The Michael Lang Letters
Letter 17

      We were to present ourselves with our horses and wagons and thing that we had with us to the railway company. “Good” I said and all our people were happy because now they had hopes of getting across to Poland. There we expected to sell our horses for good money and get into communication with our friends in America. That is what the Commissar had said. He had sent a man to Moscow. He could be back in a week but we waited two to three weeks. When I inquired in the office I was told he had not returned. The snow began to fall and our horses could find no food (fodder) and we could not buy any either. We agreed among ourselves to sell the horses. We received a large sum of money for them, but it had little value. After a long wait, at least 5 weeks, I went to the office and was told that now they had orders and they would send us to Kamnetz Podolsky which city lies twelve miles from the Polish border. 

      So I learned from the railway Commissar with which train we should go. They showed us which train to take but the cars were all box cars in which there were no stoves and no benches on which to lie down. The whole railroad business was out of order. Everything moved slowly but we were happy that our affairs had progressed so far that we could get away. In to our cars we carried stoves from other cars as well as benches on which we could lie. Now our little daughter Catherine took sick so we took her to the doctor. He said she had diphtheria but that they had no medicine for the sickness. There was little hope or saving the child. We had the box cars we had to travel in a few days in readiness. We put all our things in the cars. There were 16 persons in one car including myself, my wife/ and our very sick little child who soon died. I dug a small grave for her in the cemetery where we mournfully laid her to rest. The Lord had given and the Lord had taken away. O Lord Thy will be done. She was about a year and
four months old. The next day we rode away on the train. The cars were white inside. No disinfectant was used and we traveled slowly from station to station remaining sometimes two or three days at one place. Fortunately we had our cooking ware with use. We could therefore prepare food when we stayed long at one place. We had traveled about a week when my wife became ill. Soon others took sick. Among them little children. After about three weeks we arrived at Kamenez Podoloki1 wh1ch is 12 miles from the boundary of Poland. Most of our company were sick. We were to leave the cars but had no place to go. Besides it was w1nter December. There was nothing to do but pack and go into the depot. There was a room but aga1n there was no heat and the floor was inla1d with stones and therefore very cold. There were two tables 1n the room wh1ch I brought together to make a bed for my wife who was very ill. The rest of us with our things lay on the cold floor. More and more of our party became ill. There was a doctor in the depot but he could not do anything. It seemed to be the flu. I went into the c1ty and asked the commissar to give us a place into wh1ch we could move and I requested to have the very s1ck taken to the hospital. At last they came to an understanding and had those who were very ill taken to the hospital and those who were not so very sick were given a dwelling. They told me we would have to wait until we had been disinfected as they had a contagious disease before we could go into the c1ty. They were no hurry with that, but one morning they came with sle1ghs and took the very s1ck and my wife to the hosp1tal. It was a hospital only in name. There were beds and no heat. Another man or our company and I rode along. The distance was about one and half miles from the depot. There was a man who served as a nurse. When we asked him where the beds were he said “upstairs there are mattresses but no bedsteads. The other two men and I brought them on the floor and put the sick on them. There were about ten sick women and about as many sick men. So far so good. We asked the nurse what about heat and he said “there is a stove in the room and out in the yard there is wood. You can provide heat. The wood however was green and did not want to burn. We started the f1re but there was little heat in the room where the women were and the condition in the men's room was the same. Toward evening I returned to the depot while the other two men remained to watch over the sick and make the fire burn. When I returned I learned that a little child had died. Its parents were both sick. They had three children. Another woman had given birth to a child. I ran to the doctor who had been in the depot, but was in another house now but there was no hospital for the woman who given birth to the child.

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