Elsa had been a secretary for a district Gauleiter in the province where the prison had always stood by Plotzensee. Though not political by nature she had joined the party by the middle of the war just before things had become inevitably hopelessly lost. No she found herself some three years later removed from the dust and destruction within the steel and concrete confinement of one of the myriad of prisons cells containing similar unfortunates awaiting their individual fates. A small girl her bare heels barely touched the floor from the edge of the woven iron bench that served as her current resting place. The itching of her body ongoing beneath a filthy cotton smock that had doubtless been used before. Maybe several times? Lice crawled freely over her bruised body that had itself been used in too many various ways by both interrogators and common soldiers for perverse pleasure and political sport. After what seemed like months she and several other women sat manacled quietly dreading what the next few moments held in store for them all in that same small cell. Their confinement had been abusive in uncountable ways that might have seemed impossible to imagine even in the surrounding brutality of war endured through the the final months before the nation’s fall. She had admitted to anything and everything beneath the Soviet commissar’s heavy lash. Now she huddled with other strangers wondering what new ordeal might present itself to overturn the fact that she had thus far not succumbed to death in the various rounds of inhuman beatings. Did it mean that she would somehow survive?
A stifling odor lay heavy within the cell. Sweat and feces combined with urine and fear emanated from the overflowing bucket in the corner. The aroma no longer assaulting the senses of any within that communal animal closeness. Though there had been scant verbal communication It had provided them with a communal scent. One that was evidently even beyond the well-tested tolerance of their warders. Several times before an interrogation session they were led out of their cells and told to disrobe in a chamber down at the end of the hall. A high pressure fire hose turned upon the querent to ‘clean’ her with frigid water before being assigned to their respective beatings. So the tender had become the sensibilities of their interrogators who were careful not to be unduly assaulted by that lingering stench. The coming of another hard Winter and the corresponding sickness from bad treatment had reliably reduced the number of occupants in their cell. Several times before the count had been refreshed with the appearance of new detainees to replace the corpses found at the end of bitter night. Elsa herself now was slowly falling prey to a chronic cough. One that she began to fear might threaten to extinguish her own fragile inner flame of existence before the beatings would. Strung up by the wrists and balanced on her tiptoes she had to endure the shiver of unending cold drafts of frigid air rattling over her newly battered nakedness from unprepared broken panes of glass left vacant since the violence of the prison’s seizure by Russian troops. The latest rounds of savagery falling more upon the newest members of their unfortunate little club. The questions were always the same being barked now in broken German as they always were. “Who did you work for in the Gestapo?” “Tell us about the documents that contained the figures of Jews on the camps!” “Where were the documents kept that mentioned their extermination!” On and on they pressed about things that to her knowledge may have never had existed? It was futile to try to deny any awareness of their claims. Even though she had initially told them the absolute truth that her section was only concerned with processing the newly wounded of the casualties from the several Waffen SS divisions. Now she just simply admitted guilt as directed by the latest capo’s cane. She said anything that they might think interesting however fantastic underneath the bite of the lash.
On and on it went through day and night till she lost all sense of time. If they fell into the deep coma of the sleep deprived it was a matter of what seemed an instant till they were roused by the commotion of another of their tribe loudly hauled out for further inquisition. It seemed odd to her that now they had rested alone now completely unmolested for what could have been a period of an eternity of days? The muffled sounds of irregular passage outside in the hall that normally echoed from the other cells having been stilled. Perhaps the collective testimonies of the many women under the duress of constant duress had finally satiated their need to inquire further? The regular scraping sounds of hard leather boot footfalls that rose and fell past the entrance to the outside were limited to only a single guard. One that was stationed there pacing lazily back and forth. Even he had grown tired of unceremoniously sliding open some observation slat within the iron door of a random cell to view some former blonde beauty humiliate her self as she squatted over a honey bucket with dirty white legs fully exposed to view? Their beastly vermin infested condition and corresponding rankness preventing any villainous ardor desiring coupling from sex-deprived men. The need to perform with infamy now lost upon those barbarians from the steppes all desire to fulfill their persistent animal leanings now disappeared.”Maybe?”, Elsa conjectured. “Her own lot was about to change unexpectedly to something better?” One didn’t want to entertain any other possibility! The image of the bunch of them lined up in a courtyard before a row of hard looking rifleman! An open back truck idling away impatiently waiting for their lifeless bullet ridden bodies! Hope, even in very small measure was their only option. And they blotted out any random impulse that might summon such a terrible vision. Hope was something that told them that they might see the outside again! If even condemned perpetually to tedious existence in a distant work camp somewhere far away in the Caucuses bereft of mother and father and Germany.
