Novel Erik's House

      Erik's House is a coming-of-age historical novel set in Germany between the years 1938 and 1946.  It is
the story of the son of an SS man who becomes the foster son of a family involved in the German resistance
movement, saving Jews and opposing the Nazis.  The dedication page, table of contents and sample pages
from chapter one are shown below.
                                                       Copyright © 2000 by Paul Roebling
                                     Dedication  Page
                                            Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst - Munich, Germany 1942
      This novel is dedicated to the students of the White Rose Society from the University of Munich who
had the courage to oppose Nazi tyranny in Germany and paid for that bravery with their young lives.  Hans
Scholl (24), Sophie Scholl (21), Christoph Probst (22), Alexander Schmorell (25), Willi Graf (25) and
Professor Kurt Huber (49) redeemed a measure of German honor with their sacrifice, as did many students
from the University of Hamburg. In 2005 a movie was produced based on the resistance activities of Sophie
and Hans Scholl and the White Rose Society.  It can be viewed at
on You Tube.
                                              1. Little Brother..............................................1
                                              2. Ginnheim Academy...................................54
                                              3. The Farm at Taunus.................................106
                                              4. Crystal Night............................................141
                                              5. First Christmas.........................................172
                                              6. Martin.....................................................209
                                              7. House Guests...........................................237
                                              8. I Join the Jungvolk....................................287
                                              9. Darkness Comes.......................................331
                                            10. Private Bernhardt................................. ....374
                                            11. The Prostitute...........................................416
                                            12. Katrina.....................................................460
                                            13. The War Comes to Taunus........................513
                                            14. Arrested by the SS....................................558
                                            15. Buchenwald Concentration Camp...............596
                                            16. Retribution and Liberation..........................647
                                            17. Going Home.............................................698
                                            18. The Occupation........................................736
                                                                    Chapter One
                                            Little Brother
                                                                           Page 1
      I was born - so they say - on 9 November 1926 in Frankfurt-am-Main in Germany.  One never really
knows these things except from his birth certificate; an extremely important document in Germany these
days.  Mine officially listed me as the male offspring of Otto Rausching and Elfriede Bower.  The document
proved that I was of pure Aryan stock; a fact restated by my blonde hair, my blue eyes and my uncircumcised
penis.  Yes, that was important these days, as well. 
      I can't tell you much about the woman Elfriede Bower because my birth was the cause of her death.
Death in childbirth was common during the lean years after The Great War; the war to end all wars.  I have
seen pictures of my mother, and I can remember visiting her grave when I was very young, but that is all I
know of her.  A father could tell a surviving son of these things, but mine never did.  I do vaguely remember
a very old woman, my grandmother.  It must have been she who changed my soiled diapers and provided
me with sustaining nourishment during my infancy, but my memory of her is dim, for I am told she died
when I was but four years old.
      My first real memories are of hunger and want during the great depression.  I can remember crying out
for something to eat and receiving a kick or a slap in place of sustenance.  And I can remember being cold -
bitterly cold - and having no one to cuddle up to for warmth.  Then there was a sudden but slight
improvement in my life.  It happened about the time my father joined the Army.  It wasn't the real Army. 
It was the private army of the National Socialist Party.  Fortunately, I saw less of my father after he joined
the Schutzstaffel, the SS.
                                                                        Page 2
      My father was always away on Party business and I was left to fend for myself most of the time.  And
being a negligent father, he never provided me with any guidance until I came to his attention by getting into
trouble.  On these occasions I received a beating and a warning not to do it again.
      By the spring of 1938, at eleven years of age, I was relatively free of any social constraints.  I wasn't a
juvenile delinquent, but I wasn't a model citizen either.  I stole when I needed food or new clothes.  But I
associated mostly with good boys because the bad types were really bad, even to each other.  My best friend
was Jacob Meyerhof, I guess because he helped me the most.  Jacob provided me with food when he could
sneak it from his mother's kitchen, and on occasion, an article of clothing, usually his own.  When Jacob had
saved up enough money he would treat me to a movie where we would sit close together in the cinema with
our knees touching.  And since Jacob didn't have many friends, it was an equal exchange of sorts.  When the
Jews fell into increasing disfavor in Germany, I felt obligated to maintain my loyalty to Jacob.  Loyalty was
one of the few things that I had to give.
