In Austria and the Catholic parts of Germany -Bavaria and the Rhineland- the weeks before Lent are traditionally devoted to strenuous merrymaking, to elaborate street processions, to costume balls, to singing and dancing until dawn and the consumption of beer and wine in heroic quantities. This year, however, there was no coal and no electric power and no heat and no food and no wine or beer. The icy February wind howled through block after block of ruined houses and blew snow clouds off the mountains of rubble lining the streets of Cologne and Munich and Vienna. On Shrove Tuesday the Stars and Stripes predicted blizzards in the region between the Danube and the northern slope of the Alps, as far west as Bregenz on Lake Constance. In Salzburg it began to snow about four o'clock in the afternoon, and through their windshield wipers American soldiers saw bands of little children trotting along the sidewalks, dressed in bedsheets and face masks and other makeshift Halloween-like costumes. In the warm steamy bathroom of the Villa Redl, Nella Paulsen, Schauspielerin im Landestheater, sat in her slip on the edge of the tub and said, again, "So eine Gemeinheit!"

I was shaving in front of the mirror. "Nella, I wish you wouldn't sit around in here like that."

"Don't you like to look at me? Don't look at me, then."

"What are the servants supposed to think?"

"Fuck the servantsl"

"Nella . . ." I put down my razor and turned toward her. She was absorbed in the delicate task of painting her toenails. "You don't say things like that when you're talking German. Why do you say them when you're talking English? You just don't understand what it sounds like--"

"Listen, Mr. Graham Anders, Corporal Anders, I talk English pretty good, everybody tells me, so don't give me none of your bullshit."

As I turned back to the mirror, I tried to visualize Nella's introduction to the society of Asheville, North Carolina. In the meantime, she belabored the subject that had preoccupied her since Sunday night. "Eine Gemeinheit! How do you say that in English? A meanness? A dirty trick? The last day of Fasching, the night of the big ball at the Hotel Bristol, and I have such a terrific costume prepared! Of course they must have meetings, but this week?"

A conference and briefing session for American legal officers in Germany and Austria had been set up at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the ski resort and now army recreation center, across the border in Bavaria and a hundred miles west. Major French and Lieutenant Pinckney and several other officers from Salzburg had been there for two days.

I rinsed the shaving soap from my face. "I told you before, Nella, I don't think whoever planned the conference understood the importance of Fasching around here. At home we only have carnival in one place that I know of, in New Orleans--"

"But why couldn't I go with him then? You think the officers from Bavaria won't bring their girls?" She was sitting with her arms folded underneath her breasts, her milky white legs propped up on the toilet lid, with little pieces of cotton separating her toes while the nail polish dried. "Ach, the hell with him, I will have a good time anyway. Have you ever seen Marlene Dietrich?"

"Marlene Dietrich? You mean in the movies? Sure I've seen her. Why?"

"Well, I have never seen her, she went to America and of course we were never allowed to see her, and tonight I have to do a song from an old film Der Blaue Engel. I know the song and I have looked at some photographs--"

"I thought you were doing Wiener Blut over there."

"No, silly, this is afterwards, at the cabaret."

I had seen The Blue Angel at a film festival in Cambridge, and told her what I remembered about it. She sent me into Pinckney's apartment to get some Cognac. Her clothes were strewn all over the furniture. A bottle of Remy-Martin and some glasses stood on the table. I poured two generous shots and carried the glasses back to the bathroom. "Prosit Fasching, Herr Unteroffizier," she said, lifting her glass and smiling. I drank the Cognac quickly, too quickly, and it seared my throat. She asked some more questions about Marlene Dietrich and I answered them, trying not to stare at her bare white shoulders and her heavy breasts. We finished the Cognac and she sent me back for more, although I could see that her toenail polish was dry. I had just corked the bottle when the lights went out.

"Himmelherrgottsakrament!" cursed Nella softly from the bathroom, and there were steps in the downstairs hall.

"Stromsperre, Herr Unteroffizier!" called Heinie the cook.

"Ach, the idiot," said Nella in the darkness. "Every time the electricity goes off, he thinks he must report it."

