Call It Treason - A Novel
Call It Treason- a novel by George Howe. 1925-1945. Call It Treason. Look Backward The war is over, and for all one can see in the streets or news papers, or hear around the cracker barrel or campus or bartop, it is forgotten. Forgotten so well that it is ready for a repeat, as old tunes like Baby Face have to be forgotten before they can be revived; or long skirts on women. There are places and days where it is remembered: May Thirtieth, and behind some drawn curtains, and in congressmen's speeches at election time and in the memoirs of generals and in Mason jars of everlast ings in country cemeteries; in the country a man has more time to remember. In Europe they think we have forgotten, as we did before. It is not forgotten there. In the European Theater the stars trip in, left wing or right, to a fortissimo of brass, and pack up at the finale till the managers call a return. The chorus stays on the job between times, and the battered scenery re mains in place. Some of the numbers are soon forgotten all around. Thus, in Combat Intelligence, after the target is reached, after the pla toon or gun is located by G-2 and destroyed by G-3, there is no need to record how it was found, or by what agent; or by 3 what trick of uniform or intonation or marksmanship he got his report through the line on time. No need to remember, for the circumstances never repeat exactly, and the lesson of one mission is not much use on the next. And none in another war. Some of the acts you forget on purpose, and some you never forget For all the erasures of time, one question stays with me, un answered but unforgotten: why does the Spy risk his life? For what compulsion, and after what torment in himself? Thegun point never forced a man to loyalty, and still less to Treason, whose rewards at best are slim and distant. If the Spy wins, he is ignored; if he loses, he is hanged. Not long ago the postman dropped on my drafting board a letter with a German stamp; when I translated it the puzzle of two years before returned to tease me, and by writing out my memory I may have found a key to the Meanings of Treason. I say Meanings, because it has more than one. Here is the letter: Berlin, 10 January 1947 Honored Sir: From this letterhead you see that I am a physician. We are lucky enough to live in the American sector ( if there is luck in living at all) where there is still a memory and hope of freedom. Since it is your sector too, let it serve to introduce me. Its nuns are no different from those of the Soviets across the Brandenburg Gate. But the plane which broke our roof in 1945 was a Liberator; so in Berlin I have a queer distinction over friends who were bombed out by Stormoviks. With me live my wife and my younger son Klaus, who is seven teen now. My older son Karl is a corporal in the German Air Force. I still say is from habit; though the last word his mother and I have from him was written in February 1945 from an American prisoner-of-war camp, somewhere on the Western Front. That is two years ago, but we have still hoped for his return. Many German soldiers are still prisoners in Russia, and a few even in France and England. Sometimes they straggle home to Berlin, like Hermann Bechthold in the next block, who walked in to supper 4 one night after two years in Siberia, still in his ragged Feldgrau. Either they did not let him write home, or he forgot. But Karl would never forget, andyet he does not write. The trickle is drying up now. It is six months since Hermann returned. In spite of my persistence over these two years, and a few tears of my wife's, neither American - military authorities, nor what is left of German, nor even the International Red Cross, which cares for all prisoners, could ever give us word of Karl, till yest
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A totally compelling story. A young Luftwaffe corporal is captured and is willing to return to Germany and spy for the Americans. Set in the last days of the Third Reich the detail of events and emotions is incredible. Read this book and you will never forget it.