“Now, Lothar, are you going to tell me why you are out of breath?”
Lothar stood with his hand to the side of his head where a large red welt was beginning to form and his eyes filled with tears, but no sound of pain came from his throat. “Herr Braun, I am out of breath because I was running to get to the schoolyard. I was late.”
“Ah, now Lothar, we get to the bottom of the problem. And why were you late?”
“Because I was talking.”
“And what were you talking about?”
“About Der Führer.”
Herr Braun frowned, stepped back, and resumed his stance at the head of the class. His voice was a low growl. “And what could you possibly be saying about Der Führer at this time of the day on your way to Gymnasium?”
“Herr Braun, we were talking about Der Führer’s visit to Bremen in a few days.”
“And what about his visit? Were you making fun of Der Führer, you pimpf?”
“No, Herr Braun! I was not making fun of Der Führer,” the boy’s eyes opened wide in terror. “Herr Braun…I am…I am excited about seeing Der Führer, and I was only talking about his visit!”
The schoolmaster was quiet. Herr Braun considered Lothar unworthy to be a student in Gymnasium, even though the boy carried one of the highest grades in his class. Gymnasium, which focused on a liberal education, was not, Herr Braun believed, for a member of the lower class despite the display of mental brilliance. The teacher considered it beneath him to teach any student who did not have a decent social status, and besides, the boy’s crooked smile irritated him. Lothar definitely was not headed for university, if he had anything to say about it.
“So, you are excited about Der Führer’s visit? Do you know why our leader is visiting Bremen?” Herr Braun asked in a sarcastic tone.
“No, Herr Braun.”
“No, I suppose you would not know since I doubt if your parents—mere bakers—read the newspaper. Well, Lothar,” and then Herr Braun turned his head to eye the other students, “the reason Der Führer is coming to Bremen is to talk to us about the Nuremberg Laws that were put into effect last September. He is going to talk about the Jews—how they are an inferior, alien race, and how they affect all the rest of us. It is good to know because of these new laws, that Jews no longer are legal German citizens. We, the true Germans, without hesitation can run our beloved Fatherland without these aliens affecting our lives!”
The schoolmaster looked at Lothar. “Now do you understand why our leader is coming?”
“Yes, Herr Braun,” Lothar said.
The schoolmaster reached up and adjusted his thick eyeglasses. He had enough of berating Lothar for the time being. It was past time to bring the students indoors for the lessons of the day.
“Boys…line up and march into the classroom,” he said as he slapped the pointer against his right pant leg.
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