Klaus and Mark by thadeusz
When we were young, we were always together and the people called us "the Tannenberg brothers" because we looked so much alike. In fact Klaus is two years older than me and I am Mark.
We both studies well at school, except that I was very sick during my 10th grade and I nearly died. I recovered but I had to repeat this 10th grade, which put me three years behind Klaus and no longer two. After high school we both studied law.
Klaus started his practice three years before I could do the same. He wanted to look serious, so he let the barber cut his hair relatively short. He immediately specialized as business lawyer. He made rapidly lots of money and spent it fabulously.
I, Mark, the younger one, chose to defend people in need. So I specialized as criminal lawyer. I kept the long hair I had during my studies but I chose to wear glasses, in fact plain glasses, not corrective ones, simply to look more serious despite my young age. I also wanted to look different from Klaus. In fact I did not need these glasses but they me gave me the impression that I was more serious and also older. I worked hard, helped my clients as much as I could, but I never made as much money as my brother.
One day, while I was in court, Klaus was unexpectedly arrested for several serious counts: money laundering, illegal transactions and tax evasion. He was considered as being part of a mafia gang. He was tried and sentenced to 20 years to life. The sentence implied Hard Labour in a High Security prison. My brother was immediately sent to a High Security prison.
I felt sorry for him and studied his court file in order to introduce an appeal. I discovered awful actions, but as a lawyer it was not my role to evaluate them. I also found some flaws in the trial and the sentencing: I hoped to get at least a reduced sentence. So I decided to discuss all that with my brother Klaus. I applied for a visiting permit, as lawyer, and was told that it was OK, but that my visit had to take place on a Sunday because on all the other days Klaus had work for the State.
When I reached the prison, I was searched and told to leave all my potential weapons (among which the guards placed my nail clippers), my watch (I was told that there was a risk that I would give it to a prisoner, which was forbidden) and also all my identification documents in a plastic bag to be kept for me at the gate. That was rather unusual, but the Guards explained me that it was due to the fact that this was a High Security prison. I was then led to a typical room prepared for lawyers when they discuss with clients. The room had a table and two chairs. There was a small window provided with thick bars.
After a few minutes, the Chief Guard, recognizable by the stripes on his sleeves, introduced my poor brother in this room. Klaus was in prison uniform, with a yellow vest, grey pants and a grey prison hat with a number on it: 175483. He was wearing red plastic clogs and he had chains on his ankles. Moreover he was handcuffed with his hands in his back. He had relatively short hair. His number was also printed on his vest. On top of this, he had a dog collar with the same number and a leash attached to it. The Chief Guard was holding the leash. Once inside the room, Klaus stood still in the position of attention, but with his head bent down.
The Chief Guard started to speak to me:
"Sir, can I take the prisoner’s chains off ? He will be more comfortable to discuss with you and since you are his lawyer and you want to discuss his file, you might want him to be sitting at the table."
I agreed, in any case Klaus had not been sentenced for a violent crime. The Chief Guard freed Klaus from his chains and took the leash away, but he added:
"I must leave him his dog collar: that’s a rule of this High Security prison", and turning towards Klaus still in the position of attention, "Prisoner 175483, you are allowed to take off your hat and be seated."
The Chief Guard left then this room to respect the privacy required for discussions between a prisoner and his lawyer.
I started to take Klaus’ trial file out of the leather satchel I was carrying. So doing, I bent down and … I was suddenly brutally hit on the head. According to what I realized later, Klaus had hit me in order to let me lose consciousness and fall on the floor.
When I slowly came to my senses, I first noticed that my glasses were no longer on my nose, which was not important since I did not really need them. I was still dizzy from the shock and I slowly realized that my hands were in my back and that I was handcuffed. I also had chains on my ankles. I finally saw that I was now wearing a prison uniform, and looking more closely at the prison hat left on the table, I realized that the number on it was Klaus’ prisoner number. I was seated on a chair and the Chief Guard was present.
I looked in his direction and said: "The prisoner has knocked me down and taken my clothes. I am his lawyer. The prisoner escaped."
"The lawyer has left," snapped the Chief Guard.
"But I am the lawyer" was my reply.
"No, as of now, you are prisoner 175483, also known as Klaus Tannenberg."
"But I keep telling you that he played a trick on me. He knocked me down."
"Keep silent prisoner, as of now you are prisoner Klaus"
"No, and I can prove it: take my fingerprints, they will prove that I am not your escaped prisoner" "Forget about fingerprints, your brother has taken care of that. YOUR fingerprints are now in prisoner’s 175483 file prison file".
"My long hair will prove that I am not my brother Klaus."
"Well, we are going to take care of that. Stop being a rebel, you cannot escape your fate."
