BRAUNAU AM INN
“May I ask you where you are going?”
A man put me the usual question in the morning train now carrying me from Linz to Braunau.
I named the place, and the familiar syllables sounded unreal to me, as though I could not, even yet, convince myself that I actually was going there — going to spend the 20th of April, “his” birthday, in “his” birthplace, according to my wish.
“Braunau am Inn,” repeated the man. And he suddenly became as inquisitive as any fellow from the Mediterranean shores. “You have relations there?” asked he.
“I have none.”
“Then, what are you going there for?”
“To see the place,” replied I — which was, of course, true. The man looked straight into my eyes and smiled to me.
“Going, on the 20th of April, to see the place where Adolf Hitler was born, eh!”
I blushed, as I had, two days before, in the train between Salzburg and Linz. The man stretched out his hand to me and added: “I congratulate you.”
Was he one of us, whose instinct had told him who I was, or was he just someone trying to find out about me? I shall never know. He got down at the first station in which the train halted, leaving me to my thoughts.
The train was going through a landscape of woods and meadows, in which a few slanting roofs — red or grey — could be seen here and there; a landscape much like that around Linz. The atmosphere was also much the same: an atmosphere of sunlit restfulness. “Sixty-four years ago, in a small town that is part and parcel of this peaceful landscape, a child was born . . . ,” I kept thinking. “And it is for the love of him that I am sitting here — on my way to “his” birthplace. And it is for the love of “him” that I shall be, to night, going further
on, to places where “he” lived and struggled; to his people, who are waiting for me without knowing me — on my way to the fulfilment of a destiny that I do not know; a destiny inseparably linked with that of “his” Doctrine and of “his” Movement . . .”
At every station in which the train halted, a few travellers got down, while none — or hardly any — got in. The railway carriage was becoming more and more empty as we were getting nearer the frontier town. (The train did not go any further.) In the end, I found myself alone with a group of five or six workmen who had been busy talking and joking among themselves all along the way.
“The next stop is Braunau — terminus!” said at last one of them, standing up to reach a bag full of iron instruments that he had put into the net above his seat. And suddenly noticing me in my corner, he shouted to me over the wooden separation that half isolated me: “Going to Braunau, also?” And without giving me time to answer, he added: “A nice place, Braunau. Staying there long?”
“Only spending the day there,” replied I. The young man smiled.
“Where do you come from?” asked he.
“You live in Linz?”
“Where do you live?”
“In Athens,” answered I.
“Athens . . . the capital of Greece! A fine city! I was there for a time during the war,” put in another of the workmen, who had also got up to take his things. “And you have come all that way to spend a day in Braunau?” added he, with a significant smile.
He was handsome: tall, well built, blond, and not more than thirty-five. I pictured him in uniform upon the Acropolis, between two columns of the Parthenon, ten years before: the living embodiment of that Nordic beauty that the builders of the Parthenon had striven to express; also the living embodiment of those ideals that were both those of the “godlike heroes” of the Trojan War and those of the fighters of the Third Reich.
My first impulse was to say: “Exactly! I have come to spend the 20th of April in our Führer’s birthplace.” I felt sure he would understand me. Yet I dared not speak so hastily: one can never be sure . . . It is one of the other workmen who answered his question.
“Yes, my friend. Don’t you know that it is Adolf Hitler’s birthday today?” And turning to me — who had blushed — he said, as he helped me to carry my heavy suitcase (full of books) to the door:
“You will find plenty people to show you the house where ‘he’ was born. We would gladly take you there ourselves. But we are not free: we are working on the railway. When coming out of the station, follow the road on your right, which leads straight to the town; and then, ask anybody . . .”
“I thank you,” answered I simply.
I did not ask him how he had felt — nay, how they all seemed to fell — why I had come to Braunau. As in Linz, the air one breathed, here, was full of the invisible presence of the Leader born sixty-four years before. The stones themselves knew, within their dim, matter-consciousness, that I had come for the love of “him.” Moreover, one of the workmen, — the one who had gone to Greece during the war — answered the question which I had not uttered: “We understand you, you know!” said he. “It may be that we hold our tongues, as everybody else — including yourself — nowadays. But we remember. We remember, and we wait . . . For ‘he’ is not dead. You probably know that, don’t you?”
