Authors: Judy Nunn
From stage actor and international television star to blockbuster, best-selling author, Judy Nunn's career has been meteoric.
Her first forays into adult fiction resulted in what she describes as her âentertainment set'.
The Glitter Game
, three novels set in the worlds of television, theatre and film respectively, each became an instant bestseller.
Next came her âcity set'.
, a fiercely passionate novel about men and mining set in Kalgoorlie;
Beneath the Southern Cross
, a mammoth achievement chronicling the story of Sydney since first European settlement; and
, a tale of love, family and retribution set in Darwin.
took Australia by storm, making Judy one of the nation's top-selling fiction writers, and her following novel,
, set principally in Vanuatu, met with equal success.
Her next work,
, a thriller based in the 1950s and set in the Snowies during the construction of the massive Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme, embraces post-war immigration and the birth of multiculturalism. The resounding critical and commercial success of
has consolidated Judy's position as one of this country's leading fiction writers.
, Judy's ninth novel, is set in the âIron Ore State', Western Australia, and reveals, through three decades, the loss of innocence of a population caught up in the greed and avarice of the mining boom.
Judy Nunn's fame as a novelist is spreading rapidly. Her books are now published throughout Europe in English, German, French, Dutch and Czech.
Judy lives with her husband, actor-author Bruce Venables, on the Central Coast of New South Wales.
By the same author
The Glitter Game
Beneath the Southern Cross
Eye in the Storm
Eye in the City
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any person or entity, including internet search engines or retailers, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, photocopying (except under the statutory exceptions provisions of the
Australian Copyright Act 1968
), recording, scanning or by any information storage and retrieval system without the prior written permission of Random House Australia. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.
ePub ISBN 9781864714616
Kindle ISBN 9781864717167
This book is a work of fiction. A number of well-known historical figures are incorporated, but with the exception of several locals whose real names I have used, all other characters are fictitious. The work camp of Spring Hill is also fictitious and is loosely based on my research of the existing work camps of the time.
An Arrow Book
Published by Random House Australia
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First published by Random House Australia 2005
This Arrow edition published 2006, 2007
Copyright Â© Judy Nunn 2005
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
National Library of Australia
ISBN 978 1 74166 594 9 (pbk.).
In fond memory of Bob and Rita Duncan
âGive me a man who's a man among men
Who'll stow his white collar and put down his pen
Who'll blow down a mountain and build you a dam
Bigger and better than old Uncle Sam.
Sometimes it's raining and sometimes it's hail
Sometimes it blows up a blizzardy gale
Sometimes it's fire and sometimes it's flood
And sometimes you're up to your eyeballs in mud.
Give me bulldozers and tractors and hoses
And diesels to ease all my troubles away
With the help of the Lord and of good Henry Ford
The Snowy will roll on her way.'
Extract from the song âSnowy River Roll'
âWe can say goodbye to old Berlin, Mannie.'
Mannie Brandauer had never forgotten the look on his father's face the day he said those words, or the sorrow in his father's voice. And, from then on, Mannie noticed, whenever his father talked of the golden days of the Twenties, he always referred to âold Berlin'.
âBefore President Hindenburg was forced to appoint that awful little thug as Chancellor,' Stefan Brandauer would say to his wife, Margit, recklessly careless of his young teenage son's presence. Then Margit would gently warn Mannie that he was not to repeat his father's views in public.
Far from heeding his wife's concern, Stefan voiced his opinions with equal vigour to his close circle of likeminded friends, those who still gathered regularly at the Brandauers' grand house on diplomats' row in Tiergartenstrasse, overlooking the magnificent parkland which had once been a royal game reserve.
Stefan had been Director of Protocol in the Weimar Republic for ten years and, having been retained by Hitler for his brilliance in foreign diplomacy, such inflammatory conversation was certainly not in keeping with Stefan's position. But then, as he pointed out to Margit, he had never before socialised with thugs and vulgarians, and if he was now forced to do so in the workplace, then he would at least recognise them for what they were. He was not impressed, he said, by their uniforms and their pistols, nor was he intimidated by their loutish behaviour and bullying tactics.
But it was not Stefan's political views that finally brought about his demotion; it was the company he kept. Despite his impeccable Aryan lineage and his staunch belief in the Roman Catholic faith, it was noted that the Director of Protocol was a Jewish sympathiser and the decision was made that he should be posted abroad. But not until after the Olympic Games.
Stefan Brandauer â multilingual, urbane, well known and well liked by the majority of visiting ambassadors â was an invaluable asset during the 1936 Olympics, when Hitler sought to disguise the anti-Semitic policies already strongly in place, and to impress upon the world Berlin's sophistication and fairness. But when the Olympics were over and the dignitaries and tourists had departed, the placards of condemnation inspiring hatred and urging boycotts reappeared, the anti-Jewish publications returned to the newsstands, and Hitler refocussed on his major objective: purifying the city. It was then that Stefan was posted to London and obscurity, his duties at the German Embassy being those of any other minor civil servant.
