War Crimes Chapter 6
Horace Cutler stared out of his office window at the imposing walls of Lincoln Castle and stirred his coffee thoughtfully. On the front page of the Daily Telegraph, the Prime Minister John Major was outlining his vision for a “classless” British society at the Conservative party conference and Vauxhall had just launched the new Astra model. Cutler looked at front page photograph of an extremely unprepossessing John Major and said “Bloody idiot.”
Mr Cutler was a notable barrister who specialised in Court Martials, specifically in getting military personnel off through the incompetence of the prosecuting authorities, and utilising every loophole in the book and many that hadn’t even been written. He was waiting for his 10:00 appointment with the mother of yet another squaddie, who had fallen foul of military law. Horace Cutler mentally groaned, being in no doubt that this young soldier would be a paragon of virtue, who loved his dear old mum. Whilst not being totally cynical, Cutler had heard it all before and he wanted to make sure that there was a genuine case to be made against the charges. He had built his reputation on representing those genuinely wronged and had no truck with liars and timewasters.
At 09:50 Cutler moved to the window and looked down onto St Pauls Lane where he saw a woman approaching from the direction of the Cathedral, looking at the plaques on the business properties. She was trim and well-dressed and stopped in front of the brass plaque on the wall of his business. “Mrs Edge I presume,” he said quietly and went to his desk to tidy away the newspaper and take a good swig of coffee.
Today Cutler was wearing his best shirt, multicolour waistcoat and gold-rimmed spectacles, rather than the pince-nez he sometimes wore in court as an affectation to wind up his legal opponents. A few minutes later, the intercom went off and his PA/general Girl Friday came on.
“Your ten-o-clock appointment has arrived, Mr Cutler.”
“Thank you, Sharon. I’ll be out shortly.”
He made sure the Dictaphone was working, that the two chairs were set corner-on to the coffee table and that he had the ability to take notes. He took a last look at himself in the mirror, adjusted his cravat and opened the office door to the reception area.
“Good morning, Mrs Edge. Do come in.”
Cutler showed her to one of the chairs by the coffee table and he sat on the second. He didn’t speak for some time as he prepared himself, scrutinising his client. Mrs Edge was a small, slight woman in her forties. She seemed to have a slightly melancholic air about her, but she maintained eye contact as she shook his hand.
“Mr Cutler, thank you for seeing me at such short notice.”
He bowed his head politely and because he had an eye for such things, he concluded that Mrs Edge was a dammed fine-looking woman, “Mrs Edge, I believe your son Mark, who is a Lance-corporal in the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (the 29th/45th Foot), is in a spot of bother.”
“No Mr Cutler, my son Mark is in a great deal of bother. He is accused of assaulting a German police officer, occasioning him grievous bodily harm. The incident occurred during a rugby tour in Germany, while he was defending a military comrade from a violent and unprovoked assault by the policemen. The incident happened very quickly, during the course of which my son’s face was smashed with an iron bar wielded by the policeman and he was subsequently beaten after his arrest by several of the policeman’s colleagues, during his detention.”
As soon as he heard the term “rugby tour,” Cutler felt his heart sink. Sports tours inevitably involved copious amounts of alcohol and he had the dreadful feeling that his defending this woman’s son at a court martial was going to be a non-starter. The fact that an injury to a foreign policeman had occurred made this case almost un-defendable. Perry Mason couldn’t get Mrs Edge’s son off this one.
“Do you know the nature of the policeman’s injuries, Mrs Edge?”
“He is unable to walk without crutches and he may never walk again unaided. His injuries were so severe that he is being invalided out of the state police.”
Cutler was amazed at her candour. He unnecessarily took off his glasses and polished them with a silk handkerchief, desperately thinking how to let her down gently. However, she wasn’t prepared to be let down gently.
“Mr Cutler, I know exactly what you’re thinking. You think that my son is a violent thug who deserves everything that he gets. You believe that he was in a drunken frenzy, that he was incapable of rational thought and picked a fight with an officer of the law, carrying out his rightful duty.”
“Mrs Edge. Have you ever thought of taking up law yourself?” He smiled in what he hoped was a disarming manner. The woman regarded him with a flinty stare and Horace Cutler, scourge of the court martial system and the squaddie’s friend was unnerved.