      It was getting dark on Fressgasse Strasse in Frankfurt-am-Main.  Jacob's mother had called him twice
now to come in and eat dinner.  I had prolonged our game of marbles as long as possible.  I would have
to go home soon.  Our ability at marbles was about equal, so neither of us gained or lost much.  We just
enjoyed being together, as pals do.  I often wished that Jacob would invite me up to have dinner with his
family, but he never did.  In 1938, in Germany, Jewish boys had to be careful about who their friends were.
But I longed to be close to his family - any family.
      After promising Jacob that we would play again tomorrow, I walked to the end of Fressgasse Strasse.
 Most of the shops were closed, and the owners were above in their flats having dinner with their families.
                                                                         Page 3
      I wondered what it was like for the boys sitting there.  Would his father be asking the boy what he had
learned in school that day?  Would his mother be insisting that the boy have another helping of fried potatoes?
What was it like to have a real family?
      I could tell from the darkened windows of our flat in the alley off Bleich Strasse that my father was still
at the beer hall.  He would be there with his SS friends in their black uniforms and their black boots; the
boots that made my legs hurt still as I climbed the grimy stairs to our flat.  I tossed my school knapsack onto
my unmade and musty-smelling bed in the barren cell that was my room.  There was a hunk of bread in the
kitchen cupboard, and I cut myself off a slice.  The bread was stale and moldy, but I was hungry, so I ate it.
My SS father always ate his fill at the beer hall, so there was never much to eat in the flat.  Even with the
food that Jacob provided from his mother's kitchen and the food that I stole on my own, I was still skinny
and physically weak.  I cut myself off another slice of the moldy bread and went to lie down on the bed in
my room beside my knapsack.
      After a time I heard the tread of heavy boots on the stairs as my father staggered up to our flat from his
nightly drunk.  The door slammed hard as he entered the flat.
                                                                        Page 4
      "Walter!" he screamed.  "Come out here, you little bastard!"
      I was shaking as I went out to the front room.  He was standing there, flushed and swaying from all the
beer he had swilled.
      "You were playing with your Kike friends again, weren't you!" he raged.  "The Jews on Fressgasse! 
I'll teach you to stay away from that Jewish trash!"
      "Please, Papa! I pleaded.  "I won't do it again, I promise!"
      "My Kameraden come into the beer hall and tell me you are playing with Jews!" he continued to bellow
 at me.  "You shame me in front of my Kameraden!  You'll pay for that, you sniveling, little bastard!"
      He took off his wide belt as I backed into my room begging for mercy.  He kept screaming Jew-lover as
he struck
me on my arms, my legs, my back and all over.  People living in the nearby flats could hear my
screams of pain.  They called out for him to stop the noise.  He was panting now from his heavy exertions,
standing over me as I cringed in the corner.  He kicked me several more times with his heavy boots, yelling
Jew-lover with each kick.
      "Tonight you'll go hungry, you little bastard!" he snarled.  "That will teach you to hang around with your
Jew friends."
      I lay whimpering in the corner after he had staggered back into the front room.  My legs were still tender
from his last beating, and his new blows had brought on searing pain.
      My back was stinging from where his belt buckle had bitten deep.  I lay there in the corner for a long
time before I crawled to my bed.  I could hear him in the kitchen, banging pots and pans around.  Then I
could smell sausages cooking.
                                                                       Page 5
      I buried my head in my pillow and cried until I became sick.  The stale bread came up, mixed with a
sour-tasting bile.  I gathered up the vomit with some of my school papers and tossed the stinking mess out
the window into the alley below.  My new bruises and my hunger kept me awake long after the animal in
the next room had passed out in a drunken sleep.  My eleven-year-old mind searched for an escape from
this misery until a fitful sleep rescued me from my suffering.
