Authors: Robert Elmer
Tags: #Christian, #World War; 1939-1945, #Underground Movements, #Historical, #Denmark, #Fiction, #Jews, #Christian Fiction, #Jewish, #Historical Fiction, #Jews - Persecutions - Denmark, #Romance, #Clergy, #War & Military, #World War; 1939-1945 - Jews - Rescue - Denmark, #Clergy - Denmark, #World War; 1939-1945 - Underground Movements - Denmark, #Jews - Denmark, #Theresienstadt (Concentration Camp)
"Not only is this story unforgettable,
but it renewed my commitment to help end genocide.
Excitement and suspense flow from every page."
—AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR DIANN MILLS
Wildflowers of Terezin
Copyright © 2010 by Robert Elmer
Published by Abingdon Press, P.O. Box 801, Nashville, TN 37202
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form,
stored in any retrieval system, posted on any website, or transmitted in any
form or by any means—digital, electronic, scanning, photocopy, recording,
or otherwise—without written permission from the publisher, except for brief
quotations in printed reviews and articles. With few exceptions the persons
and events portrayed in this work of fiction are the creations of the author,
and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL
VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.
All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International
Published in association with the literary agency of Alive Communications, Inc.,
7680 Goddard Street, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 80920,
Cover design by Anderson Design Group, Nashville, TN
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Wildflowers of Terezin / Robert Elmer.
ISBN 978-1-4267-0192-4 (pbk. : alk. paper)
1. Clergy—Denmark—Fiction. 2. Jews—Denmark—Fiction. 3. World War, 1939-1945—Underground movements—Denmark—Fiction. 4. Jews—Persecutions— Denmark—Fiction. 5. World War, 1939-1945—Jews—Rescue—Denmark—Fiction. 6. Theresienstadt (Concentration camp)—Fiction. I. Title.
Printed in the United States of America
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 / 15 14 13 12 11 10
To Mogens Maagaard
Mange tak, min ven.
Many thanks, my friend.
BISPEBJERG HOSPITAL, KØBENHAVN
FRIDAY MORNING, 17 SEPTEMBER 1943
I live in a crazy time.
— ANNE FRANK
anne Abrahamsen awoke with a start in the middle of a bad dream, something about being in nursing school once again and a man who looked like Adolf Hitler (but with the face of a codfish) announcing at her graduation that she was a Jew, and didn't everyone already know that? The graduation had stopped, and she remembered wanting desperately to escape but not being able to move.
Hanne had never thought much about dreams, or cared.Until now.
Somewhere outside her window she heard what had awakened her: a line of cars and trucks roaring through the narrow streets of
on their way to the devil's business.And even louder at this time of the morning, when the only ones awake were the
She shivered and pulled up the covers to her chin, but couldn't put away the feeling that something was not right.It was not the first time she'd heard German vehicles at odd hours, so maybe it was just the dream. Still, she slipped out of bed to check the window that faced
Of all the nurses' apartments on the
Hospital campus, hers commanded the best, and sometimes the noisiest, view of the city. She shivered at the September predawn chill, reaching the window in time to peek through the heavy blackout shade and see a pair of brake lights flash as a vehicle careened around the corner.
"Well, they're in a hurry, aren't they?" she mumbled, pushing at the upper pane of her window to keep out the draft.
A Dane? Not likely. No
would dare make so much noise at this time of the morning—especially not after all the troubles and tension they'd seen here in København over the past several months. After the strikes and all the troubles this past summer, no one wanted to make themselves a target.
No, she'd heard German vehicles—and then another truck screeching around the corner confirmed what she'd feared.This one carried armed soldiers in back, holding on for dear life. This could only mean that the Germans had stepped up their campaigns against the Danish Underground—and that they were flexing their muscle in an early morning raid somewhere in the city.
Hanne drew back as the little cuckoo on the wall of her kitchen sounded four . . . five . . . six times.
"Too early, my cuckoo friend," she told the clock with a sigh. "Though I suppose I needed to get up for the morning shift, anyway."
But she stood there, shivering in her nightgown and bare feet, unable to move and unable to forget her dream—or the nightmare outside her window.
ON THE STREETS OF KØBENHAVN
FRIDAY MORNING, 17 SEPTEMBER 1943
Wolfschmidt frowned and checked his watch once more as he squeezed the backdoor handle. Was he the only one in this operation who cared about being punctual? It would take a Gestapo man's attention to detail to make this work.
