Winter 1941-1942 vs. Winter 2013

I mentioned in two previous posts the fact that Dad’s family experienced cold temperatures  unlike any that they ever exposed to before in New Jersey.  During their evacuation from Novgorod to Kuibyshev, the temperature hit lows of forty degrees below zero. That frigid weather, coupled by the fact that most of their belongings and warm clothing had been given to Dad’s brother Pete who left via the Volkhov River, must have made the journey unbearable .  The plan had been for Pete to be reunited with the rest of the family within a few days of their August departure.  Never had they imagined that they would not see him within a few days.

Apparently, the winter of 1941-1942 was the coldest European winter of the twentieth century, with temperatures plummeting to as low as -40 Fahrenheit/Celsius. (Note: Celsius and Fahrenheit are the same at -40.)  The brutally cold temperatures had a great impact on the wartime battles, particularly placing the Germans at a disadvantage since they were not accustomed to such extreme weather.

Living in New Jersey, I never experienced any winters close to what my aunts and grandparents were forced to endure.  With this country currently experiencing some of the coldest weather in years, and in some areas, hitting lows close to what Dad’s family experienced back during World War II, I am wondering what temperatures close to -40F/C feels like. Keep in mind that this was actual temperature, not the wind chill effect.

I would be very interested in hearing comments from anyone reading this posting who may have experienced weather conditions similar to the winter of 1941-1942.

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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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5 Responses to Winter 1941-1942 vs. Winter 2013

  1. Ellen says:

    I was so happy to find you back to the story!

    • kjw616 says:

      And I am glad you are back safely in your home. I will not be writing everyday since I was not able to accomplish anything over the holidays because of all the personal stuff going on. I have to figure out a new schedule.

  2. jerry aagaard says:

    Karen! I can vouch for the 40 below in winter of jan 41 it was 40 below in jaroslav a couple of times while I was there. I recall I could spit and the spittle would freeze and roll like a marble when it hit the ground now that’s cold. bye the way happy new year,and it’s 16 below here right now. jerry.

  3. kjw616 says:

    Brrr, Jerry. Happy New Year to you too, Jerry. Thanks for the great description of that kind of cold from someone who experienced it in the same place as Dad’s family. As I write that chapter of the book, I might just use that description if it is okay with you. (I will mention you in the citation!)

  4. SM Jenkin says:

    Brrr! The coldest I ever was, I visited Norway about 10 years ago. I got off for a stroll (missed the bus but went anyway) at Kirkenes. -20 degrees, beautiful but I felt it!

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