By that time, Mannie was in his first year of Law at Berlin University and so he didn't accompany his parents. He bade them a fond farewell, knowing that he would miss them sorely. As his father would miss âold Berlin'. He moved into a modest flat near the university with his childhood friend and fellow first-year student, young Samuel Lachmann.
On a clear summer evening in mid July, 1943, Mannie hefted his knapsack of groceries over one shoulder and walked down KurfÃ¼rstendamm through the gathering dusk. He thought, as he so often did, of his father and âold Berlin'.
Along either side of the broad boulevard, cafes, bars, theatres and nightclubs still bravely opened for business, despite the increasing bombing raids that were systematically destroying the city. Life went on for the Berliners. But KurfÃ¼rstendamm catered to a different society these days. It had been a swaggering clientele at first, one of strutting uniforms and self-importance, loud, coarse and vulgar. Then, so quickly that it seemed to happen overnight, the same thugs had been empowered with the right to commit acts of shocking brutality. They were no longer mere louts showing off in their finery. They had become the feared Gestapo ordered to hunt out Jews, or they were the murderous Schutzstaffel â the SS â Hitler's elite corps of race guardians bent on the annihilation of all âundesirables' who tainted the purity of the Fatherland.
Mannie vividly recalled the âold Berlin' of his childhood, and the circle of his father's friends. He'd been ten years old when Stefan had taken him to the opening night of the outrageous new musical
The Threepenny Opera
. It had been staged at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm, and he'd met its creators on a number of occasions. Both Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill were regular visitors to the house in Tiergartenstrasse, as were many members of Berlin's thriving artistic society. Painters and writers, composers and musicians, actors and film-makers all gravitated to the salon created by Stefan Brandauer, where they could freely vent their anger at the âcounter-renaissance' movement which was already noticeable in 1928, the twilight of the golden age. Where were those artists now? Mannie wondered. All gone. Some had fled, but most had been murdered.
He turned into Joachimstalerstrasse, passing a playground which still bore the sign
Arischen und nichtarischen Kindern wird das Spielen miteinander untersagt
. These days there was no point in banning Aryan and non-Aryan children from playing together, he thought. There were no non-Aryan children left to play. The children, like the artists, were gone. They'd been forcibly removed. Unconsciously, Mannie quickened his pace.
And nobody's doing anything about it!
Just along from the house in Tiergartenstrasse had been the Papal Nuncio's residence, and Mannie remembered how, as a child playing in the park, he'd watched the men in their sombre black occasionally venture out to stroll beside the meandering streams and bridle tracks of the Tiergarten, or to sit in quiet contemplation by the lake. Having been brought up a devout believer in the Church of Rome, Mannie had found the men impressive. They were men of the cloth; they had been called by God.
One of the men he'd seen walking in the park had been Cardinal Pacelli, the Vatican Secretary of State who'd spent nine years in Berlin. Mannie thought about him a great deal lately. Cardinal Pacelli was now Pope Pius XII â
why wasn't he doing something about it?
Manfred Brandauer was tortured by the Vatican's silence. As a Roman Catholic he had felt a personal sense of guilt when the Pope first refused to speak out against the sickening persecution of the Jews. And now, years later, the Pontiff continued to maintain his silence. Mannie's shame overwhelmed him. His own priest, the man who heard his weekly confession, had no answers about why the Vatican wasn't protesting. Indeed, the priest had not wished to discuss the matter: âIt is not for us to question the Holy Father, my son.' Mannie had even visited the Cathedral in search of answers. âWhy is Rome, the Vatican, the Holy Father himself, not taking a stance?' he'd demanded. Still no answers came. So Mannie continued, day after day, month after month, to feel his ever-deepening shame.
Walking briskly, he rounded the corner into Viktoria-Luise-Platz, a picturesque square with a central park and fountain surrounded by townhouses. The flat Mannie rented was on the third floor of a six-storey apartment block built in the 1890s, in the ânew Baroque' style that had been so fashionable at the time. With ornate balconied facades, it was a gracious building.
Mannie's best friend, Samuel Lachmann, lived in the apartment below him. The two no longer shared accommodation as they had in their student days. Both twenty-five years of age, Samuel was now a married man with a baby daughter, and Mannie was a qualified lawyer. But they remained as close as they had been throughout their lives. Closer than brothers, they both agreed. âYou can choose your friends,' Samuel always said, with that cheeky gleam in his brown-black eyes.
Samuel hadn't changed, Mannie thought. Even as the times had grown darker, Samuel Lachmann had remained as cheeky and buoyant as he had been throughout their shared childhood, and Mannie admired his friend's strength. But he worried incessantly for Samuel's safety, and for that of his wife, Ruth, and their little girl. They should have left Berlin long ago â he'd been nagging them to do so for years â but it had been Ruth who'd been adamant about staying. Just as she had been in 1938 following the murder of her father.
It had been on the evening of November 9, Kristallnacht, the ânight of broken glass', when hordes of rioters, bent on a bloodbath, had smashed the windows of Jewish shops and businesses. Hyram Stein, along with many others, had been dragged into the street and bashed to death by the mob.
