Part 50: A Daring Operation And A Brush With Death

A few days later, when I came home from school, there was great excitement in the house. Änne lay in bed burning with fever. The children were crying and standing helplessly in front of their mother’s bedside.

I suspected what had happened. Hilde had performed an abortion despite the considerable risk. Probably the fetus had died and decomposed in the uterus. With severe internal blood poisoning, Änne was very close to death. A doctor was called in great haste.

The doctor acted immediately. It was long too late for a cumbersome transport to the city hospital. Under primitive domestic conditions, the doctor scraped out the uterus of the terminally ill patient, who was fully conscious.

Never again in my life have I heard a human being scream so shrilly and piercingly. My blood seemed to freeze in my veins. But the doctor did the only right thing. Änne was a healthy, strong woman. She survived the inhuman ordeal and recovered surprisingly quickly.

The doctor could not have foreseen such a happy ending after the daring operation and reported the incident. Three days later, the Berlin woman was arrested and sentenced to six months in prison for illegal abortion. Her two boys, who were left alone, lived with us until further notice. A few weeks later, the father took his children to live with him in bombed-out Berlin.

In all my life I have never forgotten the cries of pain penetrating through the walls of the house of the young wife and mother who had to suffer so badly for her longing for some tenderness and love. The whole village heard about it. Only slowly did the, often gloating, gossip of the people about the misfortune die away. I was deeply shaken, and it was difficult for me to concentrate on my tasks again.

As before, school demanded my full attention. When I prepared for school in the morning, I realized anew every day what poor conditions we lived in. Compared to our city apartment, we lived like in the Stone Age. After getting up, I poked the last embers out of the cold ashes of the kitchen stove with the fire hook.

With some pine shavings and after blowing hard, the embers awoke to flame. A few logs in the fire, and the warm hearth drove away the clammy room chill.

The tin pot with yesterday’s malt coffee on the stove, so that the brown broth was warm, while I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes in the wash bowl with icy water. Brushed my teeth with a little salt because toothpaste was in short supply. A disgusting procedure. Then washed hands with clay soap.

Crumble a stale bread crust or two or three thick slices into bite-sized pieces, put it all in a bowl and pour the lukewarm malt coffee over it.

Two large spoons of sugar and a sip of milk completed the breakfast. The bread soup kept me full until the big break. Jacket on, trouser legs in the jackboots as a precaution in all weathers, satchel on my back, and off I went toward the city.

A good hour later, classes began. During the big break, we had a double slice of pork lard or fake liver sausage made of rabbit meat from the bread box. From time to time, we also had sausage or cheese on top. 𝓣𝓸 𝓑𝓮 𝓒𝓸𝓷𝓽𝓲𝓷𝓾𝓮𝓭

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