I gazed at the perfect features of the strong, blond man — Adolf Hitler’s soldier — who had stood upon the Acropolis of Athens, a living symbol of the everlasting southward march of the Aryan.
“I know that ‘he’ can never die,” answered I.
The train halted. We all stepped out. And the men greeted me and wished me “a beautiful journey.”
The porter who took my luggage to the cloakroom was also a tall, strong, handsome blond, with a frank and friendly face — one of those typical specimens of Germanic mankind of whom I think, every time I meet one, that he — or she — could not possibly be anything else but one of Adolf Hitler’s followers (specially if he — or she — happens to be between forty
and fifty, that is to say, if he or she be old enough to have experienced all the enthusiasm of the early days of the Struggle.) I ventured to ask him whether he could not tell me, a little more clearly than the other men had, how I could find the house in which the Führer was born.
“Most easy!” replied he, with genuine amiability. “This road here, (on your right as you step out of the station) takes you straight to the square in the middle of the town. There, at the opposite end of the square, you will see an arch. Go through it, and over the little bridge that you will find on the other side. The house is just there: one of the first ones of the “Vorstadt.” Anybody will show it to you.”
“And . . . can I go in?”
“And see the actual room in which ‘he’ was born? Why not? It is on the second floor. You only have to go upstairs and ask the first person you meet.”
“And . . . nobody will take objection to my question? I am asking because . . . I have already, four years ago, got myself into trouble on account of my allegiance to the Idea, and I would not like, now that I have come back . . .”
“Rest assured; nobody will say a thing. We were all persecuted on account of our allegiance to the Idea and to ‘him.’ But things are changing . . . Now our persecutors are beginning to believe that they need us.”
These words, here in the Braunau station, had the effect of stirring up all the hatred stored in my heart since 1939, nay since 1935 — since ’33, the time the great wave of anti-Nazi propaganda in the name of the detested Judeo-Christian values had reached India, where I was then living, — against our enemies.
“I wish to goodness they do need us!” replied I vehemently. “And I wish we properly let them down, nay, turn against them, just at the time they need us the most! I wish we — and I, with the rest of us — become their persecutors, more ruthless than ever before, in the nearest possible future!”
I spoke to that German porter as though I were speaking to the German people.
He gazed at me with a happy expression of comradeship upon his rough and regular face.
“Ganz richtig! — Perfectly right! That is what we all
wish!” replied he, as though he were indeed the German people — the German workers, faithful to Adolf Hitler, their Saviour and their Friend — speaking to me. “And do not worry we shall take good care that it happens exactly as you say!”
He refused the money I wanted to give him for carrying my heavy suitcase to the cloakroom.
* * *
I walked along the pleasant, sunny road, bordered with meadows, low houses and gardens, and reached the square, as I had been told. A large square, all round which stood fairly high, picturesque old houses, and on one side of which I immediately noticed the arch leading out of it to the Vorstadt — the “suburb” — where I was to seek the house for the sake of which I had come. The four-storied building through which the arch led was also picturesque, and looked old. Had I come “sight seeing,” I would have liked to study it. But I had eyes only for one particular building: “his” house; and for the town as a whole, — the pretty little provincial town, Braunau am Inn, where “he” had come into the world, exactly sixty-four years before, and in which he had spent the first years of his life.
I passed under the arch and slowly walked half way across the small bridge that lay beyond it; leaned over the stone parapet, for a while, to look at the little stream — some tributary of the Inn, — flow below, amidst bushes and high grass, rocks and gravel, between the back walls of the bordering houses; then moved on, and crossed the first street, parallel to the stream. On the corner, on my right, was a café-pastry cook’s, and on, or rather near the opposite footpath, on my left, a splendid chestnut tree, taller than the two-storied houses before which it stood. The Café-Konditorei was attractive; looked homey. I felt urged to walk in, as though something told me that I would find there the person who would show me “his” house.
I sat in a corner, near the window, from which I could see the street and the beautiful tree, and ordered a cup of coffee. The girl who took my order had a sympathetic face. “I should ask her,” thought I. She soon came back with my
coffee, milk and sugar upon a tray. And she seemed willing to talk.
“Fine weather, today,” said I, as I smiled to her, taking the coffee from her hands. And seeing that I had opened my mouth to speak, but that I was hesitating, she asked me “Would you like to have something else? Something to eat with your coffee?”
