Background: The “Pimpfs” were members of the Nazi organization for young boys, part of the Hitler Youth. This story is a story about Pimpfs in a small village who face challenges but overcome them.
The source: Karlh. Holzhausen, “Karsten’s gewaltiger Ritt,” Der Pimpf, September 1938, pp. 1-6.
Karsten’s Wild Ride
As Farmer Brinkmann opened his garden gate, all the slats fell off. Brinkmann looked things over, and discovered that someone had pulled out all the nails and laid them neatly on a piece of paper. The someone had removed exactly 26 nails.
“The Devil,” grumbled Brinkmann and fetched his hammer. As he hammered the slats back on, he thought about who would do such a thing to him.
Four days later there was a big sign on the garden gate: “Beware of the dog!”
The villagers laughed, since everyone knew that Brinkmann couldn’t stand dogs.
Three days later, after Brinkmann had moved the sign to his barn, a scarecrow appeared in the middle of his yard between two trees. It reached its thin arms threateningly to the window of the room across from it. That was the viewpoint of Mrs. Brinkmann. She passed every spare moment she had there and kept a careful eye on everything that happened on the village street. She was the first to see the scarecrow. She screamed, and found that there was a piece of paper around the scarecrow’s thin neck.
“I know everything and even more,” it said in rough letters, and the face in fact did bear some resemblance to Mrs. Brinkmann’s.
“That’s enough!” Brinkmann said as he pounded on the table. He kept watch every night. And two days later he caught the culprit. Unfortunately, he only got a tattered scarf while the perpetrator leaped over the fence and got away.
“Well, well!” said Brinkmann as he looked at the scarf. It came from a brown shirt.
“That’s what I thought. It’s one of the Pimpfs,” Mrs. Brinkmann said. She didn’t stop talking until the whole village knew that “the Pimpfs” had done it.
But they didn’t seem to know anything about it. They held their gatherings each week at the sports field and the village hall. They marched through the village singing, lead by the troop leader Hannes Wilk. Mr. Brinkmann was standing by the gate as he walked past, with fire in his eyes. He knew Hannes Wilk was a good lad, and waited a few days before he told the boy about the trouble. Hannes knew nothing about it.
“It’s only a stupid prank, but I want to know who did it,” Brinkmann said.
Hannes said he’d look into it. He asked his troop: “Who is responsible for the nonsense at the Brinkmanns?”
The Pimpfs grinned, since they had heard of it, but felt completely innocent. It wasn’t funny for Hannes. He had 32 Pimpfs in the village, and one of them had to know. He asked again. No one confessed.
The village turned against the Pimpfs. Soon everyone knew that the Pimpfs were troublemakers who weren’t willing to admit it. (Mrs. Brinkmann had seen to that). People seemed to have agreed to ignore the lads. When the boys marched passed, the no longer looked or stopped working for a moment to watch. When the Pimpfs came by once a month to collect recyclable material, people wordlessly gave it to them, but no longer gave them an apple or a pear.
A farmer told Hannes: “Once I hung a door on someone’s house. Rather obnoxious of me. The door fell apart. I slunk around for three days and was afraid of being punished. I confessed and took my punishment. Then it was OK and all was back to normal. But you don’t seem to do things that way...” The farmer puffed from his pipe and tipped his hat.
The troop laughed for a week about the people in the village, then it began to bother them. The lads came to Hannes and said things couldn’t go on like that. They hardly seemed to be part of the village any more.
“It’s our own fault,” Hannes replied.
“Hey, one of us did something stupid, and not as a Pimpf, and we’re all being held responsible for it,” Ulrich said.
“That’s not the problem, You are Pimpfs all the time to the farmers. They expect you to be good lads even when not engaged in troop activities. No one expects us to be perfect just because we are Pimpfs. But we can’t be cowards afraid of punishment,” Hannes said.
Klaus shouted: “We’ll beat up whoever did it!”
“We have to win back people’s respect,” Hannes said. “I think we should organize a parents’ evening.”
“A great idea,” some Pimpfs shouted.
“Yeah, but no one will come and We’ll sit in an empty room,” Karl August grumbled.
“They will come! We will announce that the Pimpf who did the stuff to the Brinkmanns will confess,” Hannes said.
“Do you know who it is?”, Ulrich asked.
“Makes no difference. Someone will confess.”
Hannes was sure. He began working with his subordinates on the program. This was going to be a big event!
“OK, we have to get the film about our last summer camp. It will be the high point of the evening,” Hannes Wilk said.
The program was sent to the regional office, and was approved with a few changes. The troop practiced hard. They didn’t tell anyone what would happen, not even their parents. They were happy to hear from the regional office that the film would probably be finished by then, if nothing happened. They needed a film projector. That they could get from the school. Hannes had already spoken to the teacher.