The Chief Guard then got hold of my whole chained body and started to impose his will on me. He placed a strong hand on my head and took possession of me as if I were really a new prisoner. I felt then that I was treated as if I were a mannequin, a doll in a store window. My individual will had no importance any more.
The Chief Guard took clippers and started to shave my head. He did not ask me to bend or turn my head, which I would then still have refused. On the contrary the Chief Guard ignored me as a person and started to push and turn and tilt and bow my head as if it were a doll’s head. The more the Chief Guard kept shaving my head as if it were a puppet’s head, the more I felt reduced to an object, one of the Chief Guard’s belongings. The Chief Guard continued shaving my head. He was neither brisk nor brutal, but the simple fact that he was not speaking to me while manipulating my head with one hand and his clippers with the other, not giving me any instruction, that fact was dreadfully dehumanizing. I felt reduced not only to a mannequin, but moreover to a number, 175483 printed on a vest imposed on me.
Finally the timid lawyer that I was less than one hour ago became a yielding person who finally succumbed to the Chief Guard’s will. I realized that I had lost all control on my head, and moreover on my chained body. I was now completely submitted to the Chief Guard’s will. I knew that it was not right, but I also felt that everything was lost and I let it go.
When the Chief Guard had finished shaving my head and released his hold on me, I automatically bent my head down like an obedient prisoner. The Chief Guard added:
"And now the finishing touch" and he placed on my neck Klaus’ prison dog collar without me formulating any objection. When that was done, the Chief Guard released my hands from the handcuffs and ordered me to pass my hands on my head. I obeyed and could only feel stubbles. I gave back my hands to the Chief Guard who attached them back to the handcuffs without further objection from me. I was morally knocked down.
The Chief Guard told me that I had immediately adopted the good attitude. He told me:
"Keep that attitude if you want to be as comfortable as possible in this prison. Don’t tell anybody who you really are or what happened here. Should you do otherwise, there would be a fight in this prison and you would die in that fight".
The Chief Guard finally decided to speak to me:
"Prisoner, I am going to change the position of your hands. You are going to take this", and he showed a broom in a corner with his right hand, "and clean this mess. And quickly," and he showed the floor where the heap of hair he had cut looked awful.
I stood up and he changed the handcuffs position, placing now my hands in front of me. I started to work as he had ordered, unable to protest anymore. I was more or less paralyzed by the Chief Guard inhumane attitude and I did not know what I could do else than obey. It was not easy to move with chains on my ankles, nor to manipulate the broom with my hands joined by the handcuffed, but I managed to satisfy my tormentor. He then replaced forcibly my hands in my back and attached them via the handcuffs which seemed to be very important for him. I kept my head automatically bent.
The Chief Guard told me to take the position of attention, to stand still with my hands in my back but to keep my head respectfully down. I cannot believe it now, but I obeyed his orders without any discussion: they seemed natural to me since he appeared to be a super human power.
He then explained rapidly how I was, as of now, supposed to behave in the prison, how I was to march in step despite my chains, how I had to address him, the ordinary Guards and most important, the Prison Director. He reminded me that "I" had been sentenced to hard Labor and so he told me how I had to work under his supervision, or that of another Guard.
Finally, he warned me:
"In case of disobedience, the Director can give you Additional Detention Time, called ADT, which you will have to serve before your case can be taken into consideration for probation. In any case, having received ADT will weight against the start of any form of probation."
He then attached a leash to my dog collar, yes "my" dog collar since I had to wear it ! And he said:
"Prisoner Klaus, follow me to your cell."
He started to pull on the leash, slowly since he knew that my legs were hindered because I was shackled, but by so doing he imposed even more on me the fact that he was in a way my master and that I could only follow him like a little obedient dog. I kept my head bent down but tried to look at the prison passages.
We passed numerous cells. All were identical : a small cubicle, with a tiny windows with strong bars at one end and a big grid with very thick bars at the other, in other words they looked to me like cages. I was frightened at the mere idea that I might have to spend one night in one of them, still vaguely hoping that things would be corrected the next day.
Finally we stopped in front of one of these cells. I just had time enough to notice that there were no beds in it, but planks attached by chains to the walls. The Chief Guard opened the cell, took off all my chains and my leash. He then pushed me inside. There, I met my cell companion, Dave, who first said:
"So your brother did it. Well, welcome ‘new’ Klaus"
Dave gave me more explanations about how to behave in the cell, when to open or lower the plank which served as bed, and when to raise it in the morning. He also advised me to take him as example if I wanted to avoid being in trouble.
I told him:
"I feel dehumanized when I am in presence of the Chief Guard," and I explained him why.
