Mentioned in: The Kulak’s Daughter/Red Stone and Broken Stone.
(There are various spellings. This is how I refer to them in my historically-set novels.)
Federofka (Federowka or Federoufka):
Currently known as Kalinivka, Ukraine.
Located in the Zhytomyr Oblast.
25 km north of Zhytomyr and almost 200 kilometers northwest of Kyiv.
Not to be confused with similar names in other oblasts. (Oblast means region.)
Birth town of my mom, Else Ristau (aka Katya).
Site of my grandfather’s farm and windmill before forced collectivization in 1930.
Current population: less than 50.
Population in 1911: more than 600.
I visited Federofka in 2004.
Found red granite boulders marking the location of his windmill.
Zhytomyr (German spelling: Shitomir/ Zhitomir):
About 130 kilometers west of Kyiv.
Closest city to Federofka.
Site of prison where my grandfather, Eduard Ristau (Katya’s father, Franz Halter, in my novels) was held and where he was executed during the Great Terror in 1937.
Site of rail station from which my mother, aka Katya, was deported to Siberia.
Population: about 260,000
Pulin (renamed Krasnoarmeysk in 1935 and now known as Pulyny): Closest big town to Federofka. Trading centre that my mom (aka Katya) remembered visiting with her father and where she got to sip some bitter, dark beer. Back in the 1930s it was known to harbor strong resistance to collectivization and German Russians like my grandfather had to go into hiding to avoid arrest and execution.
Now it supports, through Don Miller’s Samaritan Ministry in Ukraine, a widow’s house for isolated seniors.
Population before collectivization: about 4000.
Population today: about 5000
Special connection: Visited the town in 2004 and bought delicious dark bread.
Kiev (now Kyiv)
On Dnieper River and capital of Ukraine. My grandfather would visit the German Consulate in Kiev during the 1930s, trying to get the proper travel documents so that he could exit the USSR and join his children in East Prussia.
Special connection: Visited in 2004 and witnessed preparations for Victory Day on May 9th.
Volhynia: The area outside of Zhytomyr which was settled by German farmers throughout the 19the and early 20th century.
Yaya, Siberia (not to be confused with Yaya Island in extreme north)
Yaya is in the Yaysky region of the Kemerovo Oblast of Siberia, southeast of Tomsk and 277 km north of Kemerovo.
Population exploded (on account of forced resettlement) from being smaller than a village to receiving urban status in 1934. Now at about 12 thousand and declining.
Site of transit camp in Siberia where my mom (Katya in novels), her mother and siblings are sent in November, 1930. Visit Memorial site for more information on deportations into this area. https://memorial.krsk.ru/eng/Exile/042.htm
My grandmother, Matilde, died and was buried in Yaya. Visiting the town is on my travel list!
Mentioned in: Broken Stone, Tainted Amber, Crow Stone
Kreuzburg (Slavskoye), East Prussia, Third Reich and now Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia(Not to be confused with Kreuzberg (a district in Berlin.)
Town about 20 km. south of Königsberg (Kaliningrad).
Population in 1930s, about 12 thousand. Population in 2022, about 250.
I visited Slavskoye in 2019 and found family house and Mom’s school.
Königsberg (now Kaliningrad), East Prussia, Third Reich and now capitol city of Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia. Baltic port.
Population in 1930s: almost 400 thousand. Population of Kaliningrad now: about 430 thousand.
When I visited Kaliningrad in 2019, I was able to ate Königsberger Klopse!
Rauschen (now Svetlogorsk). Spa town in East Prussia, now Kaliningrad Oblast. On the Baltic in the area once known as Samland, Sambia, or now Kaliningrad Peninsula. Still a beautiful centre, retaining much of its old German, spa town flavour.
39 km. north of Kaliningrad city.
Population: about 11 thousand.
Wehlau (now Znamensk). Town 50 kilometers east of Kaliningrad. Known as a horse-trading centre. Population: then and now about 4000. I have not visited this town.
Mentioned in: Crow Stone
Stablach (now Dolgorukowo) I wrote a blog post about this town where my mom worked in an ammunitions factory during the war. It's about ten kilometers southeast of the former Kreuzburg in the Kaliningrad Oblast.
Pillau (now Baltiysk). Port on the Baltic in Kaliningrad Oblast. Currently highly militarized, off limits for tourists.
Gronenfelde (at Frankfurt an der Oder)