âThis is my father's home,' Ruth had said of the apartment in Viktoria-Luise-Platz, when Mannie had urged her to leave. âI have lived here with my father for over fifteen years, ever since my mother died. Papa was my world and I will live in his home.' The patrician, honey-haired looks that Ruth Stein had inherited from her Gentile mother not only belied her father's Jewish blood, but the indomitable strength that lay beneath her beauty.
Ruth's uncle, Walter Stein, had fled with his young family following the death of his brother, but Ruth had refused to accompany them. She had shouldered her grief, completed the second and final year of her degree in languages and, eighteen months after her father's death, she had married Samuel. The two of them had set up home in the old apartment, and when the flat upstairs had become vacant, they had suggested Mannie rent it.
âWe are family, after all,' Ruth had insisted, and Mannie had readily agreed to the arrangement. It meant that he could be of assistance to them in these increasingly threatening times.
When Jews were denied regular employment, Samuel had accepted odd jobs labouring for those he could trust, while Ruth had worked from their apartment as an English tutor, many of her pupils being the children of wealthy Jews preparing to flee Germany. These days, however, she had only one pupil, young Naomi Meisell, the daughter of her friends who had a ground-floor apartment on the opposite side of the square. Eighteen-year-old Naomi, always a rebellious girl, fearlessly refused to forgo her English lessons.
In the Thirties, the vibrant suburb of SchÃ¶neberg had been home to a vast Jewish community; now it appeared that Ruth and Samuel and the Meisells were the only ones left. They didn't know for certain: they didn't dare enquire.
Hyram Stein and Efraim Meisell, both forward-thinking businessmen, had many years previously purchased their apartments under fictitious non-Jewish names. It had been their intention to protect their investments, but their prescience was now protecting their families. Jews were not allowed to own properties, and the families lived in secrecy in the prisons of their homes. Occasionally they would venture out to purchase meagre supplies or to scavenge for food. But every such excursion was fraught with danger, for it was imperative they wear the yellow Star of David, emblazoned with the word â
', on the left side of their outer garment. To be discovered without their badge could mean death. But always, upon leaving their apartments, and upon their return, they clasped a bag or some other object to their chest to cover the Star. Jews no longer lived in Viktoria-Luise-Platz.
Mannie bounded up the two flights of stairs to the Lachmann apartment and gave the secret knock on the door, which then opened immediately.
âMannie!' Her arms were about him, her soft cheek against his, warm and welcoming, just like the sister she'd always been.
âYou haven't lost a brother, Mannie,' she'd told him when she'd married Samuel, âyou've gained a sister.'
There had been a time during their days at university when Mannie had wished with all his heart that Ruth could be more to him than a sister. But Ruth had had eyes for no-one but Samuel. It had been love at first sight for them. Although Ruth was a freshman studying languages and Samuel was in the second year of his engineering degree, they would study together side by side in the reading room, and they would hold hands as they strolled across the campus to the library. They'd been inseparable from the outset. And Mannie could do nothing but embrace the sisterly friendship Ruth offered, and be happy for the man he considered his brother. It had been a painful time for him, but he'd accepted his lot. Now he merely worshipped from afar, or rather from the apartment upstairs.
âMannie! Mannie! Mannie!'
Little Rachel was toddling comically towards him as fast as her two-year-old legs could carry her. Mannie closed the door, picked up the infant and dumped the knapsack of groceries on the living room table.
âHow's my favourite girl?' he said to the child as he followed Ruth through the open archway into the kitchen. âSomething smells good.'
âChicken soup.' Ruth stirred the pot on the stove. âFresh stock. Samuel had a job this afternoon and he came back with five chicken carcasses â isn't that wonderful? We'll have real soup for a whole week.' She didn't look at him as she spoke; she knew Mannie would be cross. And he was.
âRead story, Mannie, read story.' Rachel was tugging his hair demanding her customary bedtime story, but Mannie put the child down.
âNot just now,
. Why did he go out looking for work, Ruth? You know how dangerous that is. Where did he work? For whom? Is he here now?'
âHe's washing, he came back filthy.' She continued stirring the soup. âIt was Hoffmann's Garage in Wilmersdorf, we can trust Hoffmann. And they paid him well. But then you know how good Samuel is with cars â he says he shouldn't have bothered studying engineering, he should have been a mechanic â¦'
âYes, yes, I know how good he is with cars. But to actually look for work! Someone could have reported him. They could have followed him back here! It's too â¦'
âToo dangerous, I know.' She turned to face him at last. âI tried to warn him, but he just said he was off to make some money and we were going to have chicken soup.'
âBut I've brought the groceries, Ruth. He didn't need to â¦'
âDarling Mannie.' She kissed his cheek fondly. âWhat would we do without you?' She turned down the flame under the pot. âLet it brew, come and sit down.' She picked up Rachel and they walked into the living room to sit at the table that looked out over the balcony to the square below, although these days the gauze curtains were always drawn.