The Burdens we Bear

It’s not easy being a Gauleiter. You have to set an example. Let me tell you what I mean. Imagine you’re strolling down the street, basking in the ascendancy of your mojo when something catches your eye. It’s a kid shaping his hand into the figure of a pistol–a pistol!–and I know by the look of him that he’s no warfighter material. A runt of a thing. Clerical class at best, more likely tithing stock. Normally it’s something you wouldn’t think twice about. Not back when things were the way they used to be, that is, but times have changed.

So what’s the big deal? I’ll tell you what: you don’t want people getting the wrong idea. What we’ve managed to achieve here is based on an intricate network of carefully calibrated parts, each cleaving in perfect fealty to its mission and destiny. Tithing stock must not even dream of wielding the weapons that keep the ship of state afloat, much less mimic their use. No – this could not stand. No sooner had I seen the act than I charged through the orbit my security detail and dealt the boy a crushing blow athwart the face.

Now the boy’s role in the whole thing was relatively circumscribed, and mustn’t be exaggerated. No, the real blame, I was sure, lay with the family, who must have been filling the poor boy’s head with dangerous nonsense. I therefore picked him up by his scrawny tither’s neck and demanded of him where I might find his relations. The information being provided readily in his terror, we were soon on our way to his sector of the Gau. Ravenswood or Wolfram Park, I can’t remember which.

The task with whose effectuation I was now charged can be though of a formidable one-off debit item that had suddenly accrued, through no doing of my own, to my psychological balance sheet. We drew near their front door, a drab portal among many. The boy was looking at me with the dumb eyes of a calf as I pounded on the flimsy fiberboard panel. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. But I held and hold that it was well that he learn about the ineluctable nature of certain things once set in motion. A man appeared at the threshold. Disheveled, scrawny, the pathetic repository of broken dreams. I asked for his papers. All compliance, he produced them forthwith. Sure enough, grade C tithing stock. I had boy and father dead to rights.

It’s funny. When I think about it, it seems to me that both spawn and sire knew exactly what would happen, and were uninterested in the specifics of the proceedings, if you’ll allow me to put it that way. It was certainly well to see them resigned to the superiority of my will, but it is nice if people at least take an interest in what is happening to them. I therefore stood on ceremony and conducted a brief field trial, complete with instant documentary footage from the e-Reichsarchiv and instructive references to the relevant clauses of the criminal code. The boy had clearly engaged in a willful misrepresentation of identity infringing on the privileges and jeopardizing the safety of those who put their lives on the line, day in and day out, for the security of the Sector, the Gau and the State. It simply could not be tolerated.

Of course, I was willing to make certain concessions in light of his tender age. I offered to drop the charges against the boy as part of a bargain whereby the real culprit, the father, would pay the ultimate forfeit. Like the tithing stock they were, both were completely resigned to this fate from the moment of its promulgation. I sat the boy to one side and beseeched him not to look away on pain of some vague further penalty. His ruminant’s eyes remained riveted on the scene as I pulled the garrotte wire out of my pocket. The boy’s sire all but did the job for me, proffering his neck in submission to his condign punishment. Whatever troubles he may have caused, whatever crimes he may have committed against the dignity of the State in raising the boy, he was a most compliant subject in the moment of his execution, a fact which I was happy to note in his permanent record after the fact. I patted him on the head before wrapping the wire around his neck. He looked up and thanked me for sparing the boy in the moment before its fateful flexion.

If you’ve never seen a garrotte wire in action, I will note that it produces a formidable effect. This time I did not beat around the bush by attempting to produce an intermediate state of asphyxiation in prelude , instead bringing the full force of my musculature to bear at once. His windpipe and jugular were severed in an instant, the head all but coming off in my hands. I stepped back in disgust when I saw that a pool of plebeian blood had welled onto my shirtcuff.

Prepare a death certificate and filing the organ recovery paperwork took no more than a few minutes. When that was done I tried to put on a frank and reasonable face, exhorting the boy one last time never again to mimic the manners of his betters. He seemed to understand the point of the lesson. I thought that was rather mature of him. I also appreciated the fact that he did not regard me with anything like resentment for being the instrument of the law’s enforcement, the way some of their less well-adjusted fellows tend to do. No, on the whole I think he was a rather sensible boy. Just caught making the wrong gesture at the wrong time, I suppose. But that’s the way it goes. Order does not enforce itself, and we would all be stood on our heads and buffeted by the cruelest winds if we did not exercise the vigilance required of us. Such is the nature of the burden a Gauleiter must bear. Certainly I do it gladly, but it would be a comfort if the rigors of the job were recognized as readily as the perquisites we enjoy. The notion that we are somehow to blame for the automatic punishments of whose effectuation we are the instrument lacks all proportion.

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The Burdens we Bear

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