Afterwards, pacing the room once more, Hess repeated that yes, of course he
recognized himself in the film, so he must accept that he had been there. Yet he
had no memory of the events depicted. He touched the side of his head with his
fingertips as if it were tender. All that is black to me.
No memory? Rotheram asked. None at all? And yet you seem agitated.
Disturbed. The room was very still now without the tick and whir of the
I wouldnt say so. Troubled, perhaps.
Troubled, very well. Why?
Troubled that I cant remember, of course. How would you feel if you were shown
and told things you had done that you had no memory of? It is as if my life has
been taken from me.
That man was me, but also like an actor playing me.
Hess sniffed. The chimney was drawing poorly. Mills raked through the coals with
the poker, making them spit.
Do you even want to remember? Rotheram asked.
Natürlich. A man is his memories, no? Besides, Im told the tide has turned.
Paris fallen? Germany facing defeat? I should like such memories of happier
The film made you happy, then? You enjoyed it?
Not happy! Hess cried. He raised his hands in frustration, let them drop with
a sigh. But you are trying to provoke me.
There was a moments silence, and then Mills said, You must be tired.
Yes, Redgrave added. Perhaps it would be best if we conclude this evening,
Major, Rotheram began, but when he looked at Redgrave s hangdog face, he
stopped. He had been about to say that this was his interrogation, but it
occurred to him suddenly that Mills was right. As far as he and the major were
concerned, it was no interrogation at all. It wasnt that they thought Rotheram
couldnt determine whether Hess was mad or not; they thought it was irrelevant.
That unless Hess was raving or foaming at the mouth, hed be put on trial. They
believed the decision had already been taken. That was why they couldnt see any
point in this. It was a sham in their eyes and, worse, to continue it a cruelty.
They expect me to find him fit, Rotheram thought, because they believe Im a
He became aware that Redgrave and Mills were staring at him, waiting.
I suppose I am finished, he muttered.
Only Hess was not. He was standing at the pier glass scrutinizing his own
reflection. Turning his head from side to side to study his face.
He ran a hand through his lank hair, held it off his brow. Another thing I
dont remember: growing old. He smiled bleakly at them in the narrow mirror.
Rotheram spent a restless night in his bare cell of a room the former
servants quarters, he guessed, up a narrow flight of stairs at the back of the
It was all so unreasonable, he thought. He d been brought up, nominally at
least, Lutheran, his mothers faith; knew next to nothing about Judaism. In
truth, he d always resented his grandparents, refusing to write the thank-you
letters his mother asked him to send in reply to their begrudging gifts, and he
d been secretly pleased when theyd fled to Paris, as if this proved something.
Even when, two months after theyd left, his fathers pension had been stopped,
Rotheram had been convinced it was simply a mistake. The Nazi bureaucrats were
just fools, too dense to understand a subtle distinction like matrilineal
descent, something his mother had explained to him in childhood. He was in his
second year of law at the university, but when he tried to register for classes
the following term, he was told he wasnt eligible to matriculate and realized
he was the fool. It made him think of an occasion years before, when, as a boy
of thirteen or fourteen, he d asked his mother yet again why he wasnt Jewish
if his father was. Because the Jewish line runs through the mother, she d told
him. Yes, but why? he pressed, and she explained, a little exasperated, that she
supposed it was because you could only be absolutely sure who your mother was,
not your father. He went away and thought about that deeply and narrowly, as a
child will and finally came back to her and asked if she was sure his father
was his father. She d stared at him for a long moment, then slapped him hard
across the mouth. That sure, she said.
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