There was a lot of shouting up and down the stairs in German. Heinie wanted to bring up fresh candles but Nella told him we didn't need them. "There are matches on the bedside table," she called to me, but I stopped for a moment to look out the window at the park across the street, so white that it glowed in the dusk, the bare trees, the black bulk of Schloss Mirabell, behind it the needle-sharp spires of St. Andrä, and the snow falling silently across the dark-blue evening. I was not accustomed to Cognac. I felt the rich sweet fumes rising into my brain, caressing my nerves. I stood there looking out at the falling snow, suddenly overcome by an unbearable shock of deja vu, knowing exactly what would happen before I heard the barefoot step on the carpet, turning around to hear her say, 'Well, aren't you going to light my candle?" and then feeling her wrapped unbelievably soft in my arms, smelling of bath salts and perfume and Cognac, kissing me hard with her mouth open. Potiphar's Wife.

"Oho," she said when we stopped. "I thought you did not like me."

"Oho," I said. "I thought you didn't kiss enlisted men."

"Well, this is Fasching, you see. We kiss almost anybody in Fasching." She was still in my arms, leaning back and smiling up into my face. "Are you going to the party at the NCO Club?"

"I guess so."

"You want to take me out?"

"I can't take you to the Bristol."

"Oh, be quiet, I know that! You think I am completely crazy? If the electricity goes on again, we have to give a show still tonight--"

"I thought the theatre was closed."

"Well, this is Fasching, they got some coal, I don't know, anyway we do Wiener Blut, they have sold tickets, but you come to the stage door at half-past nine, all right? I will tell the man."

"What are we going to do?" Her thighs pressed against me.

"We go with the others to the cabaret. It won't be like the Bristol, but I think they will have some slivovitz--"

"You mean go to the cabaret with the other actors? I can't do that, that's Off Limits."

"Oh be quiet, you stupid boy, we will put you in a costume, nobody will bother you tonight, it's Fasching." She put her naked arms around my head again, kissed me quickly, and pushed me out the door.

"You are the son of Gustaf Anders?" said the old actor, his eyes upon the proffered pack of Lucky Strikes. "I knew him for a short time in Berlin." He extracted a cigarette, said in English "Senkyou" and applied a Zippo lighter. "I was one of the soldiers in the chorus of Trompeten at the Schiffbauerdamm. Tremendous! Fantastic! The people stood on their seats and sang along with us." He began to hum the refrain from the "Fusilierlied." He was a man in his sixties who had once been fat. His face was still plump and smooth and slightly greasy, and he wore his long white hair slicked carefully away from his forehead and back over his ears. It was chilly in the cabaret and he wore a heavy loden overcoat and a brown scarf. In fact, few of the dozen or so actors who were crowded around the long narrow table were in costume and I felt conspicuous in the elaborate silver-piped green uniform of a huntsman from the chorus of Der Freischütz into which Nella and the other giggling girls had buttoned me in the freezing dressing room of the Landestheater.

The owners of this establishment were successfully conducting their "Faschingsrummel" on two different levels, both physically and culturally. The huge beer cellar was filled with townspeople and peasants from the outlying villages, and on the bandstand a group of musicians dressed in the local Tracht played waltzes and Ländler and folk songs that rang to the vaulted ceiling. Here the war and the Nazis, the defeat and the Occupation, the hunger and the cold, were temporarily forgotten; everything was Austrian and neutral and gemütlich. In the small dark room up the stairs behind the bandstand, however, was "kabarett"; a combo in shabby tuxedoes played jazz (pronounced "yutz") and on the tiny stage a hollow-eyed troupe from Munich sang gruesome songs and performed savage satirical skits attacking the local bureaucracies, the denazification program, the black market, and the idiosyncrasies of the French, British, Russian and American occupation forces,

The audience consisted mostly of the immigrants who had, in Major French's phrase, washed up upon the island that was Salzburg: bombed-out people from the cities of the north, Volksdeutsche from the east, Prussians and Silesians, the itinerant actors from Berlin and Vienna with whom I was sitting, and surly suspicious-looking men who conversed in languages I could not understand. The smoke that fllled the room came from American cigarettes; here and there bottles of vodka and homemade schnapps and slivovitz were passed from hand to hand. Whenever a waiter opened the door at the bottom of the stairs, up came the sound of the yeomanry bellowing along with their band:

Ja, ja doas Bier is guat
I brauch' keineuen Huat
I setz den alten auf
Bevor iWasser sauf'!

