Revenge

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic

Story about taking revenge after World War Two.

Revenge

 

Now death is near it is time to own up to the mistakes I have made in life and put them in writing.  Anyone who says he doesn’t have any regrets about the things he has done, has not really lived a full life or he is a lying. Especially, after having survived a war. Besides some regrets having to do with raising my children or being faithful to my wife, there is the one thing I really regret and it’s something having to do with the war. Before I will go into it, I will have to tell you something about my war experience.
I was fifteen when the Germans invaded my country, The Netherlands. At first, the war seemed an exciting adventure that was unfolding right in front of my eyes, but after a couple of years of occupation and having seen the brutalities done by the Germans, I gradually drifted into the resistance. It started with the usual stuff, distributing illegal newspapers and delivering messages for a resistance group. Nothing spectacular, but the kind of activities that could mean you ended up in a concentration camp. It was the kind of work that needed to be done, but there wasn’t a lot of excitement in it. I kept asking the few people I knew within the group for more meaningful assignments, but they told me I was too young. I kept grumbling about the lack of real action I was involved in, so they finally gave in and agreed to have me involved in a real raid. They were going to raid a post-office where rationing cards were kept. It was going to be an armed robbery executed just after lunch hour. The raid was a disaster, it turned out there was an informant within the group and the Sicherheits Dienst (SD) was lying in wait for us to show up. Of the five people involved in the raid, I was the only one that got away, simply because I was a lookout that hadn’t arrived by car. The other four men went into the post-office where the S.D.-agents opened fire on them. Three of our raiders were shot down and arrested, and Richard, the leader of the team, was killed. The three survivors were taken to The Hague where they were interrogated by Georg Kreuzfeld, a monstrous torturer who was known within resistance circles. The interrogations went on for a week, but when even Kreuzfeld couldn’t make them speak, the three men were sent to Buchenwald concentration camp. Only Theo, the youngest of the three men, came back after the war.
The post-war years were a period of retribution, and some of the biggest criminals were prosecuted, but Kreuzfeld managed to evade capture and prosecution. Then one day in November 1964, I got a picture postcard from Theo. It was a picture of the Rhine river in Germany and it contained a short message; it read: “I have found him. I’ll see you next week.” As soon as I read it, I knew what it meant. Later that week I spoke to Theo on the phone and he invited me to come and talk about the matter with a couple of old friends from our resistance days on the next Saturday afternoon.
‘It’s good to see you,’ Theo said with a broad smile on his face. He offered me his left hand as his right hand was too badly mangled by the hammer Kreuzfeld had used on it. ‘The others are already here.’
I followed Theo to his living-room where our old resistance comrades, Stefan and Luuk were already waiting for us. Seeing them again, brought back a flood of memories of the war, the excitement and the fear, but most of all, the friendship that got us through those dark years. After having exchanged the usual pleasantries, Theo brought out a set of photographs of a man in his mid-sixties wearing a trench-coat and a flat cap. It was difficult to see any details in the face, the pictures had been taken from too far away, but it was clear the man was wearing thick, horn-rimmed spectacles.
‘It’s him, alright,’ Theo said. ‘It’s Kreuzfeld. He may be wearing glasses, but that doesn’t fool me. I’d recognize that face anywhere.’
‘How did you find him?’ Luuk asked.
‘Purely by chance. I was across the street from him when he left a bakery. I looked him straight in the face from some twenty yards away. I admit, I felt scared when I spotted him. The moment I saw him, I was back into that interrogation room.’
‘What did you do?’ Stefan asked.
‘I started following him. He went into several stores and bought groceries. Then he boarded a tram and I followed him there too. That’s how I found out his address. He uses a false name now. He calls himself G. Kramer. I guess that keeping the same initials might have been helpful to him; easier to remember or something like that, but it doesn’t fool me.’
The remainder of the afternoon, we spoke about a strategy to get some justice for all Kreuzfeld’s victims. It was a depressing discussion, because at that point in time hardly anyone was interested in prosecuting Nazi criminals, and the German authorities were notoriously unwilling to invest time and money in these cases.
‘We have to take matters into our own hands,’ Theo finally suggested. ‘If he’d been a concentration camp guard, we would have had a chance, but they will argue he had been a policeman, so not a mass murderer, which puts prosecuting him very low on their list of priorities. We know what type of monster he is, we know about the blood on his hands, but making it stick in a court of law, and a German court at that, is a completely different matter.’
‘What about extraditing him,’ Luuk asked.
Theo shook his head. ‘That’s not going to happen either. I have looked into that. No, we’ll have to get him ourselves.’
‘Let’s kidnap him,’ Stefan suggested. ‘We’ll grab him, tie him up, gag him and then bring him across the border. There are plenty of places where you can cross the border in secret.’
‘That’s too risky,’ Luuk countered. ‘Someone may spot us and then the whole thing gets blown. Besides, what do you expect the people in the justice department are going to do? Tell the Germans that they found him on their doorstep?’
We realized Luuk made sense.
‘We’ll have to take care of him ourselves,’ Theo said, and his face became taut. ‘Permanently.’
None of us liked the idea, but we decided it was the only thing we could do.

