Thursday, September 8, 2016

My WWII Book

I have some exciting news to share! I am in the early stages of writing a book about my grandmother's World War II story. She and her family were Germans who lived in the Ukraine under Joseph Stalin. Her father was taken away when she was eight years old and sent to a death camp in Siberia. She never saw him nor heard from him again. When she was a teenager, her mother and brother were also deported to Siberia. (Thankfully, she was able to escape from the UN officials who attempted to deport her.)

It wasn't until 30 years later that my grandmother was reunited with her mother and brother. By that time, she was married and had three teenage daughters, one of whom was my mom. I'm looking forward to sharing the full story with you as soon as I finish the book!

80 comments:

  1. It sounds similar to my family background. My family were German-speaking Mennonites living in the Ukraine. They fled the Ukraine and ended up in Poland. My grandparents were separated during the war (WW11) in Poland and my grandmother and mother were sent to a labor camp in Siberia where my mom grew up. My grandparents were reunited in Canada after 21 years apart. My mom hadn't seen her father since she was a baby and was now 22 years old.

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    1. Hi Sandra,

      That sounds a lot like my family's story! One side of my grandma's family also has a Mennonite background. Do you know what part of the Ukraine your family lived in?

      Ellie

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    2. Hi Ellie,
      My mom's side is from the Molotschna Colony (new colony), and my dad's side is from the Chortitza Colony (old colony) in the south of the Ukraine. They were also targeted by Stalin along with all of the German-speaking people in Russia at the time. My mom and dad's families fled when they were babies as well as my mother-in-law who was 16 at the time. My dad and mother-in-law ended up as refugees in Paraguay, and my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother along with mom's aunts and cousins were captures and sent to Siberia to a labor camp not far from Lake Baikal close to Mongolia. If my grandmother couldn't work logging old growth forests by hand with her sisters (and she was often sick), she and my mom wouldn't get their ration of a piece of bread for the day which is all they had to eat. I've sometimes thought that I should write a book as well! It's very interesting how the Mennonites started out in Holland during the reformation and kept going eastward because of persecution for their faith. It would be interesting to know if we have some family connections!

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    3. Hi again Ellie,

      Can I ask where your grandmother lived in Western Canada? I was born and grew up in Vancouver, BC and now live an hour east of Vancouver and there are a lot of Mennonites in our area (Abbotsford).

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    4. Hi Sandra,

      In Ukraine, my grandma lived near Dnipropetrovsk. That's quite close to where your family is from! In Canada, she lived in Alberta. My family has been to Vancouver a couple times, as we have a relative they are. We also went skiing in Whistler which was beautiful.

      Ellie

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  2. Anonymous9/08/2016

    Wow, sounds amazing!! Do you have a Jewish background??
    So excited!!

    Alissa

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    1. Anonymous9/09/2016

      I wouldn't say "amazing"...

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    2. Hi Alissa,

      Nope, my family isn't Jewish. :) They were targeted by Stalin, who killed more than 20 million people for various reasons, or no reason at all.

      Ellie

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    3. Anonymous9/09/2016

      Oh, ok. I was just curious. Thanks for answering my question!!

      I ment to say that it's amazing she's writing a book :)

      Alissa

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    4. No worries, Alissa. :)

      Ellie

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  3. I am look forward to reading your book!

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  4. Anonymous9/08/2016

    Personal stories from that era and that place are amazing and full of bravery, drama, and heartbreak. It's good you're recording this for posterity.

    I remember when I was growing up, I used to see a husband and wife who ran a business in our town. They had numbers tattooed on their forearms. I wanted to know more about it but my mother hush-hushed it. Now I know it was concentration camp numbers. They were survivors. They must have had horrific stories to tell. I can't even imagine what they endured.

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    1. Wow, that's crazy! I remember hearing from a Holocaust survivor who visited my school as a kid. It was very eye-opening, but also very heartbreaking.

      Ellie

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    2. Anonymous9/10/2016

      My nieces and nephews are Jewish. During their bar & bat mitzvahs, they recognized and honored a child who died in the Holocost, from among the many children who never lived to see that same milestone in their lives. It's chilling and touching and it brought tears to my eyes every time.

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    3. What a wonderful thing to do. There were quite a few Jewish people in my area growing up, so I went to several bat/bat mitzvahs, but most of them were just parties with not much meaning behind them, unfortunately. Very few kids took their heritage seriously.

      Ellie

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  5. Anonymous9/08/2016

    Please keep us posted when your book is available! I can't wait to read it. Will it be available through book stores in Canada? Does your grandmother live in your area?

