Tuesdays With Moisi ~ 4

Our Pop’s story continued…

This is our Pop’s story dictated verbally by him a few years ago. I’ll be sharing excerpts every Tuesday. When I add to his story or explain a photo I will Italicize my words. Our Pop’s words will not be italicized. Our mom does not come into Pop’s story until “Tuesdays With Moisi ~ 9” even though I’ve posted photos of her before #9. I have very few photos from our parents’ life in Russia and Persia. At the end of my Tuesday posts I’ll add links to all the other posts.

These photos are not our personal photos but are photos from Uzbekistan during this time period. Continuing with our Pop’s story as told to a journalist and later translated into English.

In the spring of 1933, the authorities deported our whole family along with thirty-five other families to a concentration camp in Uzbekistan near the city of Samarkand.

We were herded like animals into a railroad freight car that was used for transporting pigs.  They packed us in so tight that we could only sit upright. There was no room to lay down. As soon as the doors were shut, we all began to cry.  It was a terrifying situation. We slept as best we could that first night and when we awoke, we started crying again. Traveling with us in that boxcar were our distant relatives.  They had two daughters. One could sing and play the guitar quite well. Her playing and singing quieted us. The guards actually appreciated her talents. At both stops, they allowed us to replenish our water supply and beg for food at the stations.  And so we arrived at the concentration camp which was actually a large farm.

I remember that sometime during the first days of our arrival there, an inmate came up to us and said, “Look at the remains of this turtle.  This is what we were reduced to eating this past winter. There are no more left. You came here to die of starvation.” That was encouraging.  We were assigned various barracks. It was early spring. The grain was just beginning to sprout and the fruit in the fields was just beginning to ripen.  I and other children would steal melons at night. They weren’t that tasty but they weren’t that bad either. Reminded me of cucumbers. Our daily food ration was woefully inadequate considering the hard work that was required of us.  When the wheat harvest began, I was at the in-between stage. I was too old for kindergarten but too young for work in the fields. I didn’t fit anywhere and that bothered me. My brother’s work required them to thresh wheat. As they were working, they would allow kernels of grain to fall into their shoes and pockets and so would come back to the barracks every night and give them to my mother.  She would then crush them into flour and bake them into bread by means of a little outdoor stove which she built in an isolated area. Because the barracks were not heated in any way, we concluded that the winters could be deadly. Added to that was the very real prospect of starvation. And so we as a family decided that escape was our only chance of survival.

Ellen’s note: When The Hiding Place (Corrie Ten Boom’s Story) came out in the theaters we went with my parents to see it. I remember my Pop really moved emotionally by the railway scenes and he told us it brought back memories of he and his family being herded off to Uzbekistan. Also I remember my parents talking about having to stand in lines to get a loaf of bread.

About Ellenhttp://I am a wife, mother, baba (grandmother) and a loyal friend. Jesus is my King and my hope is in my future with Him.

13 thoughts on “Tuesdays With Moisi ~ 4

  1. Oh, Ellen, this story is beyond compelling. You know, my father walked five miles to school uphill both ways in the dead of winter, but your precious dad suffered such things. It’s heartbreaking. I am so impressed with his mother your grandmother figuring out ways to bake bread and the boys doing such clever things to get her something to work with. I can well imagine that “The Hiding Place” hit very close to home.

    Oh my! All the work that you and your family have been doing with this move of yours! What a blessing to have great kids. Your new home is lovely and I know that the work is ongoing. I imagine that each day is an adventure.

    A while ago, after reading about the boxes arriving and seeing little Addy hitching a ride on the dolly, I dreamed of visiting you at your old house. I knew where I was because I was in your former kitchen. Anyway, I was happily visiting and chatting away when your husband came home. I looked up and said, “Hello, Dear.” Then we all laughed ourselves silly. Funny little story and who could know that we might dream of our Blogging buddies?!

    Happy unpacking. I am still reading every post so don’t talk about me. ;>

  2. What happened is so sad! I didn’t know you spent time in those box cars, being sent to a concentration camp.
    Today we see those scenes in movies and wonder how people lived through that.

  3. There are so many stories of tragedy and of people treating other people so terribly. Your pop’s story is something to remember, and to give thanks to God for his deliverance, and for his protection. What a legacy he left.

  4. I am glad that I know a bit of the end of the story! Still, it is incredibly moving! Such hard, hard things that people have endured all through the ages. Praise the Lord that He knows those who are His!

  5. I’ve been following along on these – such moving stories of your parents’ early lives and trials. One can see how good God was to them and to your family…

    • I guess I should add, in the midst of all the horrific things they had to endure, He brought them out and increased their faith and you have inherited the blessings….

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