Dangerous Territory

BY : Rhov
Category: +. to F > Attack on Titan /Shingeki No Kyojin
Dragon prints: 672
Disclaimer: I do not own “Shingeki no Kyojin” and do not make money from this fanfic.

Trigger Warning: This story contains graphic violence, homophobic and antisemitic language; racial discrimination, portrayals of the Holocaust, including scenes of war, death, interrogation, torture, dehumanization, sexual assault, executions, and basically every horrific thing you can imagine from a story involving Nazis. If you are sensitive to any of these, proceed with caution, or turn away now.


DANGEROUS TERRITORY

a Shingeki no Kyojin fanfic

by Rhov Anion

 

Chapter 1

The German and the Jew

 

France was not how Eren Jäger thought it would be. He was sure this town must have been beautiful once, a thriving rustic village, horses clopping down the cobbled roads, vendors shouting out their wares, lovers sneaking kisses as they strolled arm in arm, children running down the street playing games whilst mothers shouted at them to be careful, grandfathers smoking pipes and reminiscing about the previous century, and little girls perched on sidewalk edges talking to their dolls.

He knew that must have been how it was, because he saw the evidence, the abandoned fruit stands now pilfered and crumbling, an old pipe molding in a damp gutter, and a doll that survived the bombing with her porcelain face merely muddied.

He stepped cautiously through the mess. He had lost track of how many days the Germans had bombed this town, a known hive of the French Resistance. Eren thought it was a shame. Only a handful of rebels, and the result was the devastation of a whole town. He hoped the townsfolk were able to flee safely. War was for those who volunteered to fight, not for civilians.

He personally hated that war could not belong purely to soldiers, testing might against might, like the old days. Now, civilians paid the price as well. He had seen the news, the Blitz on London, Allies bombing French cities to destroy rails in order to thwart the Germans, civilian targets, no true military advantage besides demoralization. He disagreed with it, but it was not his place to speak out. He did as he was told, ordered his platoon to do their duties, and got them through this war alive. That was enough.

“Jäger,” his companion whispered, and Jean Kirschtein nodded over to a building.

Eren gave a hand signal to the rest of the troop to stop. He trusted Jean’s instincts, and if that man said there was someone in the building, Eren was not going to take chances. He readied his MP40 and crept forward across charred wood, busted bricks, and shattered glass.

It was dark inside the house, and he paused to let his eyes adjust. He listened instead. The low moan of settling debris was suddenly interrupted by a sniff. Eren’s rifle pointed straight toward it. Not an enemy soldier, he decided. A soldier would not make such a novice mistake. When he heard a soft shush from a woman, he realized these were civilians.

How the hell had any survived, and why would they even stay around?

Eren saw a shadow move behind a closed door, and he took a defensive position behind a wall. He heard a soldier creeping up to the front entrance, and he whistled a signal for them not to approach. There was a chance they were armed French Resistance fighters, but there was also a good chance it was some child left behind, lost and scared, and a jittery soldier might shoot an innocent civilian on accident.

Herauskommen,” he called out toward the shut door. “Die Stadt hat sich ergeben.” Come out. The town has surrendered.

He knew it was probably useless. This was northern France, and he doubted the citizens spoke German. If only they were so lucky! Their company had been without a translator for over a week.

He called out again, “Ich nähere mich.” I’m approaching.

He kept low, just in case. He crept close to the ground until he was right in front of the door. He knocked with the tip of his rifle.

Ich werde die Tür öffnen.” I’m going to open the door.

Slowly, he turned the handle and heard scuffling behind it. As soon as it was wide enough, a knife shot out. Eren caught the hand and slammed it against the door jamb. He heard a man cry out, and the knife dropped. Eren saw another hand, same shirt, reach for the fallen blade. Was the attacker going to fight left-handed? Before he had a chance, Eren kicked the knife aside.

“Halt!” he commanded. Just then, Jean ran in, but Eren lifted a hand to hold him back.

Haben Sie ein Problem?” asked Jean. Are you having a problem?

Eren shook his head. “Sie sind Zivilisten.” They are civilians.

Französischer Widerstand?” French Resistance?

Eren was not sure, but a mere knife seemed petty for someone trying to take a stand against the occupying German forces. He pushed open the door. There, hunched over and clutching a book, was a tiny man. Eren almost thought this person was a child, but the narrow eyes were older, perhaps over thirty years of age, filled with wisdom and stubbornness that only came with time.

