In the fall of 1943 a young American parachuted into France. The son of the chief executive of an American corporation doing business in France, he had been born and raised in Paris. His French mother had insisted he be educated in French schools before attending an American university. And so Steve Rodgers (not his real name) was completely bilingual and bicultural.

He was also bisexual with a basic preference for men. The British trained him in sabotage and hand-to-hand combat, including a number of ways to kill a person without using a knife or firearm. They sent him to France to gather intelligence on German positions. He made contact with the Resistance and was taken to a safe house where he was given the necessary papers and began work with his unit.

All went as planned until one day at a café a tall, handsome and cultivated German officer involved him in a conversation. Steve knew immediately that it was a homosexual approach. He told the officer that he would return to the café the following day.

Three days later, Steve Rodgers and Hugo von Eckstadt, a major in the Gestapo, were lovers. When Tom told his Resistance comrades the name of the officer they were horrified. It was von Eckstadt's unit that tracked down members of the Paris Resistance. Von Eckstadt had been responsible for a number of arrests and participated in the torture. Steve was ordered to break off the relationship at once. An icy anger chilled Steve's blood. Disobeying orders, he met von Eckstadt at their favorite café and made a date to spend the night with the officer, inviting him to his apartment.

Before the German arrived, Steve got an ice pick from the kitchen and plunged it into the right side of the mattress under the headboard of his bed. He checked to make sure the ice pick was not visible and then put a pillow over it. He made sure he got into bed before von Eckstadt so he was lying on the right side. Early in the morning, the German officer breathing heavily beside him in a deep sleep, Steve slowly retrieved the ice pick. Carefully, he shifted his position so that he faced von Eckstadt who was curled up on the left side, his back to him. Just below the hairline, at the top of the spinal column, Steve could see a white spot on von Eckstadt's neck. With all his might he plunged the ice pick into his neck and downward into his body. Von Eckstadt grunted but never moved.

The next day he told his comrades what he had done. That night he spent a lonely vigil with the corpse until the next morning a Resistance squad arrived to dispose of the German officer. Said Steve:

"I had the feeling of unreality [when I killed him], as though I were spectator and a participant, at the same time, in a horror movie. [After that] I became a skilled executioner. I suppose some might call me an assassin, but I never thought of myself in that role. I made few judgments on whom to kill, nor did I profit from the killings. I was given the name of a sadistic Nazi or a French traitor and told that the committee had decided that he must be killed. And I killed. Sometimes with an ice pick --- it is a silent, swift killer --- sometimes with my hands, with a [special] jab to the heart or a stranglehold. My hands are strong. I never used a gun or a grenade. I did not trust them as weapons and I felt they would expose me to danger. I killed in private, quietly.

"The biggest problem and the greatest danger was not the killing itself. It was the disposal of the body. I worked with a team of young men, powerful men. They could pick up a body like a loaf of bread and all but tuck it under their arms, wrapped in sacking, or stuffed into an empty steamer trunk or a wooden crate. They'd pick it up early in the morning, in a panel van, with the name of a freight company painted on. We were never caught, never even suspected. [I performed] almost twenty executions in a two-year span until the Allied landings.

"Unusual? Yes, I suppose so, for one man. But not at all unusual for the Resistance. I think that every group and movement had its executioners."

--- From Voices in the Dark
William Patrick Patterson
©2000, Arete Communications

Go Up     Subscribe     Go Home

Go to the most recent RALPH