It was dead in the night when the Volkswagen Campervan coughed to a halt in the middle of Guttenberger Wald.
“Scheisse! Nice place to conk up!” muttered the lady behind the wheel. She tried to switch on the ignition a few times, but the vehicle did not start. She looked around. The moon was full but could not penetrate below the trees. Except for the constant chirping of crickets, and the occasional cry of bats, there was no sound to be heard. She reached for her torchlight in her bag. No additional batteries. My bad luck continues.
She got out of the van and shone the torch in all directions for any sign of life. Suddenly, she heard an approaching bike and flicked her torch towards the sound – On, off, on, off.
A smile came across her face when the biker repeated the same signal with the headlights. Ah! My luck is going to change, I hope.
The biker halted near her. “Hallo! Is it a breakdown?” The man asked as he removed his helmet and walked to her.
“Ja. I should have reached Ludwigsburg by now had it not been for this piece of metal,” and she kicked the van.
“Hey! Take it easy. Ok? Can I have a look? I am an engineer at the Volkswagen factory in Würzburg.”
“Oh, really? Please go ahead. Here, I will hold the torchlight for you.”
“Don’t worry, Fräulein. There is not a thing in the world that my toolbox doesn’t have.” The man laughed and brought his bag from his motorcycle. “By the way, I am Shmuel,” and he extended his hand.
“My name is Ilse… Oh!” She let out a shriek, but covered her mouth immediately. “I am sorry, I need to drink some water. You carry on please. Let me know if you need anything.”
Shmuel watched her as she went and sat in the driver’s seat. Then he opened the bonnet and started working. But Ilse was distraught. He has that tattoo on his wrist. Hope he doesn’t recognise me. Hastily, she drank water from her bottle and started to search frantically inside her suitcase.
She felt she found it when, suddenly, Shmuel came up to her and shone his flashlight on her face. “Hey, Fräulein, try to start your van now. There seems only some wiring…, Hey! Wait a minute!”
His eyes went wide in horror as he stared at her face. His legs felt weak and his face became pale. “No! It cannot be! It is you! Die Hexe von Buchenwald!” Shmuel screamed as he stammered and fell back on the ground.
Keeping her eyes on Shmuel, Isle calmy switched on the ignition. The engine purred to life. She then, walked up to Shmuel, pointing her Walther at him.
Shmuel fell on his knees. “I beg you, please! Don’t kill me. I won’t tell anyone.”
“Yes, I am the Witch. I am sorry, Shmuel. The Americans think that they got the real Ilse Koch in 1945. So, I simply can’t let anyone ruin my retirement, can I? Thanks for the repair.”
Ilse made sure that the body was never found.
Ilse Koch, who was known as the Witch of Buchenwald due to her inhuman acts on prisoners in the Buchenwald concentration camp, was arrested in June 1945 and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1947 and again in 1951 during an appeal. But, rumours were abound that the real Ilse Koch had changed her identity and was leading a life of obscurity. The above is a work of fiction and based on this rumour and is set in 1955.
- Wald – Forest
- Scheisse – Shit. A cuss word in German language
- Ja – Yes
- Shmuel – Jewish name for Samuel.
- Fräulein – Miss, as in Miss Ilse
- Die Hexe von Buchenwald – The Witch of Buchenwald
- Walther – pistol carried by SS soldiers.
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