Wer bist du?” he asked quietly. Who are you? The man just stared. Eren tried again in French: “Qui êtes-vous?” The small man’s eyes widened in acknowledgement. “Êtes-vous Français?” Do you speak French?

Oui,” the man said suspiciously.

Verdammt,” Eren cursed, rolling his eyes. “Parlez … vous … allemand?” Do you speak German?

Non, je ne parle pas ta langue.” No, I do not speak your language.

Scheiße! Ich habe Pech.” Shit! I have bad luck. Eren wanted to curse more, but he had one more thing to try. “Do you speak English?”

The small man blinked in honest surprise. “I … y-yes. I speak it a little.”

It was a start. Eren knew only about ten phrases in French, and he had just used up three of them. “What is your name?” he asked in English with a strong German accent.

“My name … it is … Rivaille. Rivaille Martin.”

Rivaille. A French name, and Martin was the most common French surname. His accent was correct as far as Eren could tell. Not a British spy, probably not American, although Eren had never met an American and did not know how they sounded.

“Are you a member of the French Resistance?”

“No! I swear, I’m not.”

Eren looked down at the book pressed against the man’s bosom. “What is that?”

The tiny man clutched it tighter. Eren marched in, his military boots clomping over debris, and yanked the book out of his hands.

“Please, that book is everything to me,” the man yelled, but Eren’s boot kept him from surging forward.

Eren thumbed through the pages, and a furrow creased his brow.

“It’s just the Bible,” the man protested. “What the English call The Old Testament. Surely it’s not illegal to own a Bible.”

“It is, when it’s in Hebrew,” Eren muttered, and he looked down at the man again. “You’re Jewish. What is your real name?”

He hesitated, and Eren saw he was weighing the advantages of lying. By the deep furrow in his brow, this small man obviously realized it was useless.

“Levi Ackerman,” he admitted.

Levi. That was about as Jewish of a name as a person could have, and Ackerman was also of Jewish roots. Eren eyed the group huddling behind this man. “Are all these people Jewish?”

“Please,” the man whispered. “They’ve been through so much. At least let the women go. A few more kilometers and we will be in Belgium.”

Eren’s forehead pinched between the brows. “Do you really think I can let you leave? The town is surrounded by Germans.”

“Please,” he begged. “We are not hurting anyone. We are not members of the Resistance. They were just helping us to get out of France.”

Eren shrugged. “They failed.”

The man scowled defiantly, but Eren saw the fear in his eyes. The German soldier looked at the holy book, then at the small man.

“I will keep the book safe for now,” he said, and he shoved it into his satchel. “But I cannot let you go. I’m sorry.” He grabbed the man by his black hair and yanked him out of the room. He looked over to Jean. “Holt die restlichen Juden aus dem Haus.” Get the rest of the Jews out of the house.

Jean sneered. “Juden!

Schießt nicht auf sie,” Eren ordered sternly. Don’t shoot them.

Jean countered, “Sag ihnen, dass sie sich nicht widersetzen sollen, sonst schieße ich.” Tell them don’t resist, or I will shoot.

Eren looked down at Levi. “Translate this to them: Do not resist. Exit the house peacefully. I will try to keep all of you alive, but we will shoot anyone who resists.”

Levi’s brow furrowed again. “Keep us alive?”

“If I can,” Eren said solemnly. “You’re Jews, but you’re civilians. I don’t believe in killing civilians.”

Levi looked back around to the hiding group and spoke to them in French. Eren watched their gaunt faces and hoped they would obey. Then he pulled Levi along and out of the house. The scrawny man shielded his eyes at the sunlight gleaming through skimming spring clouds, and Eren wondered how long he had been hiding indoors. By his smell, perhaps longer than the five days of bombing.

Herr Hauptmann!” Eren shouted to a tall German captain.

A stony-faced man with sunken eyes and gaunt cheeks came forward. Eren saluted with one hand while keeping Levi in a tight grip with the other.

Hauptmann Woermann. Ich hab‘ eine Gruppe Juden gefunden.” Captain Woermann. I found a group of Jews.

Juden? Wie widerlich!” Jews? How disgusting! The man spat at Levi’s feet. “Verschwende nicht unsere Zeit, Jäger. Töte ihn. Brenn das gesamte Haus nieder.” Do not waste our time, Jäger. Kill him. Burn the whole house down.

