Ok, so before you begin reading I think this is important: this is not meant to be historically accurate. As much as I love history, I think that this story would get bogged down with the details. For example, this mostly takes place the same day as the Nuremberg Trials, but the Allies had already decided what to do with Germany in August of that year. Also, the last two paragraphs were inspired from a bunch of historical quotes on war, so you may have recognized them in here. Oh, one last thing: I'm learning Russian, not German, so I hope you'll excuse the grammar or anything that was wrong with it!
I hope you enjoy the read!
21 November 1945
"Name, please." the woman said from behind her typewriter.
"Ludwig." Germany replied quietly, sapphire eyes glued to the floor.
The woman looked up at him and frowned. "I need your full name, sir. What's your last name?"
Germany's fists tightened. "I... don't have one." he said.
"I said, 'I don't have a last name.'"
Then, the woman looked to Germany's right – at the armed guard that was escorting him. The guard reached into his pocket and withdrew an official-looking document: a list of names. He pointed at a spot near the top of the list, and the woman recorded the data.
"Let's go," the guard said suddenly, placing his hand on Germany's shoulder to guide him in the right direction. Germany didn't argue. There was no point in arguing. Not anymore.
The guard led him down a long hallway – to a room where, Germany knew, his bosses (or, what remained of them) were to be tried later that morning. It was going to be known as "the Trial to End all Evil," the first trial in history for crimes against the peace of the world.
Not that there was much peace to begin with, Germany mused, but when he thought about what the Nazis – Germany - had done...
"Everyone, listen up!" the Lieutenant shouted from his position near the trucks. The residents of the ghetto – Jews, Gypsies, and the like – watched him with fearful eyes, listening intently. Occasionally, their gaze would shift to the dozen or so Nazi soldiers surrounding them. Their weapons had been drawn.
"You will all form into groups," the Lieutenant continued, "and you'll be loaded into these trucks. From there, you will all be taken to a camp we have set aside for your own safety. Resistance will not be tolerated." He motioned to the soldiers, and the crowd erupted in a sea of whispers. It sounded like rain.
Germany stopped in front of the giant doors and made to enter the courtroom, but his escort stopped him. "You won't be going in there." he said, pointing down to the other end of the hall where another set of doors, albeit smaller and less grand, stood waiting. "They've arranged something different for you."
Silently, Germany headed towards whatever awaited him on the other side of those doors. The guard took hold of one of the handles and opened the door, ushering the German inside.
"Vielen Dank," came a voice, heavy with an accent. England. But it wasn't just him: America, France, and Russia were with him, and the four of them were seated around the small conference table that sat in the center of the room. There was also an empty chair.
"You may go," England said to the guard, reverting to his native language. The man nodded and turned on his heels, closing the doors behind him with a soft click.
Now England turned to Germany. "Sit." He pointed at the empty chair.
Germany's shoulders stiffened. "I would rather stand."
France looked at him. "That wasn't an offer, mon ami."
Reluctantly, Germany sat.
"Now," England said, leaning forward in his chair and resting his chin against interlinked fingers, "as you know, Germany surrendered unconditionally."
"That means that, as the victors, we can do whatever we please to your country."
Again, Ludwig nodded. The other nations glanced at each other.
"What does Germany want?" asked England suddenly.
Germany arrived into his bosses office at the exact time described on the letter. He raised his arm in salute. "Heil!"
"Heil." the other men in the room returned.
"You have been informed of the plan?" one of them said immediately.
"I have." Germany replied.
"And what do you think of it?" the man's neighbor asked, leaning forward eagerly.
"I'm not sure what you mean," Germany replied.
Then one of the men came forward - Germany's boss. The Führer.
"You are Germany," he said," the greatest of all nations! You and all Germans deserve what is rightfully yours. We are determined to retrieve the territories that Germany had lost and to make Germany powerful again. This is how it has to happen. There is no alternative. If you approve of what we have planned then we will waste no effort in making sure it is seen through. But we must know: what does Germany want?"
"My people just want their lives back." Ludwig said simply. "My country is in turmoil. Berlin is in ruins, the people are starving, homeless, unemployed. All the people want is to be left alone."
