From Gulag to Freedomby Sigrid Weidenweber
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Katya, a bright, energetic and resourceful Volga German girl, is a worthy descendant of those first pioneers of the steppe. She is also free to reveal, through her feminine creator, thoughts and circumstances often hidden to men. Artfully illuminated through dress, colors, textures, foods and challenges, Katya embarks upon an adventurous escape from a gulag on the arctic tundra and makes her way to Fresno, California, where she reconnects with a Volga German community that had immigrated decades earlier.
From Gulag to Freedom is the third volume in Sigrid Weidenweber's trilogy "The Volga Flows Forever." Catherine, the first volume, brings to life the fascinating historical character of Catherine the Great who invited her native countrymen to settle the Russian frontier. The Volga Germans, the second volume, continues the story of the German immigrants and their descendants who civilized the bleak Russian frontier of the lower Volga River Valley. They survived an unpredictable and often harsh climate and the vagaries of tsarist edicts to build a culture that was uniquely their own.
Meet the Author
Born in Germany in 1941, Sigrid Weidenweber remembers the closing days of World War II. She grew up under communism in East Germany and escaped from East Berlin with the help of a French pasport shortly after the Wall was erected.
Sigrid has a degree in medical technology from Wuerzburg as well as a degree in psychology from Portland State University. It was in Wuerzburg that she met Donald, her husband of 38 years. During her time at PSU, she fell in love with anthropology, a subject she still pursues with coursework, as well as on her own time.
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This story was absolutely incredible. I've always been fascinated by the gulags and what happened to the prisoners -- and this book puts faces, hearts, and souls on these people who suffered so much. Katya's story of strength and faithfulness in the midst of a challenging life personifies the struggle -- and triumph -- so many people faced years ago. Highly recommended.
Awesome story. I must admit that I was reluctant to read it, I thought it would be full of gore and terrible sadness since we all know that Stalin's genocide and pogroms were horrible. I was very pleasantly surprised because the book is written in a very matter of fact way. This is the story of Katya, the last of Martin's descendants to live in Russia. This is presented as the memories of an older woman who has survived and made a life for herself in California. Katya's life goes from living in a small town with a strict Lutheran code, through the change that is forced upon the town to become a collective and forget the church, to losing her father to the gulag simply because he was a successful horse breeder and Russian officer. After her father is taken away they learn to survive the changes and the rules, even the silly ones made by government officials that have no idea what farming is about, and learn to meet the quota or norm as it is called there. When she is about 20 the officials decide that the collective isn't meeting the norm and since the war with Germany has started; it is time for all the German's to be sent to Siberia as slave labour. Katya and her mother are split up and sent to separate places. Once on her own Katya's strength of character and commonsense come to the for enabling her to become a leader and to survive the cold and the hunger. After an attempted rape she escapes with the help of the Komi, a native Siberian tribe and from there to California, Germany to search for family and back to California again. Her steadfast belief in the goodness of God and the ideas that have been instilled in her by her mother are a main part of the strength and belief that she can accomplish what she must in order to live the life that God has chosen for her. An excellent book for anyone interested in Russian history and a woman of strength as a heroine.