Getting ready for Halloween! (haiku)

Getting ready for Halloween!

I was playing with “Effects” on my smartphone.

My castle in Grayscale and Light Streak.

My naughty Cocky in Negative is bound to send shivers down your spine!

 

And here’s a haiku for  Thursday, 31 October :

For supper tonight
A treat for me and my bird
Ghoulish tricks annulled

🙂 🙂 🙂

©Copyright 2019 Irina Dimitric

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Orchid – Flower of the Day (FOTD) challenge

May this lovely orchid cheer up your day as it does mine. I got it from hubby when I was in hospital with a broken femur last year.

If you want to know more about orchids, here’s a link to one of my older posts:

https://irinadim.com/2016/10/31/orchid-rondel-prime/

(C) Copyright 2019 Irina Dimitric

 

Flower of the Day (FOTD) Challenge

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Growing Up In The 1940s – Oma and Opa – WWII

~

Dear Readers,

After four years I’m finally coming back to this memoir. I’d like to finish it while memories are still floating in my mind. At times I’m overwhelmed by panic that there isn’t much time left. I’m 84.

I’m glad that Dad’s whole story in captivity is told in a short biography for Hadouch’s Lamsdorf-Lambinowice museum in Poland. In this new post I’ve added a few details.

You can read Part 8 here.

Part 9

Zagreb and Ljubljana

 

Pick it up!’

‘No!’

‘Pick it up!’

‘Noooo!’ She screamed so hard she turned scarlet in her little toddler’s face.

Two grown-ups, her nanny and her dad, were towering over her, insisting that she pick up a piece of bread she had just thrown on the floor. On the Persian carpet… in the living room in Zagreb…

That scene is still vivid in my mind. I can’t remember, though, who won that contest of wills. I remember it only as the first recollection of my existence. I remember I wore a pretty dress Oma bought me, but I don’t know if it was the pink one, the pale blue one or the pale green one. They were all so very pretty. Oma showered us grandkids with gifts.

My cousins Seka and Veljko and me with Oma, possibly the last time I saw my dear Oma and my cousins before the war separated us. We all look so serious! That was the photographic fashion of the day, I guess.

Oma and Opa lived in Ljubljana. The following is an excerpt I wrote for my mother’s 100th birthday:

My mother, Maruša, was born into privilige to parents who themselves were not born into privilege. Maruša’s mother, Terezija, was a beautiful and intelligent daughter of a well-to-do Slovenian farmer who had the guts to forbid the master of Mokrice Castle, Baron Gagern, to pass through his property. The same Baron, who was a writer, admired Terezija’s beauty, which he described in his story Die StrasseThe Road. (You can learn more about Baron Friedrich Gagern on Google if you know Slovenian!)

Terezija came to town where she met Toni, a handsome young man who started his career as a waiter to become a rich owner of the prestigious and the most famous Kavarna Evropa , a coffee house in the Viennese style, in the centre of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. He already owned a restaurant in Zidani Most and later bought the popular restaurant Jägerhorn (Lovački Rog) in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia.

Beautiful Terezija and dashing Tony posing for their engagement photo. He reminds me a bit of Salvador Dali!

Toni and Terezija continued to educate themselves and became highly respected citizens of Ljubljana. They gave their 3 children, Joži, their only son, Silva and Maruša, the best education by also employing French and German speaking governesses and sending teenage Silva and Maruša to a convent school in Italy.

My mother is the little cutie with white ribbons.

Toni was a gregarious man and loved taking his two daughters on holidays to Vienna and Italy. He was also very generous, giving poor students a free meal in his establishments.

Terezija was austere and a shrewd businesswoman. She used to quip in German: ‘Beim lustigen Toni alles um sonst!’ (At merry Toni’s everything is for free!). And yet, she too was happy to provide three free meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, for 14 – 20 poor students every day.

The family set up a second residence in Zagreb when they had bought Jägerhorn for their son Joži. Maruša and Silva loved their life of luxury in Zagreb. They both married Zagreb gentlemen whom they met at Jägerhorn. Silva married Vladimir Varičak, a young lawyer, the son of the renowned mathematician by the same name, dean of the Zagreb University and Einstein’s friend. Maruša married Bogdan, a young doctor, 18 years her senior.  Bogdan’s salary was modest and Oma loved to buy him elegant suits. At the outbreak of WWII Silva and her family, (she had 2 children by then), went to Ljubljana while Maruša stayed with me in Zagreb, by herself – Bogdan was Hitler’s guest, as he liked to put it, from 1941-1945 in a POW camp.

