Enemy: Germany or Weather?

After the September 19 diary entry regarding the bombing of Kiev, which was written in Russian and required translation by my friend Pete, there are pages and pages written in different-colored ink and handwriting.  It is so frustrating not to be able to understand any of it!

The temperature, which had been declining each day, was now nearing arctic levels.  There was a blessing which came with the coldness because the muddy washed-out roads began to freeze, enabling my grandparents and aunts to travel again. Dad’s family needed to distance themselves from the battles, since the ground forces were now so close that they could hear the gunfire in the stillness of the night.

Although the calendar indicated it was still autumn, the weather signaled the arrival of winter. It began to snow. This added another level of discomfort to the trip. The sky was continuously blanketed with thick, gray clouds. Rarely did the sunshine give them any relief from the gloom. It was getting colder by the day, with temperatures regularly dipping below zero.

On the twelfth of November, they reached a train station, and after sixteen days of patiently waiting inside with likely thousands of other weary travelers, they were finally able to board a train.

After spending months slowly plodding along the unpaved roads with so many other evacuees, I am certain they were grateful for the transportation, no matter how crowded or primitive it may have been.

Boarding Train

Boarding Train

Back in New Jersey, Dad was no longer at the Chwat house in Rockaway, New Jersey. Instead, he was at Fort Dix, now a private in the United States Army.  This fact was unknown to his family and would make communication between them so much more difficult.

Picture source for Board Train: Rebecca Manley, To the Tashkent Station: Evacuation and Survival of the Soviet Union at War (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2009), 34.

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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