Is truth stranger than fiction or fiction stranger than truth? In one of the Thornton King books I wrote about the tensions engendered in a game of bridge that could almost lead to murder and in today’s news I read a man has been charged with the murder of his wife, stabbing her a hundred times because her game wasn’t up to scratch. What a diabolical frenzy and all because of a card game. Actually it couldn’t have been just the bridge game. They were obviously a couple hell bent on quarrelling and the game was a climax to it all. Card games can be dangerous. I once heard of a fellow who, upon making a final trick, slammed his card down so hard he dislocated his neck. I put this in a play as well and I do believe it’s a true story.
An extract from “Diary of a man in Despair.”
‘An informant who was at the scene at the time told me about the murder of Herr von Kahr, who was trampled to death by SS beasts in the courtyard of the Marienbad Hotel in Munich: twenty-year old louts and a seventy-year old man. And H., with whom I philosophised today about man’s inhumanity to man? He has just come back from the Eastern Front, and witnessed the massacre at K., where 30000 Jews were slaughtered. This was done in a single day, in the space of an hour perhaps, and when machine gun bullets gave out, flame throwers were used. And spectators hurried to the event from all over the city, off-duty troops, young fellows with the milk complexion of the young – the children of men who nineteen or twenty years ago were lying in cribs and gaily bubbling and reaching for the brightly coloured ring hanging just above! Oh, degradation, oh life without honour, oh thin shell that separates us from the lost souls in whom Satan burns!
You judge us and find us wanting, and we, here, suffer in loneliness and dread. You point at us and our lack of resistance and we know that the resistants have died unknown in filthy bunkers, and that the blood of martyrs has been spilled to no purpose. The Devil is loose and it is God Himself who has unloosed him. “And the Lord will give him great power.” And we can only guess at why He has done this or why He has chosen this land as His stage, or what lies in store for us behind His curtain.
But still the night lies black over our heads and we suffer. We suffer as you never shall suffer, no, not on your deathbed.
Beware the man who would make light of our suffering.’
If today’s young fascists or neo-Nazis want to know what it was really like living under National Socialism or those today who idolise the memory of Adolph Hitler they have only to read this book to know what a diabolical horror and an avalanche of suffering it all was.