Would They Ever Leave?

Finally, during the second week in February 1942, my aunts learned that Dad was in the Army, stationed in Georgia rather than at the home of their friends in New Jersey.  This must have devastated them, since they now realized he was not gainfully employed and saving money for their return home.  While I learned that Dad did what he could, he was still a soldier during a time of war, which meant his time was not his own.

None of them had been employed for at least six months, so they were dependent on personal contributions from the embassy employees.  Even if work was available, none of them were permitted to seek employment until they were registered in Kuibyshev, which was apparently not an easy task.

The conditions at the hotel continued to deteriorate. Illnesses from the unsanitary conditions increased, the hotel was cold, and the electricity was regularly going out each night.   My grandparents were still living in the train station, and the best hope at getting money for their travel expenses home was by writing letters to their friends back in New Jersey- none of whom had high paying jobs. They were all simple laborers. This was never the plan.  My grandparents surely knew they should never have left New Jersey, but now they were trapped. Would they ever get out of there?

February 8, 1942: Letter from Dad to Embassy in Kuibyshev informing them that he is in the Army, stationed in Georgia.

February 8, 1942: Letter from Dad to Embassy in Kuibyshev informing them that he is in the Army, stationed in Georgia.


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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4 Responses to Would They Ever Leave?

  1. jerry l aagaard says:

    Karen, apart from you very interesting stories looking at your picture are you a red head? my wife was,just curios[boy my spelling has gone you know where in a hand basket.]

    • kjw616 says:

      Hi Jerry,
      No, I am not a redhead, but my mom is. Hope you are staying warm. Reading this blog, I bet you are glad your father got you out of there when you did!

      • jerry l aagaard says:

        ok I just wondered yes we were lucky,i guess it was because I was an American,and my father although he was born in Norway he was a natulized American citizen. I really can’t recall any problems l either national lead or my father or the American embassy had some pull somewhere since we were not in the war at that time. I am staying warm but it was minus 7% this morning and I have a two foot drift in front of the sliding door to my patio, snow that is.keep in touch

  2. kjw616 says:

    Dad and his five siblings were all Americans- born in New Jersey- and they had never taken out Russian citizenship. My grandparents had only gone through the first step of the naturalizaion process, so I understand why they would not have been able to leave. Dad and his siblings had all applied for their passports together- the same time as you. For some reason unknown to me, only my father got his, then the war came and they got stuck and received little help from our embassy.

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