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The Panzer Fan

Was he a Nazi? I was never quite sure.

He was an aged man, in a group of rational people, and I knew his first name, but not his last. It was a long time ago. The night drew in, we were all eating and drinking beside the fire, when he started to murmur to me about the Holocaust.

'Where are all these bodies then?' He said to me, 'Show them to me!' As though I carried witness statements and signed confessions from the camps in my handbag.

'You think that everybody lied? You think that hundreds of eye witnesses just made it up?' I remember edging away from him.

He started to mutter about Rothschildes and Americans and the Jewish Conspiracy. 'Ah you had to hear us,' he said, very deep in his cups. I was sober, more sober than I had been at the start of the conversation, 'To see a room full of bikers humming the Panzerlied...' he started to hum something, and waved his finger in the air, gently conducting music only he could hear, 'Even you would have been stirred!'

'Were these people not arrant traitors, as well as worse things?' I asked in as mild a voice as I could manage, given my anger. He didn't answer. He just carried on humming his old stupid song, and I crossed the room to speak to some others and ask, wonderingly, how such a man came to be in our company. He was the friend of somebody's friend's relative or something. I did not see him again.

The man was in his late 60s when I met him, far too young to have seen action in WWII, I think. He and his biker mates probably got the song from Battle of the Bulge, and used it to fuel their warboys fantasies.

I recall sitting back at the fire when he was gone, with people tapping their heads about him. I recall his eyes that looked as sane as anyone else's, a contrast to his faded mind, and my relief that he was an absurdity, an anachronism in this kinder world.

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