(To be continued)

©Copyright 2019 Irina Dimitric. All rights reserved.

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Looking Up and Looking Down (haiku)

Birds and soft breeze sing
Looking up and looking down
Blue skies, ground bright green

What a joy to be alive on a day like this! Had cataract surgery last Thursday, all good! Feeling blessed and grateful.

Wishing you all a very happy week! 🙂

©Copyright 2019 Irina Dimitric

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Growing Up In The 1940s – In Captivity – Punishment – WWII

 

Dear Readers,

After four years I’m finally coming back to this memoir. I’d like to finish it while memories are still floating in my mind. At times I’m overwhelmed by panic that there isn’t much time left. I’m 84.

I’m glad that Dad’s whole story in captivity is told in a short biography for Hadouch’s Lamsdorf-Lambinowice museum in Poland. In this new post I’ve added a few details

You can read Part 7 here.

Part 8

Hammersdorf – Punishment

 

Dad continues his story:

‘The Russian camp at Hammersford, south of Sagan, was like a death camp… There were about one thousand Russians in the camp. Fifty were admitted to the hospital every day, and fifty died every day. The Germans knew about this. So every day they came with two big wagons, loaded them with the corpses, throwing them onto the wagon like logs of wood. Then they took the corpses to the cemetery of the camp to be buried. The Russians told me there were gallows at the cemetery, ready for quick executions. The Germans treated the Russians very badly. But a German doctor told me that they do look after them, that they give them vitamins. And I asked him: “What do you give them?” “Well, every day we give them 5 grams of cottage cheese,” he replied. He was quite serious… My food was better, so I shared it with the poor wretches.’

‘The Nazis were very anti-Slavic,’ I remarked. ‘The Slavic race was considered subhuman. And the Russians, particularly, were also hated for their Bolshevism.’

‘Yes. But these prisoners were not all Bolsheviks. They were called up like the rest of the men in this war. I’ll tell you something I found quite disturbing. Among the sick Russians, the most unfortunate ones were those in the diarrhea barracks. They were the first to die. Dysentery finished them off in two to three weeks. One of them, a former speaker on Radio Moscow, was aware of the terrible state he and his mates were in, yet he was more afraid of what would happen to him on his return to Russia. A lot of them feared the NKVD, the Soviet Secret Police.’

‘I read somewhere that Stalin did not respect soldiers who let themselves be captured. As if they had a choice,’ I added.

‘Yes, you’re right,’ Dad said.

‘Well, as soon as I arrived, the head cook, a sergeant, paid me a visit. He used to do business in Yugoslavia before the war. He was very kind to me. For lunch I would get a litre of soup with plenty of meat. I would invite a Russian engineer to lunch. For the six months of my stay at this hospital I shared my food with him and two other Russians.

Close to the camp was an abattoir and a bakery where the Russians worked. Every day they brought me fresh bread and meat. They would cut up the meat into thin strips and hid their gift under their shirts. I always gave the lot to the Russian cooks, asking them to give it to the prisoners who were the sickest.

The Gestapo probably hoped I would die here, catch dysentery and die. But I survived. After six months, thanks to my knowledge of foreign languages, I was transferred to Cosel at Lamsdorf and appointed chief surgeon. This hospital had just been established, built with a view to impress the Geneva International Red Cross, whose representative came to inspect it every three months.’

*

More about the Russian camp: https://military.wikia.org/wiki/Stalag_VIII-C

To be continued

©Copyright 2019 Irina Dimitric. All rights reserved.

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Eucalyptus Sapling (haiku) – Doing our bit for the Environment

Mother Earth cries out

Plant a sapling in your patch

Clean air for all life

Recently, Mosman Council planted eucalypts all along our street. I’m glad to announce that only one sapling died, all the others are doing very well. ❤

What do you do for the environment?

