Home at Last- July 1941

I am sure that the news reports that Hitler had double-crossed Stalin and invaded the Soviet Union both shocked and worried Dad.  He had no way of knowing if his family was in danger or whether they were hidden from the perils of the invading German troops. It was impossible to communicate with them. He was probably more anxious than ever to return to New Jersey so that he could help them, but there was nothing he could do to hasten his journey.  The worry must have been unbearable. The Kamakura Maru docked in San Francisco on June 28, and now, the only hurdle to overcome between where he was and where he needed to be was the long, four-day train ride across the United States.

Manifest-Kamakura Maru

I imagine that the last leg of his trip home was a blur. Did he sleep for much of the ride, or did he lie awake wondering what was happening to all of them?

Sometime in early July, he was finally seated at the kitchen table in Rockaway, New Jersey relaying the tale of his odyssey to his godmother, Mrs. Chwat, her husband , and the kids-John, Mike, Anna and Catherine. He was likely happy to be able to thank them in person for the financial assistance they had given him to return to New Jersey.

He composed a letter to the State Department in Washington and waited.  When he left, his family was in Novgorod, but could they still be there? The biggest questions on everyone’s mind were where his family was located and, with Germany advancing deeper into Soviet territory, were they safe?


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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