Two weeks later we parked our old Renault car in the darkest corner of the parking lot beside the grey apartment building where Kreuzfeld  a.k.a. Kramer lived. It was almost eight o’clock at night, and a slight drizzle made the cobbles gleam with a metal sheen. The flickering lights in the building showed that most people were watching their television sets. The parking lot looked deserted.
‘We’ll go over it once more,’ Luuk said as he turned towards Theo and me on the backseat. ‘We’ll ring the bell and as soon as he opens the door, we’ll push him back and rush in. I will grab his arms and Stefan puts his hand across his mouth, so he can’t yell. We’ll bring him to the floor and then Theo does the job.’
‘Shouldn’t I do it?’ I asked. ‘Theo’s hands,’ I added.
‘No, I’ll do it. I can do it with my left hand. I have practiced. Besides, you will have to look for some stuff to take. Do you know what to look for?’
I nodded and recited the list of items we would try to take so it would look like an ordinary robbery. ‘Wallet, jewelry, watch, money, anything that looks valuable and is small enough to carry.’
‘That’s it,’ Theo said. Then he took a small automatic pistol from the pocket of his coat and started to inspect it. He visibly struggled with his mangled right hand to cock the gun. Then he gingerly put it back into his pocket. ‘I’d better not stumble,’ he remarked drily and grinned before he left the car.
The four of his softly pushed the car doors shut, so there wouldn’t be any slamming sounds.
‘Don’t lock it,’ Stefan whispered.
The four of us walked briskly towards the entrance of the apartment block, pulling on our gloves as we went. Once inside, we passed the letter boxes in the hall. We looked at the names; G. Kramer 26 it said. We briskly climbed the stairs to the second floor. As we approached apartment 26, Theo took out the pistol and let his arm dangle beside him, his index finger curled around the trigger.
We had to ring the bell twice before the door was opened. The man in the photographs appeared and was immediately pushed back. He sighed as he was worked to the ground and his eyes widened. Then he bit down, and Stefan had to pull his hand from the man’s mouth, but before he could scream, Theo shot him in the face. Kreuzfeld went limp and gurgled softly as blood started to trickle from his face.
‘Again,’ Stefan whispered. ‘Finish him off.’
Theo shook his head. ‘too much noise he whispered. He’ll be dead in a second. Then he bent down, looked into the man’s eyes and said: ‘You didn’t expect me, did you, Kreuzfeld.’
The dying man’s eyes opened wide as he tried to speak. ‘Nein,’ he managed to whisper and then life left his body with a last gurgle. I stood transfixed, looking at the bloody face of the man. The blood still trickled out.
Stefan nudged me and said softly: ‘Do your job.’ Then he bent down and removed the watch from the dead man’s wrist.
Without answering, I took the watch and put it in the small bag I had brought. It was then that I noticed the television was playing in the corner of the room, some merry sounding voices could be heard coming from the speaker. The room looked Spartan with just two armchairs a folding table against one of the walls and a small oak cabinet in the corner opposite the television set. There was a cup of coffee on the floor beside one of the armchairs. I went over to the cabinet and opened the top drawer, a black, leather wallet lay on top of a silver picture frame that had a picture of a man in uniform in it. Without paying any true attention to details, I could see the younger version of the dead man’s face looking up at me. I quickly turned over the picture frame and put it in my bag.
‘Found it,’ I said and held up the wallet for the others to see it.
‘Look for money,’ Theo instructed me. I drew open the two other drawers and quickly went through them. At the bottom of the last drawer I found a roll of German Mark notes, held together by an elastic band. I showed the roll to the others.
‘Let’s go,’ Stefan said. ‘Someone might have heard the noise.’ He was right so, we left in a hurry. Before we opened the front door, Luuk put his ear against the crack between the door and the door frame. Satisfied he couldn’t hear anyone in the corridor, he nodded and turned the lock. The corridor was deserted. It only took us another minute to reach our car. Without running into any problems, we reached the autobahn within minutes. Then we all took off our gloves as we drove towards the Dutch border.
‘We’ll have to get rid of that stuff,’ Luuk said after a while. ‘Any suggestions.’
Theo knew a place where we could dump the incriminating items we had taken, so within half an hour we left the autobahn and turned into a country road. Theo told Stefan to turn into a dirt track leading into a small wood. As soon as we were far enough from the main road to remain hidden for any witnesses, Stefan stopped and turned off the engine.
‘This will have to do,’ Stefan said. ‘Let’s bury the stuff here.’
We got out of the car and Theo took a small folding shovel from the boot. He handed the shovel to Luuk. ‘Let’s have a look at what you brought,’ Theo said to me and put his gloves on again. I also put on my gloves and opened my bag. I took the watch and handed it to Theo. Stefan took a small flashlight from his pocket and cupped his hand around the rim so there was only a tiny beam visible.
‘This guy was good,’ Theo commented as he took a look at the inscription on the back of the watch. ‘Gert Kramer, it read in scrolled lettering. ‘Truly professional, our Herr Kreuzfeld. He even put his false name on the watch.’
Meanwhile, Luuk had walked into the wood itself and had started digging. As we followed him, I took the roll of banknotes from my bag. ‘What are we going to do with this? It’s untraceable, we might as well keep it.’ I suggested.
‘No, it’s a risk. If we get stopped at the border, we don’t want to have this much money on us,’ said Theo as he took the roll from me. ‘Besides, his fingerprints are all over them. They will have to go too.’
Then I took the picture frame from the bag. There were silver scrolls all around it. ‘This might also be worth something,’ I remarked and took a closer look at it in the narrow beam of light Stefan shone onto it.  Then I gasped.