“I would like to know whether you could tell me where is the house in which the Führer was born,” said I, in a low voice.
“That! Of course!” replied she, in the most friendly manner. “And you need not go very far. You can see it from this window: it is not the house behind that big tree, but the very next, also two-storied, newly whitewashed one, on the first floor of which you can see two flag staves.”
“So, I have come and sat right opposite it without knowing! I thank you; I do thank you for telling me! I have come here today on purpose to see it . . .”
“Today, on the 20th of April — ‘his’ birthday,” said she. She too, knew; she too, remembered; she too was thinking of “him,” on this sacred day. They all were, apparently. At least, all those whom I had met seemed to be.
I sat and sipped my coffee, after ordering a slice of apple tart to eat with it. Other customers came in, mostly women, for it was Monday — a working day. Some of them had children with them: pretty, clean, well-behaved children, that ate decently and made no noise. The wireless was transmitting some solemn, classical music, in keeping with my mood. (“Thank goodness, no jazz!” thought I.)
I left my mind wander back to the Day of Destiny: the 20th of April 1889, at 6:18 in the afternoon. (Someone had also told me the exact time, once, years before; and I remembered it.) “A spring day like today,” I reflected. And the little town, with its broad, open square, its picturesque side streets, its houses built over the stream, that sent back their images like a mirror; its neat and homey shops, cannot have looked much different from what it does now. The old houses were already old. And the magnificent chestnut tree, now taller than a two-storied building, was, — unless I be
mistaken — already there: young, and, just as now, in all its spring-like splendour; covered with blossoms. Alois Hitler, a customs officer well over fifty, and twice a widower, lived in that house that I had been shown five minutes before — “not the one behind the chestnut tree, but the next one” — with his third wife, Clara, who was then twenty-nine. The child to which the latter was about to give birth was neither her first one nor her last one. Just another baby in the family . . . But the unseen Powers, Whose inscrutable Play lies behind the mystery of heredity, had ordained that all the intelligence and intuition, and all the willpower and heroism of generations and generations, — all the virtues and genius of the privileged Race, fated to rule — should find in that Child their highest expression; that the Babe should be a godlike one: whose consciousness was, one day, to be none other than the deeper consciousness of his people and of the Race at large, for all times to come, and whose dream was to inspire a new civilisation. And far beyond the clear blue sky of the little town and the thin atmosphere of this little planet, in the cold, dark realm of fathomless Void, the unseen stars had very definite positions; significant positions, such as they take only once within hundreds of years in relation to any particular spot on earth. And at the appointed time — 6:18 in the afternoon — the Child came into the world, unnoticed masterpiece of a twofold cosmic Play: of the mysterious artistry of Aryan blood in infinite time; of the mysterious influence of distant worlds in infinite space. Apparently, just another baby in the family. In reality, after centuries, — a new divine Child on this planet; the first one in the West after the legendary Baldur the Fair and, like He, a Child of the Sun; a predestined Fighter against the forces of death and a Saviour of men, marked out for leadership, for victory, for agony and for immortality.
Around me, women chatted in a low voice and children ate cakes in silence. “German mothers and German children — “his” people,” thought I. “The agents of the forces of death now forbid them to praise his name. Many of the little ones probably have never even heard of him . . . But that is only for a time; only until the next war rids us of our persecutors. After that . . .” After that, I expected this place would become,
for thousands and hundreds of thousands, what it already was for me: a place of pilgrimage.
* * *
It was not far from twelve o’clock. I would, in the afternoon (if not exactly between six and half past six) visit the house and see the room in which “he” was born. In the meantime, I would see something of the town.
I walked back over the small bridge and, through the arch, once more across the large square full of sunshine — but this time in the opposite direction. There was, at the other end of the square, an opening beyond which the horizon was limited not by a further perspective of houses, but by green hills. I walked towards it, and soon reached a wide, swift, bluish-green river: the Inn, tributary of the Danube.
