256 Words

The Most Shocking Thing

M. Stanley Bubien

The most shocking thing I ever saw happened on TV when I was twelve.

Flipping the dial boredly, I'd stumbled onto a documentary, catching it in the middle, this particular clip coming from a home movie, shot shakily with hand-held camera and replayed at too high a frame-rate.

The scene showed a European villa sometime in the mid-1940s, and camera focused on a large German shepherd. The animal's coat shone even upon the spotty film, and it panted healthily, though artificially accelerated to near double-time.

Into camera's view reached a hand which began stroking the animal's fine coat. Obviously, this was the master, for he rubbed the Alsatian's flank expertly, causing it to crane its neck and shake its foreleg in time to the strokes. The master paused, and the dog instantly turned and licked his palm twice. Hand patted dog's head---and though it was a silent film, I imagined delighted laughter from slightly off-screen. The caress was resumed, and dog's mouth hung open, tongue lolling to the side.

While dated and warn, this film captured something timeless: the connection shared between master and pet.

And that's when the shock came.

The camera panned back. Master's uniformed arm came into view, then half his body---from jackboot to crested shoulder---until finally face appeared.

Instantly, I recognized him. There, sporting rectangular mustache, sat history's greatest villain. There, petting this wondrous animal, sat Adolf Hitler.

I nearly lost my breath, for in that moment I saw that this horrible man---Adolf Hitler---truly loved his dog.

Copyright ©1997 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.

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December, 1997
Issue #20

256 Words