“Mr Cutler. My son Mark is five foot seven inches tall and weighs under twelve stone and on that night he was unarmed. The policeman who assaulted him with an iron bar is over six foot five inches. The policeman was beating a semi-conscious and unarmed man who was cowering on the ground, again with the iron bar. My son went to stop the assault and was hit across the face with the weapon and required surgery in the maxilla-facial department of an RAF hospital in Germany,” she went into her handbag and pulled out two photographs, handing the first one to Cutler, “This is what my son looked like before he was violently assaulted.”
The barrister took the photograph. It had been taken at Mark Edge’s passing out parade, probably in his room the night before. He was looking at a youthful and pleasant face of a teenager, staring proudly into the camera in his No 2s. Cutler had seen scores of such pictures, but there was something about the handsome, unsmiling face looking at him. Mark Edge had inherited his mother’s striking but melancholy features.
“This is what he looks like now.”
The youth had gone and a dour and battered face stared up at him. The nose was twisted and badly set and the right cheekbone was slightly displaced. There was still something about the young man but under the vulnerability was a frisson of contained violence. Some women would be attracted to that face, the ones who never listened to their hearts or their friends and ended up in refuges.
“Although I don’t blame the RAF surgeon who did his utmost almost a week after the assault, that was the best he could come up with after operating on Mark for over five hours. That’s how severe his injuries were, so you see Mr Cutler, I don’t feel a single iota of sympathy for that German policeman.”
Cutler removed his glasses again and massaged the bridge of his nose, “Would you like a cup of tea, Mrs Edge?”
“Could I have a cup of strong coffee please, Mr Cutler? I had to leave the house at four-o-clock to make the first train from Nuneaton. Changes at Leicester, Newark. I didn’t think there were any hills in Lincolnshire.”
“You came by train and walked from the station?”
“My husband needs the car for work, you see.”
That single sentence told Cutler a great deal about the dynamics within the Edge household. He stood up and opened the door through to reception, “Sharon, could you please make a pot of strong coffee for us.”
Once the coffee had arrived, Cutler started to question Mrs Edge, “Where is your son now?”
“He’s in Cyprus at RAF Akrotiri, under open arrest.”
“And he is being represented by the Army’s legal department?”
“Yes, and I’ve read that they’re pretty useless,” she said pointedly.
“And the court martial is being held in Cyprus?”
“No, Germany. The German authorities insisted.”
“Mrs Edge, you’ve been very honest with me up to now. Do you believe beyond reasonable doubt, that your son is telling you the truth and the whole truth, without omission or elaboration?”
“Mr Cutler, my son is no angel. He did all the normal, stupid things that children and adolescents do. He has a rather cavalier attitude to sexual relations, which I have found distasteful because I am a religious person, but fundamentally, I have brought him up to demonstrate the values of loyalty, empathy, kindness and humanity. I know he has killed people in Northern Ireland during a terrorist ambush, an action for which he was commended by his commanding officer. He is brave, sometimes foolhardy, which is why he was involved in a violent altercation with a German policeman. He has never lied to me and he loves the Army. Please save his career, Mr Cutler.”
He sipped his coffee thoughtfully, his mind racing. This is a bloody no-hoper, Horace. But do you believe him through her? Probably. Does this young man deserve a chance? Yes, they all do. Can she afford it? Who cares?
“Mrs Edge, if I take on the defence of your son, there will be a cost.”
“I have savings.”
“I may not be successful.”
“That’s a chance I’m willing to take.”
“Very well, I will visit your son in Cyprus and start to prepare a defence. The caveat being that if I don’t find your son’s version of events compelling, I will not proceed with his defence. Do you agree with my terms?”
She nodded looking down.
“I will contact the Army’s legal department and tell them that I will take the brief, subject to the conditions I have mentioned.”
When she looked up again, her eyes were glistening and Cutler felt the power of a mother’s love for her son. He went out into the reception while Mrs Edge composed herself.
“What appointments do I have this afternoon, Sharon?”
