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       You Are My Sunshine: A Novel Of The Holocaust (All My Love Detrick Book 2), p.1

           Roberta Kagan
You Are My Sunshine: A Novel Of The Holocaust (All My Love Detrick Book 2)

  You Are My Sunshine


  Roberta Kagan

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.

  The characters and events in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

  You Are My Sunshine

  Copyright 2014 by Roberta Kagan

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  In 1936, Heinrich Himmler built homes where women of acceptable bloodlines were to be bred with SS officers. These homes were called “Homes for the Lebensborn.” Women who became pregnant out of wedlock could go to one of these establishments and receive the finest in food and care during their pregnancies, with no stigma attached. In fact, they were honored because they were bearing a child for Hitler, for the Fatherland. There was only one stipulation. Once the child was born, if the father was unwilling to raise it, it must be given over to the Home for the Lebensborn. When a woman entered the home, she signed papers to this effect, and the policy forbade mothers from taking their children without marriage to an SS officer. These breeding farms were created in the hopes of repopulating the world with a perfect Aryan race once the Nazis had cleared out all of the undesirables, such as Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, the physically or mentally handicapped, and anyone else Hitler saw fit to destroy.


  Steinhöring, Home for the Lebensborn

  The Highlands of Munich Germany, 1941

  At first, she barely noticed the quickening. It came as just a slight flutter deep in the magical cavern of her uterus. Ever so insignificant…but Helga knew. The time had arrived. In just a few hours, the baby would enter the world. With God’s help, the child would be perfect, because defective babies never left the birthing room alive. Helga didn’t know of the euthanasia until she was too far along into the program to escape. A shudder traveled down her back as she thought about the consequences of her actions. When she’d signed the papers and entered this place, she’d been wild with desperation. Eric, the dashing SS officer, with whom she’d fallen deeply in love, had seduced, and then abandoned her. Pregnant, alone, and too ashamed to go to her family, she’d clung to the hope of a way out of her situation when the doctor suggested the Lebensborn Institute. It had seemed the perfect solution, the only solution. At the time, it had seemed easy. She’d agreed to give the child to the Lebensborn nursery as soon as it was born. In turn, she would have a place to stay until the birth, and when she left, no one would ever know what had happened. She was assured that the child would receive the finest care until a loving family chose to adopt it. Of course, the family must meet the rigid specifications of the Third Reich. Then, in the blink of an eye, everything changed the second that she felt the tiny life stir within her. At that moment, she realized how much she had already come to love her unborn child. She found herself rubbing her belly and talking to the fetus that nuzzled inside. Panic set in. Soon, they would take her baby and she would never see it again. Never hold it when it cried, or comfort it in sickness. She would not be there to see the little one as it took its first steps or on the first day of school. Who would hold and love her child? Dear God what have I done? She rubbed her belly and gazed out the window from her bed, watching for the light of the sunrise, but a shroud of darkness covered the lush countryside. Tears burned the backs of her eyes. Forgive me little one. I was young and foolish. Now, it is you who will pay the price for my mistakes. If I could, I would trade my life for your safety.

  Like the runaway train she’d boarded, her destiny raced before her at a full clip now and she could not disembark. The Nazis did not understand a mother’s love, a mother’s needs, a mother’s mistake. Dear God, a mother’s terrible mistake. She’d tried to go back on the contract that she’d signed, begged them even. “Please, let me go, please let me take my child. I will give you anything I have, anything at all. I will work and pay back the money that it cost you to keep me here all this time, but please, I am begging you, don’t take my baby.” She went to the highest authorities but they refused to listen. When Himmler came to visit the institute, as he did most months, she pleaded for an audience. He agreed to see her alone. She’d grasped his hand in hers, gripped it tightly, fell to her knees, and tried to make him understand how she felt. Her heart hammered in her throat as she begged, choking on the words, “Please, take pity on me.” She gazed up at him, her eyes glistening with tears and hope. Her body trembling as she waited for his answer.

