My happiness didn’t last long. The following day I started to develop a fever and became very ill. The doctor said I had “tudogyulladas”- pneumonia. No medicine, no pain killers, not even aspirin. Though the war was over in 1945, the only treatment I received was from a hospital intern, a prisoner who wrapped my fevered body in a bed-sheet soaked in cold water. Somebody must have liked me up “there” and I miraculously survived and about ten days later my fever broke. I remained in the hospital another week because I was so weak I hardly could walk. The last check on me was by a very old Russian lady doctor who was unable to pinch a little flesh on my buttocks. I saw from her facial expression, she felt very sorry for me. She shook her head and repeated a couple of words in Russian with melancholy in her voice. “Young, young, very young.” She called for an interpreter to send me out of the hospital barracks to another barrack, where people were staying because they were simply too weak to work. Starvation or the other diagnosis for those people was “dystrophic.” Until they were able to return to work, they received better food in quantity but not in quality.
She said she would give orders for double portions of everything but bread, then smiled at me in a sorrowful way; and I was ready to go. I took my belongings which was nothing more than a hand-made spoon. I made the spoon from a can made in America. Those cans were remainders from the “good old days” when the war was on and we received some can food from the U.S.A. We made all sources of things from the cans; like spoons, knives, and plates, etc. I wouldn’t be correct if I said we made all sorts of things from those cans, because the Russian civilian people did the same thing.
Being in a Russian prisoner of war camp, I never saw any other dinnerware in the hands of the Russian civilians other than those made from American food cans. No matter what the Germans took or destroyed some hidden items remained.
So I with the help of the hospital orderly walked over to the barracks for a two-week rest. In prisoner standards that was a real first for me.
(To be continued, Kati~)