It was late in the evening, perhaps during the early empty hours before any hint of the approach of morning through the dirty window behind the bars high above when a flurry of activity suddenly erupted unexpectedly in the hallway. Elsa’s heart dropped when loud clank after clank from nearby cell doors rang out format he corridor outside. Men’s voices shouting in guttural Slavic growing nearer in proximity as more doors were flung open. The whimpering resignation of other women crying out above the ringing of their leg chains clanking loudly could be heard approaching their own cell. As she huddled more tightly close into the group of others instinctively hugging the woman next to her, her own cell door was flung open. Three soldiers with pistols drawn marched in and barking commands in unintelligible Russian yelling at the top of their lungs. Though a few words of Russian had been learned through hard experience most were absent from comprehension of the meaning of the sharp commands beyond the blows of fists and the impact of leather crops instantly convincing the women that they were to quickly vacate their cell together immediately. One by one they were urged roughly down the hall. The only intelligible instruction offered being “March” from an officer situated far away by the exit door too the stairwell outsides. A throng of some forty women found in every description and condition goaded along down the stairs and into blustery snow swirling about in the courtyard. Elsa’s heart pounded harder and harder in total dread as she and her group approached the exit to the outside. Was that long suppressed obsessive vision of those lined up phantoms readying weapons ready to extinguish all their lives. Her head turning sharply frequently scanning the walled horizon as she was pushed further along barefoot into the stinging cold.
Her heart rate decelerated a bit when she saw that the courtyard was absent of either men or trucks. The assembled body was being led around through another gate to a small one-story brick building that stood alone by itself isolated from the larger hubs of three-story dormitory that the group was passage. The dirty grey walled enclosures that housed the prison population now far behind removed from the near proximity of the assemblage of poor unfortunates trotting forth. The wet icy slush lapped up from between her toes splashing wetly upon her bare calves as the group was urged along by the surround detail of guards. Though it was freezing her thoughts were plainly focused on the group’s momentary destination. That squat structure lay just ahead with its open double Prussian blue gates offering only sparse bare bulb illumination of it’s entry. The irony being that in some odd way it reminded one of a Luna park but bereft of rides or amusements. The freezing weather now having its full affect, the women no longer had to be urged to rapidly flow forward towards the entrance. They promise of a cold dry bare floor whether it be tile or concrete seeming immensely more preferable to the misery of the freezing sleet over new snow that covered the intervening terrain outside. The last of the girls now bundled inside stamping the snow from their feet. The guards that had accompanied them now exiting and closing the twin doors. The group stood shivering tightly assembled int he midst of a large antechamber. A solitary black curtain pulled tightly across each of three rooms surrounding them. Though the folded black fabric did not reach all the way up the full distance of four meters to the ceiling, it did successfully cloaked whatever lay beyond in the respective cloaked spaces to their right, left and front. A strange electrifying smell bit into all their nostrils simultaneously. Elsa could feel her level of adrenalin rising unexpectedly as if in concert with the general scent that hung about the place. Several guards stood wooden and motionless. Totally unperturbed by the muted hysteria that was slowly building in the company of women. Each sentinel standing before the far edge of each curtain. Many minutes past until as if suddenly by some prearranged sense of synchrony pairs of men emerged from the side of each curtained area. They approaching the throng of shivering females from all three sides stepping up to take hold of the particular inmate before them and drag her back to their respective lairs. The poor girls now taken firmly in hand by the warders pulling by both arms importantly resisting the nameless terror awaiting them beyond the mystery of each respective curtain.
Gasps from behind each entry point were heard by the throng at large. The resultant whimpers and short screams at whatever was being viewed was unsettling and electric. Unattributable cries of enfeebled protest escaped from over the top of the curtains. The frenzied sounds of clanking ankle chains accompanied by low terrified moans cutting deeply across the consciousness of all the remaining women pressing together in vulnerability at the center of the complex. Elsa felt a level of unspecified terror that surpassed any that she had previously experienced in all the months of horrific abuse. A small chorus of manipulation in every direction of some sort of mechanical devices was simultaneously taking place. Squeaking, grating and slowly grinding sounds cloistered beyond the abilities of their collective imaginations. Then the quick slide of metal upon metal briefly ending in a dull thud and a muffled a heavy drop, one after the other alternately from each direction. Shortly afterward the wet sound of two or three blows or chops as if distantly heard from the back of a butcher’s back room. “What could be going on?”, she feared to ask herself. The same pairs of men appeared again. Each time dragging a new set of candidates to what appeared to be a final but enigmatic fate. To her horror, Elsa saw that the smocks that the men wore were now covered to varying degrees in blood. The cold icy grip of terror that had descended upon her from the inexplicable noises now instantaneously ran up and down her entire spine. They were in some form of undisclosed form of abattoir designed specifically for human beings her mind raced! One by one in sets of three women were efficiently led off with the same general resultant series of reactions and noises concluding with a short pall of silence and a workmanlike collection of vaguely put sounds. Her mind dived momentarily into a deep dark hole. It tried to hide and deny that she was indeed her in a place that was specifically designed to end of her existence. She denying the fact of it! All the time trying to convince herself that all this was simply part and parcel of a particularly terrible nightmare. One that she had not yet awakened from in a bunker under air attack some two months back. Two pair of large rough hands brought her back to immediate reality as they encircled both her upper arms to begin to ferry her along. Trembling almost beyond her control to move her legs she did not resist them until they all approached the edge of the dark curtain and it was pushed aside. She took in the scene before her.