“Three. Prentice verses Prentice at two. Manning verses Anglian Water at three-thirty and your friend, the amorous policeman at five.”
“Cancel the Prentices and re-arrange a time and date with my apologies. It will give them some extra time to sort out their differences. I will run Mrs Edge home because she’s had rather a gruelling morning. I should be back by three.”
“Mr Cutler?” Sharon said warningly.
“I need to find out some more about my client. I have a feeling that defending this lady’s son will be rather like the RAF Brewster Buffalos going into action against the Japanese Zeros over Malaya.”
“I often wonder what you think about, Mr Cutler.”
“History, Sharon. Just History.”
Flying from RAF Brize Norton by VC10 was always a novel experience for Cutler, especially before take-off, when he watched four ground crew jumping up and down on the wing in order to get the side cargo door closed. The rear facing seats was also a novel experience and he wondered how these clapped-out relics could still be the second fastest passenger aircraft flying. He was processed through the small terminal fairly quickly and noticed a very young-looking female flying officer scanning the passengers as they came through the control. She clocked Cutler and looked down at a piece of paper then walked towards him.
“Good morning, my dear. Are you waiting for me?”
“Mr Cutler? I’m the Station Adjutant. There’s a room booked for you in the officers’ mess where you can drop your kit off. I believe that Lance-corporal Edge will be waiting for you in the Station Education Centre and we’ve called for the Accused’s Friend.”
“Hmmmm,” said Cutler doubtfully.
She drove away from the airfield towards the main drag, fighting with second gear on a couple of occasions. Cutler decided to give her the benefit of the doubt; it was an extremely old Land Rover. He booked into the officers’ mess and she promised to wait for him in the ante-room. While he freshened up, the adjutant sat down with a cup of coffee and read the papers that had been unloaded off the VC10 and delivered to the messes. Cutler returned about ten minutes later and joined her.
“Very kind of you to look after me, my dear.”
“That’s OK, sir. I’ll give the Education Centre a ring to see if he’s there yet.”
When she returned Cutler was reading a copy of Air Clues. “Whatever happened to Wing Commander Spry?”
She smiled uncertainly and the barrister wondered why the RAF gave such junior officers so much responsibility as the role of an adjutant. It was one of those things the RAF just did, probably to wind up the Army.
“He’s there, sir, but his friend hasn’t turned up yet, however. he’s on his way.”
“Huh, some friend,” Cutler observed, “We’ll wait. Have you attended a court martial, dear?”
“Err no. It’s one of the things I need to do as part of my development programme. Like a promotion board and doing the OC Admin job on a small detachment. Then I’ve got Junior Officers’ Command and Staff Course.”
Cutler nodded thoughtfully, “I would be delighted to explain the workings of a court martial and of course the role of defence barrister, over dinner this evening. What is your name?”
“It’s Ona. Gosh, would you? That would be really helpful. The station commander will be so pleased. Is he in a lot of trouble, sir, Lance Edge?”
“I’m afraid that he is. He’s drowning in it,”
She put her cup on the table and a hovering steward took it away, “That’s a pity. We’ve been looking after him and giving him stuff to do. OC Admin says it’s so he doesn’t brood. I like him, for what it’s worth and hope you can get him off. He doesn’t seem capable of doing what he did. I’ll drive you to the Education Centre.”
At the Education Centre, Cutler was met by an RAF Education Officer, who showed him to one of the empty classrooms, “Thank you, my dear,” he said imperiously to her and scrutinised the two soldiers in the room, “Lance-corporal Edge I presume?”
He looked at the officer, “And who are you?”
“I’m Lieutenant Gardner. I’m the accused’s friend.”
“How nice, now in the nicest possible way, bugger off.”
Gardner bristled angrily, “I’m here to advise and look after Edge in a pastoral rather than a legal sense. And just who the hell do you think you are?”
Cutler gave a start as though the question was the most grievous impertinence, “Why I’m Horace Cutler QC. I have been commissioned to represent Mr Edge during his upcoming Court Marshal. Now Lieutenant Gardner, I’m glad that you have Mr Edge’s best interests at heart, however, whatever you call yourself, you are part of the system. You are therefore the enemy. What I have to say to Mr Edge is privileged information that is only to be shared by a legal representative and his client. Be so good as to leave would you?”
