If Only They Stayed in NJ

With so many documents to photograph and time running short before my days at the National Archives would be over, I had little opportunity to read any of the letters and memos I located.  Yet I come there based upon a single page in a book, so I hoped to find the specific letter which Mr. Tzouliadis referenced in his book, “The Forsaken.”  He mentioned how two of my aunts had come to the American Embassy in Kuibyshev, hysterical because my grandfather was missing and my other aunt had “fallen sick with nerves.” The event occurred in February 1942, so I scanned the documents until I was successful in finding the letter mentioned in the book, and what I read was filled with hopelessness and despair.

“… Anna immediately became hysterical, shouting that her father had disappeared and that she had thought that he had killed himself; that her sister, Helena, had become insane and that she too was losing her mind, and that the whole family would commit suicide…. She later became hysterical again saying that the Embassy was not protecting them.  She also said ‘why did we ever come to this country. We were led by all that stuff in the paper—The Daily Worker…The New Republic.’”

The letter had so many more details regarding what was happening to them.  I knew they were in the middle of the war, which had begun in the Soviet Union with Hitler’s surprise attack on June 22, 1941- the day Dad arrived in Honolulu.  I did not know precisely what they had to endure, but this letter gave me some insight into how different their lives were from my aunts and uncles in New Jersey – the children of my other grandfather.


About kjw616

I am a genealogy detective. I have already written one book about my Irish family's journey from 19th century Ireland to the United States- a family history sprinkled with personal anecdotes. My second book was intended to be a similar story about my Russian ancestors. Instead, it turned into a tale of just my father's immediate family. It is the tale of what happens when 6 children from New Jersey are moved to the Soviet Union by their Russian-born parents during the Great Depression. It details who lives, who dies, and who is able to return to NJ during a time when leaving the USSR was not an easy endeavor, particularly during World War II and the Cold War. It is my hope that those interested in history during this time period will find this story fascinating as well as those fellow amateur family historians who will learn some of the tools such as ancestry.com, visits to the National Archives, and local libraries I used to uncover this story.
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