The city was singing with the songs of civilization as the warmth of the summer sun poured over Hamburg. The men and women, dressed in fine clothing, chartered as they walked in groups down the street. The children played in their parks, running, shouting, and crying, while the older folks sat off to the side, enjoying games of chess, and reading their newspapers.
"Gertrud recommends Pellkartoffel mit Quark as this week's 'Wonderful German' meal of the week." Read the headline on the front page. "How to show your patriotism as a Pole, Russian, or other immigrant." Followed close after.
"Hmph. As usual, it's just fluff." Said an old man, crumpling the paper, and tossing it in the garbage. "I miss the good old days when there was substance to the stories. The state treats us like children now!" He shouted, as parents began to herd their children, and a couple ran off, towards the closest Sicheres Münztelefon, in order to call the Gedankenpolizei.
As the old man continued to rant and rave, a younger woman, average as could be, approached him, and gently tapped him to get his attention.
"What? Are you going to tell me to be quiet? Well, I won't! That's how we got into this mess! We all stayed quiet while Wilhelm… whatever number this one is! While he slowly stripped away our humanity! While he replaced our books with propaganda! While he-!"
The old man was cut off as a whistle sounded in the distance. The telltale sign that the Gedankenpolizei where on their way to silence a troublemaker.
"Sir…" muttered the woman, making sure to keep a safe distance from his flailing arms. "Sir, you should probably leave."
"What? Leave?? Why??? If I leave, they win! If I leave, I'm written off as some old crack! Well I won't have it! I fought in the war, you know! They have to treat me with respect! If it weren't for me, they would be eating baguettes and cheese, and call each other comrade! I should be marching up to the Kaiser is what I should be doing!"
With a swing of his arms, he turned around, and began to march away, in as dignified a manner as he could muster with a bad back and wobbly knees.
The woman just watched, a defeated look on her face. One second, he was marching away, full of pride. The next, he was being tackled to the ground, and being beaten with a little plastic baton while a child probably a quarter of his age recited a script to him.
"The Kaiser provides for everybody. Dissent will not be tolerated. Disturbing the peace with mad rants will not be tolerated. Siding with the enemy will not be tolerated. …"
The list goes on and on, hand tailored to the individual, but scripted responses nonetheless. Unable to do anything else for the man, the woman straightened her blouse, tucked a stray section of brown hair behind her, and moved on to a more quiet location.
As she walked down the street, she stared blankly at all the new billboards.
"Need a new car? Raising a family? Gertrud recommends her 1958 Handwerker Familienwagen. A van for the average German family."
"Tired of cooking every morning? Try some Vorsprung Zuckerkugeln! These sweet balls of grain will provide your family with everything needed to get the day started. Family preferred, Mutti approved."
"Tired of your job? Still in your 20's? Head over to your nearest Armeecenter, pick up a gun, and fight for your country! The top candidates from each group will get to fly to Berlin, and dine with the Kaiser when they finish their training!"
'Always the same. The old man wasn't wrong. Our country treats us like stupid cattle. But what can we do?' the woman found herself thinking. 'Even if we were to speak up, we'd all end up like that man. Or worse.'
Shaking the thoughts away, she continued down the street, keeping her head down as she passed a group of Gedankenpolizei who looked to be starting their shift. Just as she was almost through, one of them grabbed her by the shoulder, and turned her around. As they did, her face went pale.
"Hello, sweetheart." Said the youngest looking one with a pug face and toothy smile. "Why the long face?"
Doing her best to avoid eye contact, she caught herself replying without meaning to. "I… I just saw a disturbing scene at the park." The words flooded out of her mouth like a river. "An old man. A veteran. He was talking crazy, and scaring the children. He started to get violent, but some of your people came.and stopped him. I was standing close when it happened. It was just starting, that's all."
Catching her breath, the woman watched for a response on the boys face, and thought the same thing she usually did when speaking in public these days.
'Those weren't my words. They came out of my mouth, but they weren't mine.'
"Oh, well. Don't you worry. I'll keep you safe from villains like that man!" The pug boy said, placing one hand on his pistol, and the other around her shoulder. She stifled her cringe as best she could.
"Oh, thank you, but… I'm sure I will be fine. I see such things often enough."
'Shit. Wrong words.' she thought, but it was too late. The boy was already grinning.
"If you see things like that often, then my escort is all the more needed! Most people would see it only now and again. But if you see it often, then you are either unlucky, or you spend time in dangerous areas. To me, both options scream 'protect me!'"
Sighing, the woman gave up. There was no winning. "We'll, if you insist." She said as short as she could. "I was going to head to the market."
"The one next to the Einheitswand?" He asked, tightening his grip on her shoulder. "You really do like scary places. The Einheitswand is a place for criminals to make their penance with the state. Of course, not all of them really mean it…"
"It has the best fruit." She said, ignoring his other comments. "The one close to the school is safer, but their fruits are almost always bad."