The beer wasn't good, it was flat and almost free of alcohol, nothing like the genuine 12% percent Sternbräu I had been drinking all evening at the NCO Club, but the old actor had poured a shot of clear incandescent slivovitz for me. Nella Paulsen, dressed as Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel-long black stockings held up by garters stretched over fat white thighs- climbed upon the table and sang, accompanied by the accordion and the tootling saxophone, her Austrian soprano sounding nothing like Dietrich's deep Berlin timbre,

Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuss auf Liebe eingestellt;
Denn das ist meine Welt und sonst garnichts

and put one high-heeled slipper on my shoulder while she sang, and the crowd began to clap while I felt my ears turning red. The old actor laughed for the first time, showing gold-capped teeth: "Now you look just like your father! Genau wie Ihr Vater sehen Sie jetzt aus!" Amid the applause Nella stepped off the table, brushing my cheek with her naked thigh, and disappeared to put her clothes on. "That little Salzburger Nockerl," said the actor, measuring more slivovitz into our glasses. "She looks as much like Dietrich as I do -except the nice plump thighs. I must say, no evidence of undernourishment to be seen." He launched into a long anecdote about how he and Gustaf Anders took four girls from a Berlin bordello for a sail on the Wannsee and their boat tipped over, and I listened politely. "Ein Mordskerl war das," said the actor enthusiastically. "Mit dem konnte man Pferde stehlen." Then, more confidentially: "But why did he go to Spain? With all those Communists? Gustaf Anders was a German voice, eine Deutsche Stimme, he should have remained with us."

"He couldn't do that," I said. "They would have--"

"Ach, Quatsch!"' said the actor. "Don't believe everything they tell you. I myself was never a Nazi, you understand. Never. But the Reds?" He rolled his eyes. "Much worse. Unbelievable." He tapped me on the arm. "The greatest mistake you Americans made was to let the Russians into Europe. A terrible mistake, and you will live to regret it."

"We didn't let them into Europe--"

"You must understand the Russians the way we do. They are like children, they understand only strength, only a blow on the head, you know. They are like animals. You should have seen them in Berlin, in 1945. Animals! We had in our apartment house two sisters, old maids, you know. Sixty-five and seventy years old. . . ."

Nella was hurrying back between the tables, followed closely by the sweating worried-looking manager.

"Graham, you must go up to the street for a moment," she said into my ear. "The police are here."

I stood up quickly and moved away from the table. "Oh, that's just great! The MPs are going to love this costume."

"Nein, nein," whispered the manager. "Keine MPs, Keine Razzia, is not a raid. Is only the Kripo, Inspektor Steinbrenner, they need you for something, Herr Unteroffizier."

"He doesn't want them to come inside," said Nella.

I turned away to follow the manager, but she took my hand. "You come right back Graham? This is Fastnacht, you know, and tomorrow is -what do you call it, Ash Wednesday? They must close pretty soon after twelve. You will come back?"

"I will if I can, Nella." The actor had turned in his seat and the others at the table were also watching them. The little combo began to play "Jealousy" with a smart fast brush on the drum and several couples stood up to dance. "I'II come back if I can, but I don't know what they want."

"You know where I live, don't you?"

"Yes, Nella."

"Well, maybe I see you there, okay?"

"You think that would be such a hot idea?"

She shrugged angrily, dropped my hand, and turned away. The actor was on his feet and Nella was in his arms, swooping into an exaggerated 1920s tango. I followed the hurrying manager down the little staircase, through the misty crowded beer-reeking cellar where the people were dancing too, the Tyrolean bandsmen on their feet now, blasting away at the most popular Schlager:

Es geht alles vorüber
Es geht alles vorbei (boom boom)
Nach jedem Dezember
Kommt wieder der Mai

and up the broad curving steps that led to the street.

