Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Chapter 53

Wednesday, December 30, 1964

It was the Christmas season, which had its own rhythm, peculiar all around. I had been able to spend more time with the family, though I had taken to going back to the seminary for most of the nights. The rhythm method, in this case, would have put me on the couch, which was not all that comfortable. Besides, I rather liked my own space. And so did Sarah. 

I did arrange to take Butch to visit Dingo Dave on Christmas day. Dave still didn't want anything to do with me, but the visit from Butch was welcome, or so I gather. Butch said Dave was surprised to get two presents, one book from me and one from him. Dave's mother and his brother Dan were there. Dan just glared at me. His mother was a bit friendlier, wary because of our last encounter but genuinely grateful that I was willing to let Butch stay in touch with her son.

The Christmas season had less impact on Jews, sometimes giving them a bit of a breather, sometimes offering uninterrupted times for getting things done. This was true of Simon Weisberg, who used the time to throw himself into the task I had assigned him. By Wednesday, he called the house
I wasn't thereand left a message with Sarah that he had some details. He didn't want to give them to her, and she didn't press him. 

I called him back and got much of what I wanted.

First he explained that he couldn't find anything under Bernard Fox or Bernard John Fox, which didn't surprise him. He tried alternative formulas using German spelling and got a hit for Bernhard Johan Fuchs, the surname being German for "Fox."

"Oh, I should have thought of that," I said. "The Holy Cross provincial said his name in Germany at his eulogy, but it's so close to the English when spoken that I didn't think anything of it. His mother probably switched it to the German after she moved back to Germany."

"Likely," said Simon. 

"And when he moved back here, he switched back to the spelling on his birth certificate."

"Usually, the war criminals change their names."

"But, as I understand it, he wasn't trying to hide his identity," I said. "Not from the leaders of the congregation anyway. His given name took advantage of his father's identity."

"I'm surprised in a way," said Simon. "Your man was the real deal. It turns out he was a member of the Brown Shirts as a teenager and then segued into the SS."

I remembered the Brown Shirts from my research for Dan Johnson and their connection to homosexuality. I asked Simon about this history.

"The eventual leader was a well-known homosexual, a charismatic leader who attracted and developed a hyper-masculine
and not incidentallyhomosexual culture among his troops. Hitler used the Brown Shirts for a while, but when they became too powerful, he began a purge that included a particularly vicious persecution of suspected homosexuals. If your man survived that, he would have had to put himself outside that worldby clearly not being a homosexual, by using his connections, or by turning on his fellows."

"Interesting," I said. "I like the last one, just because there is something strong about his behavior toward accused homosexuals. If he turned in his fellow soldiers, he might have built up a ton of guilt. Maybe he was trying to make amends somehow."

"Up to you," Simon said. "I'm just giving you the info."

"What about his Italian connection."

"It's there, especially in 1943 after the allies invaded Italy." Simon said. "Bernhard Fuchs was an officer under Herbert Kabbler's command."

"Who dat?"

"Herbert Kappler was the head of the German police and security services in Rome in 1943. It was a stressful time, and his outfit was responsible for rounding up Jews and getting them to concentration camps."

"I wonder if that got to Bernhard Fuchs," I said. "Apparently, he deserted and went to the Vatican."

"I don't have that," Simon said. "The records say he was missing in action. But that's interesting. Herbert Kaplan was the main liaison to the Vatican and tried to take refuge there when Rome fell
but he was unsuccessful. Bernhard Fuchs had better luckif you're right."