Los Angeles, California
Herr Schmidt led his nephew Friedrick down the steep, tumultuous stairway leading down into the depths of Murphy Ranch. Friedrick felt discomfort deep in his stomach, as if he was disturbing the pristine nature of the canyon on this cloudy evening. They were losing the light, he noticed. Yet he continued to follow his uncle, a determined, merciless man with beliefs strong enough to make you regret disagreeing with him. Herr Schmidt, with his swastika tied around his upper arm at all times, was fervent and rampant when it came to his plan he was devising. He wanted Friedrick to know the ins and outs of the plan as it unfolded in the near future. Friedrick feared his uncle’s conniving schemes, but knew he better listen… or else.
“It’s about time you came to California,” Herr Schmidt lectured Friedrick in his native German tongue, his voice piercing through the quiet canyon. “This will be our haven once the Führer conquers the States.”
Friedrick was ambivalent about the Nazi regime. He believed that they had a solid grip on the German public and would lead them to salvation but he still felt pangs of uncertainty when people spoke of their undying devotion to the Third Reich. Their hostility and fervor was so powerful, it was hard not to fall victim to it. Friedrick respected his uncle for his zealous opinions yet felt somehow that building a self-sustaining camp in a canyon was quite a drastic approach.
But he nodded and listened as Herr Schmidt continued.
“This will be our water supply and beyond it, our power station. The guard tower is further and we plan to construct a four-story mansion in the near future.”
Friedrick observed the small buildings enshrouded by foliage. His uncle had built this place so deep into the canyon, it almost felt as if the buildings were part of the nature. He admired the Spanish Mission style roofing and the simplicity of the guard tower beyond. This would be their own small paradise, soon.
He followed as Herr Schmidt met up with a woman by the entrance of the guard tower. She had a smile that said she was pleased with herself and anxious to speak.
“Friedrick, this is Winona Stephens, heiress to her father’s mining company and creator of our humble home here.” Schmidt introduced the two.
Friedrick shook the hand of the woman who was solely responsible for this grand vision.
“It’s so nice to meet you,” she began. “What do you think of the place? No doubt we are well on our way to making this the Führer’s camp.”
Friedrick gulped, realizing his anxiety. “Yes, it is grand.”
“I am glad you think so,” Winona spoke strongly. “Because we would like you to run it.”
Herr Schmidt smiled proudly. “Yes, my boy. Once the party members are made aware of this small paradise, we want you to be in charge of the Stephens-Schmidt camp. There is nothing more inspiring than motivated youth.”
Friedrick was speechless as he quickly considered his options. The camp seemed to have a certain ability to withstand anything. And politically, this choice would result in many benefits along the way. He was flattered by the option but somehow felt as though he really had no say in the matter. As if his uncle and Miss Winona weren’t going to take no as an answer. He stared at the matching swastikas on their arms and took a deep breath, observing again the sturdy guardhouse, drawing strength from the immense structure.
“Well,” his uncle’s voice sounded, “Will you?”
With an exhale and a sense of defeat, Friedrick responded. “Yes, yes I will,” he heard himself say.