Hitler raised his right arm, holding his hand straight. “Sieg heil!” he shouted.
The people in the crowd responded by raising their arms in the Nazi salute. “Sieg heil! Sieg heil!” they yelled in unison. “Hail to victory!”
Eva and Olga stared, but they did not raise their arms. Peter gripped his violin, as his eyes darted around the crowd. He wished he could get out his violin and disappear into his music, so all this would vanish. This was too real for the magic of his violin, and he was worried about Eva.
Wilbur whipped around and glared at them. “Salute! Show your respect,” he ordered, as he pointed his crooked fingers at them. He spied Peter. “You too, you little worm!”
Peter could smell Wilbur’s alcohol-soaked breath. He turned away, hiding behind Olga.
Olga looked at Wilbur’s snarling face, then at the agitated crowd around her. She glanced at Eva. Then she quickly looked down, unable to look her friend in the eyes, as she slowly raised her arm in a salute.
Peter’s eyes widened as he watched Olga’s arm creep upward. He peeked out at Eva, who clenched her arms at her side, her face contorted into defiant lines of anger. Peter’s knuckles turned white, as he gripped the violin as if it were the only thing that could save him.
“Heil Hitler!” the crowd shouted in impassioned unison.
Wilbur stepped in front of Eva. His breath hissed out; Peter could smell the foul odors of alcohol. He cringed and hid back behind the temporary protection of Olga.
“Raise your arm! You must be a dirty Jew,” Wilbur shouted at Eva. She looked at Olga, who was frozen with fear. There would be no help there. Peter stayed hidden behind Olga with only the end of his violin visible.
Eva turned and faced the ugly Wilbur, with her hands balled into fists, unable to move.
Peter carefully released one side of the violin and reached out to Eva from behind Olga. He wanted to save her, but he wasn’t brave or fast enough.
Wilbur swung his huge gnarled hand at Eva with great force. Peter pulled his outstretched hand back, as the man hit Eva on the side of her head. She fell down, slamming her head on the sidewalk.
Wilbur kicked her and turned back around, as if he assaulted young girls every day.
Wolfgang’s mother looked back with concern at Eva sprawled on the sidewalk, but Wilbur jerked her back around. “Pay attention! The Fuhrer is here!” he ordered.
“Heil Hitler!” the crowd shouted in political unison.
The motorcade passed by Peter, who saw the Fuhrer from between the surging bodies. Adolf Hitler, the great leader of Germany, was not a cartoon after all; he was real. Peter pulled back his violin to protect it, then vomited on the ground. No one noticed.
After Hitler passed, the crowd dispersed, stepping around Eva lying dazed on the sidewalk. She reached up, touched her head, and groaned. Her school knapsack lay beside her.
Peter wiped his mouth on his sleeve and watched, as Olga knelt beside Eva and looked up at the hurriedly passing people. Tears ran down her face. Then she stood up and ran into the crowd, leaving Eva on the ground.
Peter crept up cautiously to Eva, reached out his hand, and pulled her up. He had missed his chance to save her, and he saw in her eyes that she knew it.
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