It was clear the Lieutenant was fizzing as he left the room, “I’ll be outside when you’ve finished, Lance-corporal Edge.”
Mr Horace Cutler looked at a bemused Edge and smiled, “Sit down laddie.”
He took the chair opposite on the other side of the table, “Now, your mother, who is a charming and remarkable woman by the way, has commissioned me to represent you at your court martial. And take your bloody hat off. You’re indoors now.”
“But what about the Army’s legal defence that was taking my case?”
“About as much use as Doctor Crippen’s defence team. I on the other hand, could get you off. But only if that’s what you want. I don’t believe in wasting your mother’s money.”
“Of course I want to get off. What sort of question is that? And where did mum get the money from?”
Cutler opened his briefcase and removed a Dictaphone, lay it on the table between them and started to record the conversation, “Edge, I want you to tell me everything that happened that night, including the assault of the German policeman and what happened after it until you were released back into British custody.”
Edge did his best, but it wasn’t enough. He shrugged and stared miserably at Cutler’s watch chain. Cutler suspected that his client had buried the visceral and what must have been terrifying violence and the events of that evening in his subconscious. It was a military coping mechanism, but it wasn’t helping him, or indeed Edge in the longer term. He knew that what he would do next was not strictly scrupulous.
“Look carefully at the back of the watch,” Cutler said holding it up by the chain in front of Edge’s face, “You can see the inner workings. Aren’t they beautiful?”
Edge looked closer at the tiny cogs with their jewelled movement and he began to tell Cutler every little detail of what had happened. He spared nothing. He told him about his final game winning pass. His desperation to stay sober so he could make love to an RAF girl called Alicia. The moon on the trees in the park. The jolting violence perpetrated by the German policeman on the helpless Scooby. The pain as the asp smashed into his face and the sound of a knee joint being destroyed by a karate kick. The beating in the cells. The agonising reconstructive surgery on his face at the RAF hospital, because while the muscle relaxant had worked, because he was so fit the anaesthetic hadn’t and his aching longing for Alicia who had picked up the policeman’s asp and her friend called Orinoco, who had tried to get him drunk to make recompense for a late tackle.
Edge looked away from the watch and blinked, “It’s no good. I’m sorry Mr Cutler. I just can’t remember.”
“Your mother was right. There is something about you. Yes, I know all mothers say that about their little soldiers, but in your case it’s true. Although she may be rather shocked to have known about her son’s intentions with Alicia.”
“Are you going to represent me?” Edge asked, wondering how the QC knew about Alicia.
“I’ll see you in Germany. Keep calm, try not to worry and don’t do anything silly.”
Cutler thanked the education officer and phoned the extension he had been given for the Station Adjutant. While he waited for her to pick him up, the barrister formulated his plan. He wasn’t going to defend Edge. He was going to destroy the prosecution’s case and if necessary, the German policeman. After what he heard, he would enjoy that.
The Senior Engineering Officer (SENGO) had been working late on a Tornado GR1 that had gone unserviceable on the route from the UK to Ali Al Salem in Kuwait. It was late and he was tired, but at least they had found out what was wrong with the damned thing and he was confident they could fix it. He was too late for the bar, let alone a meal and decided to turn in. As he walked past the wing of the officers’ mess that contained the guest suites, he saw Ona, the Station Adjutant coming out of a room and then the fire door. She froze when she saw him.
“Hello, sir,” she scurried off in the other direction. The SENGO was too tired to wonder why the Adj had looked so guilty…
Back in Lincoln, Cutler gathered his three associates, or he called them, his elves, “Whatever you’re working on will need to go on the back burner for a few weeks. Monica, I want you to go to Germany, specifically RAF Gütersloh and track down three people, all of them in the RAF. Firstly SAC Alicia Meredith, who should be able to help you find a gentleman known as “Scooby” and another chap, an engineer who is known as “Orinoco.” I want to find out everything that happened that day and night. Meredith and “Scooby” are the ones to concentrate on. Get Sharon to help you all she can, booking flights and suchlike.
