It is widely known that the monster, Adolf Hitler, loved his dog, Blondi. Eva Braun, his monster companion, was said to kick Blondi under the table at every opportunity.
These facts about Adolf and Eva are not meant to garner any compassion for the two. Far from it, they were both evil incarnate on a scale never before witnessed on this planet.
On the other hand, Doctor S loved nothing whatsoever – not even his long-suffering family. His love, however meager or bountiful, was only directed at himself. As is often the case with monsters, he was a pathological narcissist.
The British forces shot down many highly-trained German pilots over the cold waters of the English Channel and the North Sea. Even if the pilots survived the crash, acute hypothermia generally claimed their lives within minutes.
Dr. Werner Schreiber saw this as an opportunity to devise an experiment intended to save the lives of German pilots. The results would curry favor with the Nazi government, while the experimental procedures would satisfy the doctor’s sadism.
Experimental subjects were plentiful and had no choice in the matter. The human guinea pigs consisted of Jews, Roma and homosexuals, including men, women and children of all ages.
The experimenters forcibly plunged the test subjects into frigid water, monitoring their core body temperatures. The doctors ignored the cries and misery inflicted on their fellow human beings. These doctors were selected not only for their competency but also their total lack of empathy.
Some of these subjects were brought to the edge of death and were successfully re-warmed. Others were allowed to go beyond the point of resuscitation. The indifferent ogre meticulously recorded the results of the inhumane testing procedures.
At the war’s end, Doctor S was on the short-list of notable scientists brought to the U.S. for his expertise in preventing and treating hypothermia. Due to his abhorrent methods, the results of his research became anathema and taboo here in America.
Public sentiment against Schreiber and his fellow torturers grew in ferocity, and soon he knew that he must flee to the remotest spot he could find in the eastern U.S.
1947, Evil slithers into Pocahontas County.
Schreiber purchased a two-story farmhouse located along the Greenbrier River. The handsome house belied the sinister activities going on within its walls.
The former property owners had placed a sign at the entrance of the long driveway stating, “Welcome Friends and Neighbors.” Ironically, even though the wooden posts had rotted away, the faded sign still leaned against a tree proclaiming its welcome.
Although, as most neighbors would later say, the only visitors welcome were the couriers of the wealthy delivering the carcasses of wild animals from all over the world to be mounted.
Though Doctor S is reprehensible in all respects, much less is known about his family. What his family knew of his crimes against humanity in Nazi Germany is unclear. Some German families, particularly the spouses, had at least an inkling of their activities, and many had a strong allegiance to the Nazi cause.
Lina, Schreiber’s wife, was utterly dominated by her husband; opening her mouth at the wrong time could get her a severe slap across the face, even in public.
The Schreiber’s neighbors had little interaction with the family. Lina rarely spoke, keeping her eyes downcast, particularly in her husband’s company. The entire family spoke fluent English, so their reclusiveness had nothing to do with a language barrier.
Then we have the three children, two daughters and a son, who, according to school records, ranged in age from 12-year-old Bertina to 16-year-old Gisella. Ansel, the painfully shy boy, was 14 and teased by his fellow students for stuttering.
They all came to school regularly bearing bruises, burns and lash marks. Like their mother, they clearly suffered physical abuse at the hands of their ruthless father. Of the doctor’s family members, all were broken in spirit and body with the exception of Gisella.
By all accounts, Gisella had an indomitable personality and did not show either respect or fear of her father. This made her his favorite target, yet she never broke.
Gisella was the first of her family to disappear.
When asked by their teacher about why she was not attending school, Gisella’s terrified siblings refused to say anything about her whereabouts. So, the school superintendent nervously made a cursory visit to the Schreiber household.
Doctor S stopped him at the door, saying that the oldest daughter was visiting relatives in Germany. He added that the superintendent should not be concerned with his family’s business outside school.
The superintendent attempted to look past Schreiber into the interior of the house.
He saw Mrs. Schreiber standing between Bertina and Ansel in the dining room. She had a hand firmly clasped on each of their shoulders, as much for her own support as an attempt to calm the frightened children. All three stood looking at the floor, not uttering a word or even glancing at Doctor S.
