2 Friday, November 4, 2011

Finally I have taken the call and had a lot of work to do. What makes a real estate agent all day? Most of the time he is talking to people who after all do not rent an apartment or buy a house, or go to another broker who just has a better property on offer. The trouble is that I never know if I now have a customer in front of me, with whom I have a business, or not. Gustav claims that he knew that, he could find out in the course of a conversation. As for the profession of real estate agents, my father in law is superior to me in many ways. It took a long time, until I had weaned him, always to have the last word, especially when I meant I have found an interesting object. So my job has two sides. A broker seeks buyers and tenants. But you can only get them if you have previously taken the correct objects under contract. In conclusion, it is a constant search. A search for buyers and tenants and the search for suitable objects to be conquered in the market.

Yet on Thursday evening I had to go through half of Hamburg. Gustav was waiting for me. A renovated old building, exclusive apartments. The owner wanted to give everything all in one package to a broker and it should go quickly because the cost had to come back quickly too. It was about eight apartments. Gustav had already five possible buyers, all people of our customer base. But first we had to get the nod. The evening was spent there, I was only at eleven at home. Here I had Bruckner not told the truth about my new life. The reworking of the deal had lasted even the entire Friday morning, with the result that at 13:00 o’clock seven of eight apartments were rented. I do not want to tell you what we have earned. Not to mention such details that is namely a fundamental principle of our profession.

I work until shortly before two o’clock in my office, when I remembered Bruckners visit the previous day. The documents relating to the case were still in the dorm room. Already yesterday a name came into my mind, Dr. Herz, a typical Russian name. Dr. Ivan Herz was moved from Berlin to Hamburg in February. He had taken an ear, nose and throat practice and be joined by his family in May. I had find for him a very nice property in the countryside and could convey him quite favorable. At Dr. Herz now I remember me. I think he was originally from Kazakhstan, also a former member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. His phone number I had even in my mind, the number of his doctor’s office. To my delight I found that Dr. Herz also on Friday afternoon had consultation and he wanted to see me with my concerns. It took me fifteen minutes to get the documents from the student’s room and another fifteen to get to Stellingen. The nurse was already in her jacket. Without further explanation, I was waved through by her immediately. Dr. Herz also cleaned up for the weekend when I walked into his parlor.

»Sit down!«, he greeted me. He handed me so effusive his hand that I thought at first he would hug me. He did not, instead sat opposite to me on the second patient chair.

»Thank you have the time for me so quickly. Like I said I do not want consult you as patient. There is another reason why I want to hear your opinion. My past has caught up me.«

I think I had Dr. Herz says someday from my previous job in America. Now I told him of Bruckner’s visit, the fact that the Hamburg police had asked me for advice in an unexplained death. I used deliberately not the term murder, although Dr. Herz would certainly not surprised. I finally I put the photographs in front of him.

I pointed to the upper arms of the dead man. »What do you think about the scars do you see here?«

Dr. Herz adjusted his glasses, looked focused on the image sections and then looked at me. »Could the pathologist not say that?«

»Yes, but I want it to hear it from you, to confirm it.«

Dr. Herz smiled at me. »You were actually a policeman how I feel.« He leaned again on the photographs. »The stem of a vaccination, both scars. Are well-cured, that is, the patient was vaccinated in childhood.« He looked at me again. »That’s nothing special, no special feature, there are millions of people who wear those scars on the upper arms.«

»Even here in Germany?« Dr. Herz hesitated. »Of course, although an accumulation rather occurs in East Germany for women and men in the forties and fifties.« »East Germany?«, I repeated.

That I had never thought, yesterday, when I had offered my theory with the former Soviet citizens to Bruckner. Dr. Herz refocused on the photographs. He took they in his hand, rose from his chair and walked around his desk. He sat in his leather chair, opened up the lid of his laptop and bent over the keyboard. I had did not notice the computer on the matte black surface of the mahogany desk. »I like to googling something«, he said, while he vigorously hoed with his index fingers into the keys.

I waited, silent, about two or three minutes. I looked around in the consulting room. Most doctors I knew, preferred white furniture or at least that of light wood. Dr. Herz had a preference for mahogany and black. The hacking stopped. The doctor turned the notebook in my direction, so I could see the screen.

»The text is not as important, or you can read Cyrillic letters?«

»I can be a bit Russian, but it is a long time ago.«

He nodded, leaned over the edge of the monitor and typed on a screen.

»Do you recognize this?«

He put one of my photographs beside the notebook. My gaze wandered twice from the photo to the screen, then I was sure that the scars had a certain similarity.

»You are lucky. Because I had such a presumption. Diphtheria! It was a vaccine against diphtheria. The picture below shows the vaccination gun, which is responsible for the characteristic vaccination scar. The SOJET 13 was very common and was used in 1953 to 1979, however, solely for the prevention of diphtheria. But that’s not all. Do you want to hear more?«

»Of course!« I looked at him again and felt that he had enjoyed this little research.

