Remembering The Girl in the Tower (1940)
This is a memory from way back, a mystery never solved or explained, make of it what you will, you may find it interesting
It was a casual, informal evening at Uncle Wenzel's place, the young-ones had been sent off to bed, I was expected to sit with all the "old folks" in the library and take my part in polite conversation. I enjoyed my status as the "young adult" partaking of after dinner liqueurs and being offered a cigarette, but this evening I was bored, I'd rather been in my room, reading in bed. It was summer of 1940 and all the talk was about a reception Wenzel was going to give for the Officer's of a unit there on maneuvers, there was speculation about the maneuvers, or was it the preliminaries for an invasion of the Soviet Union? Was that a good or a bad idea?
I excused myself and wandered off, wanting to visit Elisabeth, the crazy sister. I liked looking over her jewelry and hearing her stories about the roaring twenties in Paris among all the starving artists. But Elisabeth felt under the weather and was not receiving.
So I wandered around all the big rooms and came to the end of the hallway. The entry-door to the second tower was ajar, it surprised me, because it generally was locked, the staircase wasn't safe, we'd been told.
I entered anyway, wanting to see what the view from the top of the tower was like, worth taking a chance.
Round the first stairway landing was a switchboard, it startled me, a strange place to have a switchboard, I thought. Maybe it was something else? But I knew a switchboard when I saw one, I had just terminated my short one week career as switchboard operator at the sugar-beet refinery - the stench made me quit.
As I stood there, trying to make sense of the arrangement, a door on the landing opened and a young woman appeared, she was just as startled as I was. "What are you doing here?" she asked in good, but vaguely accented German, "no one is supposed to come here, please leave".
What could I do? I left, still wondering what that was all about.
When I mentioned the incident to my father, he got very serious and told me never to mention this again. No explanation was given.
Who was that girl? I knew that Uncle Wenzel was a womanizer and was said to sometimes entertain "hot babes" in secret, but that young woman sure did not fit the description of "hot babes".
Yet I was only 16 and naive, so what did I know? It's that switchboard that bothered me.