  Himmler listened. He smiled as if he were a father explaining why too much candy would give someone a tummy ache to a young child, and then patted her shoulder as she wept with her head hung down. “There is no need to cry, Helga. You are having this baby for our cause. For the Fatherland,” he said, his voice gentle. “You did a good and noble thing. Now, after your child is born, if you want to raise the baby, leave here and find yourself an SS officer, get married, and then the two of you can come back and adopt your child. You’re a lovely Aryan girl. You should have no problem finding a good man who would be honored to be your husband. Otherwise, you must do what is best for the child. You see, your baby will have the finest home and family. The child will be adopted by a couple who will raise it properly to understand our Aryan ways and our doctrine. That will ensure that your little one will be a perfect leader in the new Germany, and takes his or her rightful place as a member of the superior race. You should be very proud, Helga Haswell. You should be joyful, not in tears.” He smiled and patted her head.

  She released her grip on his hand, still on her knees. Then she fell flat out on the floor and wept as he walked out the door.

  Bastards, all of them. Helga would never have anything to do with another SS officer. She’d made that mistake once, before she knew who the Nazis were, before she realized what a price she would pay. Good for Germany, that’s what everyone said about Hitler and his band of murderous monsters. True, he’d returned Germany’s pride, but at what price? The price of human sacrifice. This brought back thoughts of her brother, Detrick. How he suffered. Helga knew, everyone knew. Detrick loved the Jewish girl, Leah. When Detrick was very young, Leah’s father Jacob employed Detrick and offered him friendship like a surrogate father. The love her brother felt for the girl and her father was painful to witness, because Helga knew her brother suffered every day for his feelings. Every hour he was at risk. She hoped for Detrick’s sake that he’d broken up the relationship. Things would be easier on him. But she knew Detrick, and she knew how he loved. He could never walk away, not her brother, not Detrick.

  This time the pain shot through her back and Helga had to get up and sit on the rocking chair. She might labor for hours; it was h
ard to say. This was her first pregnancy and she’d been warned that it could be a long and difficult process. Perhaps she would die. Many women died in childbirth. And she felt that she deserved to die, but then how much pain would that bring to Kurt? He loved her. They had found each other right here in Hitler’s breeding lair. Kurt’s sister, Hermina, was her roommate. Over time, the country girl had won Helga’s friendship with her honest approach. And then one Sunday afternoon Helga’s family had come to have lunch with her. Sunday meals were the time when family could come and spend time with the girls. Kurt was Hermina’s brother. At first, Helga had no interest in Kurt, a mere farmer. But as she came to know him, his gentle sincerity won her over. They both knew the rules; the baby she carried would be left behind. When Kurt saw the hurt inside of Helga, he’d urged her to try to see if they could make the adoption. “Promise them anything,” he told her. “Tell them we’ll raise the baby as a Nazi. Tell them we’ll follow their doctrine. Tell them anything.” That was a stretch for Kurt, Helga knew, because Kurt hated Hitler and the entire Third Reich. Oh, how he’d tried, but in the end, all Kurt could offer Helga was a life filled with love and children she could keep, their children. This baby, the one that lay breathing gently under her heart, this child must be sacrificed to Hitler’s madness. Who was this baby? Was it a girl or boy? What would it grow up to be like? Kind? Loving? Happy? Or mean and filled with hatred like all of the Nazis? Would it grow up to hate its mother? Helga felt she deserved to be hated, but most of all would it be loved? Would it be happy? Would someone be there to bandage a skinned knee and kiss a scraped elbow? God, if only she could change what she had done. A signature, so small and insignificant, that was all it took to change her life forever.

  It was early morning when the labor began in earnest, a little after four. Her new roommate slept soundly. Once again, Helga thought of running away. But she knew she didn’t have the courage. If she were going to run it would have had to have been much sooner than now. In a few hours the baby would be born.

  By six a.m., the pains grew more regular, still not too strong. They shot through her back and then gripped her lower abdomen. At first, the pains were at least a half hour apart, but now they seemed to be coming every twenty minutes. She watched the sun begin to rise as a dusting of snow, like tiny bits of cotton, fell from the sky. My baby’s birthday, January fourth. No matter where life takes me, on this day every year until I die, I will think of my child. I will remember, calculate its age, and wonder where life has taken it. God please, protect my baby. Watch over my baby…please.

  The housemother found Helga awake at five minutes to seven.

  “You’re in labor?”


  “For how long do you labor?”

  “About three hours.”

  “And your pains? When they are coming?”

  “Every fifteen minutes now.”

  “Stay here I get a bed and we wheel you to the delivery room.”