      The brute was still asleep the next morning when I slipped into his room.  I stole a few coins from the
pocket of his trousers which he had left lying on the floor.  I did this often now as a means of survival. 
The money would allow me to buy a few sausage rolls on my way to school.
      The grey morning matched my black mood, and my legs hurt with every step I took down Bleich
Strasse.  The sausage rolls that I bought at the corner bakery filled up my stomach, but they could not fill
up my other emptiness.  I did not have enough money left for the tram fare, so I continued to walk to
school in pain.  The people I passed on the street did not seem real.  My dark thoughts were deep inside.
      There was a commotion going on in the schoolyard when I arrived.  A circle of jeering boys had one
lone boy trapped in the middle.  It was Jacob.  The boys surrounding him were chanting, "Jacob is a Kike!" 
I could see that Jacob was close to tears.  Then one boy grabbed Jacob from behind, pinning his arms.
      "Take a punch at the Jew-baby!" the boy yelled.  "He's crying for his mama!"
      Another boy stepped forward and grabbed Jacob's nose, saying it was too big.  Then he punched Jacob
in the stomach.
                                                                       Page 6
      I piled into the boy who was holding Jacob.  All four of us were scuffling on the ground when Herr
Zeitzler, our form master, forced his way through the circle of shouting boys.  He broke us up and ordered
the four of us to report to the director's office.  Herr Zeitzler ushered us into the director's office and
explained to the director how he had found us fighting in the schoolyard.  The director asked each of us for
our name and wrote them down.  When Jacob said that his name was Jacob Meyerhof, the director looked
up and said, "You Jewish boys are always getting into trouble.  That is why a quota has been set for your
kind at the gymnasium."
      The boy who had held Jacob popped up and said that Jacob had started the fight and that I had ganged
up on him with Jacob.  Now Jacob and I were the center of attention.
      "What are you doing helping a Jewish boy to cause trouble!" the director shouted at me.
      "Your father shall hear of this!" Herr Zeitzler joined in.  "I know him.  He is a good Party man, and he
will be upset to hear that you are associating with Jewish boys."
      "Disciplinary notices will be sent to the parents of both of you," the director said.  "Dismissed!" he
shouted as he waved us out of his office.
      I went through the rest of the day dreading my return home.  Both Jacob and I stayed in the school
building during lunch and recesses to avoid any further harassment.  The last bell dismissing school for the
day sent a chill up my back.  I was that much closer to what I knew would be a terrible confrontation with
my father.  Herr Zeitzler had already told me that he had telephoned my father at the SS barracks as he
had promised he would do.
                                                                         Page 7
      I avoided Jacob after school, and I was ashamed of myself for that.  I started walking away from school
aimlessly, hoping that a solution would somehow fall from the sky.  I wandered down to the Main River and
out onto the Wilhelms Bridge.  I stood on the bridge for a long time, staring down at the rushing water.  Dark
thoughts crossed my mind, but I shook them off.  I crossed the bridge and walked along the quay for a time
before heading south in the direction of the Stadtwald.  I usually enjoyed being in the City Forest on a warm
spring day.  Sometimes Jacob and I came to the Stadtwald after school to play.  There were few people in
the Stadtwald, but then, it was only May.  I found the secluded spot where Jacob and I had often passed
the time talking about our imaginary adventures.  I took off my knapsack and sat down under the trees, my
young mind still searching for a way to escape the beating that I knew was sure to come.
      A breeze rustled the leaves in the trees and I looked up.  A branch was broken off just where it passed
over the stone wall in front of me.  I formed a picture in my mind that was both terrifying and welcome at
the same time.
                                                     Copyright © 2000 by Paul Roebling 
      I am grateful to Jan in Berlin, Germany for reading Erik's House and correcting the mistakes I made in
the German language and in German culture.  I have come to regard Jan as a fine man that I admire among
a people for whom I have the greatest respect.  Jan pointed out the warm and human parts of Erik's House
so that I could appreciate them and improve upon my writing.  An author is often unaware of the impact of
his writing until such things are noted by an insightful reader.  Many thanks for your help, Jan.  I wish the
best always for you and your family.