His young driver from the
the German Security Police, mumbled a weak apology and wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead as they squealed past the famous Round Tower, then careened around the corner and approached the Jewish synagogue on
Ahead and to the right, he could make out the large, blondbricked building, rather square and squat despite a row of stained-glass windows running the length of the second floor level and a stepped roof even higher to the rear. Wolfschmidt thought it rather base looking and nowhere near as grand as a proper German cathedral, though that did not surprise him.A place of worship, indeed!
"Do you see it?" Wolfschmidt sat on the edge of his seat and pointed to a clear spot on the curb, directly in front of a gate in the street-level fence. "Stop there."
replied the driver, using Wolfschmidt's proper Gestapo title. At least he could do that correctly. But now Wolfschmidt grabbed the young man's shoulder to get his attention and to go over their instructions yet one more time. Despite the utter routine of their action this morning, Wolfschmidt couldn't help feeling his heart pounding in his ears. He was made for this work.
he told the young recruit. "You will accompany me into the building. I will be two steps behind you. If any doors are locked you will break them down. If anyone tries to stop you or question you, step aside and I will deal with it. Keep your weapon holstered but loaded and ready."
"I understand." The driver shut off the car's ignition and waited. The good news was that if they needed to, Wolfschmidt was confident this large young man had the required beef to make his way through any door they needed, locked or otherwise.Much more so than Wolfschmidt himself, who was slight of build and might break his shoulder if he attempted such heroics.
"Good. We will locate this librarian and escort him back to the car, so he will assist us in our task."
Again the driver nodded. How hard could this be? But by now they were almost five minutes off schedule, and Wolfschmidt could feel his anxiety rising as he pushed open his door and stepped out into the cool September air. No more delays. No more foolishness.
"All right, then," hissed Wolfschmidt. "Let's be about our business."
He straightened his high-peaked gray hat where it perched on his precisely short-cropped blond hair, then checked to be sure his matching gray trousers still held a crease after his short ride. Why was it so hard to find anyone in
who knew how to properly clean and press his uniform? Soon that would change, however, once this war was won and a more full measure of the Reich's efficiency found its way to this city.
Or they could simply flatten it and start over. In his opinion that might prove to be the more efficient solution.Frankly, he didn't care either way.
"After you." Wolfschmidt waved for the young man to lead the way through the gate.
Happily it swung open with hardly a complaint, though he had to say that didn't surprise him, either. These Danes had no sense of how to secure their buildings. They would be content, he imagined, to remain fat and protected by Germany, enjoying their cheese and beer and sending the best of their own produce to help keep the German army well-fed. In this way they could at least be useful, even if too many of them did not appreciate the advantage such an arrangement posed to their wealth and security. What did the Danes know of that?
Three steps up from the outer gate, the building's large oak outer door swung open just as easily. This was going to be too simple. Checking his own pistol, Wolfschmidt stepped in behind the driver as they entered a high-ceilinged foyer. It smelled of ancient, institutional dust in the way of most such buildings, which gave him even more reason to despise the place. He stepped on the driver's heel to hurry him along.
Beyond the red-carpeted foyer a set of double doors with small glass windows opened into the synagogue's main auditorium, an expansive room with lofty ceilings and a horseshoe-shaped balcony level all around the back.
This could make a fine movie theater,
he thought, and made a mental note of it.
But right now he focused on the task at hand, which would lead the way for a more sensible use of the building. Up in front, a cluster of twenty or thirty men had gathered for their Friday morning prayer service, dressed in the peculiar head garb that left no doubt of their religion.
Wolfschmidt had not come to pray. Despite his revulsion at being found in such a place, he straightened his back and coolly strode to where a robed, bearded man stood before the group. This would be the rabbi. And by this time they had stopped their prayer, or whatever Jewish thing they were doing, and all stared wide-eyed at the remarkable impertinence of Wolfschmidt and his assistant.
"Pardon me, sir," began the rabbi, visibly shaken as he should be, "but—"
"Josef Fischer will accompany us immediately." Wolfschmidt interrupted the rabbi. He naturally had no time for nonsense or small talk, even if he had been so inclined. To emphasize his commands he made a point of moving a hand to his holster, making certain they all noticed. They would understand his meaning, if not his German.
He needn't have worried. A pink-faced little man in the front row stepped out after an uncomfortable silence, gently pushing aside the hand of a friend who halfheartedly tried to hold him back.
"Ich bin Fischer," said the man, who adjusted a pair of round spectacles and stepped up to face them. He ignored the whispered warnings of his nearby friends, which Wolfschmidt counted for blind stupidity. So this was the man they'd gone to all this trouble to apprehend?
He might have respected a little more defiance, just for sport, even though this man stood a full foot shorter than himself. But never mind. They would all face the same fate, sooner rather than later. This Josef Fischer could appear brave as much as he wanted to, for all the