I felt a Shudder (by Chris Sivewright)



The scene is a village pub. Dr. Stuart, an expert Historian from Oxford University, is sitting by himself in the corner. Joe, an ex-student of his, approaches him.

Joe: Hi, long time since…remember me?

Stuart: I’m not quite myself at the moment –

Joe: You used to teach me – at university –

Stuart: Oh

Joe: You seem a little pale…

Stuart: I feel a little pale…I feel cold…

Joe: Why? What’s the problem?

Stuart: I’ve just been holding a postcard…reading it…

Joe: A postcard – from someone you know…

Stuart: …no

Joe: An old postcard – about what?

Stuart: About reporting voluntarily for the field immediately…

Joe: Full of misspellings perhaps?

Stuart: Well one, yes, the  German word for immediately is ‘soffort’ not s-o-f-o-r-t, but that’s not the point

Joe: Typical lecturer – always spotting the spellings!

Stuart: It was to Karl Lanzhammer – Dear Lanzhammer, I am now in Munich at the Ersatz Battalion. Currently I am under dental treatment. By the way I will report voluntarily for the field immediately…

Joe: Who is he?

Stuart: Lanzhammer?

Joe: Yes

Stuart: A despatch rider  –  the writer had just come back from the dentist

Joe: Ah yes, I feel a bit weak when I am at the dentist too. I remember when I used to play rugby for Oxford there were many occasions when after a scrum collapse – or even a small fight in the bars that I would have to go to the dentist. Some of them –

Stuart: – it’s not about the dentist!

Joe: So what was it – poor handwriting?

Stuart: It was poor, yes

Joe: Was it, well…just mundane?

Stuart: Yes that too – but more than that…

Joe: It all sounds pretty ordinary to me – a dentist, someone going into the field on a voluntary basis, writing to someone called Karl

Stuart: Yes I suppose it was the signature that sent the shudder through me

Joe: How so?

Stuart: ‘Adolf’, ‘Adolf Hitler’

Further reading: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturenews/9239076/Badly-spelt-postcard-from-Hitler-discovered-in-new-archive-trawl.html