"my generals know nothing about the economic aspects of war." ( Hitler )
In 1941, during the fleeting months between the summer and winter
-because autumn is just a myth-
there is no rise in the prices of wool in Germany.
In one of the streets outside Berlin, in countryside that is so obscure that it does not even have a name, a file is transferred from a man whose eartips are a bright fuschia to a woman with a run in her stockings. Three days later, the file is dropped carelessly from Josef’s hands, displacing a miniature of the Kremlin that plummets to the ground, but like the Soviet people, does not break.
‘There will be no attack, then,’ he says calmly, which is why he is silent when news of it comes.
Over the telephone:
‘The Germans have crossed our borders- what shall we do?’ The question choking into silence, rendered meaningless by the lack of response. The question mark begs continuation. ‘Comrade Stalin?’
Three days and three nights he contemplates. Black and white, a perfect dichotomy without spaces in between to slide doubt. Now, as it is many times in life, a simple choice: to ascribe to his enemy idiocy or bravery. In the end, he reaches his decision and the truth. It makes little difference. It simply is.
He opens his doors, walking out smiling like a messiah.
The razor cuts the skin of a sheep on a farm near Dusseldorf, blood running into the white foamy wool and eliciting a curse from the shearer. It’s tossed on the already mounting pile gathering like dusty snow in the corner. The supervisor stretches the reddened wool between his fingers and considers throwing it out. His lips curl into a macabre smile and he throws the skein back on the heap.
It’s scrubbed and scourged and stretched and dipped- in a vat of dye so cerulean that it could have painted the sky- and finally spun into a shawl that slips from fingers and snaps in the air. It provides a dashing accoutrement to the richest of winter ball-gowns, held to glazed white shoulders with the sharp pinprick of a silver brooch. It’s spoiled only by the stain of red wine that Katrin’s uniformed fiance spills when he’s raising his polished glass to Deutschland and Adolf Hitler.
They make love desperately because he’s leaving when the train comes in and there is no aphrodisiac like tragedy. He draws the shawl around her shoulders afterwards, twisting his fingers into it’s softness her softness--
The softness of Russian snow freezing him a month later, his teeth clicking together in a morse code of suffering.
General Von Paulus writes desperate requests to Headquarters asking for winter uniforms made of wool, and in Berlin there is another farewell party and this time Katrin is wearing a new shawl spun in pink so delicate it’s worthy of Boticelli’s palette.
AN: It goes without saying that this is a very, very simplistic historical view, but nonetheless is posited as one of the reasons Stalin did not expect a German offensive.