Inspired by photos

I'd never seen these photos until the year 2000 when one of my aunts had made a photo calendar for the new century and I had a first glimpse of my mother as a child.  What had  happened in the time between these 2 photos? And that was when my journey into Soviet history began.                                                                       . 
Probably taken in 1930.

My mom (top right) age 11, standing beside her mother, Mathilde, along with her four siblings. I've fictionalized these siblings in my novels, as Albert, on left, Sofie (bottom right) and Marthe (bottom left). Jonathan, on my grandmother's lap, didn't survive the journey to Siberia. 


Probably taken in 1931

This photo, taken the following year, after the return from Siberia, shows my kulak grandfather with his surviving children. Again, my mom is on the top right. 


Zhytomyr ditch where my kulak grandfather's body 
was dumped in 1937 after his execution.

My mom's younger brother, August, who was drafted into
German Wehrmacht, taken as a Soviet POW in January, 1945
and never heard from again. 

See his postcard announcing his
capture below. The address on this card helped
me locate the family home in
Kreuzburg (now Slavskoye, Kaliningrad Oblast)
back in 2019.

The card reads: "My dear brothers!  I great you from my prison camp. 
Things are still going well for me. 
I hope that's true for you, too. 
I hope we will soon see each other in our homeland.
Greetings from, your brother, August." 


My grandfather Eduard Ristau, sitting, far right. (Called Franz Halter in my novels).

Standing beside him is my grandmother, Mathilde Ristau (born Kuehn).

Sitting beside my grandfather is my great-grandmother, Pauline Ristau and beside her is my great-grandfather, Michael Ristau. They were born in West Prussia, near modern Gdansk.

Sitting on the far left, is my grandfather's younger brother Gustav.

Both brothers were executed on September 19, 1937 during the Great Terror.

Back Row:  Still to be confirmed.

Above, my mom's prisoner of war release document. One side in Cyrillic script and below the other side in German. She was a prisoner of war from Feb (or March?), 1945 until July, 1947. 

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