"After what the Nazis did?" France scoffed. He looked exhausted. "After they invaded so many countries, brought so much chaos to the land, hurt so many things?"
"The soldiers should take no blame." Germany protested. "They were simply following orders!"
"We've seen Auschwitz." America said quietly. The young nation, who was usually loud and obnoxious, sat next to England, his expression unreadable. "Is that following orders too?"
Germany couldn't respond – there was nothing he could say to that. He had seen the death camps as well. But he hadn't actually known about their existence until it was too late. The day he'd found out, seen the photographs, the gas chambers and the ash that fell like snow from those monstrous chimneys…
If he had just known sooner, he would have…
"France is right," England said. "Something like this can't simply be ignored. Some sort of action has to be taken, other than what will happen to the Nazi leaders. History can't be allowed to repeat itself."
"What do you propose?" America asked.
"Split Germany up." came Russia's voice.
Ludwig's heart stopped.
"Split... Germany?" The other nations glanced awkwardly at one another.
"Da," Ivan continued. "We have already decided to move the Polish border westward to the Oder-Neisse line to compensate Feliks for my having gained some of his territory. Germany has lost most of its eastern provinces already."
"What's your point?" England said, rapping his fingers along the table.
"My point is: after the First World War you let Germany go with a slap on the wrist. You reduced his army and made him pay you back for the damages. Then, you acted surprised when Germany, in the state he was in, started another war out of a desire for revenge! This time, we need to control the outcome of this war and we can only do that with military occupation."
"Just what do you think you'll be claiming, Russia?" America interjected suddenly. "We all have soldiers in there, and you've gained land already. You weren't even an Ally to begin with, you have no right to just go in and control everything!"
The taller nation's eyes narrowed. "I've paid my debt in blood, American. The German killed over twenty million of my people after betraying me. As I recall, it was you who was trying to 'remain neutral' while the rest of the world crashed and burned!"
"ASSHOLE." America slammed his fist on the fable, shaking its top and sending a few papers scattering. "You SUPPORTED him! You God damned Soviet, you -!"
"Enough!" England was standing now, his jaw set. "We've all had casualties, we've all suffered losses, but we came here to decide how to solve our problems, not bicker like a bunch of school children!"
"You have a plan, then?" France said, questioningly.
"I agree with what Russia said. But -" he started as America began to interject, "we won't take any land for ourselves. We'll separate the country into four groups – one for each of us for right now, and decide what to do from there. Agreed?"
The other Allies gave one another mixed looks, pausing to think things through. Finally, -
"Agreed." said France.
"Me too," said America, though someone disheartened.
"Da," the Russian said, nodding. "I agree."
"I can't agree to this, you're making a mistake." Germany said. They didn't understand what was going on inside his nation, the nature of the hate that had inspired this whole God forsaken war... He'd been in so much debt, resented the other nations so much for punishing him like they had – he couldn't afford to feed his people, to fix their homes or educate their children. He wasn't about to let that happen again. "I surrendered, that's true. But if you do to me what you did before I can guarantee another incident like this will happen again."
"Is that a threat?" France raised his eyebrows.
"No, it's a fact. If you do this, people will be angry. More so than they are right now, and anger leads to all sorts of horrible things." Germany clenched his fists again to stop them from shaking. "There is nothing I will ever be able to do that will make up for this atrocity. I am ashamed, appalled, disgusted – and I have to live with the guilt as long as I live. I don't want this to ever happen again, not ever. If you do this, history is destined to repeat itself!"
"Germany," England said slowly, "We know nothing we do here will satisfy your people. We understand. We also know that you didn't want this. That's why we brought you here, rather than sending you to that courtroom with all the others to be sentenced to death like you were one of them. But please believe me; I think this is the best course of action. And so do the others. At the very least, it will be a temporary solution to a problem that is clearly much bigger than any of us thought."
