When we arrived at a new camp the first thing my father always did was to check out the place and look for work. The only way to get extras was to work. While all camps had their rules and regulations, some had more freedom than others. In the camps where we were allowed to go out, on Sundays my father put on his hat and coat, and walked the streets proudly pushing me in a stroller. Having the freedom to move about was also extremely useful when it came to looking after yourself ~ people gathered their items of jewellery and travelled to outlying farms to exchange their silver and gold for food; post war survival was about having nous, keeping your ears open, making deals and getting in first to feed yourself!
Illness was common, and both my mother and I were hospitalised often. When an outbreak of measles hit the camp I became very sick ~ so sick that I stopped breathing. It was only due to the quick thinking of my father that I survived. He revived me, and fortunately the hospital had the oxygen I needed, but due to long term lack of food, disrupted routines and bad conditions, I was weak and developed a bowel infection. And then the inevitable happened ~ we had to move. If all that wasn’t enough, because I was ill, the authorities delayed our departure date.
And then, to make our situation even more complicated, Mum discovered she was pregnant! The problem with this was that Australia was not accepting anyone who was more than five months pregnant and with the new departure date it would be borderline. Nevertheless, we pressed on with our departure and as luck would have it, when it came to the final medical examinations, we were seen by a very compassionate Jewish doctor. It was clear to him that Mum would be more than 5 months pregnant by departure time, but as she was tiny and didn’t show, he was of the opinion she would be able to get away with it. He knew if we missed this chance, we would have to wait another two and half years till we requalified. So with a knowing nod, he gave my mother strict instructions not to respond to any calls till we were well out to sea. He felt sure that if she was discovered, they would put us off at the first port without a backward glance. Also, as I was still quite sick, he was certain the ship’s hospital was the best place for me, and he was right, for that’s exactly where I ended up for the entire voyage!
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