friend, Lothar, met by the entrance to the apartment building where they both lived and soon fell in with a group of other boys on their way to school. There was excited talk among them about the upcoming visit to Bremen of Adolf Hitler, who held the titles of Reich Chancellor and Führer.
“Oh, it will be wonderful to see how the Nazis decorate the market square with their great red and black swastika flags!” one of the boys, Johann, exclaimed. “My father said there will be music and lots of soldiers marching.”
Lothar leaned over to whisper into Rudolf’s ear. “My father believes Hitler is a madman who will bring the downfall of Germany.”
Rudolf’s blue eyes opened wide; he was shocked by what Lothar said. “My grandfather says he has brought us prosperity. Just look at the number of U-boats we are building now. More people are working and we are beginning to stand up to the French and the English. Opa says we are becoming a stronger nation, even stronger than under the Kaiser. He believes Hitler will restore our national greatness.”
Lothar laughed. “Yes, I know what your grandfather says. But I bet your grandmother doesn’t say that. She won’t even allow a picture of Hitler in your house!”
Rudolf was silent. Yes, he knew what his grandmother would say. She would begin by cursing the Nazis and Hitler’s thugs, the S.A., those men in Brownshirts who brought Hitler to power and then she would carry on about Rudolf’s father, but that was a long time ago. Opa explained to him that his father’s death was an unfortunate accident, and Rudolf believed Opa with all his heart. Besides, Der Führer had renounced the Brownshirts. As for his mother, Rudolf was unsure what to think because Opa never spoke about her and Rudolf did not understand why Oma would get such a sour look on her face when he mentioned his mother.
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