Stepan stopped by my desk again and told me a little story about his great grandfather, Nikolai, who was originally from the Ukraine. Nikolai was a successful, small family farmer. So successful, it turns out, that In the 1930′s, Stalin’s thugs took the farm and sent the whole family to Siberia. Somehow, Nikolai was able to bribe two guards so the family could escape. They changed their names and lived as illegal aliens in Murmansk. I looked up Murmansk on Google maps. It is in the very Northwest corner of Russia, not too far from the border with Finland. His family probably did not live too far from our relative in Northern Finland during World War II. It is an amazing story. Stepan’s family did not hear about it until Nikolai’s wife told them about it after the Soviet Union fell in the early 1990′s.
He also told me about his wife’s great grandfather who is German/Dutch extraction. During World War II, he got sent to a horrible concentration camp in Kazakhstan where the vast bulk of the prisoners died. He had abandoned his factory in the Ukraine and made his way to the south of Russian when he saw that Stalin and the communists were going to come and take it from him.
Needless to say, Stepan does NOT have too many warm fuzzy feelings about atheism, communism in general, and Joe Stalin in particular.