 

©2019 Irina Dimitric

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Growing Up In The 1940s – In Captivity – Article 104 – WWII

Dear Readers,

After four years I’m finally coming back to this memoir. I’d like to finish it while memories are still floating in my mind. At times I’m overwhelmed by panic that there isn’t much time left. I’m 84.

I’m glad that Dad’s whole story in captivity is told in a short biography for Hadouch’s Lamsdorf-Lambinowice museum in Poland. In this new post I’ve added a few details

You can read Part 6 here.

Part 7

In Captivity – Article 104

 

‘The food rations were pretty meagre the first six weeks when we arrived in Germany. It was a bit better when we arrived in Teschen. We received parcels from the Red Cross and from private people from France. I received two parcels during all my time in Teschen, which was one year. We also received parcels from our Yugoslav government in Cairo, parcels of about 40 kg, with dried figs, dates, coffee, all kinds of tins. One of the prisoners, a Jew from Sarajevo, was working at the post office. He peeled off the label with the address and contents from one of these parcels and then brought the parcel to me. The parcel was almost empty. That wasn’t right, I thought. These provisions were needed by our patients in the first place. I then went to the barracks, through the door on the other side of the fence, and I wanted to call up a meeting to explain the situation about the parcels, that “I know about them, we never received them, I need them first for my patients, and then for you as well. I will go and see the Commandant to complain and ask some questions.” My intention was to let the prisoners know about this situation.

But when I arrived at the barracks, someone had already alerted the Command, a spy, our representative, a Slovenian: “Dr Stojić is at the barracks with the soldiers. He wants to talk about something.” A German sergeant rushed to the scene, but I saw him coming first and I quickly hid in the French barracks from where I was watching how they were looking for me.

After ten to fifteen minutes I stepped out and another sergeant came up to me and asked me what kind of meeting I wanted to call. “I only wanted to talk about some parcels,” I said. That was the reason they used to then accuse me of trying to mount an insurrection in the camp.’

‘They already resented you because of the 250 Frenchmen you helped repatriate, and also because you reprimanded a Serb who went home under a new name, a Croatian name,’ I reminded him.

‘Yes, yes…But not only that. One day, while I was still examining and teaching those Frenchmen, the Germans took me for a walk to a village in Poland, five to six kilometres from the camp. Crossing a little river, we entered Poland. ‘

Photo credit:  Dr Tom Atkins. Tom’s father was also a doctor and a POW in Germany and worked in the same hospital at Cosel as my father. We got in touch through Facebook as Tom was searching to contact the descendants of his father’s POW mates. When he was visiting the Lamsdorf  POW camp site, he made a special trip to Teschen because of my father and brought me photos and brochures, for which I’m eternally grateful.

It was spring when Dad was taken for a walk across that little river.

‘My mate, Kačanski, was with me, a lawyer by profession, a sergeant in wartime. He went to Amerika after the war…During that walk, the Germans tried to persuade me to come to Germany, to work in a German military hospital. They would also let me conduct private practice and would allow my family, my wife and daughter to join me. Needless to stress, I didn’t need to think it over. I said: “I can’t accept your offer. There are so many sick prisoners in our camp, I need to look after them.” And I couldn’t help adding: “Besides, you’re going to lose this war as you did the first.” Obviously, my rejection of their generous offer and my last remark didn’t sit well with them, and they started to plot their revenge.

A month later I was arrested. It was 4 June 1942. 4th of June, when my mother passed away. I was locked up in my room, the camp prison was full. Locked up for ten days, not allowed outside at all.

When I was being taken for the first hearing, the sergeant escorting me was very rude to me, and another officer joined him yelling at me insults, a Hungarian I had looked after when he was sick. Both great admirers of Hitler. The Gestapo then charged me with mounting an insurrection in the camp.

A few days later, a Division judge from Katowice arrived to hear my case. The German guards came to escort me to the courtroom, and on my way there, the prisoners looked on and chanted “Long live Dr Stojić!” That wasn’t going to be very helpful, I thought. But Judge Jelinek, of Czech origin, a lawyer from Vienna in peacetime, was very polite. Whenever I said something that would go against me, he did not note it down.