»Well, after what the report say we can not exclude the GDR. Throughout the Eastern Bloc, throughout the former Soviet bloc these vaccinations were performed.«

»How many? «, I asked.

Dr. Herz turned the notebook to be scrolled on the screen and then read the text. »Thirty-five million!«, he said.

»The dead man can therefore also has been a German, a former East German citizen.«

Dr. Herz nodded. »Due to probability he was not a German, because among the thirty-five million patients most were Soviet citizens.«

»But not all«, I said. »I had the idea that the dead man could possibly has been a repatriates.«

»Just myself«, said Dr. Herz and thougt about. »Until you showed me not so much, but it could be that I know the dead man.«

I shook my head. »You’re only suffered this year from Berlin. The man died eight years ago, here in Hamburg.«

»But it would be still possible that I know him. Twenty years ago I was also in Friedland and that for a period of nearly two weeks.«

»Friedland?« At first I did not know what Dr. Herz meant.

»Friedland is a reception camp for refugees. There I met some people. Meet people, talk with people, because we had nothing to do until our cases were solved.«

I nodded and looked in the envelope. I seached for another photograph, but then I let all the content slide on Dr. Herz mahogany desk. He pulled up immediately some of the photographs, but then shook his head.

»I can not say that the man looks like a Russian«, he commented.

»How does a Russian looks like?«, I asked. Dr. Herz glanced to me and laughed. He shook his head again and sorted the photographs.

»So look mugshots.«

»Not all are police photos, most shots, probably show the victim in the pathology.«

I typed in two, three shots. Dr. Herz took one in his hand.

»What’s this?« I looked at the picture. It was the photo of the burn scar. »All of the features of the body are documented«, I explained. »Anything that can be useful for identifying the dead man.« »Yes, yes, I know. What I mean is this form of the scar tissue. Had the man any tattoos else?«

Before I could answer, Dr. Herz searched in the stack of the photographs again. I shook my head. He looked at me.

»Someone wanted to get rid of a tattoo«, he said in an agitated voice. He immediately got up and went to a cupboard. He opened a black mahogany door and slid a finger along the spines of the books that stood on the top shelf board. There were tomes, leather bindings. He found, what he had searched for and he pulled out a rather small book, brought it to the desk and opened it. He flipped concentrated. I held my breath.

»Heraldry is a small hobby of mine«, Dr. Herz said without looking up. »This book I had borrowed one of my patients and have not yet taken it home with me.«

I breathed again and continued to watch as Dr. Herz turned one page after another.

»Here!«, he said. »The double-headed eagle!« He turned the book to me and tapped at a picture. »The Tsarist double-headed eagle, a monarchist symbol«, he explained. »Under communism there were many people who desired the return of the Czar. That there was at any time, even decades after the October Revolution and in every generation.«

While Dr. Herz spoke, I looked at the picture more closely. I knew the Russian double-headed eagle of other representations. He was not drawn as much detail, not so fine. It was rather the outline of the emblem. I took the photograph that Dr. Herz had so excited and looked inside of the right humerus of the dead man. A more detailed analysis could definitely see the blazon in the contours of the burn scar. Dr. Herz watched as I compared the images.

»I’ve seen it often. It was not always advantageous in the Soviet Union to bear the double eagle as skin jewelry. Who wanted get rid of the tattoo, for whatever reason, used a hot iron to remove or to cover it piece by piece.«

»And you think, under the burn scar is such a tattoo?«, I tapped on the book page.

»In medical view the tattoo is no longer below the skin, because the color will be burnt out for the most part. The whole thing is quite painful and of course the scar was sore.«

»What do you guess, how old is this burn scar, how long before his death, the man has the tattoo removed?«

»You mean, if the death of this man has something to do with the imperial double-headed eagle?« Dr. Herz shook his head. »The scar is old. Although I can not palpate the skin, but I would say that the scar was already several years old when this photo was taken. You can also tell that the whole stigmatic surface is uniformly bright.«

»Or the past had reached this man«, I mused. Dr. Herz shrugged. »Who would interfere in tsarist double eagle or to the Russian monarchists in this days and age.«

I could not judge whether Dr. Herz was right in his assessment of the Russian tzarism, but one thing was now in the focus again. The dead man from room number 411 of the hotel Euroham could well be a former Soviet citizen. »May I use your notebook? I would email me the article on diphtheria immunization on my phone.«

Dr. Herz nodded. I took a minute, waited another minute, until the mail with the article arrived on my smartphone. Then I used my telephone nor as a camera and photographed the tzarist double-headed eagle from the book. I collected Bruckner documents. Dr. Herz brought me to the door. The practice was now left. Late Friday afternoon heralded the weekend. As I sat back in my Century Beetle, I had to do one thing. I searched Bruckner business card and tapped his mobile number in my phone. Of course, I did not call him, I had no desire to declarations. I collected the images from the Tsarist double-headed eagle and the Internet link of the soviet diphtheria vaccination campaign and packed everything in an MMS. Bruckner was able to deal with it or not at the weekend.

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