Historical Timeline

Important dates in Katya’s life. 

1919, March 7th. Katya is born as Else Ristau in Federofka, 35 km northwest of Zhytomyr (Shitomir or Zhitomir when held by the Germans), in the province of Volhynia.  

1920.  The area officially becomes part of the USSR. Since 1991, Zhytomyr belongs to Ukraine.

1929, December 27th. Stalin issues a law to liquidate the kulaks, get rid of private farms and create kolkhozes.

1930, November. Katya, her mother and four siblings are sent via boxcar to Yaya, Siberia.

1931, February.  Katya’s mother, Mathilde, dies of typhus in Yaya, Siberia.

1931, Spring. Katya returns to her village of Federofka, only to find they no longer have a home. 

1932. Katya moves to stay with relatives in Kreuzburg, East Prussia (close to Königsberg).

1933, January.  Hitler comes to power in Germany. 

1935-1939.  Katya works as a servant girl for farmers in rural East Prussia. 

1937, September 19th. 3:13 a.m. Katya’s father, Eduard Ristau (Franz Halter in novels) is executed as a traitor to the Soviet Union, under Article 58. (Unknown to her until she’s 86 years old)

1939, September 1st. Hitler invades Poland. Second World war begins. 

1940-1945 Katya works in an ammunition factory in Stablach, East Prussia.

1945, January-February. Katya, along with her sisters, attempts to flee the Soviet Army.

1945, March. Katya is taken into Soviet custody. 

1945, May. Second World War ends. 

1947, July. Katya is released from Soviet custody. 

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