Before Judge Jelinek appeared, I was taken into the room by a captain, a highs-school teacher who was not a Hitler sympathiser, now a judge in the army. A very fine gentleman. As soon as I entered the room, I saw a young woman sitting at a table with a typewriter. She was crying and shaking. The kind captain took her out of the room, and when he had returned, he gave me the document in which the Gestapo charged me with a grave offence against the Third Reich. Article 104. Execution by shooting. That was what the young woman saw. She was so scared that she couldn’t type.’

And how did my dad feel when he saw the death sentence? What was going through his mind? Why didn’t I ask him those questions when he was telling me this story?

‘After that incident, Judge Jelinek did not require a secretary to keep the minutes. He said he would note down everything himself. He then asked me about my education and my medical degree. I told him I graduated from Vienna University.

“And where did you go to high school?” he asked.

“Novi Sad,’ I replied.

“Was Dr Savić who was against you also from Novi Sad?”

“No, he was from Bosnia, but in Novi Sad lived another Savić, the director of Matica Srpska, whose daughter studied in Vienna.”

“I know her, that’s why I’m asking you,” said the judge. “I studied law with her.”

When I told him that her father went to high school with my father, and that I remember her, he became even kinder towards me. He then went to the Commandant of the camp to hand in his report, and I was immediately released. Judge Jelinek exonerated me from all the accusations brought against me by the Gestapo. However, the Gestapo wasn’t very pleased and being higher in the hierarchy, a few days later, they sent me to a Russian camp as punishment. I was there, near Breslau, for six months.’

To be continued

© Copyright 2019 Irina Dimitric. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

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Growing Up In The 1940s – Top Priority: Patients’ Welfare – WWII

Dear Readers,

After four years I’m finally coming back to this memoir. I’d like to finish it while memories are still floating in my mind. At times I’m overwhelmed by panic that there isn’t much time left. I’m 84.

I’m glad that Dad’s whole story in captivity is told in a short biography for Hadouch’s Lamsdorf-Lambinowice museum in Poland. In this new post I’ve added a few details.

You can read Part 5 here.

Part 6

Teschen – Top Priority: Patients’ Welfare

 

Dad continues his story:

‘When the Germans dismissed the kind Oberarzt, a captain and a major replaced him. The major was a Nazi, a swine. The captain was kinder. He called us four Serb doctors to report, and he said, pointing at me: “We know what you are doing. We would love to have a German doctor who would look after our prisoners in Siberia as you look after your men and your allies. But enough is enough, as of today, this must stop. Go each to your ward and discharge all those who are healthy.”

We returned to our respective wards, and my colleagues discharged almost all patients, even those who were sick, they got such a fright. I didn’t discharge any of my patients. On the contrary, I even admitted one. I was just coming out of my room when I saw a man walking slowly past, holding his stomach. I asked him: “What’s wrong?” He said: “It hurts here, but Dr Savić has just discharged me.” “Come and see me tomorrow at ten o’clock. I’ll examine you,” I said. He was truly ill. I admitted him to my ward. When the major heard that I didn’t discharge anyone but even admitted one, he called me and said: “Yesterday, Dr Savić discharged a man, and you admitted him. “Yes, I did, “I replied. “Because he has a duodenal ulcer.” He immediately gave orders that the man be examined at the German military hospital. I then asked for permission to go with him and to take along another four men, which was granted. When the German doctor finished with the examination, the Nazi major from our camp rang the military hospital enquiring about the result of the examination, and he heard that the man indeed had a duodenal ulcer.

On our way back, a German high-ranking officer, a lieutenant, walking toward us stopped and asked the German guard: “Who are these people?”
“Their doctor took the prisoners to the hospital to be examined,” the guard replied.
“Das sind Soldaten wie du, behandele sie so wie Soldaten!” (They are soldiers like you, treat them like soldiers!). He was a very fine gentleman.

On returning to our hospital, the Nazi major ordered me to immediately discharge that patient suffering from a duodenal ulcer. What could I do now? Nothing. This time I had to obey orders. From then onwards he was against me, and about a month later, I was accused of mounting an insurrection in the camp. As if a doctor could stage an insurrection!’

To be continued

© Copyright 2019 Irina Dimitric. All rights reserved.