“Braunau am Inn,” thought I. The name of Adolf Hitler’s birthplace had always been linked in my mind with that of this beautiful river. The river now took shape in my eyes; became, to me, a reality: a stream of bluish-green, foamy, noisy water, rapidly flowing in the sunshine through a broad, green, hilly landscape, under a large, modern stone and concrete bridge; no longer a mere name on the map, but a living thing of light and colour, sound and speed, the picture of which would now remain forever in my memory, side by side with that of the main square of Braunau, with its old fountain and old houses; with that of the arch, and of the bridge over the tiny, quiet stream; with that of the chestnut tree and of the hospitable café, and of the two-storied house opposite — of the house in which “he” — my Leader — was born.
I walked along the bridge over the Inn. On each side of it, at the other end, I noticed a tiny house — a mere “ground-floor,” that looked as though it could not have had more than a room or two. A light iron railing, something like those that bar the road at a level-crossing before the passage of a train, ran from one footpath to the other between the two little buildings, as though cutting off the bridge (and all that stood on this side of the Inn) from the rest of the landscape. And suddenly the meaning of these two insignificant-looking ground-floor houses and of that railing dawned upon me: “The frontier!”
thought I, — the hated artificial frontier between German land and German land; the shame that “he” — our Hitler — had fought to abolish; that is what now stood before my sight.
I recalled the immortal words in which Adolf Hitler has forever connected the sense of his mission with the fact that he came into the world but a few hundred yards away from this artificial frontier: the very first words of Mein Kampf: “It appears to me today a lucky sign that Destiny should have appointed me Braunau am Inn as a birthplace. This little town is indeed situated on the border of the two German States, the re-unification of which seems, to us young men at least, the purpose of our lives, to be carried out at all costs. German Austria must go back to the great German Motherland, and not on account of any sort of economic considerations. No, no; even if, considered from the economic standpoint, this re-unification were a matter of indifference, nay, even if it were harmful, it would still have to take place. People of the same blood should come under the same State . . .”1
And tears came to my eyes at the idea that the frontier — that had not existed, as long as “he” still was in power — now stood there once more: the tangible sign of the victory of the dark forces over “him” and over Germany, for the time being at least.
“But,” thought I, “Adolf Hitler has not fought only to abolish all artificial boundaries on the map, — to create a German State that would enclose ‘all Germans to the last one’ and no foreign elements, within its borders; — he has also fought to abolish classes, and all manner of artificial divisions among people of the same pure race; all manner of divisions which lie in things that one can acquire, and which hide and pretend to suppress that one real, God-ordained bond among men — that one bond that man can neither buy nor earn nor create —: the bond of the same blood. Today, after the defeat of his people, the Jew-ridden Democracies have not only set up, once more, the old frontier-posts that “he” had done away with, but they erected new and equally shocking ones that had not existed,
1 “Gleiches Blut gehört in ein gemeinsames Reich,” (Mein Kampf, I, p. 1).
even before the expansion of the Reich. They have cut Germany in two, if not in four — or in ten.1 And this is merely the external sign of their whole distorted, mad policy, — of their policy against Nature, monstrous outcome of their monstrously artificial outlook on life and on man. It is merely the external sign of their lasting war, in the name of silly, sickly fantasies, against all that is God-ordained.
In a mood of defiance, I walked up to one of the frontier posts, and found myself before a fairly large room with a glass separation — or at least a transparent separation — in the middle of it. On one side of the separation sat the German frontier-guard, on the other, the “Austrian” one, i.e., another German, in a slightly different uniform. (In fact, in this particular instance, the “Austrian” looked — outwardly — more “Germanic” than his colleague.)
People came and went, on foot and on bicycle, showed the men in the double office a card — something like a permanent pass; a permit to cross the artificial border any number of times a day — and walked or rode further on. I had no such thing as a permit to cross the border any number of times a day, but only a Greek passport bearing a transit visa for Austria and an entrance visa for Germany, valid until the 31st of May 1953. (I could, of course, cross the frontier at Braunau. But I intended to spend the next day, or days, at Berchtesgaden, and therefore would cross it at Salzburg. Moreover, I had left all my luggage at the station.) I tried my chance, and asked the man in the first compartment of the room — the “Austrian,” apparently, — whether I could not, with my passport, take a stroll along the street that went up past the frontier, between two rows of houses and gardens, and come back within half an hour or so.
“You have an entrance visa for Germany?” enquired the man.
“Naturally,” replied I.
“Where was it issued?”
“In Athens, by the German Embassy.”
