Section C

Narrow Escape

My Berlin diary for December 2 was limited to four words.

"Only three more days!"

"December 3: ... The Foreign Office still holding up my passport(护照)and exit visa, which worries me. Did my last broadcast from Berlin tonight."

"Berlin, December 4: Got my passport and official permit(许可)to leave tomorrow. Nothing to do now but pack."

For weeks I had thought over how to get my diaries safely out of Berlin. Sometimes I thought I ought to destroy them before leaving. There was enough in them to get me hanged — if the Gestapo ever discovered them.

The morning I received my passport and exit visa I realized I had less than twenty-four hours to figure out a way of getting my Berlin diaries out. Suddenly, later that morning, the solution became clear. It was a risk, but life in the Third Reich had always been a risk. It was worth a try.

I laid out the diaries in two big steel suitcases I had bought. Over them I placed a number of my broadcast scripts(文字稿), each page of which had been stamped by the military and civilian censors(新闻检查官)as passed for broadcast. On top I put a few General Staff maps I had picked up from friends. Then I phoned the Gestapo Headquarters(总部). I had a couple of suitcases full of my dispatches(电讯稿), broadcasts and notes that I wanted to take out of the country, I told them. As I was flying off early the next day, there would be no time for Gestapo officials at the airport to go over the contents. Would they take a look now, if I brought them over; and if they approved(批准), put a Gestapo seal(封条)on the suitcases so I wouldn't be held up at the airport?

"Bring them over." the official said.

At Gestapo headquarters, the two officials who handled me immediately seized my maps. I apologized. "I had forgotten," I said, "that I had put them in." They had been very valuable to me in reporting the army's great victories. I realized I shouldn't take out General Staff maps.

"What else you've got here?" one of the men said, putting his hand on the pile of papers.

"The texts of my broadcasts," I said, " ... every page, as you can see, stamped for approval by the High Command and two ministries(政府的部)."

Both men studied the censors' stamps. I could see they were impressed. They put their hands in a little deeper, each man now looking into a suitcase. Soon, they would reach the diaries. I now wished I had not come. I felt myself beginning to sweat. I had deliberately(故意地)got myself into this jam. What a fool!

"You reported on the German army?" one of the officials looked up to ask.

"All the way to Paris," I said. "A great army it was, and a great story for me. It will go down in history!"

That settled everything. They put half a dozen Gestapo seals on my suitcases. I tried not to thank them too much. Outside, I called a taxi and drove away. Everything had worked out as I had planned.

The last entry I would ever make in my diary from Hitler's Berlin:

"December 5: It was still dark and a storm was blowing in when I left for the airport this morning..."

At the customs there was literally an army of officials. I opened the two bags with my personal effects, and after looking through them, two officials chalked a sign of approval on them. I noticed they were from the Gestapo. They pointed to the two suitcases full of my diaries.

"Open them up!" One of them thundered in a rude tone.

"I can't," I said. "They're sealed — by the Gestapo."

"Where were those bags sealed?" one of them snapped.

"At Gestapo Headquarters," I said.

This information impressed them. But still they seemed suspicious.

"Just a minute," one said. His colleague picked up the phone at a table behind them. Obviously he was checking. The man hung up, walked over to me, and without a word chalked the two suitcases. I was free at last to get to the ticket counter to check my luggage.

The thought of the German plane delivering my diaries to me safely in Portugal, beyond the reach of the last German official who could seize them, greatly pleased me.

We had survived the Nazi horror(恐怖)and its mindless(无知的)suppression(镇压)of the human spirit. But many others, I felt sadly, sadly had not survived — the Jews above all, but also the Czechs and now the Poles. Even for the great mass of Germans who supported Hitler, I felt a sort of sorrow. They did not seem to realize what the poison of Nazism(纳粹主义)was doing to them.