He woke the next morning to the sight of Hans beating a prisoner. There was no reason, probably no wrongdoing. It was just what happened when disgust for the prisoners was too much.
"Twenty-five lashes!" Hans yelled. And as the officer raised the whip, he commanded, "Count them yourself!"
The poor man — he was a Frenchman — obliged.
"Un," he croaked at the first snap of the whip.
"Speak up!" said Hans.
"Stop!" Hans shouted. The officer with the whip blinked, surprised. "Count in German," he ordered. "Start over!"
At the fourth lash, he could only see the whites of the Frenchman's eyes.
"Enough!" he bellowed.
Hans looked up, a wild look in his eyes. For a moment, he could no longer see his brother. Only the murderer, the brainwashed killer.
"Continue," Hans said to the officer with the whip.
The whip reared into the air and came down half-heartedly.
"Count!" his brother screamed.
The Frenchman's lips did not move.
"I said, that is enough," he said, stepping forward and taking his brother's arm. "What did he do?" he whispered in Hans's ear, his voice low and shaking. "What did he ever do to you?"
"He broke rank during the morning roll call," Hans answered, his head held high and his chin jutting out.
He squeezed his brother's arm.
"He ran toward the electric fence," Hans continued. "He tried to escape."
"He tried to kill himself," he hissed.
"It is not allowed," his brother said quietly.
He pushed Hans away from him, bile rising on his tongue.
"What are you looking at?" he yelled at the crowd around them. "Get back to work! You!" He pointed at the officer with the whip, who was bending over the Frenchman. "Take him to the infirmary."
He began to walk away.
He was sick of this place.