Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch5 Part 15

Scarlet Fever and Diphtheria

Biene contributed this post.

 Shortly before we started school, my brother and I fell ill with scarlet fever, a severe disease at that time, often leading to death. We were hospitalized. It was a very traumatic time for us. Missing my mother was almost more agonizing for me than the pain and the fever of this savage disease. My brother was far worse off than I was and was put in an isolation chamber partitioned from the ward by glass walls. I often saw doctors and nurses bend over him with serious expressions on their faces.

Our Home in Gotha

My mother knew how distressed we were. During the day and even at night, she would race on her bike to the hospital. She would find ways to sneak into our ward and comfort us, disregarding strict visitor regulations until she was asked to leave. My bed was close to a window. I would often stare out onto the street in the hope to spot my mother in the distance on her bike.

Antibiotics were very scarce in East Germany. Even in the West, there was only a limited supply because of the recent war. My brother was at the point of death when a desperate doctor asked my mother if she had relatives in West Germany. He suggested to phone them and ask for antibiotics to be sent to the hospital. He helped my mother contact her aunt via his private phone and make arrangements with a doctor in the West. Making these calls was a risky undertaking because contact with the West was considered a severe offence. Miraculously the mission was successful.

When the antibiotics finally arrived, I was already on the road to recovery. However, for my brother, they came just in the nick of time. He was saved from death but suffered from a weakened heart for the rest of his life. Shortly after we recovered, my newlywed sister and husband came down with a severe case of diphtheria, from which they took a long time to recover. They were in quarantine for many weeks, and my parents had to look after their infant son during that time.

Looking back now, I wonder how my parents coped with all these extreme hardships. As my mother often told us, my brother and I were the reason why they never despaired or gave up. We were their pride and joy. Trying to raise us for a better future gave them strength and hope. Especially my mother was prepared to sacrifice anything for our well-being and prospects for a happy future. Without personal freedom, these prospects were compromised. My parents felt increasingly oppressed by the totalitarian state.

16 Replies to “Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch5 Part 15”

  1. Was Deine Eltern und Ihr habt durchmachen müssen ist sehr schlimm gewesen Biene. Nur annähernd kann man sich vorstellen, wie alle gelitten haben.. Grossen Respekt muss ich noch heute dem Arzt aussprechen, der Euch geholfen hat und seine Existenz dadurch gefährdet hat und Deinem Bruder dadurch das Leben gerettet hat! Es waren ja furchtbare Zeiten und Deine Eltern haben wirklich alles für Euch gewagt und getan, was möglich war , trotz der menschenverachtenden Verbote und Gesetze von Seiten der Politik ..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ich habe deinen lieben Kommentar Biene vorgelesen. Sie ist dir dankbar, dass du ihren umfangreichen Bericht mit so viel Interesse liest. Ich habe ihr eine neue Website eingerichtet. Hoffentlich macht sie davon bald Gebrauch. Ich lasse euch wissen, wenn sie einen Anfang gemacht hat.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A very moving report. Difficult times. But the generations before had to master even worse difficulties. Many children died young and many mothers died giving birth , that’s why the fairy tales use to speak of step mothers.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. thats true. At the other hand there are some joys that have gone and some evils that they did not know yet… I suppose that there is existing a never changing balance of good and evil, and we are lucky if we personally are on the better side.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The test of the good and evil within us comes in times of trouble, personal tragedy, war etc. It is easy to be good for someone who lives a comfortable life in relative security.

        Like

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