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?