Wednesday, June 12, 2024

A Car Park over painful history…

Writer Subbarao Gollapudi with son-in-law Abhishek at car park

Handsome, hardworking and yet humble is my son-in-law, Arun Abhishek. He had moved to Germany for employment, ten years ago after completing Masters in automobile engineering. After he married my eldest daughter, Sivani, a visit was always on the cards. Recently, he officially became a ‘German Citizen’. When he revealed it, I quipped, ‘Oh my God, what’ve I done? My daughter married a Nazi!?’

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Writer Subbarao Gollapudi with tour guide Roni

Unlike native Germans, who allegedly, lack a sense of humor unlike human brethren in rest of the world, he laughed. Last fortnight I visited Germany. In many ways this trip was special because I intended to spend more time with them apart from exploring the beautiful countryside in late summer.

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Germany’s, is an incredible story of how a nation that got pulverized in World War II, rebuilt from the ruins by sheer perseverance, extraordinary skill in engineering and technology. It made giant strides in the automobile industry, outshining other nations. Today, it is the world’s automobile manufacturing hub. Ironically, nations like USA, Russia, England that pummeled them in 1945, have fallen behind. Vehicles zipping away on magnificent autobahns with practically no speed limit are perhaps a testimony to their prosperity and success.

Hitler’s wife Eva Braun and dog Blondi

Sivani, who’s also employed, and Abhishek stay glued to their respective computer screens from Monday to Friday, oblivious of the world around them. On one weekend they drove me to Berlin, the seat of Germany’s power as also the ‘ground zero’ of its 20th Century’s turbulent history. Three of us joined a walking tour starting at the Brandenburg Gate in the heart of bustling Berlin metropolis. The tour guide, a young woman, Roni, described the tumultuous days towards the end of World War II. After a walk, through the imposing Holocaust memorial, everyone looked overwhelmed. Like others my heart was filled with profound sadness. Sensing the despondent mood of the participants, Roni declared, ‘hold on to your emotions, we’re going to a significant place next, she said, ‘follow me.’ We walked behind her in silence.

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Hitler in his final days

‘‘This is it folks…’ she said standing in the middle of a sprawling Car Park. Vast vacant land rather wasted expensive real estate, I thought. Only a few cars were parked!

‘Friends, approximately hundred feet below this car park, once upon a time lay Adolf Hitler’s fortified bunker. On 30th April 1945, after it became clear that Germany would lose the Battle of Berlin, he and his wife-for-a-day, Eva Braun, killed themselves by taking cyanide. Hitler, for good measure shot himself on the head, to ensure certainty. When it came to choosing death – be it for others or his own, he never faltered and made it sure! To check the effectiveness of cyanide he first tried it on his dog Blondi, who died instantaneously’ Roni concluded grimly.

There was a stunned silence. We needed time to absorb the impact of Roni’s description.

What an end to an infamous dictator who harbored grand illusions of conquering the world?!? In a sense, a befitting epitaph for a tyrant, a megalomaniac who caused death to a million Jews including children. Really? A Car Park?!?

‘Look, we are sorry for whatever happened’ Roni said somewhat apologetically, ‘we can’t do anything about it. We would like to erase the painful past and move on’ she stated and paused.

 ‘By the way, we don’t like Nazi jokes. They aren’t funny… So please… Also, while you’re in Germany, don’t utter the word ‘Hitler’, it’s not funny too…’ she added with a wry subtle,nonetheless, chilling finality.

Dankeshön’ she said that meant, ‘Thank you so much.’

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G.V. Subba Rao
G.V. Subba Rao
G.V. Subba Rao is an MA, MPhil in English who is a novelist. Son of late Gollapudi Maruti Rao, he is Managing Director of Srinivas Theatres Pvt. Ltd., Chennai.


  1. It’s really very touching narration. Started as personal note and continued with factuality. This small narration takes to painful era which not only Germans , whole world feel hurt. It’s very hard reality that they couldn’t construct anything on that place. Excellent story.

  2. Your article, The Car Park was so vivid, it felt as though I was taking the walk listening to the articulate but apologetic voice of the tour guide.
    Hats off, you were able to write using simple words which a 6th grader would find easy to understand. There in lies the greatness of a writer. Kudos expecting more creations from you.

  3. Germany , a 100 feet above the painful past ,has indeed grown for a glorious present. Giving your daughter to live and grow a family in this soil is a testimony to that.
    I enjoyed the read !

  4. Good afternoon my sincere well wisher, elite friend Subba Rao Sir !
    Life is all about experiences. And unlike material things, experiences stay with us no matter where we go. It is heartening to note that you have  put a value on the things that you have seen,felt during your trip to Germany!
    For all of us who embark on a tour,purpose is important to our well-being, as it’s from those experiences in life that we learn and grow. Pursuing what we love brings us invaluable life lessons about ourselves and the world around us.
    Your  short sweet  tour and stay at your precious daughter’ s abode at  Germany and  your trip to Berlin – the good old city of turbulence and historical importance  and  the various places you covered on foot  which you  termed it as a ” walking tour” gives us the thrilling  experience of  touring  every heritage site that you visited  as though we were also  part of your entourage – on one side  ,if  the monument of peace and unity ‘ Brandenburgh Gate’ , The ”  holocaust monument which makes our heart heavier filled with morose last but not the least ,the sprawling  car park which has a  macabre past 100 feet beneath it  which houses the bunker of that despicable human monster , to   mention the name of that  inhuman  tyrant who  was living there itself is a taboo now – made us pensive and curious also  and on the other side the way you narrated with glee ,the warmth with which your daughter and son in law ‘ the made for each other – Abhishek- Sivani smart  couple”‘ received and treated you royally made us enjoy your awesome anecdotes  .it is evident that you  had a jolly good time with that young couple  who played a great host ; yoir write up  shows it all ;   your deep   affection  for them and your parental pride !  Everything has been sketched beautifully ! Your travelogue shows your flair for writing! The style is simple ,straight and entertaining too as it is laced with humour  !
    It is absorbing ; thoroughly enjoyed reading it !
    Hats off,  my best wishes to  you & your family – more so to your first daughter & son-in-law – the wonderful couple!
    God bless you all
    ( Appa Ramesh )


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