The Eyes of War by Martin Roemers

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Sieglinde Bartelsen (b. Germany, 1934), blinded during the Second World War (WWII). In November 1944, the British were bombing the canal locks in the Mittellandkanaal in Minden. We were sitting in an air-raid shelter. The bombs didn't hit the targets but fell nearby our village. The heavy vibrations and air pressure damaged my retina. A day later, I was blind in one eye. In March 1945, my other eye worsened. The eye specialist said that I had a hole in my retina and that I had to lay still and then have an operation. When we arrived in the hospital, it had been evacuated. My mother rode me back home on a bicycle. In the last days of the war I was moved to various safe places. In 1946, I had an operation in Hamburg. I remember that, lying on the operation table, I could see the light and the instruments. I was happy and thought that everything would be alright. After the operation, I saw that the lamp hanging over me had become red. The doctor said that there had been internal bleeding in my eye and that the operation had failed. After that it was all over. I was completely blind. I went to a school for the blind and became a steno typist. I was very fast and won many contests. As a blind woman, I have my complexes.  I give a lot of attention to my appearance but I wear sunglasses. The last time I looked in a mirror, I was fifteen years old and very thin. I thought: "There is nothing beautiful about me." Now I regularly get compliments about my looks. Recently a man told me I was an attractive woman. I answered: "Thank you for the compliment," and he said: "It's not a compliment but an observation."  . CHECK with MRM/FNA