Friday, April 18, 2008

Heinz von Jaegermann, War Hero, Political Candidate

One of the sons of an old Juncker family, he joined the Luftwaffe in the 1930s both to carry on the family's martial traditions and beause he thought that would be simultaneously a way to serve the Fatherland and a good foundation for a later political career.

Unfortunately, he turned out to be a crappy pilot. Fortunately, Germany was so hungry for men eager to drop bombs on England that they put him in a cockpit and aimed him westwards.

What fun he had! London, that enormous city, was nothing but targets. He could drop his bombs anywhere and be sure to hit something. He loved the way his exploding bombs lit up the city streets below him, defying the blackout. Of course, most of what he hit was residential areas, and most of the people he killed were civilians cowering in fear. Don't quibble. Heinz hates quibblers.

Sometimes, continuing west from London, before turning south to return to the airfield on the Continent, Heinz's bomber would thunder over the small city of Reading at the edge of the defensive ring of searchlights and anti-aircraft guns surrounding London. Heinz never had any bombs left by then, or he would have dropped them there, just for amusement.

And a good thing, too, for the pregnant mother cowering in the basement of her house with her two sleepy little daughters beside her.* Her husband had put on his helmet and air-raid warden's armband when the sirens went off and had left to patrol the streets, looking for cracks of light showing through blackout curtains or people wandering the streets who shouldn't be.

As we all know, the war itself didn't turn out well for Germany. But Heinz did quite well. Decades later, old and doddering and arthritic and prone to the occasional senior moment, Heinz has risen to the leadership of PESP, the Posturing and Empty Symbolism Party. There's a good chance that, after the upcoming election, he'll be Germany's chancellor.

Some Germans are outraged. How, they ask, can we choose as our face to the world a man who dropped bombs on innocent civilians during an evil war of aggression? But others, wearing little flag pins on their lapels, respond with fury that any man who wore the uniform of his country in time of war is to be honored as a hero, no matter what. All military service, they insist loudly, is honorable. No matter what.

Fortunately, Heinz does not exist. He's purely fictional, and if he did exist, such a man could never have any chance of attaining the highest elected office in an advanced, civilized country.

* And a good thing, too, for the baby she was carrying, who grew up to write this blog post.

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