Friday, January 30, 2009

Day 4 - Last Day of the march

This morning we were SO looking forward to Spremberg! We thought we would be walking (hobbling) about 14 miles, ending at Spremberg. HOWEVER, once again, it was further than we thought. Today we walked 17.5 miles. You can click on the map here to see a larger version of our father's route. Note that since this area was alternately German and Polish, there are both German and Polish names for each town.

We will continue to upload more pictures every day. (Note new video under Day 3, below.) Read on for more concerning our last day of the march...

Tomorrow we will go by bus from Spremberg to Dresden to see the restored areas - much has been repaired since Dresden was bombed by the Allied forces.
See the new pictures here: SLIII Forced March Trip

As my sister described below, she and I kept each other going today by singing. We sang songs from our childhood, which seemed most appropriate for the occasion. We not only attempted to honor our father through our footsteps but also with our voices, as we sang songs that he and my mother had taught us: "Come to the Church in the Wild Wood," "Silent Night, Holy Night," and even "A Cannibal King." :o) We also pooled our memories to sing all the Rogers and Hammerstein songs we had sung over the years. By this point, my feet hurt so much I was attempting to place them flat-footed on the ground with as little ankle movement as possible to avoid disturbing the already-popped blisters on my heels. Evelyn has been referring to me as "Sister Miriam" because of the black balaclava I've been wearing over my hair. I'm sure if we had been in a more populated area, the locals would have wondered at these strangely-dressed women, singing in a foreign language and walking in the stilted manner typical of a two-year-old who didn't quite make it to the bathroom in time.

So how do I describe the sense of accomplishment I feel? It is surpassed only by the relief at finishing the march reenactment. The others feel the intense relief as well, and once again, the emotions were running high at dinner as we drank champagne and apfelsaft (applejuice) to celebrate the occasion. I am sure our fathers were relieved that they were done with the walking when they reached the train station in Spremberg, but the horror of their journey would continue. The days they would spend in the crowded, fetid boxcars with no facilities but no "bathroom breaks," and the months to come in seriously over-crowded camps (Stalag 13-D at Nuremberg and Stalag 7-A at Moosburg), would surpass the suffering of the march. I am so grateful for the sacrifices my father made, and those made by men like him. I pray that there will always be those who are willing to do what is necessary to preserve the freedoms we too often take for granted!

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