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Heritage

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Paris, July 2... 1945

Shaken, Darius once again focused on Wilhelm.

"Even my name," the youth murmured. 'My first name, Wilhelm. I had the same name as my mother's father.
But I had been named after German kings, rulers who had built an empire. My last name, Friedrich, was after
a great Prussian general king who had made his country strong and proud.

"I had been named after warriors, kings and emperors. My grandfather would say that every time someone
spoke my name, it would remind me of the people I came from and what they were capable of.

"I thought of myself as having two countries. I had been born in Austria, but I considered myself German as well.
I came from two great countries and I had two great heritages. 'Remember, Wilhelm,' both of my families told me,
'you carry the blood of Austria and Germany in your veins. On both sides you come from a great people.
Always remember that and conduct yourself with pride.'"

Wilhelm stopped abruptly and then leaned forward, his whole body shaking violently. Darius quickly went to him
and firmly enveloped him in his arms.

When Wilhelm had finally calmed, he was quiet for several minutes before his gaze fastened on Darius's face.
"My mother's family always spoke of my heritage as an Austrian. Austria: historic, proud, influential, educated,
artistic, and cultured.

"My father's family always spoke of my heritage as a German. Germany: cultured, intellectual, enlightened, brilliant,
organized, disciplined, efficient, proud, powerful, determined and ambitious."

Wilhelm began to tremble again, and his voice grew ever more hollow. "My family always spoke of my heritage,
Father Darius. And I was so proud of it. I was so proud to be both Austrian and German."

Tears slowly filled his eyes and began to roll down his cheeks, and when he spoke next his voice was an icy,
barely audible whisper. "I don't think much of my heritage now, Father Darius. And I don't think I can be proud
of being Austrian or German...ever again."

Darius tightly squeezed Wilhelm's hand; wordlessly looking down at the numbers tattooed on the young man's left arm.

The End