The man looked carefully at my passport, and then, with
1 If one counts, apart from the two main “Zones,” the different German territories under Russian, Polish, Czech administration etc. and the Saar, still detached from Germany at the time this book was written.
curiosity — and not without what appeared to me to be sympathetic interest — at me.
“You have a Greek passport, I see.”
The man called his colleague — the lucky German who, being born five hundred yards away from him, on the other side of the arbitrary line, (and despite the fact that, as I already said, he looked definitely less “Germanic” than the former) had retained the right to call himself a German, even after the disaster of 1945.
“Unfortunately,” said the latter, “this visa allows you to enter German territory only once. It is not valid for several journeys. I can let you go, and come back. But then you will not be permitted to enter Germany again . . .”
I was thinking to myself: “What a farce! Oh, if only we had not lost this war! There would be, then, no frontier here, anyhow; and I . . . would not be travelling clandestinely under my maiden name with a Greek passport — even if a Democratic Indian Government had refused to renew my Indian one.”
“It is all right,” said I to the two men. “Of course I am not sacrificing my possibility of entering Germany, for the pleasure of walking up that street and back. But here, among ourselves, may I speak quite frankly — even if my frankness verges on cheek? May I tell you what I think of this frontier of yours?”
The two men — the two Germans — smiled: the same sympathetic smile.
“To us, you can say whatever you please.”
“Yes,” replied I, ironically; “good Democrats, I suppose . . . In which case you should encourage freedom of expression that is the democratic creed — men say.”
The two frontier-guards smiled even more heartily than they had at first.
“Less good Democrats than you seem to think; that is precisely why we are glad to hear you,” said the lucky German (the one who had retained the right to call himself one, openly).
Will, then I shall speak all the more according to my heart . . .” answered I. “Listen. First, I find this frontier perfectly ridiculous. You speak of my ‘entering Germany.’ But I am, here, in Germany. This is German land, whether the
big bosses of this Jew-ridden post-war world care to admit it or not! Look at the landscape on either side of the Inn — that German river —: the same landscape. Look at the people: the same people. Look at yourselves; question your hearts in all sincerity. Your hearts will echo the undying words: “People of the same blood should come under the same State.” (The words are not mine; I need not tell you — I hope — whose they are.) A ridiculous thing, this artificial frontier between Germany and Germany. Ridiculous . . . and criminal, also: a standing lie, and a standing shame. And this is my second point: this border is by no means less objectionable than that which separates the Eastern Zone from the Western Zone. It marks, likewise, a vivisection of the living Reich. But the Western Allies — who speak of German unity, now that they have found out that they cannot resist their former partners without Germany’s help — will not admit it — the vile liars!
“And third I detest all man-made frontiers; all ‘borders’ between people of the same blood; all States comprising, as ‘citizens,’ people who, in accordance with their race, should belong to a different State. Not only so-called ‘sovereign’ Austria, not only the Saar, and Silesia and Danzig and East and West Prussia, and all the provinces torn away from it by the Russians, Czechs, Poles or French, but also the Flemish half of Belgium, the whole of Holland, Denmark, Scandinavia, etc. . . . all lands in which the Germanic race prevails, should one day be integrated into the Greater German Reich . . . That is what I believe.”
“That is exactly what we believe,” answered the so-called “Austrian,” to my amazement. “Do you imagine we have had a say in the matter, when this frontier was once more set up? Do you believe we want it? But we are powerless. What can we do about it?”
“Think of revenge day and night, and wait — like I do!” replied I.
“That is exactly what we also do,” declared the other man.
“Good for you, if it be so! Auf Wiedersehen!” said I, as I walked away. I dared not say: “Heil Hitler!” in such a public place.
It was nevertheless refreshing to hear these two men’s reaction to my profession of faith with regard to frontiers, on
this sixty-fourth birthday of him who said: “Gleiches Blut gehört in ein gemeinsames Reich.”
