Soviet Superwoman – Spectres of the Past

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“You would tell the truth…and you know what would happen? They wouldn’t believe you. They’d say you were crazy. Might even have you put in a madhouse. How can anyone believe this terrible business…unless he has lived through it.”
- An SS corporal to Simon Wiesenthal in Lwow, Poland, 1944.

It was August of 1944 when I first heard of the place known as Sajmište. The early success of the allied invasion was cut short by the SS officer known as the Iron Chancellor. His mechanized weaponry and chemical attacks had thwarted the American, British and Canadian attempt at opening a second front and the event known in your world as D-Day was a failure. The bodies of allied forces were piled up on the beaches and of occupied France. The Third Reich re-focused all of it’s massive firepower back at us. I should have been in France helping the resistance there, where they were waiting for help that would never come.

But Claire was dead and all I wanted was revenge.

I was told to stay in Paris and continue helping the FFI…to put Claire out of my head. I ignored the orders of my superiors and Central Committee. I flew back to Hungary and Ilsa’s fortress: Cachtice Castle. I had already been a prisoner here once at that horrible place months earlier, a place once occupied by the Blood Countess more than three-hundred years earlier. When I arrived, Ilsa had already eluded me. An interrogation of what remained of the castle’s defensive force pointed me to Sajmište, located on the outskirts of Belgrade in nearby Yugoslavia. It was a forced labor camp that Ilsa visited frequently since being assigned to the castle two years earlier. I took off again determined to make her pay for what she had taken away from me.

As I approached the camp, the first thing I saw were the incredible, billowing plumes of thick smoke that belched from enormous fires scattered all around. The smoke was tainted with the saccharine stink of death. Human bodies. It was not a smell I was unfamiliar with unfortunately, but there was so very much of it. I landed directly in the middle of the camp.

The buildings here were long, low slung, capped with tin roofs and covered in green tar-papers. They looked almost like stables. A place to hold perhaps 50 or so horses. I later learned that over 800 prisoners had been crowded inside one of them at a given time. There were also rows after rows of barbed wire and electrified fencing, as well as guard-towers were stood members of the SS armed with light machine guns. The stench of filth, disease and starvation were overpowering, even with the fires belching smoke in all directions. I felt dizzy and sick to my stomach. I bit my fist to keep from throwing up. What was this horrible place? At the time I did not understand the full extent of what I was seeing with my eyes.

There were men here involved in a mass exhumation. Thousands of decaying bodies were being dragged to the cremation fires made from gasoline soaked logs. The men themselves were prisoners, dressed in nothing but rags. Their bodies had disintegrated into canvases of boil-ridden skin and brittle bones. They were walking skeletons, some looking no better than the corpses they were dragging. The SS was here too, over-seeing the operation with pistols, shovels and pick-axes, well-fed in their finest uniforms. Some of them were openly drunk. The impending collapse of their thousand year Reich was obvious and with all the secrets of this place had to be burned with it.

Some of the bodies in the fire still writhed.

One of the piles were nothing but children. Hundreds of them.

The SS opened fire on me, screaming orders in their nasty, guttural tongue. I fired at them with my laser vision and cut down the nearest two. I knocked down the nearest guard tower with my fists, collapsing it on top of another screaming SS man like it was made of cardboard. The remaining Nazis quickly tossed down their weapons and raised their arms in surrender. I barked at them to round up their commander to which one of them sprinted off.

I hoped he would bring back Ilsa, with her cruel smirk and cold blue eyes, but instead he arrived with a tall, well-dressed man in a black SS uniform. An almost stereo-typical member of the “Master Race” and just the type of sadistic monster someone like Ilsa would have put in command. He approached me and gave me his name and rank.

SS Untersturmführer Herbert Androfer.

I asked him in my best German where SS-Sturmbannführer Ilsa Hauppman was. My voice was almost a whisper. He replied that the Sturmbannführer had not been back in several months.

I asked what he was doing here.

He told me he was “burning away Jewish filth”. He was obviously nervous and licked his dry lips, shifting from one foot to the other. He was not at all ashamed of what he had done. He was afraid of me.

My head spun at the enormity of it all. How many bodies were here? How long had this been going on? I asked him how many.

He told me all of them. All the Jews of Serbia. More than 14,000 in all. Gone.

He then removed his sidearm and tossed it away, taking a step back. He was saying something…something in German. I did not understand. I did not try to understand. I no longer cared to understand.

My blow landed on the side of his neck, snapping it instantly as if it were a twig. It severed his spine and he dropped to the ground, looking up at me with pleading eyes as he tried to breath. I left him to suffocate there in the mud. The other SS all took a step back. They raised their hands higher in the air. They had the same pleading look in their eyes. Some of them shouted that they had surrendered.

As if surrender for them would make this all go away.

I took my time and killed them. All of them. They could not escape me. Some of them I killed right away with a blast from my lasers or a well-placed fist. Others I let run. They would run until their hearts burst in their chests and I would catch up with them, ripping them apart. Not a single Nazi in uniform survived my wrath. Guards, officers, men, women…I killed all of them.

I heard a noise behind me and one of the guards made his way across the open ground behind me. I turned and lashed out with my lasers, cutting him cleanly in half.

A cry burst from my throat as I realized in my fury I had accidentally killed a prisoner with the same blast.
A man who I could have saved. A man I should have saved. A man whose courage and tenacity and unwillingness to die had let him survive in this place for so long. A man who would have gone on to tell his story so that the world would never forget what happened. Cut down in my anger. My want for revenge dried up inside in that flash of rage.

I began to tremble all over. I looked around at the bodies. The thousands burning on the pyres. Several hundred sprawled over the grounds, victims of starvation or the bitter cold or the bullets of the SS. The bodies of the Nazi’s I had killed, some of them still smoking, covered in blood. It was here that the SS had inadvertently disproved their own theory about the Aryan race, for here in this place all were dead just the same, lying side by side.

My own hands were covered in blood.

It was here, at this moment looking at my blood-stained gloves that I vowed to never kill. It was too easy to kill. Too easy to take the life from another, especially for someone with my abilities. If I were to take another life, with my own hands, in spite of my training and desire for justice I would no longer have a conscience, and be no different from these SS men. No different from Ilsa. After the war…when this bloody conflict was over I would never take another life. I had seen enough of death to last a lifetime.

The remaining prisoners groaned their thanks at me, some from the ground where they lay. I told them I would get help. I would find the nearest Red Army operation and direct them here with food and medical supplies. The Red Army was already poised to take Romania as only days earlier King Michael launched a coup d’état, overthrowing the pro-Nazi government of Ion Antonescu, and putting the Romanian Army on the side of the Soviets. it would only be a matter of time and I would make sure that the path to this place was cleared of defenders.

I took off for Moldavia, leaving that place far behind me. Knowing it would never leave me.

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