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Bulgarisches Frauenlos stand schlicht und in stummer Natürlichkeit an manchem der neuen sauberen Bahnhöfe; ein Eisenbahnunfall lehrte vier Stunden in der Nacht auf einsamer Strecke das Warten in Gesellschaft jener unzertrennlichen Begleiter südlicher und östlicher Heere, die sich in den fetten Polstern der Wagen eingenistet hatten.

In the first clause, I am unsure how to translate

Bulgarisches Frauenlos stand schlicht und in stummer Natürlichkeit

and I am not totally sure how to parse the second, but I think it simplifies down to:

ein Eisenbahnunfall lehrte das Warten

(a railway accident taught waiting) but I am not sure how to translate this sensibly into English. Perhaps the sense of it is something like

The lot of Bulgaria's women was revealed simply and silently at several of the clean new stations; a railway accident had forced us to wait patiently on a lonely stretch of track at four in the morning, in the company of these inseparable companions of the southern and eastern armies, who had settled themselves into the plump cushions of the wagons.

but I am unclear on several points. For example, is it clear whether it is the armies or the companions who have sich eingenistet haben? (I am assuming it is the companions.)

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  • I will observe this carefully later, because I begin class now . However there are some points: 1. I assume the inseparable companions to be insects, probably fleas . 2. The settling logically refers to them, but it could refer to the armies in principle. 3. The four hours duration pedantically speaking refers to teaching, not waiting, which I find difficult to translate smoothly.
    – Ludi
    Jul 19 '16 at 7:17
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You have picked up most of the text properly - However, "Los" translates more to "fate" than "lot" here.

Bulgarian women's fate was to be seen plain, in dumb artlessness at some of the new stations.

The sentence is about woman's fate in wartime that could be seen at the stations - whatever that was.

A railway accident taught us how to wait for four hours in the night on a lonely stretch of track, in the company of these inseparable companions of the southern and eastern armies, who had settled themselves into the plump cushions of the wagons.

It's clearly the "companions" that had settled in the wagons, whoever that is - soldiers, maybe, but could also refer to fleas or bedbugs.

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    My English is not perfect, but, for all I know, lot comes very close to "Los", I would even think a bit closer than "fate".
    – Ludi
    Jul 19 '16 at 7:05
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    @Ludi I chose fate to make sure lot was not used in the sense of "the whole lot", i.e. "all"
    – tofro
    Jul 19 '16 at 8:14
  • The German "Los" can have several distinct meanings. It can mean "fate" ("Es ist mein Los, immer zu verlieren" - "It's my fate always to loose"). It can mean a ticket in a raffle or lottery. Or it can mean a lot or batch, for example in the production of goods, see the German Wikipedia. In the text we're talking about, "Los" means the fate of the women, so that's the best translation IMHO. Jul 19 '16 at 9:16
  • @HenningKockerbeck, yes it refers to a person’s luck, situation, or destiny in life.
    – Carsten S
    Jul 19 '16 at 10:17
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    @Raketenolli Genauso, wie du es gemacht hast: "An den Bahnhöfen sah man Beispiele für heutige Frauenschicksale" (Ich denke, das ist, was gemeint war, möglicherweise Prostitution). Wenn der Autor "Lose von Frauen" im Sinne von "Gruppen" gemeint hätte, hätte er mMn "Grüppchen von Frauen an den Bahnsteigen" oder sowas geschrieben - Und warum er die Grüppchen erwähnt hätte, will mir nicht recht einleuchten. "Lose" kenne ich nur für Sachen.
    – tofro
    Jul 19 '16 at 12:55

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