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Growing Up In The 1940s – In Captivity – The Kind Oberarzt (continued) – WWII

Dear Readers,

After four years I’m finally coming back to this memoir. I’d like to finish it while memories are still floating in my mind. At times I’m overwhelmed by panic that there isn’t much time left. I’m 84.

I’m glad that Dad’s whole story in captivity is told in a short biography for Hadouch’s Lamsdorf-Lambinowice museum in Poland. In this new post I’ve added a few details.

 

Part 5

Teschen – The Kind Oberarzt (continued)

You can read the beginning of this story here.

 

In the camp hospital Dad did his best to sabotage the enemy by keeping healthy men in hospital under false diagnoses. This is how he describes it:

“In my surgical ward 90% of patients were healthy men. The German chief surgeon, a major from Breslau, was very kind to the prisoners. He not only turned a blind eye to my machinations but told me one day that according to an agreement all French prisoners who were sick could be repatriated. He asked me to examine them and compile a list of all the sick men.”

In Sydney, Australia, I noted down this story in a notebook as Dad was telling me about his days in captivity. He was in his nineties, and I wanted to record his experiences for posterity.

As a lieutenant-colonel in reserve, Dr Bogdan Stojic was mobilised into the Yugoslav Army and appointed commander of the 44th Division Field Hospital on 2 April 1941. He was captured by the Germans at Doboj in Bosnia on 15 April and transported in cattle trucks with other prisoners to a POW camp at Lamsdorf, now known by its Polish name Lambinowice, for 4 months. There he was allotted a dog tag Stalag VIIIB/19522 and lost 10kg on a very meagre prisoneres’ diet. In September, he was transferred to Stalag VIIID Teschen, now Český Těšín in the Czech Reublic. My mother must have given a sigh of relief when she received his first letter in November.

I’ll let him now speak in his own words:

‘Today I’ll tell you how during the war, in captivity in Germany, I had helped repatriate 250 French prisoners.

I was arrested on 15 April 1941 at Doboj. The Germans loaded us on a truck to the Drina, then to Šabac, from Šabac to Mitrovica where we spent Easter in Mitrovica prison, and then in cattle trucks to Germany. First to Lamsdorf, near Opola, where the Opel car factory is. We were there four months. I got my doggie tag there. Stalag VIII B/19522. No name. Just a number.

 

Then we were sent to Teschen, a town on the border of Czechoslovakia and Poland on the Czech side, and Poland is on the other side of a little river.

There were a few hundred Poles and Serbs there. All the Croats were released and sent home in November. Four Serbs declared they would go home with the Croats. I knew one of them personally, we went to school together in Novi Sad. I gave him a piece of my mind. Coward!

There were 600 Frenchmen, most of them warrant officers, and among them 50 Catholic priests, all intelligent men, high school teachers. And one day, the Oberarzt, a major by rank, a very fine gentleman, came to me and told me to draw up a list of all the French prisoners who were sick so that they could be sent home.

I went to the Frenchmen with the good news. They were all healthy, young men in their twenties and thirties, not more than 40 years old. They received parcels from home every Friday, and from the Red Cross as well. Every Friday I went to their barracks, and they gave me lots of biscuits which I then took to the Russian barracks because the Russians didn’t receive any food parcels from anyone. The Frenchmen were all healthy, none of them was ill. And I told them that I could help them be repatriated, but because they were healthy, I would have to teach them a few things: “Come to my room, about ten of you each day, with a pen and a piece of paper, and I’ll teach you the symptoms of your illness: duodenal ulcer, angina, malaria, sciatica… You’ll learn the symptoms by heart so that you can answer with confidence when interrogated by the Germans.”

At first, they didn’t trust me. There were spies among the prisoners. One had to be careful. But then they came and noted down their symptoms. The odd thing was that they were not examined by a German doctor, my report seemed to suffice. One day, they were just put on the train and sent home to France, about 250 of them. Among them was the gentleman you visited in Nice, René Williaume. He was a librarian in the camp library.