“Stephen and George, I want you to concentrate on the policeman, Polizeiobermeister Brauer. I suspect that someone who is as violent as Mr Edge says he is, would have a string of complaints levelled against him. Start with some of the law firms in the Bielefeld area and see what you can throw up. Oh, and press the Landespolizei. I want them to know that we’re after them because Edge was assaulted while in their custody. I want the Boche bastards to be sweating, all right? I also want a progress report every day while I go into action with the Judge Advocate General’s department.”
“Mr Cutler, why are we expending so much time and effort on what is effectively an open and shut case against this squaddie?”
Cutler took off his glasses and stared at Stephen, “Because he is innocent of a heinous assault on a policemen. In fact he is the victim of an assault. Once by the policeman and then a cowardly beating while in German police custody and I want to nail the bastards.”
“Can we be sure?”
“I can. I’ve met him.”
A week later, Cutler called for a progress meeting If George had a tail, he would be wagging it. Monica was hiding her light under a bushel and Stephen had some news regarding the Bielefeld Landespolizei. Sharon was taking notes.
“Right, Elves, what have you got for me? You first, George. It looks like you can’t contain yourself.”
“Mr Cutler, there have been several complaints against Herr Brauer for heavy-handedness from both British civilians and Service personnel.”
Cutler shrugged, “So what? There are tens of thousands of British Service personnel in that area and they ain’t no plaster saints, as Kipling so perfectly put it. They drink a lot and get lairy. I’m afraid we’ll need a lot more, George.”
The associate smiled, “Is beating someone to death enough for you?”
Cutler took off his glasses, “Spit it out, George.”
“A couple of years back, Polizeiobermeister Brauer was accused by a German woman of beating her fiancée to death, outside a football ground at Bielefeld. The lady’s name is Edda Schuster and her fiancée was a Timothy Nowell, English, working for the Stadtsparkasse bank. The attack was unprovoked and she alleges that Brauer used an iron bar to beat Mr Nowell while he was on the ground. He died in the hospital when they switched off his life support apparatus. He never regained consciousness.
“Ms Schuster tried to bring a private prosecution against Brauer with the help of a civil rights lawyer, who specialised in cases of police brutality, but there were no witnesses and other police said that Brauer had been with them outside another part of the stadium. The case was dismissed by the Federal prosecutor.”
“Will she appear as a hostile witness against the prosecuting advocate’s case?” Cutler asked.
“She will be glad to, Mr Cutler.”
Cutler grinned, “Well done George and you too, Stephen. I’m sure you did a lot of the digging as well. What can I say? Over to you, Monica.”
Cutler thought he detected Stephen giving Monica a slight smirk, as if to say: follow that.
“I managed to track down Senior Aircraftwoman Alicia Meredith who agreed with Mr Edge’s version of events. She witnessed the policeman assaulting both the chap called “Scooby” and the single blow to Mr Edge’s face. “Scooby” is in fact a Senior Aircraftman Scotton and he has been severely physically and mentally traumatised by the beating he received from Polizeiobermeister Brauer, in the park that night. I’m afraid “Orinoco,” or rather Corporal Rigley is no help. He remained in the bar with his girlfriend, when the assaults took place. He did ask me to say to you, Mr Cutler that “Edgie is a bloody good bloke for a Pongo and he hopes you get him off and he’s sorry about the late tackle.””
“Will Meredith and Scotton appear as witnesses?”
“Yes, Mr Cutler.”
“Good girl and well done! Right, we have our lines of attack. I will need to fly out to Germany and school our two witnesses and I would also like to meet Ms Schuster if that is possible.”
“Mr Cutler, there is something else. Alicia Meredith has in her possession the weapon used to assault SAC Scotton and Lance-corporal Edge. The policeman dropped it when out client “took him out” and Alicia picked it up. It is an Asp, one of those telescopic, steel batons. They are strictly illegal in Germany.”
Horace Cutler rocked back in his chair, “Oh, Monica. That’s absolutely outstanding. You have done splendidly, Elves and that includes you, Sharon. Dinner will be on me this evening, The Bowl Full at 19:00. No excuses as this is a three-line-whip.”
