Portrait of a Survivor
ON THE last day of the Braunsteiner deportation hearings several witnesses waited outside the courtroom for the proceedings to begin. One, a merry-eyed blonde woman, hovering near the door of the courtroom, was waiting, she said, in the hope that she would encounter Hermine Ryan entering the courtroom. In this she had been disappointed: Mrs. Ryan, her husband, and her attorney had either come very early or somehow got by the door without being seen, and now they sat by themselves, waving off everyone who came near. The blonde witness, whose name was Stella, explained that she waited for Mrs.
Ryan because she wanted the chance to walk up close to her and say something to her that she would hear. What it was she would say when the moment came, she did not know in advance; and she was not concerned about it.
“Something would come to me,” she said with assurance, when asked what it was she would want to say. Clearly torn between her desire to stay and talk with the other witnesses and her desire to keep an eye on Mrs. Ryan and the inside of the courtroom, she divided her attention between them. Now she turned to the group in the hall and exchanged whispers with someone, now she turned to canvass the small entryway to the court- room, now she returned to murmur a word to a witness: now, while she murmured, she flicked a watchful eye toward the door.
About the Author