Going Silent: Augusta Chiwy (B. 1921)

Posted in Articles, Biography, Europe, History, Media Archive, Women on 2015-12-23 22:04Z by Steven

Going Silent: Augusta Chiwy (B. 1921)

The Lives They Lived (2015)
The New York Times Magazine

Ruth Padawer, Adjunct Professor of Journalism
Columbia University, New York, New York

Augusta Chiwy as a nursing student, front row center, at St. Elisabeth Hospital in Leuven, Belgium, in 1943.
Credit: Photograph from Martin King

She saw so much and could say so little about it.

In late December 1944, as German bombs rained on the Belgian town Bastogne, an American Army surgeon named Jack Prior banged on the door of a local home, desperate for help. He had heard a nurse lived there. When a middle-aged gentleman cautiously opened the door, the surgeon asked if the man’s daughter could join him at the Army’s makeshift hospital close by.

Prior knew Augusta Chiwy was black — her father was Belgian, her mother Congolese — and he knew the American Army prohibited black nurses from treating its white soldiers. But he reasoned that volunteers weren’t bound by Army rules. And anyway, he needed help.

The situation at the hospital was dire. The only medics for the 50 or so wounded soldiers were Prior, a dentist and another volunteer nurse. The team had run out of morphine and bandages, and only one can of ether remained. Electricity and running water had been cut off by the Germans, who were quickly surrounding Bastogne. This was the Battle of the Bulge, one of the deadliest of the war

Read the entire article here.

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