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Anne M Carson – Felix at table with the Himmlers

Profile Anne M Carson Live Encounters Magazine July 2017

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Felix at table with the Himmlers, poems by Anne M Carson

from Massaging Himmler: A poetic biography of Dr Felix Kersten

Anne M Carson is a writer and visual artist, whose poetry is published internationally and widely in Australia. Removing the Kimono, was published by Hybrid Publishers in 2013. She has won and been commended in numerous poetry prizes including being shortlisted in the New Shoots Poetry Prize 2016 and commended in the 2015 Melbourne Poets Union International Poetry Prize. As a Creative Writing Therapist she has edited and facilitated the group process which resulted in the publication of three books. She teaches Poetry Writing and Appreciation to adults and serves as Director Arts on the board of Ondru – a social-change-through-the-creative-arts organisation. Currently she is looking for a publisher for the story in verse of a little-known, Second World War humanitarian. The manuscript is called Massaging Himmler: A poetic biography of Dr Felix Kersten. www.annemcarson.com

Felix at table with the Himmlers[1]

Gmund, Lyndenfycht, Germany, 1939

At least my belly growls no protest. Casseroles
and soups, fruit after meals, home-baked küchen

morning and afternoon. Simple country fare,
but plenty of it … Brandt phoned me in Den Haag.

Not asked or requested but summoned me. He is iIl
at Gmund, curt, clipped, in agony, wants you there

posthaste. Close to München, on Lake Tegern See.
The auto will collect you from the station. Already

the rooms I have booked for you at the inn. All your
meals you will be taking with them. I go. He keeps

a modest house, never takes more than his fair share.
The setting is sublime – lake, forest, birds. His wife

Marga, children – Gudrun, and an adopted boy.
At table he likes to play mein host. His geniality

is a shock. The children eat with us, are excused
H’s postprandial lectures. Pet themes predominate –

the charms of his native Bavaria, time past when
it ruled itself; the lessons, courtesy Schoolmaster H,

which history tells. He particularly relishes tales
of William the Fowler, hero worships him, imagines

himself a modern reincarnation. Repeatedly I bite
my tongue, accept another homegrown plum.

*

When I first arrive he is close to passing out but keeps
to rigid manners. Cold skin, wet with the effort not

to hunch, not to stoop. He will not bend before we step
behind closed doors. I set to work. I delve, he writhes.

He pants, bites his bottom lip, clenches blankets
in desperate, clammy hands. His pain peaks, he pales.

Slowly the nerve responds, colour ventures back.
We talk between the work. ‘The Führer longs for war,’

he declares that first day, ‘no peace until the world is
purified by war.’ A crazy litany, from Hitler verbatim,

never questioned. He stares away, imagining
the Tausendjahriges Reich? No surprise after Prague

– it is all they talk of in Den Haag. I risk seeming weak
or worse. ‘But war will bring Europe to her knees’, I argue.

He argues back, vehement, but does not call the Gestapo
to snuff me out. I return gratefully to my hotel, relieved

I did not succumb to silence. Blessed liberty until
the evening meal. The woods around the lake are balm.

I walk their paths, turning his words, the Führer’s
and the terrifying prospect of war, over in my mind.

[1] Ibid, p 55

Felix describes the first time he secures a release

Chancellery, 26 August 1940

I actually pull it off! It happens like this: two weeks
ago Rosterg, to whom I owe Hartzwalde, pays me

a visit. Will I intervene for his factory foreman –
a decent, honest man imprisoned in a concentration

camp – for the simple sin of being a Social Democrat.
What can I do? Even the thought of approaching

The Herr with such a request scares me. Rosterg says
he knows I have H’s ear – perhaps I can influence him.

It would be absurd, dangerous. I take the details
and promptly forget about them. Two weeks pass

when H calls me for a debilitating attack. Gruelling
work, but one by one, with extreme exertion,

I manage to undo his knots – for now. Because
his gut has been so twisted he is even more grateful

than usual. He says that he feels guilty for never
paying me. Instinctively I know I have an edge –

if I accept money I put myself under his control.
I tell him payment is impossible for incomplete cures.

And besides, I say, I know you are of slender means.
‘It is a principle with me never to accept payment

from poor people, I make rich clients pay for them!’[1]
Never been so effusive: Dear, dear Herr Kersten,

how can I ever thank you? In a moment of inspiration –
I recall Rosterg’s request. Pulling the man’s details

from my wallet I say: ‘My fee, Reichsführer – is
this man’s freedom!’ I see him struggle but in the end

he replies: ‘As it is you asking, of course I agree.’
He calls Brandt to effect the man’s release.

[1] Ibid p 77