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    1. Will do! I hope it will be available in stores, but I will certainly be online. My grandmother died about 8 years ago, but she lived in western Canada.

      Ellie

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  6. Ashley9/08/2016

    Dear Ellie,
    That's really neat you're able to record your grandma's history. I can't wait to read more of it. Thanks for sharing it!
    Love in Christ,
    Ashley

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    1. Thanks, Ashley! I look forward to sharing the finished product with you all.

      Ellie

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  7. Shela G9/08/2016

    So amazing that you are writing a book!! I am looking forward to reading more about your grandmother and your book. I know you will do a terrific job you are a great story teller!!

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    1. That's sweet of you, Shela. I look forward to the day when I can unveil the finished product!

      Ellie

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  8. Anonymous9/09/2016

    Exciting. Do you have a publisher yet? Hope someone picks it up and it gets attention, because it sounds like a very intriguing story.

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    1. Thank you! I haven't started searching for a punisher yet. :)

      Ellie

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    2. Anonymous9/10/2016

      Punisher?

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    3. Anonymous9/10/2016

      You can always publish through Create Space if you don't find a publisher. :)

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    4. Thanks for the idea! :)

      Ellie

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  9. Sarah Liston9/09/2016

    So exciting Ellie! Can't wait to hear more!

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  10. Anonymous9/09/2016

    I too am very anxious to hear more about your family story!

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  11. So cool, can't wait!

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  12. I think it's awesome that you're writing a book. I can hardly wait to read it:-)

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    1. Well thank you. I'm flattered!

      Ellie

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  13. Anonymous9/09/2016

    Wow!!! This is so neat! I am so excited to hear more about her story! Do you have pictures you could share? What was her name? Will the book include the story of how she met her husband too?

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    1. Thank you for the encouragement! Her name was Hilda. :) I'm sure I will mention how she met her husband, but the focus will be on her childhood. I'll have to see if I can hunt down some old pictures.

      Ellie

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  14. Anonymous9/09/2016

    Love this! Do you know when the book will be finished? Do you already have a publisher???

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    1. As soon as I can get it finished. :) I would love to finish by next spring, but I've never written a book before, so it could take longer. I haven't started searching for a publisher yet.

      Ellie

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    2. Anonymous9/10/2016

      How much do you have written now? How many chapters do you anticipate the book being? I'm sure your grandmother must have been so glad to have her granddaughter so interested in hearing her story! :-)

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    3. Hi there,

      I just finished outlining the book, which took quite a while. So far I have the prologue and half of chapter 1 written. I'm thinking it will be around 10 chapters. Unfortunately, my grandma died several years ago, but she left behind a memoir. I know if she was alive today she would be thrilled to see her story turned into a book. I have contact with her brother and his kids, and they are thrilled about the project. They still live in Germany.

      Ellie

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    4. Anonymous9/13/2016

      That's so exciting! Just out of curiosity...it is going to be a small book, or will the chapters be fairly long?

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    5. I haven't for sure yet, but I'm sure the chapters will be decently long. :)

      Ellie

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  15. Love this post and can't wait for your book! :) My husband was born in Russia, as were his 5 younger siblings, and his parents travelled to America with the children when he was in grade school to escape persecution and present opportunity of a better life for their children. We are currently expecting our first child, and I hope they will grow up knowing much about their family history.

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    1. That's a neat story. I agree that it's important to teach kids about their family history. It's a great way to keep the stories from being forgotten.

      Ellie

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  16. Replies
    1. And I can't wait to share it with you! :)

      Ellie

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  17. Anonymous9/09/2016

    Good news!!! I love WWII history

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  18. Anonymous9/09/2016

    Hey, I'd read it! I love WWII books.

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    1. Well thank you! I look forward to sharing it!

      Ellie

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  19. Anonymous9/09/2016

    Would love to see a timeline of her life/the events of the book!!!

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    1. Alrighty. :) I will probably wait until I have written more of the story to share that, but I'm grateful for your interest!

      Ellie

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  20. Anonymous9/09/2016

    Have you read The Hiding Place (biography) by Corrie ten Boom and the Hidden Masterpiece series (historical fiction) by Kristy Cambron? I think they have similar storylines to your book! :-)

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    1. I haven't yet, but I plan to read The Hiding Place and other books for inspiration, and I'll add the Hidden Masterpiece to my list. Thanks!