Germany remained silent. He was backed into a corner, with only one way out. He realized now that he could either accept this offer or die trying to fight them all, all over again. He realized that there was nothing he could say or do for himself now – so much like how it was before – but now, his fate lie in the hands of men who wouldn't hesitate to kill one another if given the chance, and yet found themselves forced to work together to unify and correct the nation that had just killed over six million innocents. It was an impossible situation.
Germany sighed. "Fine..."
Sie sind ein Gefangener der Regeln, nach denen Sie leben.
It would be several days before Germany would see any of them again. Their meeting had ended almost immediately after he'd submitted to their demands, and after he had requested a chance to visit his former Axis members. The Allies had reluctantly allowed him to go.
He saw Feliciano first – he'd lost his conquered land, and his financial situation could have been better, but the man was relatively unharmed for the most part. Although, the Italian had repeatedly apologized to Ludwig for changing sides, even offering to make him pasta every single day to prove he was sorry. But Ludwig didn't need an apology. He could understand why Feliciano had done what he did. Even though it had hurt to be betrayed by someone he thought would never leave, he couldn't honestly say he wasn't expecting it the way things had been going and after how he had treated Italy. Germany couldn't remember yelling at someone so hard before, when Italy told him he was leaving. He couldn't talk for a day or so after it happened, and Japan had to interpret what he was saying for him…
That poor bastard. What America had done to him was unforgivable, inhumane. Kiku was just lying in the hospital bed when Germany went to visit him. He didn't say much. He said it hurt too much to talk. The Atomic Bombs had obliterated miles of his land, vaporized thousands of people – those who didn't die immediately suffered horrible effects, and Kiku was no exception. Most of his body was covered in bandages – sometimes when he moved, they would turn red. Half of his face was burned from the bombs, as well, so he could hardly see. But the thing that got to Germany the most: even though he was nearly dead, that bastard still refused to say anything negative to Ludwig. He never complained. Not once. He never said he was angry at Germany; he didn't even blame him for what happened. He said, "Countries don't fight wars. Their leaders do."
He was never more right.
"Germany, you sign your name funny." America said, standing up from his spot at the conference table and leaning over Ludwig's shoulder to glance at his signature on the document being passed around. "You don't include your last name?"
Germany looked over at the young American with a hint of his usual annoyance spread across his features. "I don't have a last name."
"You don't? Well that's pretty weird, don't you think?"
"Germany," England said from the seat opposite, "I thought your name was –"
"It was." Germany said. "I changed it."
"Changed it? Why?" the other countries looked confused now, as though they had never heard of something so bizarre.
"You wouldn't understand," was all Germany said, and the other nations took the hint. It wasn't that he didn't think they wouldn't understand – well, that France, England, or Russia wouldn't understand – he just didn't want to discuss it. In reality, he had changed his name as a way to help him move on from the events of World War 2. The other nations had their monuments and their memorials, but Germany didn't think that alone was good enough. Not for himself. And so, he had removed his last name. It was old fashioned, anyway, and it reminded him a lot of Germany before the war… He just hadn't found one to replace it yet. So for the time being, he simply signed things with, "Ludwig," offering some sort of explanation as needed, but never really telling anyone the whole truth.
The world around him was changing. The Russians and the Americans were fighting for control of a devastated Europe, getting closer and closer to splitting it down the middle. New ideas in sharp contrast with the accepted norm wrought havoc over the countryside, new laws were being sewn into the fabric of the nations, and people were just trying to rebuild – to move on from the past and promise that history would never repeat itself.
Germany knew the war would pass into memory – most people wouldn't need to think about it in their daily lives. But he also knew that the changes that it brought about would still influence generations. Something this big never truly went away. Germany knew his was a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants, where people know more about death than they do about life; where no one was safe and borders were uneasy. History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap. A self-respecting nation is ready for anything, including war, but no one is ready for what war really means.
And yet old fires still burned, and everyone felt that there could very well be another war around the corner. Peace is not the absence of war; it is a virtue; a state of mind; a disposition for benevolence; confidence; and justice, and Germany knew this world of his was not ready for it yet. But someday down the road, it would be. The only question was when.
Thank you very much.
Sie sind ein Gefangener der Regeln, nach denen Sie leben.
You are a prisoner of the rules by which you live.