In Iron Rent
Manfred Kohl (Dirge)
Concentration -camp survivor
When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Manfred Kohl was just 18 and just beginning music studies at Bremen University… and just beginning to spread his wings in the underground cultures of homosexual bars, clubs, and salons. But all-too-soon the new regime began to crack down on ‘perversions’ that sapped the collective virility of the Volk, and the party was over. The ‘deviants’ were forced to be even more secretive for fear of arrest and imprisonment under a series of ever harsher and more-inclusive laws.( http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/hsx/ )
As did his fellows, Manfred managed as best he could. He pursued brief and furtive liasons with often-anonymous partners, sacrificing intimacy for the relative safety of secrecy. He graduated in 1937, soon landing a position as 3rd-chair violinist in the Munich Symphony. He also married a slightly older widow named Clothilde Jacobs (the mother of young Wolfram). His talent soon led to advancement to 2nd-chair, and to the enmity of the first violinist who began to fear for his position. He also truly fell in love for the first time, with the symphony hall’s maintenance man, Bruno Galtz. Alas, they were insufficiently discreet: the first violinist discovered the couple and denounced them to the police. Bruno died under interrogation after confessing, and Manfred was swiftly tried, convicted and sent to prison in 1939. There he learned many hard lessons in survival, including how to fight and win by any means necessary. Meanwhile, his birth family (a rural Lutheran minister and his wife) disowned him, and Clothilde (while not divorcing him) moved herself and Wolfram far away to Berlin to stay with her family.
In 1940, things got worse. The deviants being held in his prison were shipped wholesale to the infamous labor camps, there to worked to extinction alongside the Jews, Gypsies, mental-defectives and other hated untermenschen. There, in the horrid Sachsenhausen camp (near Berlin) ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sachsenhausen_concentration_camp ), surrounded on all sides by the immensity of the Holocaust, Manfred… Awoke. Engulfed by death, he found that he understood Death in a whole new way. There were almost as many ghosts around him as living people, and he found that he could speak with them, call them, even command them. While fighting for life himself, he did what he could to help those who had already passed to find their way onward to whatever awaited on the far shores.
Finally, in 1945, Manfed found that he could actually enter the Todtenland (‘country of the dead’, or Twilight) himself by an effort of will. Suddenly, escape from the camp was simplicity itself: he walked out to the cheering of the dead, with no living person the wiser. Just a little ways down the road he encountered the advancing Red Army bent on ‘liberating’ the camp: to his special vision he found them nearly as soaked in Death as his former captors, and so let hem pass him by. He made his way to Berlin.
In Berlin, he made his way as best he could amongst the shattered post-war metropolis: sleeping rough andavailing himself of humanitarian aid from the Americans and British. Also, to his shock he found others with strange powers (calling themselves ‘mages’ or ‘willworkers’), organized in a shadow-society unknown to the general populace.
To his alarm, Manfred (or Dirge, as he is now known) found his wife to be missing… but he has manged to locate and reunite with his stepson Wolfram…. who, astoundingly, is also newly Awakened. Surely the hand of Fate must be at work.