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Helen Rodak-Izso

The Last Chance to Remember



Chapter 18. THE LAST MARCH

One Saturday evening finally the day arrived. No special explanation was given, but there was even more rushing than at other times. The air was full of electricity and we all had the feeling that something was going to happen. Air raids came more often and one night some of the long awaited bombs hit the second barrack just behind ours. Luckily nobody was in it at the time, but the instructions were issued right away and in a hurry. There was no time for serious preparations, some little food was distributed and a roll call was the next order. During these exciting hours we had to be ready for any surprises and directions. Now we had to wait for further orders. Everybody was running back and forth and it was evident that some big plans were discussed while we were waiting and standing appell. After another roll call came the harsh order for a line-up and to be prepared to leave any minute, at any time.

We left Glowen. With heavy hearts we started another long journey into the unknown. This one lasted three long weeks, laboriously walking day and night. Step by step we tried to keep pace with each other, never daring to hope we could get out alive from this chaos. Our guards were still with us, although some very suddenly changed their uniform for civilian clothes. Hope and fear were constantly with us. Since we were working on different commandos (working groups) we all knew that the road which we just started on was full of danger. Underground and on both sides the bushes and trees were covered with hidden, very dangerous material.

The road was beautifully asphalted pavement and the march went on seriously, very quietly, nobody talked. We didn't need any warning not to talk. We didn't utter a word, just walked and didn't dare to look at either side, because the briar bushes were on fire already. The bible story came to my mind with the burning bush. We walked among the burning rose bushes and the bombs were coming down, falling and soon everything was engulfed in flames and we were in the middle of all this, just walking, going on. This was really one of those most unforgettable experiences, miracles, how did we escape this part unhurt. I will never understand how we were not hit! This was supposed to be the last chapter or the beginning of the last chapter of our odyssey.

We were in constant danger, with air raids and hunger escorting us everywhere. If the air raids came too close, we had to hide in the ditches as deep as possible, and lie on our stomachs. Of course, hunger was the worst thing. There was no hope or place from which we could hope to get something to eat.

If we found something, fine, if not, the grass was still there. Hunger is a big master we discovered again and again. We discovered with great satisfaction that some of our guards wore civilian clothing and didn't have such a big voice right now. The road was full of people, civilians and all kinds, like ourselves, families with children, with old people trying to save themselves and some of their belongings. So we just followed everybody else. It seemed like the whole world was on the road.

People went in every direction, so it happened sometimes that the road was quite clear for a while. We just walked breathlessly. It was obvious what danger we were in. The sirens and bombings never stopped. They were escorting us. Just how we got out of this nobody can say. This was not a regular march anymore.

Without a single word we reached the railway station Nitzow. We had to cross some tracks. The whole station was in flames, so we were very eager to get out of there. Our column became a very pitiful sight. I was wandering among the very last ones and will never understand that they let us follow the others. In slow motion, we tried to catch up with the others, who were somewhat ahead of me. My sister was also in bad shape, so we tried to help each other.

There was a wagon pulled by younger people, where the very weak or sick marchers were able to rest a little bit. By Clara's intervention, my sister Olly got a little place there. Some of the girls objected, so a struggle took shape and the wagon wheels hurt Clara's toes. It must have been very painful but luckily nothing serious happened. In the meantime we had to go on. We stopped for a short while in two small camps and spent many nights in barns in the hay.

As factories and private homes were evacuated, fleeing families discarded many things that had become a burden on the road. We could find all kinds of things, only we didn't have the strength to carry them. I found a typewriter, only a small manual, and probably not too heavy in normal circumstances, but I was not able to lift it. My heart was aching for it. All kinds of things were scattered all over. Here I found a pair of man's shoes and kept them. Later I found a violin and used the strings to replace the shoe laces. This is how I came home, much later.

Here I have to mention something that is vividly in my mind even today. While we were marching suddenly I had the most interesting and funny feeling. I felt suddenly so light that it frightened me. I had to force myself to step down harder to the ground with each step harder, otherwise I would lose ground. We were just dragging ourselves along.

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