Chapter 18

 It was June. The weather was perfect. We were ordered to assemble at the field by the railroad tracks. The train arrived a few hours later. It was a simple cattle train with about 30 boxcars. In the boxcars were platforms for sleeping or sitting. There was no privacy. There were no toilet facilities. Each boxcar had a small compartment with a hole in the floor, which was used as a toilet. There were no cooking facilities. Boiling water was distributed on schedule. Food could be purchased during stops that had no schedule .The sellers were people from a nearby village. The moment they heard the train passing, they came out to meet the train. Each one had for sale something; a loaf of bread, a cooked chicken, milk, cheese, cooked “pierogi”. I remember that we had enough food. Our father was the medical director of the transport, and because of his position we had better accommodations. Our car was assigned as an infirmary We had the comfort of space. While all other cars were filled beyond capacity,  a part of the car was assigned to patients in need of temporary medical supervision. We also served out patients. Ella and the other physician delivered  a few babies in these very difficult conditions. One couple was left behind in a local hospital because the woman in labor needed hospital facilities.  Travelers who were left behind were in danger of losing their travel permits. The permit was limited to the specific transportation train. There were also incidents of infant death from diarrhea. It is still in my memory that parents had to give away the recently deceased baby; to be buried somewhere in a strange and distant village. When we arrived at the Aral Sea, the landscape became totally different. It was very flat and very dry.  Salt was everywhere. It was being sold in pails on each train stop. Salt was a commodity that was not available in other parts of the country. A young man, who many years later was in New York, bought a pail of salt and later was selling it by cups. He made good money on the way. Later, in Poland, he married a physician and we met them it N.Y. many years later. She was a pediatrician. He was a printer. Both were antiques collectors.

During the trip Sam was assigned to the car with the family of the girl he married, but often enough he would spend a night with me in our car. Almost every night the guards assigned to our train were counting  the travelers. It was an order that each person should sleep in the car where they were listed. After about two weeks of travel we arrived at the Polish border. It was a happy moment and an anxious moment. We did not know what to expect from the Soviet border guards. Guards with rifles surrounded the train. The train car doors were locked. We were afraid of a search of our belongings. Most of the people traveling had some valuables such as small pieces of jewelry, a diamond, or even old gold rubbles. These treasures at that time seemed to have tremendous value, when in reality it would not pay for a week of life in Poland. Our luggage we carried along was not worth anything. We were dressed in rags, while in Poland everyone was well dressed. Packages were coming to the Jewish Institutions in Poland for distribution among the survivors. We were late comers.

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