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Unformatted text preview: er own brother, like she did with Max, but there seemed a big
difference between a long-distance cough and two obliterated legs. How do you console a man who has seen
such things? Could you tell him the Führer was proud of him, that the Führer loved him for what he did in
Stalingrad? How could you even dare? You can only let him do the talking. The dilemma, of course, is that such
people save their most important words for after, when the surrounding humans are unlucky enough to find
them. A note, a sentence, even a question, or a letter, like on Himmel Street in July 1943.
MICHAEL HOLTZAPFEL— THE LAST GOODBYE Dear Mama, Can you ever forgive me? I just
couldn’t stand it any longer. I’m meeting Robert. I don’t care what the damn Catholics say about it.
There must be a place in heaven for those who have been where I have been. You might think I don’t love
you because of what I’ve done, but I do. Your Michael
It was Hans Hubermann who was asked to give Frau Holtzapfel the news. He stood on her threshold and she
must have seen it on his face. Two sons in six months.
The morning sky stood blazing behind him as the wiry woman made her way past. She ran sobbing to the
gathering farther up on Himmel Street. She said the name Michael at least two dozen times, but Michael had
already answered. According to the book thief, Frau Holtzapfel hugged the body for nearly an hour. She then
returned to the blinding sun of Himmel Street and sat herself down. She could no longer walk.
From a distance, people observed. Such a thing was easier from far away.
Hans Hubermann sat with her.
He placed his hand on hers, as she fell back to the hard ground.
He allowed her screams to fill the street.
Much later, Hans walked with her, with painstaking care, through her front gate, and into the house. And no
matter how many times I try to see it differently, I can’t pull it off. . . .
When I imagine that scene of the distraught woman and the tall silver-eyed man, it is still snowing in the
kitchen of 31 Himmel Street. THE WAR MAKER
There was the...
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This note was uploaded on 01/17/2014 for the course ENG 99 taught by Professor Michal during the Winter '13 term at CSU Sacramento.
- Winter '13