Just before Christmas I have received this wonderful touching letter from my first client with Russian ancestry. I cannot resist to share it with you with the permission of course. This is the reason why I am doing it. I remember the first communication. There was so little to start from…
…Only yesterday whilst looking for Tatyana’s home address in Karagandinskaya, Kazakhstan did I reflect on how far I had come with my information and how much help Tana had given me.
Starting out with finding our lost relatives from Russia and the Baltic states began for me many years ago; progress was slow and language was a big barrier until I found Tana.
After Tana managed to find the family and put us in touch, we decided to plan a visit to the homeland of my father and his family.
We have met this family and had the pleasure of visiting Russia and The Baltic States in June and July this year. We visited the church where my grandmother was married; the same with my great grandparents – contrasting each other by rich and moderate.
We visited St. Petersburg and all the Palaces and Museums of splendor and Gold; Amber Room and walked the gardens of the Places where Peter the Great oversaw the building of the Palaces and Canals, the latter surpassing the fountains of France where he first viewed such fountains.
We loved Moscow and meeting up with the family – Tatyana, her daughter-in-law and grand-daughter. Information from this was wonderful and the gift from the family home they give to me.
Sergei [translator] was wonderful as Tatyana and I chatted without each understanding a word of what we said and Sergei busy translating for us.
He visited Odessa and although I got no further with my grandmother’s family I have made great inroads with my father’s family with only the footballer still elusive! He is listed as having been killed in 1942 at the Siege of Leningrad, but whilst at the War Memorial Museum in Moscow I was unable to find his name due to the lack of time as the tour had to proceed away from the area – time schedules did not permit, but that was alright.
I visited the Leve (Vintorg) shop (unfortunately closed as it was a Sunday) and the Tea House and had dinner in one of the old houses in the street where my family lived. We also visited their house, but were not able to go in. We should have asked as these are now studio apartments and are for rent to tourists.
We went to Riga and I found myself in tears as we entered St Peter’s Church were my Gt.Gt. grandparents were married and this was a bit uncontrollable for some time until I composed myself.
Riga a beautiful city as is Odessa with the Art Nouveau buildings still as they were when first built. I managed to go inside one of the houses lived in by my Great Uncle who was the tea seller and brother to my great grandfather.
I found out more about my great uncle who was a Dr. on the Island of Hiiumaa; he was killed there in 1942 by the Russians after being allowed to work peacefully under German Occupation until 1942. What happened to his three sons I have yet to establish but research ongoing as you can imagine.
I contacted the Museum in Estonia and found that the resting place of my gt. uncle would be impossible to locate as he was shot in the woods and there are mass graves there. On the other hand out of the blue a person from Estonia contacts me to say they have a friend living in the house and they have found family photos and documents, but as yet she has not shared them – they did lead her to me. So next visit to Estonia necessitates a stay in the now Holiday House of my gt.Uncle.
What was inspirational was the story of family members who as a young farming couple hid a Jewish girl from the Germans in the farmhouse in the woods and did this for 6 years. This lady who lost all her family to the gas chambers survived to emigrate to USA and then tell her story, now on video for all to hear.
So much out there and so many Russians are as hungry for information on relatives as us in the west. So thank you so much and keep up the good work.
From Maria, New Zealand