* * *
I spent the rest of my time wandering about the little town, observing things and people. I entered a baker’s shop to buy a few buns to eat in the train; I went and posted a card to Luise K. (I was lucky enough to find one with a picture of the house in which Adolf Hitler was born) and a letter to India; I sat for a while upon a bench in a public garden and watched the children play — as “his” mother had probably watched “him” play, sitting, perhaps (who knows?) in the selfsame place, sixty years before. In a side street, — through the back door that happened to be open — I took a glance at a workshop. On a stool, near a machine, the nature and use of which I could not makes out, was sitting a big black cat, its green eyes half-shut, its front-paws stretched out, its body in that restful, sphinx-like position, which is one of the outward signs of feline happiness. I stroked the creature of beauty and of mystery. It thrust its round head forwards, shut its eyes completely, and purred. One of the workmen, who had just caught sight of me, smiled to me and greeted me: “Guten Tag!” I returned his greeting. Then, seeing that the cat was apparently enjoying the attention I paid it, he added: “It looks as if he fancies you. He does not allow each and every person to stroke him,” — nearly the selfsame words that Adolf Hitler’s old tutor had spoken to me on the day before, at the sight of the favour shown to me by another specimen of the feline family.
“It looks indeed as though he does,” replied I.
I reflected that this workman probably would have made the same remark to me during the great days, with the only difference that he would have said: “Heil Hitler!” instead of saying: “Guten Tag!” Did he know, — did he remember — that it was today the Führer’s birthday? He doubtless did: he was old enough to have been educated in the Hitler Youth. He too, probably, looked back with nostalgia to the; bygone years when one greeted anybody with the glorious words, as a matter of course. But he could say nothing. I had not spoken a word that could have encouraged him to do so. For a second, I
felt as if I would have liked to give him a hint — to mention, for instance, that I had been in Leonding on the day before. But I did not. I merely smiled sadly; and, after a common place, harmless “Auf Wiedersehen!,” I went my way.
A little further, I stopped to admire a garden full of flowers. A kind looking old woman could he seen at the open window, on the first floor of the neighbouring house. At her side, upon the windowsill, was seated . . . another well-fed, happy cat — a yellow one, this time; but too far away for me to stroke it! I noticed a bee fly out of a flower in which it had been gathering honey. The atmosphere of the whole town was peaceful, sunny, homely. “It must have looked like that when ‘he’ was a child,” thought I, once more.
The earliest picture I have ever seen or our Führer is one taken in Braunau when he was about a year old. I recalled that picture — in which the extraordinary eyes already draw one’s attention — and again I imagined “him” with his mother — in her arms or at her side — in those far-gone days of which he says himself that “only a little remains of them within his memory.”1 Peaceful years; years without history; years of slow life, the type of which most people in Braunau apparently live still today; years that interest us only because “he” has lived them.
“In fact,” reflected I, as I wandered along another picturesque, neat and quiet street, “if I am at all so moved at the evocation of the one year old and two year old child that Adolf Hitler has once been, it is only because that child was already “he” — the Man destined to fight alone against the downward rush of Time; the Man destined to raise Germany out of the dust, to power, and to show every Aryan of the world the way he can free himself from the unseen tyranny of Jewish lies: our Führer. It is just the same with all children: I see in them that which I presume they are likely to become; the forces that they are likely to help — and those against which they are likely to fight — in the future. And I love them (as I do my comrades’ children) or dislike them, or remain perfectly indifferent to them, in consequence. In “his” case I know what the child was to become; what he became, to the knowledge of everybody. But . . . who could, then, have presumed it? Who could have presumed what Josef Goebbels — also born in a Catholic environment — was likely to become? Who could have
1 Mein Kampf, edit. 1939, p. 2.
guessed the evolution of most of the prominent — and even of the non-prominent — early fighters of the National Socialist Movement, when they were children? And (although I be the most insignificant of all) who could have foreseen, in the Greek nationalist that I was as a child and as a young girl, the future wholehearted disciple of the German Leader, Adolf Hitler? Watching a person’s evolution is like watching a tapestry pattern take shape under the artisan’s fingers: one has to wait till its main features have come to light before one can grasp the guiding idea, the hidden inner logic, that underlies the whole of it.
But of course, there exist certain glaring probabilities, and also certain down-right impossibilities. One can be practically sure that my comrades’ children will grow into fighters on our side. And it is absolutely certain that a young Jew, if let to live, will become a grownup Jew, and a young half-Jew, quarter- Jew, or eighth-Jew etc. . . . something no better.
And just as I love the predestined Babe on account of the Superman that he has become, so do I love this little town, with its quiet, slow, smiling life, for the sake of the grand life of faith and struggle, song and pride and resistance, and triumph — triumph in spite of all, yes, even now, — that the son of Alois and Clara Hitler, born here, has brought us.