Herr Hauptmann,” Eren said quickly. He pulled the commander away and lowered his voice. “Our camp has been low on help. We could use these Jews as servants.”

“They are filthy beasts who would destroy Germany,” the captain sneered, and Levi snarled back at him. “It’s best to kill all Jews.” He pulled out his own gun and aimed it at Levi.

Herr Hauptmann,” Eren said louder. “We really could use the help, especially with the latrines. None of the soldiers want to help with that.”

“Cleaning up shit? Appropriate job for people lower than shit.” Kitz put his gun away. “A waste of a bullet, anyway. Find the others hiding in there. Yank them all out. If they struggle too much, shoot them. Jäger, you are in charge of these mongrels. If they act up, you get to pick an appropriate punishment.”

Jawohl, Herr Hauptmann,” the young man said, saluting stiffly. He turned back to his platoon. “Kirschtein, wir werden die Juden mit uns zurückbringen. Ich werde einen Platz für sie arrangieren.” Kirschtein, we will bring the Jews back with us. I will arrange a room for them.

He pulled Levi along back to their camp. Reluctantly, the man followed.

“You won’t be killed, but you will have to work,” Eren explained in English.

“Why did you do that?” Levi asked quietly.

“I had to. It is my duty to report to my captain about your group,” Eren said coldly. “My platoon already had your building surrounded. I couldn’t let you go free.”

“I mean letting me live. I don’t know what you said to him, but he was going to kill me. Why did you stop him?”

Eren stared ahead sternly. “Again, I had to.”

Behind them, they heard shouting followed by two gunshots. Levi turned around in horror, but Eren pulled him along.

“Do not make this any harder, please,” he whispered. “You’re alive. Stay alive. Do anything at all to stay alive in this world. Bury your emotions, change who you are, even change your religion if you have to. Just stay alive.”

“Changing my religion will not change the fact that I was born as a Jew,” Levi said softly. “I’m damned either way. Yiddisher mazel.”

Eren looked over in confusion. “What does that mean?”

“Yiddish luck. Bad luck,” Levi muttered. “It’s the only luck we Jews have. Yiddisher mazel.”

“Well, you’re lucky you were found by me and not one of the others,” Eren said with a grin.

Levi’s eyes narrowed, and he growled out, “Ess drek und shtarbn, takhshet.” Eat shit and die, brat.

Eren chuckled wryly. “I won’t bother asking for a translation. I know when I’ve been cussed out.”

Enculé!” Levi sneered in French instead. Fuck off!

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I will be using proper German military ranks, which include “Hauptmann” (captain) andLeutnant(lieutenant). “Herr” is a polite way of addressing a person, like Mister or Sir. So Eren will often be addressed as Herr Leutnant.

Many English translations misspell Eren's last name as "Jaeger"—or worse, "Yeager." (Why?!) In the German and French translations, it's spelled properly: "Eren Jäger." It's common for English translators to respell Germanic words to sound more English-y. The German "J" sounds like an English "Y" and since umlauts are not on English keyboards, they're replaced with weird vowel combinations ("ä" becomes "ae"). I may be a native English speaker, but umlauts don't scare me, and I respect the German language enough to SPELL IT RIGHT. Jäger means Hunter in German, and Eren is a German soldier in this story, so I will be spelling his name properly dammit. It's Eren Jäger, not Jaeger, and sure as hell not Yeager. (YUCK!)

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Disclaimers, Thanks, and Legal Stuff:

I do not own "Shingeki no Kyojin" and do not make money from this fanfic.

The claims, actions, and propaganda expressed in this story DO NOT reflect the opinions of the author. This is a work of fiction, but parts are inspired by real historical events, people, and locations.

I am not Jewish; my husband is. His grandmother escaped the Russian pogroms and came to America as a child refugee. My husband grew up attending shul, and since his grandmother spoke Yiddish, he picked up a few phrases. Because he's "not exactly kosher" (as he puts it) I may get details wrong. I gladly appreciate corrections.

A huge thanks to my translators. For the French, Doublepasse was utterly brilliant, even taking the grammar of the time period into account. For German, Chiyala has been incredible tackling some vulgar and antisemitic phrases with professional comportment. For the Yiddish, I turned to my husband. Thank you all.



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