The day after Cutler got back from Germany, just before lunchtime, Sharon came on the intercom, “Mr Cutler, I have a call from a Mr Finegold from America on line one. He wants to speak with you as a matter of urgency, regarding your court martial case. He says he’s from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.” Cutler was both surprised and intrigued, “Then you had better put him through,”
He heard the click and the slight hollowness from the satellite, “Good morning, Mr Finegold. Horace Cutler speaking. This is an early call for you.”
There was a slight delay, “Good afternoon, Mr Cutler. My name is Hiram Finegold and I am phoning from the Siman Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles.”
“Well this is a surprise, Mr Finegold. What could I possibly do for you?”
“It is I who can do something for you, Mr Cutler. Let me explain. I believe you are investigating a member of the German Landespolizei, a Polizeiobermeister Brauer. I am not interested in the details of the case, although I believe you are defending a young, British soldier. You see, we also have an interest in Herr Brauer, or rather his family, specifically his father who is deceased but unlamented.”
“Riiiight,” said Cutler, slightly confused now.
“Mr Cutler, we have tracers on every person of interest that the Centre is concerned with. This triggers a notification if these individuals are being investigated. When your associates made enquiries into Polizeiobermeister Brauer, a member of the German law firm notified us that a person of interest to us was being investigated. Hence my call to you today.”
Cutler remained slightly bemused, but now this was tinged with a feeling of unease at just how far the tentacles of the Jews, which meant in all probability MOSSAD stretched. It was as though Finegold had read his mind.
“Don’t waste any time worrying about Herr Brauer, which is not his real name by the way. He is a thoroughly unpleasant individual who was fed with his mother’s milk hatred for my people. But he hates the British, especially members of your armed forces much more. A visceral hatred because his father was killed by a British soldier in 1945. Let me tell you about his father, Mr Cutler and you will understand.”
And he did and Horace Cutler knew that he could save Lance-corporal Edge, but in the process, comprehensively destroy the German policeman, his reputation and his family. Cutler thought it a price well worth paying.
Sennelager Court Martial Centre, Germany, April 1992
Cutler’s first German witness, Edda Schuster had certainly been impressive and had heavily dented the credibility of the Prosecuting Advocate’s case, but she had not landed the killer blow. Cutler was in the horns of a moral dilemma, whether he should use Finegold’s information or not. However, Polizeiobermeister Brauer’s demeanour when giving evidence convinced Cutler to use the nuclear option. He would he decided, rather enjoy it.
“Judge, I am concerned that this case might be fatiguing for the witness. I was hoping to resume after the lunchtime recess.”
The Judge Advocate sighed, “Will this take long, Mr Cutler and if not, ask Herr Brauer if he minds continuing?”
Cutler duly did.
“No, not at all. I’m rather enjoying this.”
Cutler peered at him, “In which case, Herr Brauer, you’d better fasten your seatbelt because this is going to be a bumpy ride.” He didn’t translate this for the benefit of the court.
Cutler opened his briefcase and handed out four folders, one to the Judge Advocate, one to Ms Campbell for the prosecution, one to the German and one to the board.
“Polizeiobermeister Brauer, I’m not going to ask you why you hate English people so much, particularly those in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, because I already know why.
“You are rather proud of your family history are you not? Your father who died heroically at Seelow in 1945, defending the Reich. It must have been so cruel for you as a child of five, to have your father snatched away in the last weeks of the Second World War. At least you have the knowledge that your father died nobly defending the Reich. What was his regiment, Polizeiobermeister Brauer?”
“303rd Infantry Division,” Brauer said, but he looked uncomfortable.
“And his body was never found among the tens of thousands who died on the Heights. Judge, Gentlemen of the Board and Herr Brauer, kindly open your folders and have a look at the top photograph.”
The photograph showed seven German SS Officers standing for a posed photograph, in front of a series of wooden single-story huts. “Herr Brauer, which one of these fine, upstanding specimens of the Master Race is your father?”
“None of them.”
Cutler took off his glasses for dramatic effect, “Really? Are you sure? Let me help you. That officer standing second from the left in the greatcoat is you father isn’t he?”
