| The War That Came Early |
POD: July 20, 1936;
Relevant POD: September 29, 1938
|Appearance(s):|| The Big Switch|
|Type of Appearance:||Direct|
Sofia was a barmaid in Bialystok, Poland. She met German pilot Hans-Ulrich Rudel in 1940 while he was stationed there. Rudel became infatuated with Sofia, and pursued her throughout 1940. Since her father was a Pole while her mother was a Jew, she would have been considered a Mischling first class under the Reich's classification scheme but given that the affair occurred in Poland it didn't endanger Rudel's career the way it would have back in Germany. The reason for Rudel's frequent visits to Bialystok was well known to his fellow pilots, and was the subject of often ribald jokes. It was also known to his commanding officer, though he took no official notice of it.
Marriage with Sofia was, however, clearly out of the question for Rudel - a situation which became troublesome when he increasingly realized that for him it went far beyond a sexual liaison, and that he was deeply in love with Sofia. When transferred from Russia to Belgium, Rudel was cut off from further visiting Sofia and greatly missed her. He realized that Aryan girls - who were far more eligible from the point of view of Nazi race theory - might be attractive, but completely lacked Sofia's sharp sarcastic wit.
Rudel was never completely sure about Sofia's feelings for him. He sometimes suspected (and hoped) she might reciprocate his love - but being a practical, hardheaded woman, fully realized that there was no possible future to their relationship. Whatever the reason, Sofia never answered any of the letters Rudel sent to her.
Sofia's mother had become a Zionist some years before the outbreak of war and went to live in Palestine. Sofia's possibility of communicating with her mother depended on the relations between Poland and Britain. In periods when Britain was at war with Germany it was also in war with Poland, and the possibility of sending a letter from Bialistok to British-ruled Palestine was cut off.