The Last Chance to Remember
Chapter 23. MURITZ-MALCHOW
had a camp too, but we didn't visit there. After our experiences on
the roads, farms, all over in barns, finally we were in a city, just
walking around not quite aware yet what was going on around us and with
us. On our wandering tour we had lived through so much, in the open
air, that it was unbelievable to walk on sidewalks among houses, where
people lived their ordinary lives, day following day. We were bewildered
when we saw the milling crowd, where everybody talked a different language,
only Babel could have been similar.
streets were full with such semi-conscious people like us, who had not
yet awoken. People were excited, but everyone reacted differently. Some
became very quiet, not knowing what happened around them. Some again
were loud, intoxicated with the sudden joy. Others again were distrustful,
but tried to believe that all this was real and true.
were walking slowly, looking around not believing that nobody was behind
us with rude remarks, cruelly shouting at us. On our walks we came upon
a little house which was abandoned because the people had run for a
safer place. The owner was a seaman serving overseas with the navy.
His wife and their two children had gone to live with her parents who
lived on the other side of the city. Between the two homes was a bombed
out bridge which was useless, so for a while we felt safe there. Seven
of us made ourselves comfortable in that house. The lice disappeared,
because their biggest enemy is warm water and cleanliness. We bathed
as often as was possible and could not enjoy enough our clean place,
the warm water which we used and used limitlessly. We enjoyed our freedom
enormously, nobody was following or watching us, and we took our baths
tried to start a new life which was still a big puzzle for us for a
long time. We were trying to find ourselves, somebody, something, which
unfortunately disappeared, vanished forever. We didn't belong to anybody,
to any place. We didn't have papers, we didn't have money and we didn't
know what peace of mind meant!
kept the house clean and in order and didn't take anything. We only
used her wood for boiling water or cooking. The wood was neatly prepared,
cut up for use in the kitchen range.
learned then and there that a liberating army has three days of freedom
to run riot, which the soldiers used up freely. If they found something
to drink, their mood was better and this, their behaviour was our next,
constant fear, anguish. We tried to behave civilly and didn't ruin anything.
She could have been robbed by others, so in a way our hostess was lucky.
our "home" everybody helped in some way. Some were able to
"organize," to find some food, others did the cooking or cleaning,
or just helping in the kitchen. We started to prepare ourselves for
the big journey, going home. At first with fearful feelings to face
the very truth, that was in store for us
made inquiries at the station, but there was no information, nobody
knew anything. The only advice was to come there and wait, because everything
was so uncertain.
these days we were very careful with eating for we knew how dangerous
it can be for a starved body which is still too weak to have much food.
Unfortunately many of us were lost in the last days or even after the
liberation, which was a real tragedy. In the last days before leaving
we made some knapsacks and one of our fellow comrades Mrs. Fodor, knew
how to sew. So our trousers became skirts and slowly we started to look
like human beings.
want to remember those unfortunate young and old victims who became
ill with typhus towards the end and couldn't live to see the day for
which we were praying and waiting all the time. Unfortunately many were
lost by eating more than a weakened stomach and body could take.
The day came when we said good-bye to the place which gave us temporary shelter. Here we had the opportunity to try to regain our composure, to try to start a new life as human beings, after our ordeal. It was more complicated than we anticipated, but it was just the beginning, like a baby's first steps! The lady, our hostess did a good deed unknowingly and we think of her and her home with our thanks.