  She labored for another five hours, until the pains seemed unbearable, wishing her mother and Kurt could be with her. Then Helga felt a warm liquid running down her legs.

  “Her water is broke,” the housemother said as she looked under Helga’s nightdress. “The baby is crowning.”

  Helga lay under a hot white light. She felt the sweat dripping down her face. The pains were intense now.

  “Don’t push yet,” a nurse said. “Wait… Not yet.”

  Another nurse put Helga’s feet up in stirrups. The cold metal made her shiver, and the depth of the pain along with her nerves brought on nausea. She gagged.

  “Wait…wait…wait… Okay… Now…push, as hard as you can.”

  Helga pushed. The cords in her neck and forehead stood at attention as every muscle in her body contracted, trying to force the new life into the world.

  “Wait…wait… All right… Now… Again.”

  And this went on for nearly an hour before her body ripped as the tiny infant sprung from her loins, covered in mucus and blood.

  The nurse caught the baby. She slapped the bottom, and a hearty cry filled the room.

  “It’s a little girl. She’s perfect. Beautiful.”

  Helga breathed a sigh of relief. Her child was perfect; it would be allowed to live.

  “Can I hold her, please?”

  “It is against the rules.”

  “Please, just for a moment. Please.”

  “Yes, okay, just for a moment.”

  The naked infant lay in Helga’s trembling arms. Helga was exhausted but as she looked at the tiny perfect face, the small ears, the little hands and feet, she felt such overwhelming love and such a desire to protect the child that she feared she might get up and run out of the institution in her nightgown. The stirring she felt within her breast was like none she’d ever known. Tears streamed down her sweaty cheeks.

  “I love you, little one. And I am so sorry.”

  The nurse saw the bonding begin and reached for the baby.

  “It is best I take her. It will be easier on you if you spend less time with her.”

  “Please let me take her home. Please. Please let me go from here and take her with me. She is only one small child. How much can one small little girl mean to Hitler? Please, I beg you, please…” Helga felt the sweat dripping down her face.

  “Now, you know better, Helga,” the nurse said, firm but sympathetic, and she pried the infant from Helga’s arms.

  “No!” Helga screamed, as the nurse handed the baby to the housemother. The housemother carried the child out of the room. As Helga watched, it felt as if a knife had torn a hole in her heart. She hung her head and wept.

  Before she knew what was happening, Helga received a shot that made her sleep. And so she slept. The housemother delivered the infant to the Lebensborn nursery, a room that was locked behind a heavy steel door. Although she pleaded, Helga would not see the child again. In a week’s time, Helga Haswell would be on her way to her fiancé’s farm in Munich. For months to come, she would cry, unable to eat or sleep, and Kurt would hold her and comfort her, trying to ease her pain and loss. Kurt and Helga would marry. He was a good man and a good husband. But, her arms continued to ache with emptiness for the small bundle of life she’d held for just a brief moment, an emptiness that would haunt her for the rest of her life. But somehow, Helga would find the strength to go forward and build a family.

  After spending the first year of her life in the Lebensborn nursery, Helga’s daughter would be christened in a Nazi ceremony where she would be given the name Katja, and be declared ready for adoption by a suitable Nazi family.

  Without the help of his Minister of Propaganda, Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Adolph Hitler could never have gained the popularity he needed in order to achieve absolute power. Goebbels was a master of lies, so convincing that he was able to fool an entire nation. At least in the beginning…

  Chapter 1

  Berlin, 1939

  Manfred Blau watched as Christa Henkener walked out of the double doors of the high school. He could not help but notice that she had the attention of all of the boys who stood along the concrete stairs smoking cigarettes. Her wavy golden locks bounced as she descended the staircase and glittered in the sunshine. Manfred knew better than to believe that a girl as popular and lovely as Christa would ever notice him when she could have her choice of athletes. He was nothing but a skinny artistic boy with a bad complexion. And worse yet, his family were poor while hers was wealthy. Everyone knew Christa’s father was a famous doctor. No, she would never want any part of him. Still he continued to gaze after her as she walked down the sidewalk on her way home.

  “What are you looking at?” Alexander, a tall well-built soccer player asked.

  “Nothing,” Manfred replied and began walking away. He knew if he stuck around, Alexander’s friends would be along shortly and his humiliation would be their entertainment for the next hour.

  “What’s your hurry?” Alexander asked.

