Albert Maltz was not a close friend. But a friend, even though we had lost contact after my husband had died 10 years ago. The beautiful letter Albert wrote me then was the last communication.
Why am I so shaken after reading his obituary? I was born and raised in Germany and have been part of the anti-Nazi resistance. I have read Anna Seghers’ novels and also other German anti-Fascist authors. But nobody I read or heard has formulated the very essence of Nazism as succinctly as this American, Albert Maltz.
In his novel, “The Cross and the ARrow,” a young German soldier--just a conscript--comes home on furlough from the Western front. With packages: food, clothing, a sweater taken from occupied Belgian or French homes. A gift to the family, which the father rejects.
“Father, you were a soldier in World War I. Didn’t you bring stuff home?” “Yes, son, I did. We all did--but we knew that we did wrong, that we were stealing. You don’t know that.”
Another scene: Family members had gone to witness the allotment of Polish war prisoners as laborers to German farmers. The family is in high spirits: “Father, there was that Pole on a high platform. The man in charge made him show off his strong biceps, praised his physique, and everybody laughed.” Said Father: “Did the Pole also laugh?”
All armies become brutalized. But the Nazis strained to change the soul of 60 million Germans.