BOOK EXCERPT 5:
Klaudia had been taught to dance, of course. All the other landowners in the neighbourhood held balls on various occasions. …. At those dances her dinner-partner dutifully danced the first dance with her, and the other gentlemen at the table each asked her for a dance in turn. After that, however, Klaudia usually sat out the rest of the ball with her parents. …
This was totally different. She couldn't finish one dance before someone else cut in. It was impossible to keep names straight anymore, and she found that "Klaudia" sufficed as far as these men were concerned. She was infinitely grateful to be in sturdy, tie-up Luftwaffe shoes rather than high heels, and - strange as it seemed - she felt prettier in her tailored uniform than in any ball gown she had ever worn.
Suddenly there was a great commotion at the door. A voice bellowed, "Achtung!"
The young corporal she was dancing with frowned and glanced over his shoulder, as if expecting it to be a joke. But in the next instant he dropped hold of her and went into a parade-ground salute. Coming through the door in a little crowd was a bevy of commissioned officers. Not just officers, Klaudia rapidly realised, as she remembered the charts on rank and speciality insignia from training. Leading the little horde was a Major/Gruppenkommandeur with a Knights Cross at his throat, and around him were apparently all the pilots of the Staff and First Staffel. Beside her the Corporal started swearing under his breath, something about "bleeding pilots poaching our game." And there was little doubt about that.
The pilots made straight for the six girls, and the NCOs could only retreat, even if they looked sullen rather than polite about it. Klaudia could hardly take in what was happening when the Gruppenkommandeur came straight for her. His eyes were levelled at her from the start - strong, hunter's eyes in an angular face. No, he wasn't really handsome, but there was an unmistakable attraction about him, a charisma so strong that Klaudia thought she'd faint as he took her in his arms.
"Jako Paschinger," he introduced himself simply. "As Senior Officer at this base, I feel it is my duty to welcome you here personally and make sure that everything is to your satisfaction."
"Thank you," Klaudia stammered.
"I didn't catch your name?"
"Klaudia." And this time she played her trump. "Klaudia v. Richthofen."
Jako guffawed. When he had himself back under control, he grinned at the perplexed Klaudia and declared. "Don't you see? Brilliant instincts. I picked you straight out as the only one for me." Then he seemed to have second thoughts. " Not Wolfram's sister or anything like that, I hope?"
By now Klaudia knew that Wolfram v. Richthofen, first cousin of the WWI Ace, commanded Fliegerkorps VIII here in France. "No. His grandfather and my great-grandfather were second cousins once removed," Klaudia explained.
"Ah," Jako digested that, and then grinned. "Excellent! Excellent! Now can I buy you a drink? I'm much better at drinking than dancing."
By the time Klaudia tripped back up stairs to her garret chamber, she was more intoxicated than she had ever been in her life. In fact, she was so light-headed that Rosa warned in her brusque Berliner dialect, "Get your feet back on the ground before you crash into the ceiling."
"Oh, Rosa! I can't believe it! I just can't believe it! He spent almost the whole evening with me."
Rosa, uncomfortable with the officers and their funny manners (clicking heels and bowing over her hand and all that), had escaped them at the first opportunity. She'd spent most of the evening with the ground crews, particularly a certain Stabsfeldwebel Axel Voigt, who was also from Berlin. Voigt was the Chief Mechanic of the Stabsstaffel, and the man responsible for the Gruppenkommandeur's own aircraft. She'd heard enough from him not to have a very high opinion of Major Paschinger. I n fact, he sounded like he would have fit her father's description of an "Officer-Pig."
To Klaudia, who was obviously head-over-heels for the ass already, Rosa said simply. "He still puts his trousers on one leg at a time. Come on, Klaudia, we have to report to duty tomorrow, and don't count on the Herr Gruppenkommandeur protecting you if you get the codes wrong."
"Oh, I wouldn't dream of taking advantage!" Klaudia assured her friend, genuinely shocked by the thought. Duty was duty. But as she drifted to sleep that night, Klaudia did not think she had ever been happier in all her life.
|NOTE: In building this site, I thought about many things - such as what spelling standard I should use in
referring to World War II, and what keyword spelling people might use
in a search engine to find this page. I found it interesting to
note the following numbers of page listings for the various ways one
might type World War II into a search engine.
6,050,000 for world war two
5,860,000 for world war 2
134,000,000 for world war II (using the capital i for the 2)
83,900 for world war ll (using the lower case L for the 2)
26,200,000 for second world war
310,000 for 2nd world war
21,600 for ww two
804,000 for ww 2
7,130,000 for ww ii (using the i for the 2)
46,300 for ww ll (using the lower case L for the 2)
21,600 for w.w. two
804,000 for W.W.2
7,130,000 for w.w.II (using the capital i for the 2)
46,300 for w.w.ll (using the lower case l for the 2)
Note that capitalization, punctuation and spacing changes introduced no differences. So if you are looking for information on a particular subject, remember to use all variations of the wrods related to the subject. The pages a search engine will give you to look at will vary with each method. Also in general, I have referred to World War II on these pages using WWII (using the capital i for the 2).
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