Going from Bad to Worse

It was now December 16, 1941- four months since their forced-evacuation from Novgorod, and my grandparents and three aunts had traveled more than sixteen hundred miles. The journey was not over.

My grandparents were able to obtain some salty pea soup a few days later at the Zuyevka Station, and according to Anna’s diary entry, “a very hospitable militia man helped H & A get an extra loaf of bread.”  For the next few days, the best they could hope for was soup and bread to nourish them, and they realized that, in such bitterly cold weather, something as basic as that was justification enough to lift their spirits a bit. When they reached the Kungar Station, they were given some bread and bologna- which was probably considered a huge treat at that moment in their lives.

How their lives had changed! That time eleven years ago, they would have been safe and warm in their New Jersey home preparing for Christmas. Although their holiday celebrations had been modest, I imagine they longed for those days again!

So that was how it continued.  The train slowly advanced from station to station. It was now three days before Christmas, and the diary notation called it an “unlucky day”. Somehow, the family got separated from one another. After reboarding the train at the Kuzino Station, my aunts realized that my grandfather was not with them. How much worse could it have gotten!


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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