  But Manfred didn’t
answer. Instead, he moved quickly towards home. He hated himself for the fear he felt when the others tormented him. It was not in his nature to stand up to them. And he despised that weak part of himself. If only he were stronger, more athletic, better looking, more popular. If only… then he might have a girlfriend as lovely as Christa.

  That night he lay in bed and thought of Christa. He would do anything, anything at all to win her heart. Soon, they would graduate, in just a month, in fact, and she would be gone from his life. If only there was a way to make an impression on her. If only.

  Then Manfred got an idea.

  Although he had been a failure in the Hitler youth, he still planned to join the Nazi Party. He hoped to apply for a position working in propaganda under Dr. Goebbels. Of course, he knew this was a pipe dream, but his drawings were good. And it made him feel good to think that he might be someone important someday. Even his art teacher touted the excellence of his work. Perhaps his skills could be put to use. If not, he was not above making coffee or cleaning, anything at all to find his way into the Party. From there he just might make something of himself. What a glorious fantasy. And then…perhaps…and then…he could look Christa up and she might agree to have a coffee with him. Was he dreaming? He was a dreamer, but nothing can ever be accomplished without it first being a dream.

  All night he stayed awake and contemplated the situation. The more he gave it thought, the stronger the idea became.

  Now he had a plan.

  For the next month, Manfred spent every free moment working. He illustrated and wrote children’s books, stories that he knew the Party would embrace. Stories about Jewish child molesters and Jewish businessmen who stole from the innocent Germans… Stories of Jews with tails that sacrificed Aryan infants and drank their blood… To him, the stories were silly. He knew many Jews and they weren’t really like this. In fact, he’d had a Jewish physician who he had grown up really liking. But it didn’t matter. This was what the Party wanted. This was what he would give them. Having grown up poor and unpopular, in order to survive, Manfred had become wise, in that he knew instinctively what it would take to win someone’s favor. He used this knowledge sparingly, but when he did, it always worked. The pictures were only pictures after all, and the stories, well, just stories. How could they cause any real harm? And besides, if this little endeavor got him a decent job, then he would have the money to build a life for himself and, hopefully, the woman he longed to be with. Christa. So, he drew and he drew. Pictures of distorted-looking Jewish men with massive noses, very much resembling the pictures he’d been shown at the meetings of the Hitler Jugend. But in his stories, he’d added some frightening aspects. The old Jew was offering candy to beautiful blond Aryan children. On the next page, the story continued as it became clear the Jew was luring the unsuspecting children to their death. The message was clear: beware of the Jewish child molesters. Another book explained how on the Jewish Sabbath, Jews cooked and drank the blood of Christian babies. It featured a large, fat, Jewish woman, again with an oversized nose, standing over a kettle, a tail protruding from the back of her dress, while she held the body of a tiny blond infant over the cauldron, blood flowing from the child’s breast into the pot. Manfred drew pictures of Gypsies, filthy and ridden with vermin, stealing from local markets, laughing as they ran away. Each story he wrote to accompany the illustrations acted as a terrifying warning to children. He made sure they were filled with the propaganda he knew had become so popular with the Nazi Party. On the other hand, he also created books that praised the Führer, showing how he’d saved the German people from the devastation they’d suffered after the Great Warm, the loss of which he made sure to blame on the Jewish bankers. Knowing that Dr. Joseph Goebbels was Minister of Propaganda, and hoping that the time would come when Goebbels might see his work, Manfred drew a picture of Goebbels looking loyal and righteous standing beside Hitler. Goebbels was smiling. Hitler’s arm was around his shoulder and at each of their sides stood a blond Aryan boy and girl, both strong, athletic, and healthy. The caption Manfred wrote beneath the picture was, “The Future of our Fatherland, a land where the Aryan race can take their rightful place as rulers of the world, a land without Jews, Gypsies, and other sub-humans.” And so, this was how he built a portfolio filled with children’s books, all of them perfect examples of the Nazi doctrine. Once school was done and he’d graduated, Manfred would take these drawings to Goebbels himself. There he would explain how important it was to begin educating the master race at a young age. Manfred didn’t care one way or another about Jews, Gypsies, or other enemies of the Reich. What he cared about was making the right impression. This was what they wanted to hear. So this is what he would tell them. And hopefully he would be rewarded with a job, even a small job, and a foot in the door.

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