I Underestimated the Horror

Although I planned on no further posts for a few weeks, I am too excited to wait.

I recently found an article which was posted in the Bridgewater, New Jersey Courier News on July 12, 1945—just five days after my father’s twin sisters docked in Newport News, Virginia after having lived in the Soviet Union since 1931. During all the years I have researched what happened to my father’s family after they left New Jersey, I never read this particular newspaper story.

It was shocking to learn that my pregnant aunt dug trenches for the Russian army shortly before the city of Novgorod fell to the Germans in August 1941.

Planes would come over to fire on us. One day I came home to find my mother had been looking all over the area for my body, because she had heard that all the trench diggers had been killed.

 Aunt Nancy confirmed what I read in the diary, which was that they were eating food from abandoned farms, where they hid for three months until they were able to board a train headed away from the hostilities. While I wrote that they had been approached by soldiers, I was not aware that they were German officers.

We didn’t know what to do.We couldn’t run because they had guns and grenades they would have thrown after us. They thought we might be able to tell them something about the Red Army, but they finally decided to let us go.

 Wow! That sounds terrifying. I always thought what happened to them was horrifying, but I underestimated the enormity of their wartime journey.


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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1 Response to I Underestimated the Horror

  1. Pingback: Don’t Wait to Have that Chat | Do Svidanya Dad

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