I imagined the enthusiasm that must have prevailed, here in Braunau, on a day like this, when Adolf Hitler was at the height of his power. How I would have a hundred times preferred that atmosphere of boisterous collective joy, to this slow life, unfolding itself day after day, in peace! I recalled the words in which Robert d’Harcourt, a French Academy writer and an enemy of our faith, had once characterised our régime, in an article I had read in a literary magazine: “In the Third Reich, there was place only for two feelings: enthusiasm . . . or terror.” “Yes, my dear Sir,” reflected I, reacting to the memory of those words; “that is exactly what I want: enthusiasm in our hearts; terror in those of our enemies; proud and beautiful National Socialist youths marching through the streets and singing, in the intoxication of re-acquired power: ‘We are the Storm Columns, ready for the racial Struggle1 . . .”; and the Jews and the slaves of Jewry trembling behind their closed windows and barricaded doors, conscious of the fate awaiting them! Yes, by all means, give us back
1 “Wir sind die Sturmkolonnen, zum Rassenkampf bereit . . .”
that, invisible Powers of Light, Aryan Gods Who are but the magnified Projection of the latent possibilities of our own Race! Give us back that, instead of this so-called ‘better world,’ as dull as a provincial Sunday afternoon, that both the Christian Churches and the servants of international Freemasonry would like to impose upon us!” The French Academician doubtless thought he was running us down — he wanted to run us down — when he wrote that wonderful sentence. I wish I could tell him to his face that, on the contrary, his sentence describes my own most cherished aspiration. I wish I could tell him: ‘It is precisely because he gave us that, — instead of the commonplace, meaningless life, free from warlike joy, which you probably like, — that we adore our Führer!”
And I also recalled something that I had myself told an English gentlewoman (much to her disgust) a year or so before “I find peace dull . . .”
And again I wondered: would I ever be granted to see that merciless revolutionary joy that abides in us, again express itself on a scale of millions, in our Führer’s name? Would I be there, when the day really comes for it to express itself? Would I have the pleasure — and the honour — of kindling it?
Something in the depth of my heart answered: “Why not?” Was I not already in Braunau am Inn on Adolf Hitler’s birthday, as I had so long wished to be? This was a sign from Heaven.
* * *
I found myself again not far from the main square — wandering somewhere behind those houses that form the left side of it when one is looking towards the Inn. Before me stood a church. It occurred to me that it was quite possibly there that Adolf Hitler had been christened, as it was not far from the house in which his parents lived. I was of course not sure, and might have been entirely mistaken. But I stepped in.
It was a very old church, much larger and much more richly decorated than the one I had visited in Leonding. A few elderly women — and one very young girl — were kneeling here and there in prayer. I also knelt; but in quite a different mood from that in which I had been in Leonding. I knelt and reflected, and became intensely aware of the one reality that has been, throughout my life, the centre of all my speculations, the theme of nearly all my conversations, the motive of all my actions:
the standing — unavoidable — conflict between the Aryan and the Christian spirit, in which I have, from the beginning, fought on the Aryan side. Then, I recalled a few episodes of German history. And I marvelled at the fact that not merely I — the lonely, powerless individual, that will die and leave no trace, — but Germany as a whole, Germany as a historical force, has also, from the beginning, fought on the Aryan side. And the birth of Adolf Hitler in this town, in a Catholic family, on a day like this, sixty-four years before, — that miracle — appeared to me as Germany’s long-deserved and final victory over the international Teaching that places “man” at the centre of all things and proclaims that the soul of a Jew or of a Negro is worth that of the purest Aryan, in God’s eyes.
Whether in this church or in another (it makes no difference) the divine Child was christened a Catholic; forced, through the power of the traditional rites and, priestly spell, into that international brotherhood in Christ, that thinks itself above blood and soil and all bonds of this earth. But in him, stronger than the sacramental Words, and stronger than the centuries of Christian influence that those words implied, lived the hitherto half-conscious Germanic Soul, ready to reassert itself at the appointed time, in the appointed manner. By the decree of the “All-powerful Father-of-Light” — the mysterious Life-Force within the Sun, worshipped in the forests and at the hearths of immemorial Germany — and of all the Aryan Gods, he was to be the living Incarnation of the Consciousness of Blood and Soil in our times. He was already the One Who comes back, when the truth of Blood and Soil — and the truth of War as a duty, for the natural aristocracy of this earth — is forgotten; the tardy but irresistible Avenger that many a German warrior had called in vain, as he had heard the sacred Oak crack, and seen it fall, under Boniface’s axe, a thousand years before. And therefore the spell of Christian baptism remained without effect.