“He is in fact Untersturmführer Adalhard Günther. Your father and mother registered your birth in 1940 and you were baptised as Clemens Günther. If I can draw the court’s attention to the next document, which is the register of births for March 1940 from Buchholz in der Nordheide. And there you are Herr Brauer, or should I say Günther, fifth name from the top. Thank heavens for German efficiency at record keeping. If your birth had been registered in Hamburg, the records would almost certainly have been destroyed in the bombing, and no one would have been any the wiser.
“You see, your dear old Dad managed to raise quite a bit of interest due to his military service if I could dare to call it that. In fact the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles has quite a file on your father and indeed you and your mother by association. I must thank the Centre for their kind cooperation in this case.
“Your father did not die a heroic death at the Seelow Heights and the furthest east he served was in Belzec Extermination Camp. In fact that photograph with his chums was taken in 1943 at Chlemno Death Camp.”
Cutler paused and looked at Braurer, who now had a noticeable shake, “So why do you hate the English military so much, Herr Günther? Is it because when the British Army liberated Nauengamer Concentration Camp in 1945, a dispatch rider from the Royal Corps of Transport, a Corporal Alfie Mullins was so incensed with what he saw, that he didn’t take kindly to your father trying to pass himself off as one of the inmates? Do you hate them so much because your father tried to remonstrate with a lowly corporal, when he knew the game was up? And that corporal drew his pistol and shot your father through the head, twice for good measure. You hate the British military, particularly the English, because your father was a gutless swine. A mass murderer of women and children. A lowlife Nazi who got his comeuppance from a bloody lowly corporal.”
“Your mother took you north and across the border into Denmark, and a few months after the final surrender of Nazi forces, the pair of you re-crossed the border back into Germany, where you posed as displaced persons with no ID documents. And you became Clemens Brauer. And all would have been well apart from your father’s disgusting war record and the long memory and reach of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.
“Timothy Nowell just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. You thought he was in the military, so you beat him to death. Your life and police career is built on a lie and the bodies of emaciated concentration camp victims. You are a vile piece of ordure and you are not fit to clean the boots of my client, Lance-corporal Edge.”
Cutler almost hurled his pince-nez on the table and without bother to look at her, snapped at Ms Campbell, “Your witness!”
To her credit, she did try to extricate the faeces from out of the fan, but Cutler had eviscerated the main prosecution witness. The mangled phrases from the translator didn’t help and by the end of it, former Polizeiobermeister Brauer was on the verge of a breakdown and the German police observers had left the court. Edge looked as stunned as Brauer.
The court took a late lunch and re-assembled at 14:30 for Edge’s sentencing. Cutler had wisely taken himself off on his own, where he pondered who he was most angry with. The German policeman for his lies and violence, or Ms Campbell prosecuting, for making him destroy the man in court.
Lance-corporal Edge had by his own omission assaulted a German policeman occasioning grievous bodily harm, but the presiding judge and board of officers were in no doubt that Edge had acted in justifiable self-defence. He could not be admonished, so he was sentenced to the minimum of twenty-eight days of military correction and reduced to the ranks. This would have no adverse effect on his future army career and was a calculated insult to the German police.
Cutler asked to see Edge alone before he was taken to the cells for the onward journey to Colchester. They stared awkwardly at each other and Edge smiled.
“Thanks, Mr Cutler. I don’t know how you managed to find out that stuff about Brauer, but I’m grateful. I’ll pay the fees once I leave the glasshouse, but it’ll have to be a bit each month, if that’s OK with you.”
“I’ll phone your mother and let her know what’s happening later today. Edge, I would like you to do me a favour once you get out and re-join your unit.”
“Sure Mr Cutler, anything you want.”
The barrister handed Edge his card, “I would like to hear from you regularly, about how your life is progressing. You can either phone or write, but I want to hear from you?”
“I will, but why?”
“Because I think you’re a remarkable young man, Mark Edge and I think your future will be most interesting. Promise?”
“Yes, I promise, Mr Cutler. And thanks again.”
“Contact your mother as well. Soon as possible. Until we meet again, Mr Edge.”
They shook hands and Edge began his twenty-eight days of incarceration at the Military Correction Facility.
© Blown Periphery 2020
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