A tall device off to the left dominated an otherwise empty floor space, Beside it was a large wheeled handcart that seemed more a farm wagon than a industrial conveyance. Laying haphazardly stacked within was a pile of headless naked forms. One carelessly splayed atop another. Their communal blood dripping from many points down over the cart’s back edge pooling into a large drain at the center of the room. Two other men on the other side of the tall device were busily at work in the corner. You could see one of their arms over their head with a small axe chopping down upon the slim ankle of another freshly dispatched human corpse. The other alternately removing each chuckle of the leg chains now newly freed from the corpse and tossing it noisily into a large wooden crate to the side. The man with the axe then grasping a small pile of severed feet to carry over to the cart and toss them carelessly up upon the stack of human offal densely resting within the carriage. This unimaginably horrible collection of imagery taken in of the combined assemblage of all this gore was literally beyond Elsa’s ability to comprehend. She stood paralyzed and dumbfounded as they yanked her forth to the centrally placed industrial device. It’s main purpose now suddenly revealed and crystal clear. It was a guillotine. The front end being a meter tall steel blade held on high betwixt two upright steel rails. The rest of the structure being composed of a forward mounted large galvanized detachable bucket. Just before where she was being taken a three-quarter sized hinged wooden platform that now articulated in a horizontal position was still occupied. Its payload of a twitching female post-mortem frame being quickly being expertly unstrapped to reales its temporary cargo to make room for her. Elsa felt her hands grabbing at the collar of her dirty garment. The weakened over worn fabric easily giving way to the strong relentless arms rapidly tugging it apart. Her her bare body now shivering anew as the surrounding cold air found new purchase into her exposed flesh. Time seemed to freeze for an eternal instant as she took in the means for her own imminent extinction. Then suddenly speeding up back to the previous rapid tempo of industrial frenzy urged forward as that same wooden platform that had been relieved of her predecessor now sat tilted upright and awaiting her. One of the attendant pushed past just in front of her. He tightly gripping and wrestling the bulk of the form of what had several instants before had been a living female. She was dragged by the gaoler to the side, his arms hugging hard beneath her armpits hands digging carelessly into her large breasts. Blood from the ragged stump of its neck spreading drops and spurts of gore messily down upon her tight decolletage pressed hard together then splash further over to spring from the cleft of her sex. The strange thought of the perverse sense of irony in a final form of lethal menstruation crossed her withering consciousness. A random fleeting thought.
The torso cleared by her on its way to the destination of the cart she was pushed violently forward and pressed up against the movable wooden bed of the device. Her exposed skin now feeling burning hot as it slid upon the remaining deposits of blood and bodily fluids left by the previous occupants. Heavy leather straps were pulled around her encircling her from both top and bottom. Cinched tight alternately over both arms bunched at her sides over her back. Then equally hard across the back of her calves to be quickly fastened on the other side of the board. As the board was suddenly tilted up and simultaneously forward she felt her stomach fall as her head began to spin. The hot sensation of her vagina sending forth a flood over her upper thighs immersing them in her own pee providing a shocking distraction. This was all really happening! “Her last sensation in life!”, a thought raced past. An unseen hand clasped itself tightly grasping her head fingers pulling her forehead back as the sliding platform she was attached to was propelled forward. The half moon of the opened lunette advancing until her head was guided through it. The hand instantly releasing its grip dropping her head forward as it quickly escaped the sharp snap of the top of the lunette as it slamming down into place to restrain the back of her neck tightly confining it. Her vision now focused fully downward into the large bucket the appalling vista of the inside of the urn presented itself. It was filled by a jumble of severed heads of the other women that had been previously been processed. The eyes of one staring lifelessly and direct into her own. It’s dilated pupils conveying the unimaginable horror she had just suffered mere instants before. Saliva and blood lolling from her open mouth that seemed to twitch for a brief instant. A final evidence of the ultimate terror that had been suffered upon her in the final instant of her life. “How bleak and terrible”, she suddenly thought as the rough grate of metal upon metal began just above her. “Is this mortal existence of life that it should lead to , , ,” (Thump!)