Yet, the happy mother walked out of the church with the white-clad Babe in her arms. The father, and guests, stood at her side. And there was a feast in the home. But not one of those who sat around the well-decked table on that day was ever, perhaps, to realise — even in the course of following years — Who that predestined Babe was.
And suddenly, it dawned upon me that I had realised it;
that I knew Who my Führer was — Who he is — I, who have never seen him. “Would you forsake this privilege for that of having seen him?” asked a still voice within me. And I answered definitely: “No!” I was — for a while — filled with immense satisfaction. I felt nearer to my Leader than all those who have seen him, but not understood . . . Still . . . Why had I not seen him also? Would I ever see him? wondered I, for the hundred thousandth time, as I got up and walked into the street.
* * *
I went back to the two-storied house not far from the chestnut tree — the house in which “he” was horn. It is now a library and a school. I went upstairs, walked along the passage on the first floor; had a look, through the massive, whitewashed stone arches that ran along a part of that passage, on my right hand side, at the courtyard, trees and other houses at the back of the house. The passage was paved with crude bricks. The arches shone, dazzling white, against the deep blue spring sky. The view one had was a broad, open one, the houses in the immediate neighbourhood being fairly low. I went up to the second floor; followed the corridor, partly bordered with massive, whitewashed arches exactly like the ones below, and took another glance at the courtyard and low roofs; walked back to the staircase, and then once more along the corridor, wondering whom I could possibly ask to show me the particular room that I had come to see — for there was nobody to ask.
The doors that opened into the passage were all closed save one, behind which I could hear somebody displacing furniture — putting the place in order, apparently. I gently knocked, once, and then again. A woman peeped out, without opening the door completely. “Guten Tag!” said I. But something in her bearing made me hesitate.
“Guten Tag,” replied she. “What do you want?”
“Excuse me if I am disturbing you,” answered I, rather shyly. “I am a visitor. I would like to know whether you could be kind enough to show me . . .”
I did not say what I wanted her to show me. I had no time to, for she interrupted me bluntly: “There is nothing to see, here,” said she: “nothing at all but schoolrooms, and
a library downstairs. Surely you did not come to see that.” And she closed the door in my face.
Was she against us — against Adolf Hitler? Could there really be anybody against him, here in Braunau, where he came into the world? thought I, — and immediately I myself judged the question silly. Even in Braunau, evidently, there could be such people, and this woman could be one. Or was she, on the contrary, so fanatically conscious of the sacredness of the place that she did not wish foreigners to see it? I shall never know. I was bitterly disappointed, anyhow.
“I wanted to see the room in which our Führer was born. Who knows? It is perhaps that very one,” reflected I, feeling tears well up to my eyes. “And an angry fate forbids that I should see it; forbids even that I should know behind which door it lies!” But I thought after a second: “It is not worse, anyhow, than the angry fate that has forbidden that I should see him at the height of his glory . . .”
I walked once more up to the arch at the end of the passage, and looked out at the blue sky — so pure, so blue!
“Adolf Hitler has, no doubt, walked along this corridor, and gazed at the sky through this arch any number of times during those uneventful years of his early childhood — those years in which there was little for him to remember” — thought I.
And again the idea that I had never seen him — that it might be that I shall never see him — oppressed me. But the still voice of my better Self, as distant and as serene as the blue sky, rose within my heart and said: “True, you have never seen him, but you have realised Who he is; true, you were not at his side, — not even among his people — during the great days, but you belong to him. And the words you have uttered or written in praise of him and of his people are true for all times to come; true outside the moving realm of Time. And Time that reduces worlds to dust, cannot tear you away from Him!”
And I felt the peace of the Sky, which is above and beyond all struggles — even ours — descend into me.
I slowly walked downstairs, took a last glance at the house, and went back to the station.
Less than an hour later, I was in the train on my way to Berchtesgaden — my next landmark in the pilgrimage I had undertaken.