As I came around the corner, I saw that the vestibule inside the street door was filled with snow-flecked boots under gray and green Austrian police uniforms. Inspector Steinbrenner and one other man were in civilian clothes, leather overcoats and green native hats. I saw their eyes sweeping curiously over the huntsman's costume, but Inspector Steinbrenner snapped to attention and had the honor to introduce Herrn Doktor Oberstabsarzt von Mell from the hospital, the St. Johann-Spital.

Dr. von Mell. was an old man with thick horn-rimmed glasses, a large Roman nose and a dueling scar on the side of his face. He spoke English fluently and did not mince words.

A young child in the hospital was dying of pneumonia. The child was not responding to sulfa therapy. The child would certainly expire within twenty-four hours unless penicillin could be administered. St. Johann-Spital had no penicillin. The army field hospital did have penicillin but categorically refused to release it for civilian use except for the treatment of venereal disease. This three-year-old girl unfortunately did not have venereal disease. The Criminal Police had informally advised that the legal branch of the Military Government had in its possession a box containing twelve ampules of penicillin, seized in a black market arrest and held as evidence for the trial of the persons involved. The mother of the child wished to make a personal appeal to Major French for the release of this supply of penicillin. Neither Major French nor Lieutenant Pinckney could be located in Salzburg on this night. The mother of the child was in the police automobile outside.

The old doctor stopped talking and glared at me through spectacles which enormously magnified his eyes.

"Sir, I don't have a key to the safe."

"Who has the key?" asked the doctor, and behind him the door to the street opened, there was a blast of freezing wind and a whirl of snow, the crowd of men in front of me turned their heads, moved back against the walls, and then I was face to face with the Countess Fyrmian.

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1961 - A Point of View
[1] The annual meeting of the stockholders of the Boatwright Corporation
[2] What are you going to do about Boatwright and what are you going to do about yourself?
[3] Have we learned anything this evening, Doctor?
[4] Producing results?
[5] Alexander's Feast
[6] How'd you like to go over to Salzburg for a month with me?

1947 - An Island
[7] You're not going to Berlin. You're staying here.
[8] All right, we're the Military Government.
[9] The Americans are teaching us to be democratic instead of fascistic.
>[10] Well, this is Fasching.
[11] Letters after Ash Wednesday
[12] Say Boris is at Schloss Fyrmian.
[13] THE AMERICAN ACADEMY IN EUROPE - Prospectus for the First Session
[14] Learn to think of people as individuals.
[15] Parlez-moi d'amour, redites-moi des choses tendres.
[16] Not one thing left to show that you've ever been on earth? -"Sources of Soviet Conduct"
[17] A Countess, a Prussian Officer and a Ländler
[18] Now this part of your life is over and I'm sending you home.
[19] A father who's too busy to watch his son die. - The Spring 1961
[20] I cannot sell Schloss Fyrmian to the Academy.

1961 - A Change of Air
[21] The first thing I saw was the Festung Hohensalzburg far in the distance, silhouetted against the shadowy curtain of the high mountains.
[22] Next day at the Academy we got to work - Graham, you know what Fleischer did?
[23] Im weißen Rößl am Wolfgangsee
[24] Brockaw writing a thesis on Austrian baroque architecture? - Boatwright Corporation and Boris Fleischer, plaintiffs
[25] You know there a Mr. Devereaux? Mr. Armistead Devereaux?
[26] I think always of Peter Devereaux.
[27] It sounds like an act of desperation, and it won't hold up in court.
[28] In those Oklahoma Hills WHERE AH WAS BOW-AHHHN!
[29] ... that we should meet again like this . . . I think perhaps there is a reason.
[30] "Is there here an American by name of Brockaw?"
[31] This is Boris Fleischer!
[32] "Does Hans work for Gehlen?" Paola shook her head. "More the other way around."
[33] Won't you please come home? Everybody needs you, I most of all.
[34] With this Waffenstillstand you have time now.
[35] You're going to regret this for the rest of your life!
[36] We Europeans would not do it. None of us. - People think you need medical attention.
[37] Will they trust you?
[38] Some things about the U.S.A. are perhaps rather important, and to us impressive.
[39] You're going to need a good lawyer.

version: March 2, 2004
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Arthur R.G. Solmssen, Joachim Gruber