Erich’s sister jumped into his arms as he came home from school. Her red bow brushing against his chin.
“What did you learn today?” She asked.
“That Germany is the greatest nation on earth.” Erich professed proudly.
“Didn’t they teach you that yesterday?”
“Well it was also true yesterday.”
Erich was a young man of 17 and Maria had just reached 10. Together they lived at a farm outside of Wangen with their hardworking parents. He took her hand and walked up to the house where their mother was busy making tea.
“How was school, dear?” She asked as Erich walked in the front door.
“Same old.” He smiled, displaying his crooked front tooth. “Where’s father?”
“Oh, he’s out back” She picked out a few plates from the cupboard. “Reading about the terrible ordeal in the Balkans, I’m sure. He’ll be with us in a moment.”
Maria made faces. Erich ignored her.
“What are they saying, mother? Will there be a war?”
She put the plates down.
“Now don’t you get any funny ideas, Erich.” She said. “We need you at the farm. Besides, Germany has all the soldiers it can handle.”
“Yes, mother.” Erich answered. Dreaming of the dashing German uniform he had seen on the soldiers in Munich.
Father opened the back door.
Maria ran away as he entered the room. Father was a righteous man, but a stern one, and one who could easily scare young boys and girls with his demeanor. It had not been many years since Erich himself had stopped fearing him.
“Cursed Balkans.” He muttered to himself while twirling on his mustache. “Nothing but problems there.”
Mother nodded in agreement.
“We should ride down there and teach them a lesson.” Erich said, seeking to impress his father.
“What do you know about that?” Father said. “What does a naive little boy, as yourself, know about war?”
Erich sat there embarrassed.
The kettle whistled. His mother broke the tension.