Mama makes sauerkraut and sausages in the kitchen while Friedrich listens to the radio set. He hears the new Führer in all his glory, a proud new leader. Hitler über Deutschland! The man yells. Hitler über Deutschland! Mama smiles wistfully at Friedrich, in worship of the Führer. He mouths the slogan as it is repeated over and over again. Friedrich is nine years old.
His father likes to complain of the state of the once-great Germany, and the impure Jews. He likes to shout at the radio set, and at Friedrich, if there is nothing to be said on the set.
His mother likes to stroke his hair and kiss his grazed knees. She likes murmuring her nightly prayers instead of asking for what she wants, loud and clear. Friedrich thinks this is why she doesn’t look happy most of the time.
And Friedrich? He likes listening to the little man on the television set, who tells him that he can save Friedrich’s family from all of their troubles. He likes seeing his father calm, in the knowledge that someone else can help them.
“Friedrich!” Papa yells, as he enters their home. Papa has a limp from the last war, and a long scar that runs down his stomach. He has a rhythmic, dragging gait when he is happy, and a twisting, unsupported gait when he is angry. Today, Friedrich hears the dependable rhythm of his father’s limp, and so runs to the door to hug Papa.
“Did you hear our favourite man on the radio set today, Friedrich?” Papa asks expectantly. Friedrich nods.
“He’s the Führer now, Papa!”
Papa nods as Mama comes to take his coat off. As the fabric passes from his shoulder, Friedrich sees a familiar symbol on his arm. He commits the shape to memory, and swears it will one day lie on his own shoulder.
He swears that one day, he, like his Papa, will join the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei.