I never moved during my entire childhood. Actually, that’s technically not true, because my parents moved from a house they had rented to a brand-new house when I was six months old. I just don’t think that counts.
So I lived in the same house, with the exception of my dorm in college, until I got married and moved into my first adulthood home after my marriage. That was not so with my children, who spent most of their childhood in the same home until my husband’s company relocated us to a new state. My oldest was already in college, but the two youngest were already in high school. I know it was difficult, and I knew they hated us. I hope they have forgiven us.
The thing is, like my grandparents, who also moved their children—four of whom were teenagers at the time—it was a very difficult decision. For my kids, the relocation, while certainly extremely upsetting, did not have the tragic outcomes as did the move for my father and his five siblings.
I know that there came a time when my grandfather admitted to my father that the move to Russia, which seemed like a good idea at the time, was a huge mistake. I know that my dad, as an adult, understood that his parents relocated because of circumstances directly related to The Great Depression. My grandparents truly believed that living in Russia would provide jobs, a good education for the children, and security.
Sadly, the December day in 1931 when they boarded the Berengaria en route to their new home in the USSR, they could not have foreseen what kind of man would be leading the country they were moving to, nor could they have predicted a war. They never envisioned that not all of them would return.
Learn what happened to the children in this photo by reading their story in Do Svidanya Dad.