“Why we LOVE the U.S.” (Part IV)

My husband and I love our native land the U.S. of A. The saying “Distance makes the heart grow fonder” is every bit true the longer we live in Astana, Kazakhstan.  I have enjoyed reading a young girl’s account of surviving the steppes of Siberia.  When one lives through a winter in Astana, Kazakhstan you get a taste of what Siberian winters must be like.  I have no doubt that the conditions that deportees and others who were punished for made up crimes in the 1930s and 1940s experienced the rawness of it.  Fortunately we have heat and warm clothes, and food.  Although it is more expensive to ship things to the capital of Kazakhstan.

I’ve been using quotes from a book by Esther Hautzig, titled “The Endless Steppe.” Esther’s father plays an important part in her life throughout the book and I’m to the part where he has left to fight in the Front.  Imagine leaving Siberia to be closer to sure death in war.  Because he knew German they had wanted him but before they wanted him to be a spy in Siberia among his own people, the shreds who were left.  Here is the conversation with his family after he returned from being held by the NVKD.

p. 121 “They wanted me to be a spy…They wanted me to spy on all the Polish people in the village and report on their activities.”  What activities?” I asked. ‘What do you think we do besides try to keep body and soul together? Our activities? Are you mad?”

“You said that, Samuel?” Mother asked, horrified.

“I said that.  I told them that our activities are to feed our families, to keep warm, to keep from being caught in the storms outside.  I talked that way, Raya.  Me. I could hardly believe my own ears, that I had the courage to talk this way to secret police.  I still can’t believe that they didn’t shoot me, that I am here…”

We waited for him to continue. At last he said:  “I also cried.  Like a baby.  For the first time in years.  It was after all the threats–deportation, God knows what.  It was when they were bribing me.  Food.  A better house.  Cigerettes.  I put my head down on the table and and I begged them to stop.  No, I told them, I would not spy on my friends.  I told them they could shoot me…”

I put my arms around Father.  I was proud, very proud of my father.  And I was still very frightened for him.  Would they come back for Tata?”

Accidentally I read the last page of the book written by Esther Hautzig. (Since my 5th grade teacher Miss Nygaard told me to NEVER read the end, I never do) Esther’s father does return from the Front and they do leave Siberia and eventually they went to the U.S. Perhaps that is a whole other book that has not been written.  I hope you have enjoyed the snippets of this book I’ve quoted.  Once I’m finished with “The Endless Steppe,” I’ll send it to my 12 year old nephew, who LOVES to read books.  I can’t imagine him going through what this little 12 year old Esther went through in Siberia.  That’s why we LOVE the U.S., for now, we are protected from the evils that visited the former Soviet Union.  For now.

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