Hitler: Before He Met the Devil

     He was 9 years old when the offi­cer brought the news. The knock was strong and hard and his father’s foot­steps were heavy on the wood­en floor­boards. The door swung open and the fog­gy night air brought with it, a dense mois­ture, the thick smell of dying things and the devil.

     Klara was dead, or rather Klara had com­mit­ted her­self to death on her own terms and was found out­side the Gold­stein’s house, the side of her face blown off,  rac­coons chew­ing on her flesh. The boy did­n’t cry for his moth­er, know­ing noth­ing resolves the past bet­ter than a resolve for the future. 

The Jews had killed her.

They killed her spir­it long before she was dead.




Last week­end’s work­shop leader Ber­nice McFad­den posed a ques­tion to our group.  What’s the dif­fer­ence between sym­pa­thy and empa­thy? A sym­pa­thet­ic per­son walks by a well, sees a sis­tah stuck inside and says, “Oh girl…damn… I’m pray­ing for you. An empa­thet­ic per­son grabs a rope and joins her in the well.

Who is the most rep­re­hen­si­ble per­son we know? Hitler? Ok Hitler. A good writer evokes feel­ings from her reader.

The assign­ment: Put your read­er in your char­ac­ter’s shoes or rather in the well. A great writer can make the read­er feel empa­thy for Hitler. The result (in 20 min­utes) was the above excerpt.