The date was scheduled after the harvest was mostly over. The troop got to work advertising. They made big posters on bright paper that announced the film would be shown for the first time in big letters, and also that the “culprit” who had pulled the pranks on the Brinkmanns would confess. Invitations were delivered to every house, and on the day of the event the troop reminded their parents by marching down the village street.
The excellent advertising had to work.. Although it rained in torrents during the afternoon, the hall filled anyway. But the mood was grim behind the curtain. The film had not come! That would be a problem.
The mailman came late because the rain made the roads muddy and one could hardly get through on a bicycle. Worst of all, he didn’t bring the film.
“What a mess,” Hannes said. The whole evening would be ruined. People would think the Pimpfs had pulled another prank on them. Hannes made a telephone call to the regional office. The film had been mailed yesterday evening, and should be there by now. But it wasn’t! Perhaps it had come with the evening train and was at the station in the neighboring village? Hannes gave a call.
It was there! But how to fetch it? The roads were impassable. No way to get there.
“I will get the film,” said Karsten Taube.
“How? You can’t get there on your bike,” said Hannes.
“I’ll do it. don’t worry about how. You can depend on me,” Karsten replied, and looked so sure that Hannes said OK.
“You have to be back by 9 p.m. The rest of the program will last until then. At 9:10, the one who pulled the pranks on the Brinkmanns will confess, and the film has to start after that. You have a little over an hour.”
“OK,” said Karsten, as he pulled up his collar and headed into the streaming rain. He leaped over the puddles and little streams and was soon home. First he asked his father: “Can I ride the brown horse to the railway station? Our film is there, and one can’t get there with a bike.”
“In this rain? Are you crazy?”
“If we don’t get the film, our whole Pimpf evening will be ruined. You can imagine what will happen.”
His father looked out the window and thought a moment. ““OK, but clean the horse up when you get back.”
“Thanks,” Karsten said, and dashed to the barn to get the horse ready.
“This is serious,” he said as he patted the horse on its neck. Karsten had ridden him often, since he was smaller than the other horses.
Karsten galloped down the watery village street. Those who saw the Pimpf shook their heads.
Karsten let “Max” trot to the top of the hill, then galloped down through the woods and past the carp pond. The rain covered the countryside like a thick fog. Karsten didn’t see the station until he was right in front of it.. It was 8:20! It took forever to find the package with the film. Then Karsten had to sign for it. Finally he could ride off. He could not go as fast now. Max kept slowing down as his hooves sunk into the mud.
Karsten drove the horse on. He kept looking at his watch. It was almost 9:00, and he still wasn’t at the top of the hill. He had promised Hannes that he would be on time. He had to live up to his word! He had to be on time!
He rode down at a gallop into the village, tied the horse outside the door of the hall, and jumped down. The Viking Song was finishing up. Karsten stumbled into the hall and ran to Hannes, who was up by the stage.
“Have you got it? Give it to me! This is great!” Hannes took the package, gave it to a Pimpf, and told him to take it up to the teacher.
“Karsten, you did a great job!”, Hannes said. He put his arm around his shoulder. Water was streaming from him. There wasn’t a dry thread on his body. He had mud all over him.
“Hey, did the Brinkmann prankster confess yet,?” Karsten asked.
“No, but Fritze is making the announcement...”
“Do you know who did it?,” Karsten wanted to know.
“No idea, the coward...”, Hannes said.
“Listen...,” Karsten said.
Hannes kept talking. “Ulrich is going to confess. That will give him a lot of trouble at home.”
“Well, it was me,” Karsten stammered. “I’d better step up to the stage, yes?”
“Stop that nonsense,” Hannes said as he tried to hold back the Pimpf. But the small lad was already up on the stage and stepped in front of the curtain. Fritze had just announced that the “culprit” who had pulled the pranks on the Brinkmanns would confess. Ulrich was ready to step forward. Karsten was already there.
Boos greeted Karsten, who didn’t know what to say. He was still dripping water and his hair was hanging in his face. Hannes was standing next to him. “People want to know why you did it,” he asked.
Karsten was still silent.
“Say something,” Hannes insisted.
Karsten burst out: “Because because Mrs. Brinkmann is always spreading dirt around the village!”
There was a moment of silence. Then the hall filled with laughter. Everyone on the village knew that Mrs. Brinkmann was a “walking newspaper,” though people hadn’t taken her seriously before.
“Bravo Great!,” the Pimpfs yelled.
A fanfare interrupted the noise. Hannes introduced the film, and mentioned that Karsten had fetched it with a wild ride to the train station. The hall darkened. People applauded. Now they saw the three wonderful weeks the Pimpfs had had at summer camp, and were especially pleased when they saw the boys from their village. A number of parents decided their boys would go to the camp next summer.
Pimpf Karsten however went back to the stall in the family barn to wash the brown horse and shine his coat. He met his father. With his growling voice he said:
“If you do something like that with the Brinkmanns again, you’ll get it. But otherwise, well done.”
Karsten was naturally happy with the praise, and stroked the back of the horse.
The troop is in good shape again. Karsten too.
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