"Suit yourself." The officer said, as they began to walk to the city center. After about a minute of silence, the officer spoke. "So, does the beauty under my arm have a name?"
"Sofie." She replied. "Sofie Bohn."
The officer took a long, deep inhale off the top of her head, sending a shiver down her spine. "Ahhhh. Sofie. Like a beautiful spring flower."
"It means wise." She said curtly, as the meaning of her name was something she took pride in. "Not that it's my name you are interested in."
'Wrong.' she thought, as the officer tensed up, and stopped.
"And, sweet, charming Sophie. What is it that I want, then?"
The look on his face made her gag. She wanted nothing more than to get away from him, but knew it was impossible if she didn't play along.
"You want to do your Civic duty, and escort me to the supermarket so that I do not run into any more shady characters." She replied, holding back the quivering in her voice.
"Well, yes." He said, smiling a smile nearly as disturbing as that of prince Wilhelm. "But why
is it I am doing that, miss Bohn?"
"Be- Because it is your duty, and you must-" she was cut off as he moved in to try to kiss her, forcing her to dodge and, instinctively, punch the disgusting sleezeball right in the face.
As he staggered backwards clutching his face, Sophie froze. The crowd around them froze. Then officers eyes began to burn.
"You bitch!" He shouted, fumbling for his gun. "You disgusting, awful, traitorous bitch! Who do you think I am?"
Whether it was out of habit, fear, or a mix of both, Sophie began talking before she could stop herself once more.
"You? I think you are a worm! A sleazy, no good worm who is taking advantage of his position to take advantage of me. You aren't trying to protect the German people! You are trying to violate them, in a way even worse than the state already is! You are no hero of the people! You're just a tiny man, with a fragile ego, who needs to be in a position of power to feel any self worth! You should be shoving that gun down your throat before you even dare point it at me!"
Blinking, Sophie processed what came out of her mouth, and immediately became terrified as the officer finished taking his gun from the holster. As he raised it to her, she shut her eyes tight, preparing for the worst. But instead of a gunshot, she heard the crunch of bone breaking.
Opening her eyes, she saw the officer on the ground, and a larger man standing over him, fist bloodied. Before the officer could do anything, the man's boot found itself in his side, making another loud crack.
"H-help!" Shouted the officer, but not before another person joined in, stomping their foot down on his head. "Hel" the officer tried again, but not before a third boot landed in his mouth, shattering his teeth.
Before Sophie could even blink, the crowd had turned into a riot, feet taking out their anger on the downed officer in any way they could. What surprised Sophie even more was looking down, and seeing herself joining in. It was something she wanted to do; and she was actually doing it. She wasn't suppressing it and watching somebody else do it for once. She was actually taking part. She wasn't even sure the bloody mess below her was even alive anymore, but she didn't care. She wasn't kicking just for her at this point. She was kicking for every person she had sat by and watched get kicked by the Gedankenpolizei. She was kicking for her grandparents, who watched their country turn into something worse than communist, after they had given their all to save it. She was kicking for her country.
Just as soon as it started, however, it was brought to an abrupt end. Whistles were sounding from all directions as the Gedankenpolizei were rushing to their position. Sophie expected to see the crowd shatter, but… They didn't. Instead, they began to link arms, forming a human wall. Sophie found herself joining in, stepping away from the mangled corpse at her feet, and finally getting a good look at everyone she was with. A fireman, a baker, a few factory workers, some people in fancy dress clothes… This wasn't just the lower class fighting back. It was Germans of all walls of life, standing together as one against the oppression of the state. Sophie couldn't believe it. Though, what happened next surprised her the most.
"This Germany is not my Fatherland. This Germany is a prison." She shouted, eyes going wide. "I refuse to stand by as the state treats us like cattle! Germany is my home, and it is sick. The only way to cure it is to stand together, and tell the Kaiser that his people are sick and tired of this oppression! The only thing it's going to do is make the people turn against him. Starting with us. Germany for the Germans!"
"Germany for the Germans! Germany for the Germans!" The crowd began to chant, as the Gedankenpolizei arrived on the scene, and immediately started to try tearing people away from the line.
"Germany for the Germans!" Continued the crowd, even when the Gedankenpolizei began to pull out their bludgeons. "Germany for the Germans!" They continued, as people began to get beaten down. "Germany for the Germans!" They shouted to the sky, even as the first shot was fired.
"Germany for the-" shouted Sophie, being cut off as a seating pain flooded out from her torso. She looked down, and saw red pooling out, devouring the white of her blouse. Tears rolling down her face, she snapped her head back up, and shouted as loud as she could, before everything went black.
"GERMANY FOR THE GERMANS!"