      Ellie

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  21. Anonymous9/09/2016

    Very interesting story (especially for a history major like myself and granddaughter of a holocaust survivor). But I'm confused about the UN officials who tried to deport your grandmother. The UN wasn't established until after the war and once established the organization often found itself at odds with Soviet interests. Why would the UN be deporting Ukrainians or Germans to Siberia? Wasn't Stalin responsible for that? In fact it was the UN that would investigate and ultimately indict the Soviets for deporting thousands of Estonians. Just curious! Regardless, very interesting story.

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    1. Just realized that I posted my response to your comment on a different thread. Sorry about that. Here's what I meant to say:

      You must have heard some crazy stories as the granddaughter of a holocaust survivor.

      It was two years after the war that they tried to repatriate her, and surprisingly, the Allies helped Stalin enforce the repatriation of former Russians. It has been called "the secret betrayal." Hard to believe...

      Ellie

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  22. Anonymous9/09/2016

    Can't wait to read your book.

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  23. Hi there,

    You must have heard some crazy stories as the granddaughter of a holocaust survivor.

    It was two years after the war that they tried to repatriate her, and surprisingly, the Allies helped Stalin enforce the repatriation of former Russians. It has been called "the secret betrayal." Hard to believe...

    Ellie

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  24. Anonymous9/10/2016

    I can see your book getting famous:)

    Yvette

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  25. Anonymous9/11/2016

    Man's inhumanity makes me cry....

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  26. Anonymous9/11/2016

    If you're interested in literature from WW2, check out author Imre Kertesz. He just died a few months ago, was from Hungary and was a concentration camp survivor. I read his most known book last year and it was a heartbreakingly realistic depiction of what concentration camps were like for teenagers.
    Then, if you're more interested in the peaceful Resistance to the Nazi dictatorship that common people created, there's this amazing book by German author Hans Fallada, which is called "Every man dies alone".

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  27. Anonymous9/11/2016

    I wonder what the title of the book will be and will u have a book signing. I know im thinking far ahead but I am excited for you

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    1. Anonymous9/12/2016

      She's still in the early stages. She needs to actually write it first and then find a publisher. Which are two extremely difficult things.

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    2. Sometimes I find myself daydreaming about holding the physical copy in my hand. I'm also looking forward to coming up with a title, but I'm sure I'll wait till it's finished. If anyone has any ideas, let me know!

      Ellie

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  28. Anonymous9/12/2016

    Hi Ellie!

    That's exciting about your book! I'm looking forward to it.

    I remember my politics professor mentioning that Ukranians don't appreciate their country being referred to as "the Ukraine," as opposed to simply "Ukraine." Apparently the use of the definite article can imply that they are just a region of Russia instead of an independent country. I thought that might be worth considering.

    All the best with the book!

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    1. Thanks for mentioning that! And thank you for the encouragement. :-)

      Ellie

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  29. Anonymous9/13/2016

    Will you include some pictures? (:

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    1. Including a few pictures in the book is a great idea. Thanks!

      Ellie

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  30. We lived in Ukraine for about 5 years & always enjoy hearing stories like these.

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    1. Cool! What area did you live in? My grandmother lived in the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.

      Ellie

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  31. Excited for the book!
    I'm Ukrainian, moved from Ukraine when I was 7, now I'm almost 20. :)

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    1. Hi Luba,

      That's neat to hear! What part of Ukraine did you live in?

      Ellie

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  32. Hey Ellie

    Really interesting to read about your book project! I am actually also writing a book about my grandmothers story who was in France during WWII working as a nanny. Whilst my grandma spoke about her time in France, I found a lot of information only after she died (like many letters which she stored in a wooden box) and now wish I could ask her all the questions I have. I actually was in France for a research trip in summer and found out a lot of details which help me to finish my project.

    So, if you need help with your research, I am happy to help (I am a native german speaker living in Switzerland....)! And interested to hear how it goes with your book! All the best!

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    1. Hi Sabine,

      I'm glad you reached out. That's very neat that you are also writing a book! And thank you for the offer to help with my research. When you have a chance, can you send me an email so I have your contact info? NashvilleWife@gmail.com

      Ellie

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  33. Wow, how neat is that! Keep us posted om your progress please! :)

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  34. Anonymous9/27/2016

    Congratulations!! I wish you well as you complete it.

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  35. Wow! Your grandmother's story sounds really interesting. That'll be an intriguing book to read. :)
    Ire adding this post makes me want to write a book about my grandparent's life.
    In Christ's love,
    Ashley

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    1. Thank you, Ashley! So glad to hear that you're interested. I bet there are tons of stories out there that are waiting to be told.

      Ellie

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