A Hungarian Memoir, P.O.W. Part 14

Chapter 14 – “Road to Recovery” with my personal commentary.

In the next two weeks I gained weight and in a strange way I became “normal” or like I was before the frozen potato adventure.  On my fingertips grew new skin and somehow remained pink, very sensitive and itchy from time to time.  In the early part of December I returned to work.  I swore to myself I would never go near the potatoes again, even if I knew in advance I would be successful.  It is known, a person with a full stomach would never know or understand the kind of feeling that comes with hunger.  That was the case with me too.  I lived good for about five or six weeks and got too soft on my theory to survive.  I became an “aristocrat” of a prison camp.  Eventually, around Christmas time I was hungry as ever and that pile of potatoes were still at the very same spot.  It was a mind altering situation for me to stare at them from the window of my room; especially on Sundays when we didn’t work or wasn’t supposed too.

In the camp we received clean underwear and a shirt every ten days and then we used a common shower.  Any other clothing like pants, jacket over coat was our responsibility to clean or otherwise it was never cleaned; except by the rain or a snowstorm and those lucky enough to work in the kitchen as a cook or helper.  They wore white uniforms and usually another prisoner of war washed the uniforms for them; in exchange for a piece of bread.

I knew the head cook very well because I was aware in a “hungry world” that kind of contact never hurt and perhaps could be helpful.  I also knew I would never try to steal the potatoes the way I did the first time, so what remained was a big question mark.  If not that way then how?

Finally the day before New Years Day of 1947, I had yet another plan and discovered how the potatoes were going to the kitchen; it was amazingly simple.  One or two kitchen helpers with a basket in hand went to the gate of the potato pile, opened the gate, went inside and with a shovel filled up the basket and carried it back to the kitchen.  To make things even easier for me, that day at least, there wasn’t a guard by the potatoes; only the Russian guard could see it from the nearby guard-house.  If I decided to do this I convinced myself, a basket full it would be!

(To be continued:)

(My commentary:  As many times as I have, read and re-read these memoirs I always seem to discover something new.  It’s more of a “oh, I didn’t remember that” moment.  Hearing the stories and reading them are very different.  I find myself asking questions and wondering why I never asked or thought of them before my father passed away.  I suppose it was because then it didn’t seem so urgent.  I was a lot younger and when you are that age, time is something we all assume comes in an endless supply.  So many gaps I could have filled; the same frustrating gaps that enter my mind every time I begin to type. Kati~)


About magyarok27

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2 Responses to A Hungarian Memoir, P.O.W. Part 14

  1. katalin temesvari says:

    I just love the stories,you write them so greatly.

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