Conquering Berlin — Chapter 3: Loss

The attack has begun. And the Commune notices its onset. They double their informers, and these informers are everywhere. №23 has given an excellent report. №311 reports further.

№311 also reports on the construction worker Kurt Tennigkeit, an SA-Man who once had a conversation with Dr. Joseph Goebbels.

Kurt Tennigkeit works on scaffolding near Weissensee.

One day his foreman Henkel climbs up to him. Foreman Henkel, a man with fists like two children’s heads, is a Red Front man[1] of the highest degree.

Henkel, fists in his trouser pockets, watches the boy work for a while. Then he says, “Well, found something?”

Tennigkeit raises himself up and looks into the brutal face of the foreman. He stops and thinks: Caution.

They are three stories above ground, and the scaffolding is only three feet wide. “Found something? What do you mean?”

Henkel steps closer, close to the boy. “You don’t know? Something to help you with the bootlicking. I wanna tell you something: We don’t need fascists here, get it? This isn’t the spot for your propaganda, get it? I do propaganda here and no one else. Not even your labor-murderer Goebbels. So get lost, my boy, you don’t belong with us honest proletarians. Hurry up and get lost!”

The boy hasn’t flinched, not a single step. Calmly, he looks the older man in the eyes. “I’m a worker just like you,” he says bravely, “I can work wherever I want, and if you’ve got a problem with that…”

Foreman Henkel’s face turns cherry-red, and he slowly pulls his hands out of his pockets.

“Oh yeah? Oh yeah?” he growls, an evil light flickering in his eyes, “You want to threaten me, you lout? Are you threatening me? Have a look down there! You in for a little crash, eh? Your cabbage head always seemed rotten to me, you fascist pig!”

The world suddenly turns black before SA-Man Tennigkeit’s eyes. What did the Doctor say? “They’re going to insult us and fight us…”

The young man doesn’t think of allowing them to insult the party, the Doctor, and himself. He slowly takes a step back, away from the abyss, and then he swings his fists, hitting Henkel right in the face.

And with a single leap, he is at the ladder. He has learned to climb ladders; like a weasel he sweeps down the rungs, and for the moment, he is happy. He has been brave; he stood his ground.

At the top he hears Henkel roaring, and the whole construction site answers him. Suddenly a raging hatred breaks out behind the walls, on the ladders, around the whole scaffolding.

“Bricks!!!” someone yells.

“Bricks!” it roars from all sides, from above and below. The Commune rises. Yes, bricks! thinks Tennigkeit as he sweeps further down, rejoicing in his own speed and agility.

But then, as the bricks whiz around his ears from all sides, he realizes that he is climbing for his life. And when he is still thirty feet above ground and looks down, he knows that he is lost. Some of them are already down there and their faces are cold and pale with steaming rage.

With a bold leap, the young SA-Man jumps into their midst. There is no point in running anymore. One of them lifts a crowbar and hits him over the head with it. The worker Kurt Tennigkeit sinks into a black abyss, a thundering and cracking abyss from which he will never wake up again.

Foreman Henkel climbs down to give the unconscious and dying man a final kick in the ribs with his heavy boots. Then he looks around. “Throw him behind the fence!” he whispers. “And any snitches can lie down right next to him, got it?”

That day, Mrs. Tennigkeit waited a long time for her son. It was to be in vain.

* * *

That same evening, as SA-Man Tennigkeit lies behind a construction fence in eternal slumber, his skull crushed and his guts torn apart, a National Socialist assembly in the Berlin center is crashed.

Just as their need is greatest, they barely manage to alarm the SA in time. The SA is currently enjoying a visit by Dr. Goebbels reminiscing about the fighting in the Ruhr area.

“You must attack again and again,” he says, “again and yet again…”

The telephone rattles into his story.

The Doctor immediately reaches for the phone. “Attack?… The Commune?… Yes, we’re coming!”

“We’re coming!!!” the SA yells.

There is no hesitation. They hail five taxis and head for the city center.

There they break into the hall, with the Doctor, who could be done in by a single Red Front blow, right at the head.

In just under a quarter of an hour the hall is cleared of any and all Commune members.

Karl and Kurt laugh at each other with bright red cheeks.

“Well, what do you think of the Doctor?”

No answer is necessary.

[1] The Roter Frontkämpferbund (literally, “Red Front Fighters Association”) was a paramilitary organization associated with the Communist Party of Germany during the Weimar Republic.

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