"There were not yet many people in the carriage when we entered it. My mother took a quick look and then resolutely pushed me to the left, just inside the door. Then she said very firmly to me, “This is your place, and you will keep it.” I immediately understood the necessity of keeping my place on the straw-covered floor when very soon more and more people came into the carriage. I saw how people around me were snarling and clenching their teeth as they pushed and shoved to get the best possible places for themselves and their luggage. In the end we were pressed so closely together that there was not room for everybody to sit down, not to mention lie down, and a strange, tense silence ensued. Only the soldiers shouted and screamed on the platform.
Then the doors were slammed shut and a lock placed in the door from the outside.
It got dark. I sat huddled up next to my mother without daring to move in the darkness. My fear made me hold my breath, and I only dared breath spasmodically, almost in gasps. Very slowly my eyes got used to the unexpected darkness and I saw that light was coming through the bars of the air hole in a corner of the ceiling. Soon after, I began to make out other people in the carriage. Everyone was silent. Everyone was shocked and paralysed by the quick succession of events. The air soon became stuffy and close. Many people sweated with fear, and some were not able to hold back their urine, faeces or wind out of fear, so we were surrounded by all sorts of human miasmas. In our carriage, a man called Dr. Hambro had a blue enamelled coffee pot among his luggage. After several hours, when everyone felt uncomfortable due to the lack of toilet facilities, it was decided that the coffee pot should be used as an improvised toilet.
The train swayed, and I saw how hard it was for people to hit the small opening of the coffee pot when they were peeing. For this reason, but also because I saw how everybody’s eyes were directed at the person using the pot, I sat huddled up waiting for as long as possible before using the pot. When I was not able to hold back anymore and it came to be my turn, things went wrong, of course. The carriage was driving unevenly and my legs were shaking far too much for me to squat, so I missed the coffe pot and hit my stockings and shoes instead. I was very ashamed, and I do not remember repeating the attempt."
From Min rejse tilbage (My Journey Back) by Jytte Bornstein (1994).
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Get a discount of 10% at selected cafés by showing your ticket from the museum (Photo: Eddie Michel Azoulay).
- an exhibition about Jews in Denmark
The exhibition is a broad story of Jewish life in Denmark and focuses on co-exixstence and indentity through 400 years. Read more...
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