Riva served Eintopf stew for dinner—carrots, potatoes, green beans, onions, herbs. Gerhard took a mouthful, poked around the stew, and looked at Riva. “I can’t find the meat.”
“There wasn’t any to buy today.”
Papa sighed. “I understand Riva. Thank you for shopping and cooking.” Papa always appreciated Riva’s efforts.
“I don’t understand.” Gerhard stuck out his jaw. “There must be meat somewhere. Sausage. Something.”
After the altercation in town, Riva wasn’t willing to put up with her brother’s criticism. “Perhaps you should shop rather than strutting through town with your gang.”
Why had she said that? Riva cursed inwardly. That familiar sibling pattern–wait until she couldn’t stand Gerhard’s criticism any more, then erupt by goading him.
“What gang?” Papa said.
“It’s not a gang,” Gerhard said. “It’s just a bunch of my friends.”
Papa’s eyes bored into Gerhard. “Please invite them to visit. I would like to meet them.”
No, you wouldn’t, Riva thought, but she smiled as they waited for Gerhard to comment, which he didn’t.
Papa continued. “Perhaps next Saturday?”
Gerhard stared at his stew. “We’re busy,” he mumbled.
“Not too busy, I hope.” Papa’s voice was soft now, an almost-whisper, a sure sign he was digging in his heels. Riva knew that tone and knew that Gerhard understood it as well. Papa was determined to meet Gerhard’s friends.
After dinner, Gerhard followed Riva into the kitchen and stood behind her as she faced the sink, stacking up the dishes to wash them.
Riva rounded on him. “Don’t you dare. After today, don’t you dare. You and your ‘friends’ are thugs.”
“We’re only doing what the Führer wants.”
“What is that?” Papa had come into the room. Riva could see him over Gerhard’s shoulder, but Gerhard was facing Riva and so focused on her that he hadn’t heard Papa come in. Caught unawares, Gerhard turned to face his father and drew himself up to full height, a couple of inches taller than Papa.
“And what is that?”
Riva was sure Papa knew more about the subject than Gerhard, but Gerhard had a good memory and began reciting the twenty-five points.
“’We demand the unification of all Germans in the Greater Germany on the basis of the right of self-determination of peoples. We demand…’”
“Yes, yes, alright, but what do all those points mean?”
“Some are more important than others.”
“’Abrogation of the peace treaties of Versailles and St. Germain’. We want Alsace and Lorraine back.”
Riva jumped in. “I don’t.”
“Of course you don’t. You’re French.” Gerhard practically spat out the word.
“Gerhard.” Papa paused. “You’re as French as Riva. Riva’s as German as you are. You are both our children—mine and your late mother’s. Have you forgotten?”
Gerhard stormed out of the kitchen and Riva heard the front door slam.
“What are his friends like, Riva?”
She leaned back against the sink, dirty dishes congealing behind her. If she told Papa what had happened today, would it help or just make things worse? She thought of the fourth of the twenty-five points, how Gerhard and his gang had treated Miriam and Jakob. ‘Only a member of the race can be a citizen. A member of the race can only be one who is of German blood, without consideration of creed. Consequently no Jew can be a member of the race’.
She told him.