The arendt files, p.12
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       The Arendt Files, p.12

           Ivan Rosemblatt
 
They had been driving through the night. John stared from the driver's seat out onto the seemingly endless blacktop, waves of indignation sweeping over him as he passed German/English road signs one after the other. They were trying to make America into a bilingual country, teaching German to every kid in school. He shook his head in disbelief, “Speed limits in kilometers, for gods sake, are they trying to annoy us into submission?”

  He had been preparing to lead this mission for the last year of his life; now that the time had come, he was numb and wondered why. “Maybe there's a limit on how much anxiety a body gets and I used mine up”. He had had plenty of time to consider the dangers involved. Death or injury didn't really concern him. Capture did. It meant torture, unspeakable torture. He knew that he would give up information eventually, compromise others, everyone did . He also knew that it would be the end of his life. He was deeply bothered by the idea of contributing to the capture and of compromising the resistance in any way He had his cyanide filled tooth and was confident that he would use it if need be, but there was always the chance he might be knocked unconscious or captured in his sleep. The SS had been catching on to their suicide trick for a while now and were actively working to stop agents from using them; drugging their food to knock them out or grabbing them from behind and shoving towels into their mouths. One of his friends, Eric, had almost been caught leaving a drug store but had managed to break loose and run out onto the street in front of a bus. It would be terrible but as much as he was scared of it, it didn't keep him awake at night. All he could do is try everything in his power not to be captured.

  It was the fear of failure that haunted him, startled him out of sleep in the middle of the night, sweating, fists clenched, sharp pains in his stomach. He been chewing antacids constantly for the last six months, doubling over in pain as soon as people stepped out of the room. He suffered from constant diarrhea and was vomiting blood. Then there were the headaches as well, always just above his right eye, a cold ice pic shoved right in the socket and twisted around. He had been keeping his symptoms a secret and had come to believe he was dying of cancer. He would just work through the illness and accomplish as much as possible along the way.

  It had taken him a long time to realize what the source of his fear was; he was terrified of failing her. This made him feel worst still, as he felt that seen within the context of the struggle they were engaged in it was a petty, selfish concern. Had had never met a woman like Arendt. She commanded complete respect and loyalty from everyone around her, over time he had come to believe that her leadership was the only chance they had at defeating the enemy. She was brilliant and tireless. It had never occurred to him that he would feel this way about about a woman, such awe and respect. The way she had risen to power, convincing the Communist and Socialist parties to officially disband and renounce class warfare, formed the Jewish resistance, make contact with, then work with the remnants of military command as part of their strategic analysis team. Once in contact with the top generals she had impressed them with the depth of her knowledge of military history and tactics. She had convinced them one by one of the necessity for tactics and strategy of total war. She leveraged her command of the Jewish forces to prove her points and demonstrate her principle. She gathered more useful intelligence than they though possible under present conditions. They had even turned to using her catch phrase amongst themselves. “For now there is only war.”

  Hannahh had of course been the first one to notice his decline. “You don't look well.” She had said and walked across the room towards him, her hands behind her back, leaning in for a closer look. “You have been losing weight.”

  “It's nothing.”

  “We need you healthy. We can't afford to have you at risk. It would take me far to long to train someone else and much longer for me to trust them.”

  “The men in the field don't have doctors, why should I?”

  “It is a mistake to think that way. You always hear that soldiers only respect a man that leads from the front but that is nonsense. The soldiers need to know that their officers are not cowards but that is as far as it goes. Soldiers respect officers who are brave and who look after them, but they never expect them to eat with them or share the same quarters. It's one of the burden's of command, privilege. High command always has to try and keep their leaders out of harm.”

  “Isn't everyone’s life equal?”

  “In G-d's eyes yes. During war time no, not general's.”

  “You are the General, not me.”

  “That's right. I am a general and I order you to go see the doctor. Don't be stubborn John. He is an excellent physician and he has some wonderful vitamin injections. I don't know what he puts in them. They put pep in your step.” She lifted pressed up on her toes and smiled at him.

  “I'm scared to General. I don't think it's good, I'm pretty sure that I'm dying.” He was leaning forwards in his chair, elbows on his knees, rubbing his hands together as he spoke. He looked up at her and let her see how scared he was. She had paused for a thoughtful second. “It's not the illness that you are afraid of. It's the pressure, the weight of responsibility.”

  “How do you do it? You never see you falter.”

  “John, when people put their trust in you they actually give you a bit of themselves. It's a gift that helps you keep going. It's people such as yourself who give and give without recognition who have it harder. And you don't look closely enough, of course I am much better at hiding my feelings, than you. That comes from a lifetime in academia.” she laughed.

  “I was just an student when I started in all this. I hadn't even finished engineering school.”

  “They interrupted us all.”

  “So inconvenient.”

  She smiled, “Yes, extremely so. I can't even buy my preferred brand of cigarettes anymore, I am forced to smoke this shit.” They both laughed. “So you will go see the doctor tomorrow?” He nodded and she patted him on the shoulder. “I have given you a great burden, I know this. Someday you will see the wisdom in my choice.”

  “I think you are crazy to trust me with this.”

  “Nobody asked your opinion.”

  In the end had gone to the doctor. They had found nothing wrong physically, which had not been the relief he had hoped for, if anything he felt worst. Dying had been a comforting thought, it gave him a sense of finality, an end point. Thinking about it had calmed him down and provided solace. Knowing that he was not sick just made him feel weak for feeling so weak.

  On the other hand the injection had worked wonders. He loved the clarity of mind and energy he had gotten from them and had gone back so often the doctor had scolded him, “It is very easy to become dependent on these. I'm giving you five more of these and they have to last you a month. We can't have you turning into a junky.” He had been taken aback, Arendt had lead him to believe they were vitamins.

  He looked forward at the horizon as dawn started to break over the hills and illuminate that rocks and scrub brush of the open landscape. He took a deep breath for first time in months..The stars were quickly being erased from the sky and shades of pink and azure were pushing the day up from the horizon. “Rosy fingered dawn” he thought to himself as he remembered first year classics at Stanford. “If only I had realized how good I had it back then.”

  Arendt had told him, “That's the other problem with being part of command, the lack of direct action. Action cleanses, it's cathartic, release, and we rarely get it. Soldier die and mourn. We fret” Perhaps that was why she had chosen him to run this thing, as an act of mercy, to allow him some relief. Maybe it was even an act of love, to help lift his burden, giving him the release of entering the field.

  Chapter 13

 
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