HITLER... LOOKED MORE STEELY AND DETERMINED THAN MANIACAL.
“Let me see your papers.”
Dina extended her identification with quivering hands. Hitler’s rants echoed and re-echoed in her mind as she sized up the fierceness of the guard’s face. Dina’s insides clenched at the thought of her brother being held prisoner by these monsters. He returned her documents with not so much as a word. Dina assumed this was her cue to advance toward the door.
The visitation line had dwindled, and Dina was next to approach the sign-in desk. She introduced herself to the warden—he was logging everyone who came and went.
“I’m here to see my brother, Arturo Meneguzzi.” Dina’s jaw clenched, and despite all efforts to conceal her deep loathing, her eyes could not hide their contempt. “He was arrested in Mussons and brought in for questioning a few weeks ago.”
The warden ignored Dina’s request, keeping his attention on his paperwork. “Wait over there.” He motioned her over to the far wall—it was cracked, covered with peeling army green paint, and streaked with water stains—a row of hard upright metal chairs lined the narrow hallway. The prison smelled of stale air, cigarette smoke, and the stench of the Nazis, and all they represented.
Dina clutched her purse tightly against her chest and eased herself down into the seat—it felt cold against her bare legs. Her knees bounced, and her fingers twitched. An uncontrollable dread flooded every part of her body. Her senses were acute and mortified. She could hear weeping from behind the detention rooms and German voices rising in anger. Dina watched as a stream of Gestapo and SS officers traipsed the corridor—their shoulders squared, jaws rigid, and gait stiff as though they could barrel through anything or anyone. Like dark clouds, they blocked the afternoon light that beamed down through the high windows. The sun may have been warm, but Dina was chilled to the bone as she observed the Germans’ faces. Each of them shared the same cast-iron, immovable expression.
Straight ahead of Dina hung a photo of Hitler—who looked more steely and determined than maniacal. Bile instantly rose in her throat. Just as she shuffled away from its invasive view, the warden called out to her.
“You! Come here.”