General Leyers Quotes in Beneath a Scarlet Sky
They were all emaciated, filthy, with scraggly beards and long tangled hair. Many of them had vacant, dead eyes and wore ragged gray trousers and tops. There were letters on their chests he couldn’t make out. Manacled, they moved at no better than a shuffle until the guards tore into them, hitting a few with the butts of their rifles. As lorry after lorry emptied, there were soon three hundred of the men, maybe more, moving en masse to the stadium’s north end.
He glanced in the mirror at the general and realized he hated Leyers. He was a Nazi slave driver. He wants Italy destroyed, and then rebuilt in Hitler’s image. He works for Hitler’s architect, for God’s sake.
Part of Pino wanted to find a secluded spot, get out, pull his gun, and kill the man. He would head for the hills, join one of the Garibaldi partisan units. The powerful General Leyers dead and gone. That would be something, wouldn’t it? That would change the war, wouldn’t it? At some level?
“Doing favors,” Leyers said. “They help wondrously over the course of a lifetime. When you have done men favors, when you look out for others so they can prosper, they owe you. With each favor, you become stronger, more supported. It is a law of nature.”
“It would be surprising if you didn’t hate me for what I’ve had to do today. A part of me hates myself. But I have orders. Winter is coming. My country is under siege. Without this food, my people will starve. So here in Italy, and in your eyes, I’m a criminal. Back home, I’ll be an unsung hero. Good. Evil. It’s all a question of perspective, is it not?”
Three little fingers stuck out of a crack on the rear wall of the last cattle car. The fingers seemed to wave at Pino as the train gathered speed. He stared after the train, seeing the fingers in his mind long after he couldn’t see them anymore. His urge was to go after the train and set those people free, get them to safety. Instead, he stood there, defeated, helpless, and fighting the urge to cry at the image of those fingers, which would not fade.
The general opened the rear door and looked in at them, smiling. “Vorarbeiter, tell them my name is Major General Hans Leyers of the Organization Todt. Ask them to repeat that, please.”
“Repeat it, mon général?”
“Yes,” Leyers shot back, irritated. “My name. My rank. The Organization Todt.”
Pino did as he was told, and they each repeated his name, rank, and the Organization Todt, even the little sick girl.
Pino felt chills go through him as Leyers drove them out of San Babila and toward the address Mimo had passed along from the partisan commanders. He had no idea why he was supposed to bring Leyers to that specific address, and he didn’t care. He was no longer in the shadows. He was no longer a spy. He was part of the rebellion now, and it made him feel righteous as he barked directions and turns at the general, who drove stoop shouldered.
Someone put a toy scepter in Mussolini’s hand. Then a woman old enough to have been the crone in Dolly’s apartment building waddled out. She squatted over Il Duce’s mistress and pissed on her face.
Pino was repulsed, but the crowd went feral, sinister, and depraved. People were laughing hysterically, cheering, and feeding on the anarchy. Others began shouting for more desecrations while ropes and chains were being rigged. A woman darted forward with a pistol and put five rounds in Mussolini’s skull, which provoked another round of jeers and catcalls to beat the bodies, to tear the flesh from their bones.
The general looked at him without remorse and added, “If there’s anyone directly responsible for Dolly and Anna’s death, Pino, it’s you.”