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The Forgotten

The Forgotten

A warm July night. Red and white flashes lit up the nearly dark sky, as a deep, pulsating throb filled the gut of each member of the assembled crowd, before crashing into a sequence of shrill and deafening explosions. On the edge of Berlin’s Potzdamer Platz, in the shadow of Brandenburg Gate, three wiry individuals, all dressed in black, and laden with heavy backpacks, had snaked away from the crowd, past a shattered perimeter fence and behind a bullet punctured gable end.

They used wire cutters to snip away a single wreath of barbed wire that had been carelessly draped around the desolate and brutalised property. A half heartedly posted  “Keep Out” sign was tossed aside as they knelt beside a heavy metal trapdoor, still complete with a chunky rusty ring.  Five minutes later, the cover finally in place behind them, and by torchlight, they were starting to make their way down the narrow stone steps towards the main chamber of the bunker.

The sounds above became more and more muffled as they descended. It was 1990, eight months after the fall of the Berlin wall, and the area of no-man’s land from the Soviet regime was bursting with life, light, joy and intensity, as Pink Floyd staged their iconic work The Wall.

Hidden in plain sight of the massive crowd, these Scientists for Anarchy chose this soundtrack and this momentous evening to investigate the previously unknown SS bunker, that had been discovered by producers, surveying the area for the show. The City authorities, with no further appetite for barriers, had rendered  this historic find easily breachable, and the bunkers and tunnels had yet to gain currency as exploitable tourist attractions.

This was no ordinary pilgrimage, and the three had no flowers to lay in the damp and deserted cellar, that had, until recently contained a collection of munitions and Nazi paraphernalia in the cramped sleeping area. There was a rumour. More than a rumour in fact. In this time of upheaval and confessions and changed and confusing allegiances, some information had come to light, and the three had little doubt that they would complete their mission.

The air became thinner, and dampness permeated every bone in their body, as they descended further, beyond a rotting wooden wall panel, that splintered and creaked as it gave up its secret. A portal to hell.

Dampness, ruin and war were left behind the sliding stainless steel door that gleamed in the torchlight as they descended. It gave way to clinical precision, a low refrigerated hum and an astringent chemical that permeated the senses. Mains electricity lit this fortified crypt, which had been tunnelled from West to East. An aberration, grotesquely created from money and power, from a time when lives and liberty were the currency for travel from East to West.

Once accustomed to the bright even light, the three surveyed the rows of machinery, cylinders, large and small containers, all neatly stacked and labelled. Finally, their eyes rested on the three large upright cylinders, with plaques, each one indicating a name, date, details and instructions. Each one arrogantly predicting a fate, fortune and entitlement to an eternity of comfort and power. Three cryogenically frozen monsters of epic proportions. At the centre, Josef Mengele, the great Nazi master of human experimentation, with a predilection for twins in particular.

The scientists set to work, one on one, to change the course of history for these creatures. An unknown amount of hours passed in the timeless chamber of horrors, and finally three heads, protruding from the still upright cylinders, drew breath and blinked into life. Imperceptible panic and confusion crossed the wax like faces, as the realisation came that there would be no movement from the neck down, no escape from their bright neon future, from the glare of the white Aryan light. Nor from the white noise that was to be the engine of their world for eternity. The crypt was sealed and secured, impenetrable from now on. The inhabitants and the hellish developments would be forgotten for ever. Only those who released another vat of hatred into the bowels of Berlin would carry the memory of their judgement and execution into their dark nights.

Above ground, only the litter and remnants of several thousand reunited Berliners remained. In the distance, and in the early morning mist, over in Alexander Platz, the sinister, but amoral and unjudging red eye of the telecommunications tower of the soviet era did another rotation. It surveyed another chapter of human frailty and forgotten history. A never ending cycle of regime change, one cruelty replacing another, a story without an end, a symbol of a collective amnesia.

Val Waldron

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