I lift my hand from the blood banner and place my dagger on my belt: I’ve been accepted by the Hitler Youth!
I hurry over to see what branch I will serve in. I am confident that my friend, Leopold, is going to be in the SRD (Hitler’s youth patrol force). He’s the perfect Nazi: Aryan, aggressive, loyal, and following every command. My confidence wavers in my other friend, Richard. Richard barely came out the tests alive, as he is mostly intelligent and thoughtful: the two traits that the Nazi favor the least, as well as short with black hair and eyes, and a pointed nose. I always believed that he could make it to the Hitler Youth, but the SRD is a far-fetched position for boys such as Richard. But the most important question: what would I be chosen for?
Though I passed all the tests and show interest in the Nazi, I hate their ideals and everything about them. I just hope the tests and years of service covered up that fact, as I am a spy for Great Britain and the rest of the allies, and need to be in the SRD to gather more insights.
Then I see it: My name, Ludwig, right under Leopold, in the SRD. I then search the list frantically for Richard. I see his name not far under those cut from the list: We had all made it into the SRD.
I raise my gun as Leopold shouts, “Surrender immediately!”
We’re raiding a family that had been accused of hiding a Jew, and Leopold was the first and most eager to charge in and aim his gun. I move into a bedroom, and stare as two other SRD members drag a young Jewish man, about 25, out of the room. I move upstairs, and see Leopold and another solder shooting out the window.
“Got him!” the other boy, Karl, shouts. I look outside in horror as the corpse of a dead boy stretches across the backyard.
After the SS dragged all the Jews into a truck, the SRD gathered around. Our captain complimented Leopold for his bold movements and fast reflexes.
The day after the raid, I notice that everyone, even Richard, walks far from Leopold and respected him. Only out of fear, I thought, not because they actually believe the Nazi ideals, but I had a hard time convincing even myself.
“I’m going to join the SS to complete my duty to the fatherland someday,” claims Leopold.
“I don’t really know, I’ll maybe join the army and rank up slowly,” says Richard.
Then Richard and Leopold start arguing.
I know exactly where I’ll be in a few years: in England, after the war’s over. Germany is losing on three different fronts: Russian, British, and American, and my father claims that the war will end before we graduate the Hitler Youth program.
“Ludwig, what’re you going to do?” Leopold practically shouts in my ear, breaking my thoughts.
“Probably serve in the SS”, I respond, finishing in my head: if the war still isn’t over by then and only then to gather information.
A Hitler Youth boy walks towards the park we’re in, but turns back when he sees Leopold. Leopold’s father is an important Nazi officer. He doesn't put that up against us often, but that is part the reason everyone is so afraid around him.
Leopold suddenly lowers his voice to a whisper: “I overheard my dad talking about an assassination plan of an important Allied scientist working on the atomic bomb. He’ll kill me if he knows I told you two though.” His father was right to be afraid and cautious: now the information will be passed to the British.
At home, my parents' eyes widen as they hear the news. My parents are two of the few remaining political enemies of the Nazi party, and stay alive by pretending to believe the Nazi propaganda.
A while later, my mom asks, “Did he mention which scientist?” I was reluctant to inform her that I had asked the same question, and received no answer.
It’s my 15th birthday on January 15, and I have just received my gift: a pair of steel binoculars. I hang the binoculars around my neck, and, after eating dinner, I sleep.
On the next day, both my parents are out of the house working, and Richard is at my house, carrying a suitcase. After talking to me for a while, he excused himself to the bathroom. It’s been a while; I think after waiting five minutes, nervously looking out the window, just in time to see snow falling. A few more minutes pass, and I see him walking out. I hear a faint beep.
It must just be a voice in my head, I think after it stops. A few hours later, Richard claims he has to go, one hour before he usually leaves. Maybe he has some work, I think.
A few minutes later, I hear some noise coming from the ceiling.
Really got to tell Dad to patch this house up, I noted. Then, I hear the faint beeping again, and a cough on the ceiling. Cautiously, I shuffle out the front door, and use my binoculars to see Richard on the ceiling with the suitcase open. Inside was a bomb. I climb up the ladder on the side of the house as he finishes pushing the buttons, and closes the suitcase.
“What are you doing!” I shout and draw my dagger.
"Blowing up a traitor,” Richard responds, pulling a letter out of his pocket. I recognized the address: it was a letter to the British with my address and name. I'm lost in my thoughts and let my guard down; when I see Richard rushing toward me with the suitcase, it’s too late. When we fell, I extended my right arm: the arm holding the dagger, under Richard’s neck, so the blade is under his chin: one false move and I’ll pull the dagger in and kill him. I watch as Richard stabs his dagger into my chest; the pain did not come. We fell hard on snow, but we’re both still breathing. The suitcase’s beep is growing louder now, and by instinct I ripped the dagger sheath off my belt, sheath my dagger, not wanting to penetrate the suitcase and set off the bomb, and throw my dagger at the suitcase. The suitcase flies and catches on a branch about ten feet away and 50 feet high. I hear a loud “Bang” as blood rapidly seeped out of my right arm, and Richard rolls over me, his dagger falling to the ground. It is only then I see what had saved me: my binoculars, now dented and broken, had lowered the speed and force of his dagger and the plade hardly hit my chest before we landed...
“Enough, Ludwig,” says Leopold, emerging from behind the house, holding a gun. At the corner of my eye, I see Richard getting up and grasping his dagger.
“Good, Richard, you can do the honors,” commanded Leopold.
I hear cloth ripping; I feel no pain. I hear a scream in a familiar voice that is not mine. I hear a gun being fired and a soft thud; I open my eyes. Lying on the ground, is the corpse of Leopold, a dagger in his chest, his face in a horrid expression with his mouth open. His gun lay next to him and there’s a bullet hole in the snow a few feet away.
I turn and see Richard silently weeping.
I look at what had been my town and see new buildings that I did not recognize. I had finally come home to Germany after taking refuge in England for a few years during and after the war with Richard and my family.
“Come on,” Richard sighs as we walk towards our new school: we are 20 and still have to make up for high school. I’m excited to see what has changed in Germany during the years I was away.
No Hitler Youth and no Nazis: Germany as just Germany. The American and Soviet won’t affect our lives for a while, and I can now live a normal life.
Hugo Wang is a sixth-grader at Apollo Elementary.