He kindly replied:
"That’s because you are young and innocent, not like the former Klaus. Pull yourself together and resist this submission feeling. Anyway, you can make an appeal and then explain what happened."
We sat on the floor, waiting for dinner. Dave told me that a bell would ring and that we had to lower our respective planks at that moment and stand then still next to our "bed" until a guard had inspected us and given the permission to sleep. The inverse process would happen in the morning. He also described what he called an "infamous soup", thick, full of vegetables and little bits of meat.
"It is disgusting," he said, "but I advise you to eat all of it, and the disgusting bread they give us, eat it also. Tomorrow you will need strength to work".
He gave many other details, but suddenly there was a strident sound : evening time had come. Dave immediately started moving, and I imitated him. Dave detached his plank from the wall in order to create a sleeping place and placed correctly the only cover he had. He then stood in the position of attention, without his hat: he told me that the hat was not compulsory inside the cells. I hastily imitated him, anxious to be a good prisoner in order to avoid further punishment. A Guard came, looked at both of us and checked a list. "Klaus" Tannenberg was marked "present and OK" ! The Guard simply said "Lying now, both of you" and went away. I tried to get asleep. The lights went out early since, as Dave had told me, we had to be fresh and rested for the next working day. I tried to discuss more about my appeal with Dave, but he told me in a whisper that speaking after "lights out" was not aloud. In any case, Dave had given me more confidence and more hope because he mentioned my possibility to make an appeal and then claim that I was Mark and not Klaus.
In the beginning, I could not fall asleep: I thought about my new situation and I seriously tried to avoid crying but I was unable to resists completely. Finally I fell asleep. A little bit later (or was it much later, I will never know, the guards had taken my watch at the entrance of the prison), I heard a strident sound. I asked Dave:
"What is this ?"
"Morning bell ! Stand up."
"What time is it ?"
"4 am Klaus, we must get quickly ready so that the convoy of prisoners can leave for work no later than 6 am."
"That leaves us a lot of time."
"Not as much as you think, with the chains, controls and all that. Get ready if you don’t want to be punished on your first day, young Klaus."
"Is it like that everyday."
"Everyday, Sunday included."
Dave showed me quickly how to get washed and dressed in this cell. We folded rapidly our covers and raised our planks. Then each of us stood in the position of attention at the place of the plank. I had chosen to put my prison hat on my head.
Two prisoners passed with food : our morning soup. It was disgusting, but following Dave’s advice I ate all of it, and also the bread that came with it. I knew that I would need strength that day.
Looking at Dave, I went back to the position of attention and stopped talking. I did well. Two Guards arrived in front of our cell. They opened the grid, chained our ankles, handcuffed us in the back and put a leash on our dog collar. Still imitating Dave, I went back to the position of attention, but automatically with my head bent down in sign of obedience. Dave kept his head up, but I did not dare do that.
The Chief Guard came and looked at me. He took off my prison hat and passed slowly his hands on my head. Immediately, I felt submitted to the Chief Guard’s authority. This man then told me:
"There remain some stubbles, prisoner Klaus. Next sunday, I ‘ll give you another good hair shave." While hearing that, I started trembling because I realized that I could no longer resist this man. In his presence I was really tetanized. Since I did not know what to say, I simply nodded with my head and said:
"Thank you, Chief Guard for taking care of me".
The Chief Guard hit me strongly with a stick he had and scolded me for using the word "me".
"Listen prisoner, you are no longer a free human being. Everything you do and everything that will happen to you depends on me. So, use the proper way to speak since you are a prisoner and not a real person. Now, repeat;"
I was again overcome and even dominated, so I humbly said:
"This prisoner humbly thanks you for taking care of him".
The Chief Guard said "Good" and passed again his hands on my head, taking once more possession of the new prisoner that I had become. I realized that the Chief Guard had adopted an attitude which was meant to demean me in order to tame me, but I could not resist. In fact I was tamed. I knew now that even during an appeal I would never be able to feel free enough from the Chief Guard to tell the Court the whole story and I abandoned the idea of making an appeal. I thought about telling the Chief Guard that I was tamed now but I realized that he would consider this as a proof of the contrary, which would require further punishments. I was afraid he would give me some ADT for that.
The lines of prisoners were finally ready and we were told to start to march in step towards the trucks where we had to climb for the transportation. Climbing with your hands in your back is difficult, but the Guards had placed small wooden ladders to be able to pull us with our leash. I was in the same truck as Dave and other prisoners. We were all silent. The trucks started while we remained seated under the supervision of two guards. We soon reached the place where we had to work on this day. The Guards chained me to Dave, my right foot to his left foot, to avoid all attempts to escape. So started my day’s work on a new road.
This is how I started my first day serving my brother’s 20 year sentence.