the talent spotter
He called himself Frederick. A portly, almost elderly middle-aged man proficient in languages. A graduate of European universities, a lover of 17th century German poetry. A Jew and a socialist. One of the thousands of internees behind the wire in Australia.
‘All the fish will be in one pond,’ his controller told him, ‘ and Australia is quickly earning their disaffection.’
Theo was the first. Theo, whose deep dissatisfaction with political systems of order and the weapons used to enforce it coloured his every conversation. Frederick, on their second meeting, suggested he go a little more quietly in the camp in future, so as not to be so easily noticed. And a haircut, a hat instead of a cloth cap.
‘I can help you find another hut, somewhere you are not so well known.’
After his discharge from the camp Theo needed papers of course, a detailed background, letters from Mutter and addressed from Bonn, pictures of his family, small and much-creased. An engineering certificate much like his original.
A suitcase of second-hand clothes. Shoes too. Frederick had his sizes.
Theo travelled to the world’s epicentre of weapon-making.
He never met Frederick again.
header pic is John Bingham.