Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Miriam Brysk - February 7, 2004

Mother Falls Ill

And we were, of course, of course, full of lice. And then my mother got typhus. And she got progressively sicker and sicker and she just lay there covered by our down blanket. And she was just, you know, almost--she just couldn't take any--even liquids. And I could, I could see the others were eyeing that blanket, waiting for my mother to die so they could take that blanket. And I also realized that without her, I wouldn't have anybody to take care of me. And that the, the, the dread of, of, of, of the--her imminent death--she got very, very sick. My father was out somewhere and then a partisan came by where he was and said, "Doctor, why are you sitting here? Your wife is dying of typhus." So he took another bag of potatoes. He had food because he was in a situation where he had to have food. So he took a bag and came back. My mother was in delirium. She had--a day or two later she had no pulse and he went out into the forest, out of the ziemlanka and I saw him crying. He tried not to cry in front of me, but I knew what he was doing. There was no medication he could give her. And uh, that particular night he, you know, we knew this was going to be the, the end. And, you know, we, we slept with, with lumps in our throats. In the morning we get up and my father goes over at dawn to see what she was like, and she came through. The crisis was over. She survived. And uh, uh, he was--because of the, the length of her delirium and, and, and, and lack of oxygen because of the pulse not being there, he was afraid that she would be mentally impaired. So at the end of that day, as happy as he was to see her well, he, he wanted to test her mental capabilities. So he said, "Broneckza, why don't you sing us a song." And started to sing her favorite Polish love song before the war, "I Know a Little Street in Barcelona." And when she had sung it all, all the words correctly, he knew she was well. I just--at that time, she was, you know, maybe a week or, or something like that, after she was--came to and was getting her strength, there was a report that some Germans had come into the forest and we had to leave our ziemlanka and go wandering some place. She could--she couldn't walk. She could--she was so weak. So he and another parti...and another man, you know, she would lean on them and they, they, they, they took her and we, we, we camped out in the woods in the, in the snow for a couple days and after awhile things quieted down and we went back to ziemlanka. And uh, so she was--she had come to and she was well.

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