“What,” the superintendent thought, “are they so dreadfully afraid of?”
He attempted to muster enough courage to speak directly to Lina, but seeing the menacing glare of the doctor, he turned and left. That evening he told his wife that there was something wrong in that house, something dreadful, something sinister.
Nothing more was done to follow up on Gisella.
Two weeks earlier, on a bitterly cold evening, Schreiber had ordered his oldest daughter to go to the barn and saddle both horses. Lina glanced at Gisella, but if her daughter had concerns about such an unusual request, she didn’t show it.
Instead, she promptly rose from the dinner table and headed for the barn.
The doctor stood up from the table some 20 minutes later and, without saying a word, put on his coat and walked out the door. Lina looked at Gisella’s two frightened younger siblings and took them upstairs to bed with her.
The evil bastard walked straight to the barn and saw that Gisella had finished saddling the horses and was adjusting the stirrups. He quietly walked up behind her and plunged a hypodermic needle into her neck.
The vile doctor guided her immediate collapse onto a hay bale, then lifted Gisella by her belt and ponytail, roughly heaving her over the saddle. After tying her hands and feet together under the belly of the mare, he mounted his horse. Doctor S then rode out of the barn leading the horse carrying his daughter.
He started up a snowy trail along the Greenbrier River for a few miles and suddenly turned his horse up a steep hollow called Rattlesnake Gorge. At a spot where the trail steepened, and the gorge narrowed, he got off his horse and took a few minutes to scout the immediate area.
Dr. Schreiber took out his knife, roughly cutting the rope binding Gisella to the horse. In doing so, he nicked the old mare, who started to panic. He grabbed her reins and brought a truncheon down hard on her nose, the horse’s blood dripping onto Gisella’s unconscious body.
It appeared that the panicked horse might step on Gisella, so the brutish man quickly led her several yards away and pummeled the mare again, causing her to bolt and run back down the gorge.
“Good,” he said aloud, “I don’t want the bitch to die quickly,” meaning, of course, his daughter.
After tying his daughter to a sturdy oak, he placed something on the ground less than a foot from her outstretched legs.
Satisfied that he would never see this bold young woman again, he mounted his horse and rode home. He never looked back.
Gisella came to several hours later.
She was violently shivering and couldn’t stop her teeth from loudly clattering. It took several moments for the fog to clear from her brain before she remembered that she had been in the barn when she suddenly felt a stab of pain in her neck, and everything went black.
She assumed, no, she ‘knew’ that her father had drugged her and his intentions were clear – he wanted her to suffer and die for standing up to him.
Gisella was an intelligent and competent woman; she knew that her priority was to assess her immediate situation.
She recognized that there was little chance she could survive until morning in such temperatures. “At least,” she thought, “The steep walls on both sides of the narrow hollow blocked the wind.”
Gisella resolved to take her mind off the biting cold and focus solely on escaping. Her back was against a tree, so she could only see a portion of the area around her.
Yet, from her vantage, she could see the blanket. She knew that it had been purposely placed just beyond her reach.
Gisella laughed aloud; she didn’t even waste her precious energy attempting to get the blanket. She already knew that her father was as diabolical and evil as a human could be.
Gisella knew that life or death hinged upon getting free. Likewise, true to her spirit, she would try to find a way to survive. And that first step in survival was staying awake.
She first recited poetry to all of the creatures in the deep dark canyon. She began singing a cappella in the forest depths when she ran out of memorized poems.
After an hour or so, her voice gave out. The forest went silent again, and Gisella dozed off.
Dawn had not yet penetrated Rattlesnake Gorge when Gisella was awakened by the sounds of someone or something walking toward her. Her first thought was that it was her father returning to gloat over his daughter’s frozen body.
Gisella thought she was hallucinating from hypothermia when the figure of an older woman with long gray hair down to her waist walked out of the woods. Like an angel, the ancient woman kneeled down beside her and began untying her from the tree.
Stunned and speechless, tears began streaming down Gisella’s face as the older woman gently wrapped the blanket around her. Then, in the sweetest voice Gisella had ever heard, the woman said, “Who are you, dear? Who did this to you?”
Please don’t miss the conclusion in next week’s edition of The Pocahontas Times.