Then,  about two months later, the Oberartzt was discharged, the doctor who told me to draw up that list. He received that list and didn’t interview anyone, just let them go… a very good man…both his sons were killed, both doctors… one on the Russian front, the other in Egypt…he cried when he was telling me this. He was in his sixties… I decided there and then to give him a parcel with chocolate, cocoa, and cigarettes for his wife,  he didn’t smoke. And I told the Frenchmen: “Look, tomorrow that German doctor will come, and I will walk with him in front of my room. You can go into my room so that nobody will see you and you can watch how I will give him the parcel.” And the Frenchmen watched how he accepted the parcel because it wasn’t bribery. It was a token of gratitude and sympathy.’

Gratitude was expressed by the grateful French prisoners as well. They invited Dad to a banquet on 26 April 1942. I’m not quite sure whether the delicacies on the menu were served in reality. But the sense of humour was as vital as food.

So was art!

Look at that superb artwork!

The card is 16/12 cm and protected with tissue paper tied with a golden string. I wonder which signature is the artist’s?

While the lucky Frenchmen went home to France, one of the Frenchmen from Teschen wrote to his mates in another Arbeitskommand to feign illness, to come to Teschen where a Serb doctor would help them get repatriated. The Gestapo intercepted that letter, the kind Oberartzt was immediately dismissed and Dad put in prison on 4 July 1942, accused of trying to stage an insurrection in the camp and being an open enemy of Grossdeutschland. This would have grave consequences for Dad.

The kind German Oberarzt most probably ended up on the Russian front.

*

More about Teschen in case you’re interested:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalag_VIII-D#mw-head

To be continued

© Copyright 2019 Irina Dimitric. All rights reserved.

 

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Growing Up In The 1940s – In Captivity – The Kind Oberarzt – WWII

Dear Readers,

After four years I’m finally coming back to this memoir. I’d like to finish it while memories are still floating in my mind. At times I’m overwhelmed by panic that there isn’t much time left. I’m 84.

I’m glad that Dad’s whole story in captivity is told in a short biography for Hadouch’s Lamsdorf-Lambinowice museum in Poland. In this new post I’ve added a few details.

You can read Part 3 here.

Part 4
In Captivity – The Kind Oberatzt

Officer Wanemacher wasn’t the only military man who wasn’t a sympathiser of Hitler’s view of the world and his objectives.

There was a German doctor at Teschen, a major, who was the head surgeon in the camp hospital. He was a very kind man. He would play a major role in a drama that nearly cost my dad his life. Both of his conscripted sons had already perished, one on the Russian front, the other in Egypt. He had tears in his eyes when he was telling this to my father.

Dad was at Teschen from September 1941 to September 1942.

Here food was better than at Lamsdorf, and prisoners also received International Red Cross parcels. Sometimes the prisoners did not receive all the provisions they were due, and my father complained to the officer in charge. That was not appreciated by the German authorities of the camp. What they disliked even more was my father’s constant approval of the English, the Russians, the Americans and the French. He finally received a written warning to change his behaviour or else the consequences might not be very pleasant for him, nor for his wife and daughter in Zagreb, Croatia (a nominally independent state, but in reality under German rule), as they could be sent to England or Russia.

I understand the gist of this letter, but I intend to ask a German friend to translate it.  The details should make for a very interesting read.

At the end of the letter, the German censor threatens to withdraw the privilege of receiving and sending mail if he doesn’t mend his ways.

But he ends the letter with kind words: ” I wish you only well.”

What the Germans didn’t know and never found out, luckily, was the forging of documents that took place in his room, using a German typewriter he borrowed on the pretext of wanting to type up medical reports. The main forger was a talented prisoner who also drew my portrait from a photograph my mother sent Dad.

A perfect likeness, don’t you think?… And a perfect forger!

By the way, this white teddy bear is the one I hugged and covered in tears when my  dad left to go to war. I was six then, more like I was in the next photo my mother sent him to Teschen.

A winter photo. I was almost seven. Dad hadn’t seen me for a year.

The back of the above photo. This is my mother’s writing. I didn’t know how to write yet. “To Dad, Ika”, which is my nickname. It took about a month to get to Teschen. Dad recorded it in red pencil, in the Cyrillic script. Whenever possible he was loyal to his national script.

All correspondence was censored, naturally, and stamped Geprűft- Examined. I remember well the letters from Dad with blacked out lines all over the place. At least he was still allowed to write to us.

 

*

To be continued

© Copyright 2019 Irina Dimitric. All rights reserved.

 

 

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