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Page 104

PART I - IN THE SHADOW OF DEATH
CHAPTER 13 - THE WIVES

The winter of 1954 was cruelly cold. We shivered on our daily walks, and watched the black crows freezing on the walls of the graveyard across the street.
The cold eventually forced me to become my own tailor for the first time in my life. After long negotiations with the prisoner who was clerk of the stockroom, I succeeded in obtaining some worn-out rugs which had once, in their prime, been socks. Out of these colorful patches I sewed up a sweater for myself. My tailoring efforts greatly amused the prisoners in our section. They kept visiting me to see how my work was progressing. My "heroic" undertaking became a favorite topic.
The greatest excitement occurred on those week-ends when wives, mothers, and other relatives were permitted to visit us. I will never forget the deep emotion we all felt when the first visitors arrived. The meetings took place in a large hall, and a heavy rail separated the prisoners from the visitors. Two guards stood by every prisoner, listening to each word.
To us, these women who came from the outside world seemed the most glamourous beauties we had ever seen. Their visits had varied effects on the prisoners. Some returned in a gay mood, proud of their families. Others came back with a bitter expression on their faces, and we immediately knew who had been told by his wife that she could wait no longer. Some wives complained that they were going hungry; others had been threatened with losing their jobs and livelihoods unless they divorced their husbands, or became the mistresses of their employers;

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