The SD officer walked over to me and held out his hand palm up. I placed the Luger on his outstretched palm, careful not to let the barrel touch his skin, as I did not want to burn his hand. Nothing was said. Nothing needed to be said.
I quickly walked over to where Sarge was standing. He looked at me and asked “You okay?” It didn't surprise me that he sounded more curious then concerned. I nodded, then told him “I'm Fine."
"I want to you to go with Hans and Dieter and escort the second batch down. You have a watch, right?” Again I nodded. “Hans doesn’t, so make sure you get them moving in exactly fifteen minutes.” We compared times and I reset my watch to match his. He turned and strode off rapidly to catch up with the Lieutenant, who along with the SS officers, was taking the first group.
We stood there. Dieter kept his distance from me and Hans. I think I had freaked him out. Hans was wound up and talking a mile a minute and I really wished he would shut up. Whatever I had just experienced had evaporated faster than Stefan, the company drunk, spent his paycheck on payday.
I had to fight to not keep looking at my watch. Our group stood there waiting their turn while men from the militia assigned to us made our group of Jews keep their hands above their heads.
It was difficult for the older men to stand there like that. One old man I noticed was really struggling, his arms would begin to droop, and then he would force them to rise again. I watched him and in my head saw him as my Jewish butterfly. His arms were fragile wings rising up, and then slowly settling back down. Instead of wind, the fear of a rifle butt to a kidney was propelling them up, and then gravity would pull them down. So I stood there watching him and let my mind wander.
The Jews standing there, hands reaching up in the air like that, reminded me of an American cowboy movie I had seen a few years before. In the movie the line that had stuck with me was when the good cowboy had told the evil rustler to ‘Reach for the sky partner.’ It was kind of amusing thinking about it.