(The 3rd chapter of “A Hungarian Memoir, P.O.W.-the Potato Story”)
Painstakingly, I started to separate them with my fingers; it was a slow job, I stopped frequently to blow my warm breath on the tips of my fingers. The time for me was lost, I really don’t know how long it took me to fill up my long johns with potatoes. I guess about 1/2 hour to 1 hour when I finished. I was extremely cold; I know I laid there for a long period thinking I am going to freeze to death so I have to get away from here as soon as possible; but how? I knew the guard was standing not more than 50 feet from the other side of the potato pile.
Evaluating my situation, I compared the following; I dressed lightly, my clothing was light long johns and a white shirt. I didn’t wear boots only regular working shoes with a heavy wool sock. The guard dressed in extremely heavy clothing like people wear for skiing. Over his clothing a heavy long coat; he wore regular boots and my shoes made of felt. I figured if I can crawl from under the canvas to the other side of the barbwire undetected, I’d simply get up and run. The guard in his heavy clothing could hardly run to catch me?
I was able to manage myself through the barbwire and so I thought the hardest part of my “adventure” is over; I was wrong. To make sure I would jump up at the right time I lifted my head up behind the potato pile. “This is it,” I said to myself, the guard was facing away from me. The same moment I got up the guard turned around and our eyes met from a distance. From the shock he was hesitating; I knew he didn’t wear a gun so he could not shoot me. He yelled and I just started to run.
Oh what a feeling I remember, like having a dream when someone is chasing you and you try to run but you can’t. I put too many frozen potatoes in one side of my long johns and my knee just didn’t bend; like I had a cast on my leg. Luckily only one of my legs was almost out-of-order. I put all my effort into running and I did practically on one leg, until the probably sleeping Russian guard came out of the guard-house. I proved myself faster than the prisoner guard and I was able to make enough headway to run to the right side of my barrack. I knew they would run to the left side, so going to the entrance wasn’t possible. I ran forward along the side of the other barrack. The other was two stories high and ran parallel with mine. The upper part used as living quarters, the bottom part divided up into shops; cabinet-maker, shoe repair, basket-weaver, etc. I was familiar with the area.
In the pitch dark I disappeared in the basket-weavers shop.
(To be continued: Kati~)