“…The screams that rang throughout the darkened cattle car crammed with deportees – as it jolted across the icy Polish countryside five nights before Christmas, were Dr. Loch’s only means of locating his patient.
The doctor, formerly chief medical officer of a large urban hospital, now found himself clambering over piles of baggage, fellow passengers, and buckets used as toilets – only to find his path blocked by an old woman who ignored his request to move aside.
On closer examination he discovered that she had frozen to death.
Finally he located the source of the screams, a pregnant woman who had gone into premature labor and was hemorrhaging profusely.
When he attempted to move her from where she lay into a more comfortable position, he found that “she was frozen to the floor with her own blood.”
Other than temporarily stanching the bleeding, Loch was unable to do anything to help her – and he never learned whether she had lived or died.
When the train made its first stop, after more than four days in transit, 16 frost-covered corpses were pulled from the wagons before the remaining deportees were put back on board to continue their journey.
A further 42 passengers would later succumb to the effects of their ordeal, among them Loch’s wife.
During the Second World War, tragic scenes like those were commonplace, as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin moved around entire populations like pieces on a chessboard, seeking to reshape the demographic profile of Europe according to their own preferences.
What was different about the deportation of Loch and his fellow passengers, however -
- was that it took place by order of the United States and Britain as well as the Soviet Union -
- nearly two years after the declaration of peace…”
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