Welcome to Novel PASTimes! We are pleased you stopped by today.
Thank you for having me.
Tell me about your name, Jakob.
I don’t actually like to be called Jakob. It was given to me at Christening, but my full name is Jakob Helmuth Wilhelm Schmidt, and these days my comrades all know me as Helmuth.
Why the change?
Well, Jakob is too religious. God’s never done much good for me. Besides, if you know anything about the times I’m living in, it’s just not a good name to have. On the other hand, Helmuth is a combination of two old German words. “Helm” is a covering or protection, and “muth” denotes spirit or courage.
Sounds like that’s the image you want to portray.
Fascinating. Well, Helmuth, tell us something about where you live.
I was born in Munich, Germany in 1916 and lived there until 1934 when I left for training in Berlin. I have been stationed at the Lichterfelde Barracks ever since.
What goes on at Lichterfelde?
It’s just the base I’m stationed at. I’m sort of a bodyguard for the Führer. Not that I’m one of his closest bodyguards—not yet anyway. I do other functions like stand guard outside his residence, for parades, and so on. Sometimes I do have waiter duty. I have to put a white jacket over my uniform and serve his meals. I emphasize the word duty because it’s not my favorite part of the job.
Wow. Well, what did you do before all that?
[Chuckles] Oh, that’s an interesting topic.
Well, I had to kind of reinvent myself over the years. I wasn’t much more than a church mouse when I was growing up. I played piano and led the music at church services. I wrote hymns but also a few cantatas, oratorios… you get the idea.
You must be quite talented.
Why the change?
It didn’t suit me. I was quiet, bookish, and got beat up a lot when I was in my early teens. I finally decided I no longer wanted to be a victim.
So the name change kind of went along with everything else.
Indeed. My wife doesn’t like it too well though. I’m still her Jakob.
Tell me about your wife.
Ach, Emma. I haven’t seen her in months.
Uh oh. Are we treading into volatile territory here?
Well, she doesn’t exactly… approve of my life choices, so she’s still down in Munich.
Are you happy with the arrangement?
[Hesitates] Can we go off the record for a few minutes?
As in not printing this part of the conversation? I can’t make any guarantees…
Eh, whatever. For the sake of the readers I’ll do it. I love Emma, and of course I’d rather be with her. I used to go home to visit, but it just resulted in her berating me, my beliefs, and every decision I’ve made since I was 15. I still can’t figure out why she went through with marrying me except that she felt bound by a vow we had made.
Would you try to work things out if you could?
Absolutely. I’m not asking her to believe the same things I do, but I do wish she’d stop slamming the door in my face. Do you know she didn’t even congratulate me or come to the parade the day I was supposed to be sworn in? A man has his pride, you know.
Thank you for being so honest with us, Helmuth.
It felt good to get it off my chest, honestly.
Maybe she’ll read this and think about what you’ve said.
Ja. I haven’t written to her or anything. I don’t think I can handle any more direct confrontation. It’s easier to just go about my business here.
After creating stories prolifically as a child, Aubrey experienced a renewed interest in writing as she entered her 40s. She lives in Upstate New York with her husband and three children, and enjoys reading, playing music, crafting, sketching, exploring the outdoors, and traveling whenever possible. She is a lover of Jesus, the Bible, history, German culture, tea, and cats, and has a special heart for those who struggle with severe anxiety and depression. www.aubreytaylorbooks.com
Google Books: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=eWOmEAAAQBAJ