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When I'm down

This bio was written by a 78 year old Naturalized American woman that didn't learn to speak, read or write English until she was 30 years old.  Maria spoke five other languages as well.  She is now deceased but her story will live forever.

As actually written to International Organization for Migration-GFLCP:

When I was a young girl 17 years of age. German troops had invaded Russia and occupied my hometown Hundorovka in the beginning of May 1942. From that time until late in September my town was occupied by German troops. During this time frame the Germans were telling to us to evacuate the town because they believed Russian troops were coming back and there may be fighting. The entire town was running to the woods trying to find hiding places. We were led to believe that we would be able to return to our town sometime next day. The fighting continued into a second day and by that time I'd been separated for my family and had no idea where anyone was. The Germans kept pushing us further west and everyone in our town was frightened and scattering throughout the countryside. Approximately four days had passed when German troops were gathering everyone and forcing them into railcars somewhere in the countryside in the Ukraine. I'm not sure to the exact location since we had been forced from our town and I had no idea where I was. I remember that my parents had told me our town was approximately seven kilometers east of the Ukraine. We were forced into railcars like animals. There was very little straw on the floor of the railroad cars. The Germans kept running the train and we were not sure of the destination. They would sometimes make stops in open fields so we could relieve ourselves. This went on for approximately two days. On the third day when the train stopped some of the townspeople were trying a runaway. The Germans started shooting. When this happened some people ran back to the train and I'm not sure where other people went. We were so frightened most of us ran back to the train hoping the shooting would stop. After the Germans had loaded us back on the train we traveled another three days and stopped in the German city of Dachau. They had put us into a holding facility similar to that of a prisoner of war camp there were fences and barbed wire surrounding the entire facility. We spent one night there. The next morning they herded us like animals into smaller groups. The selection process that was used was a Nazi pointing and shouting. The group that I was in was forced to go to the German city of Munich. We arrived in the Munich train station where we were released to German civilians. Then we were transported to the German city of Augsburg. When we arrived in Augsburg it was late night and the German civilian was taking us to a building and sat us down in the hall of this building. A few minutes later some Germans came in and selected whom they wanted. They just pointed at who they wanted and motion for me to follow. The woman who selected me was taking me to her town of Goegingen. I found out the German ladies name Frau Katarina Kress. The next morning Frau Kress took me to the registration office and registered me as her maid. I worked for Frau Kress from October 1942 until May of 1945. During this time I was also forced to work in a German military hospital. Then after the U.S. occupation of Germany we were all freed.


Sincerely Maria Karatshun