- Center for Volga German Studies
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From Gulag to Freedom based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
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.