Untrustworthy Now and Then

When my grandparents decided to leave their New Jersey home and move their family to the Soviet Union, it was a risky decision. Would there really be plenty of job opportunities awaiting them, and how would they be received after having been away from their homeland for so many years?

Diplomatic relations between the two countries had been dissolved by President Truman, so there was no one to protect them. While my grandparents were not American citizens at the time, my father and his siblings were, as well as my grandfather’s brother.

Two years after their arrival, FDR became president, and almost immediately, he sought to reestablish diplomatic relations between the new countries. (Hmm—sounds familiar.Let’s be best friends with the USSR, folks!)

Russia had an unpaid debt to the U.S. which Roosevelt hoped to settle, he wanted the Russians to stop meddling in our domestic affairs, and he wanted assurances that Americans living in the USSR would have their religious and legal rights protected.

This was probably all good news to my grandparents, but could the Russians really be trusted to keep their word? Just turn on the news today and you will have your answer. And as in the past, money was the driving force.

In less than ten years, this agreement would have tragic, personal consequences to one of my father’s siblings. Why would anyone ever believe that a pact with the Russian government would be honored?


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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