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He was sitting at the table. He was 8 years old and he was very calm. He didn’t want to eat his vegetables.
“Klara, tell the boy to eat his vegetables! Tell him that obedience is the primary rule of conduct in this house!” Why didn’t his father ever look directly at him?
“Yes, Alois. I’ll tell him.” He adored his mother and she took good care of him but she always did what she was told, by him. Silence.
“Eat your vegetables.” And so he eats his vegetables – closing his eyes and eating, munching, crushing and swallowing the vegetables in complete hatred. Finally, he spits some of it on the floor and steps on them as hard as he can with his dirty boots.
“Shame on you. You are a terrible, terrible child. Disgusting. A very, very bad boy. Eat your vegetables. Come on. You should eat your vegetables. You must eat so you can grow strong. When you grow up, where would you be if you were weak and unhealthy? Go to your room… No! Come back here. Wash your hands and come back. Sit down. Oh come on! Eat your vegetables, Adolf.”
While sitting in the corner of the dark dining room he thought about vegetables. Why was the main course always vegetables? Why was he forced to eat them? He wanted to eat meat sometimes. Are we basically born… cannibals? Vegetables… always those damned vegetables. They said it was because of all those wars going on all over the world. The Second Boer War, the American War and something about an Opium War. Fascinating. No, not the vegetables… the wars. War fascinated him. To conquer and control. He played games with his sister Paula but in the stillness of his room he played with his little wooden and tin soldiers – and he played war. He became fixated on war after he had discovered a book, among his father’s belongings, about the Franco-Prussian War. He saw all those horrible pictures of sad, defeated soldiers. His soldiers would never be defeated. Never. Ever. Survival of the fittest. He played for hours; imagining plans and organization, forces and attacks (never failures); measures and strategies to suppress and kill the enemy. If his mother found him playing with his little soldiers she would have become hysterical. She was a pacifist. He? He only wanted to play with those little people. He kept them in a box, hidden under his bed. He had his little secrets.
He thought about the world. It was nearly 1898 and he was living in Leonding, in Austria. The world out there was so big, expanding, changing. Wars changed people and it also changed the world… for the better. He knew that. He wanted it all. All those inventions. He wanted bicycles, automobiles, airplanes and…most of all, he wanted medals. A lot of medals. He wanted the whole world to acknowledge him but there would be no women around him serving vegetables for dinner. He’d be himself and maybe he’d be a carnivore or… was it a cannibal? He wasn’t sure.
I’ll consume meat and I’ll spit the bones, yes, I will. I might be a carnivore one day, when I’m older. Is a carnivore a… cannibal? Am I a maniac when I see those damned shiny potatoes and carrots in my round metal plate and imagine them like little people, peeled and cooked, staring back at me? Am I “eating” little people?
He thought about consuming the entire continent of vegetable-people and maybe the whole world - in the darkness of his room, now. He wanted to change the world. He wanted to change the Austrian people. He wanted to build, rebuild and construct. He wanted to command his little tin soldiers. They were so obedient. He wanted to rule over little people because obedience was the primary rule of conduct – and they would have to obey him, no matter what. He would dictate the world and crush all the vegetables he saw in front of him --- anyplace and anywhere. No one would ever grow vegetables again. No more vegetables in this whole wide world! Never!
He was still… young, he thought forcefully, in part to convince himself because of the memory of that young boy and now… this gray-haired, strange looking man had been eating him up. He looked so old. He looked at himself in the mirror. Who are you? He started humming a little tune while composing in his mind thoughts for a communiqué to the world. He would win another glorious victory to save the world from those people. He thought about his mother.
Mother, I eat my vegetables, you know, everyday, but… I eat meat on occasion. Yet, the simplest idea of slaughtered animals makes me upset. Those poor little animals. I always wash my hands before my meals and I have imagined and created the idea of the perfect Aryan race but now, mother, people tell me that I have a tortured, twisted mind, that I am evil. A monster. Satan of the flesh! How could I be? I am saving the country! I don’t smoke and I don’t drink, mother. I only hated my obscure past. Do you remember that cloister, where the walls were engraved in a number of places with crests containing the symbol of a swastika? It’s my symbol now. I rule people. I rule a whole country. I rule the world.
He remembered his past. It was sad. He thought of his present. It was very bad… now – in this bunker. He thought of his future. People would hate him forever, in the future. Bah! Who cares! He hated all those poor, little people. Nobody understood him. Nobody. Nobody would ever understand his brilliant mind. Nobody had understood his book. Nobody understood his ideas about racial hygiene and racial purity or his Action T4 and the killing of those children with physical or mental disabilities. It was the killing of life that was unworthy of life itself! Nobody understood his outstanding mind for gathering collaborationist and recruits from all those occupied countries to build, command and to kill bad people - they said about six million. Ha! Ha! Ha! Exaggeration! How could they know the exact amount? How... absurd! People lie!
There were spies and traitors all around him and everywhere. He knew that, he heard them. He heard them… whisper. He trusted no one. They talked about ghettos, concentration camps, mass executions, ovens, gassed deaths, pits full of cadavers and mass graves; tortured prisoners, slave laborers and death of members of resistance groups; Mengele and his experiments and injections – they were important for the future of Germany – scientific breakthroughs; they talked about homosexuals, Negroes, non-Jewish Poles, communists, political opponents; the death of handicapped and mentally retarded, prisoners of war – they say three million, Ha! Ha! Ha! They talked about Jewish Orthodox, Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, death of many by starvation; they even talked about his benefiting of private German companies and people of his Gestapo; the members of the Reichstag, the Nazis – what about the entire battles under his command that they had won! They talked about many of those so called death camps, especially about that industrial concentration and extermination camp called Auschwitz-Birkenau… but he had never visited that place! Ever! It never existed. Lies. All lies. A bunch of lies. Ha! Ha! Ha! There were no such killings. There was no agony! Famine? They ate vegetables! What are they all complaining about? They all envy me… they all hate me! They want to kill me. I know they do. I hear them talk.
Don’t you believe in them, mother, I don’t - even when they ask me to surrender. This is not how Germanization will be accomplished. Soon, mother, I will regain my complete power and health only by crushing and eliminating the Jews. You’ll see. I eat my vegetables, mother, regularly.
He wondered if Benito Mussolini ate his vegetables.