It only took us ten minutes to bury the three items and cover the spot with a fresh layer of pine needles. The drive back into Holland was completely uneventful. We hardly spoke, and Stefan dropped all of us in front of Theo’s house. We didn’t shake hands as we said goodbye to one another.
‘Take care of yourselves and don’t breathe a word about this to anyone. It couldn’t be helped.’
I have never seen the others again. Now, all three of them have passed away. So, I feel free to tell the world about all of this. When they are going to find the envelope with this story, I will no longer be around either. Like I said, this is my biggest regret in life, and it could easily have been prevented. If only we had taken a closer look at him. He would have been alive a lot longer. We only found out about him in that dark wood, under the harsh light of the flashlight. It was then we saw the faded handwriting saying “Gert” and it was only then that we realized he was wearing spectacles and a Wehrmacht uniform.
 

 


Submitted: June 02, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Bert Broomberg. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Mike S.

Excellent warning from history extremely relevant today, Bert

Tue, June 2nd, 2020 7:23pm

Author
Reply

Thanks for reading the story and leaving a comment, Mike. Yes, you are right about the theme being relevant in our day and age. In a way that's a sad observation.

Wed, June 3rd, 2020 2:56am

Craig Davison

Very good, Bert. A really entertaining story.

Wed, June 3rd, 2020 10:37am

Author
Reply

Thanks Craig. I am glad you enjoyed the story.

Wed, June 3rd, 2020 2:48pm

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