A story about a travel agency with a difference...
The travel agent's fingers hovered above the touch pad in uncertainty.
"Would you mind spelling that for me, sir?"
Her smile was vacuous. Her lips were painted a deep crimson, which had bled onto her polished teeth.
I thought: Seriously?
I said: "Seriously?"
She nodded, the wattage in her smile unfaltering.
I guess it was possible. Tragic, but possible. A hundred years is barely a blink of the eye as far as history is concerned, and this current crop of youngsters could care less about the past, even if it kept them employed.
I spelt it out: "A...U...S...C...H...W...I...T...Z."
"Ooooh, sounds ominous." She mimicked a shiver running down her spine and hit enter, staring expectantly at the screen.
"And what year would you be interested in?", she asked.
"1945", I replied.
A look of confusion suddenly crossed her face.
"Er, there appears to be more than one option for the destination you are interested in. Options are one, two or three?" she explained.
"One will do."
That confused look briefly returned before she started to giggle.
"Oops, silly me. Force of habit, I'm always asking it. This package doesn't come with All Inclusive, I'm afraid." Her brow furrowed. "This package doesn't come with any extras at all..."
She tapped the touch pad a few more times, just to make sure, that puzzled expression never leaving her face.
Her name tag was pinned to the underside of her breast, clinging like a leach. She had told me her name was Rosy (without an e) when I sat down to get this thing rolling, and there was absolutely no reason why I should be wondering what her surname was, except for a poor excuse to take another mental snapshot of her breasts. They were ample, for sure, but I'm more of a stomach guy: Toned and flat. Rosy was kind of soft in the middle but I guess that's Mother Nature for you, right? Some kind of twisted feminine equality.
Rosy gave the enter button a final double stab with her index finger - a subliminal inverted Fuck You! perhaps - before slumping back in her chair, curling her bottom lip, and blowing the fringe of her hair away from her eyes. The name tag shifted accordingly to reveal her surname: Smyth (with a y).
While we wait for the ether or whatever it is that Rosy needs to continue our conversation, I'm going to give you the elevator pitch on who I am and why I want to travel back one hundred years in time to the darkest of destinations. I'm not Jewish. I am American, but I am what we new world folks label German-American. Unfortunately, this new world still seems reluctant to leave the old one behind. Black people are still referred to as African-American, eastern Asians still Asian-American and so on, but curiously there are no European-Americans or Australian-Americans within this strange nomenclature. I am American. I challenge every American to embrace their nation and quit with the double barrelled nationality bullshit already. Your great great grandparents might have been Irish but you're not Irish-American. You're American!
To reiterate: I'm American. But my great great Grandparents were German.
Heinrich Schmidt was a proud and paid up member of the Nazi Party. He served as a commandant at Auschwitz for three years, complicit in the death of thousands, maybe millions, of Jews. All in the name of duty to country. He had three children - two girls - Anna and Heidi - and a boy - Helmut, who was killed by the Russians in the final days of the assault on Berlin. His body vanished, like so many others, buried in a shallow grave somewhere only history might care.