Search for Siblings - Lost in Russia
Germans From Russia Guest [Valerie Renner Ingram] Tells
of her Search for Siblings Sunday, October 23
Tandberg, Kathy. "Searching for Siblings - Lost in Russia." Beulah Beacon, 20 October 2005, sec. 6A.
The Germans from Russia Die Deutsche Stammhalter Chapter will present
special guest speaker Valerie Ingram Sunday, Oct. 23 at 2:30 p.m.
at the Beulah Senior Center.
Valerie Ingram, Spokane, Wash., tells
of her search for lost siblings.
Ingram, a Spokane, Wash., wife, mother and grandmother, has a special
story to share of hope fulfilled that will grab the heartstrings
It is the story of family, her two older siblings, once lost in
Russia, now found. Siblings left behind with their mother after
their father was forced to flee for his life during World War II,
leaving all he knew and loved behind.
It is the story of a trip to Russia in 2003 as Ingram took her
search one step further to the land of her father’s birth
in hopes of finding her lost siblings.
Ingram’s father, Michael Renner, spoke rarely of his flight
from Russia when he was alive, but she said it was something that
never left his mind or heart. He fled Russia under force and fear
that if he stayed, the lives of his family would be in danger. All
he took with him was a reminder of his two children, a photo that
hung on the wall of their Spokane home as far back as Ingram can
The son of landowners, Christian Renner and his wife, Barbara,
Ingram’s father Michael, was born in 1908 in Speier, Beresan
District, South Russia.
He grew up at a time in Russian history when Germans feared for
their lives. A wrong move or wrong word could send them to labor
camps or even worse, death.
At the age of 10, Michael watched for three days as the Bolsheviks
tortured, burned, cut and beat his father. Then he was drug onto
the streets of their village and shot.
Fearing for her child’s life, his mother obtained "doctored
papers" for her son and sent him to live with relatives in
another village. Ingram said the Russians had a creed, "Death
to the cradle."
"And my father was the cradle of his family," Ingram
Michael married a Russian woman and they had two children, Emma
in 1935 and Adolf in 1937. As tensions mounted throughout Russia,
raids on German families were not uncommon. Germans of all ages
were forced into Russian military or work camps. Michael knew his
existence in the family was placing his family in harm’s way
so he made plans to flee.
His Russian wife refused to leave her newly widowed mother, so
she and their two children stayed behind, with the belief that her
Russian blood would keep them from harm.
Michael met and married Ingram’s mother, Angela, in Germany.
The couple had three sons before immigrating to America in 1952.
They lived briefly in Solen, N.D., where Ingram was born, and then
moved to Spokane, Wash. where they had two more children.
Throughout her life, Ingram always thought of her two lost siblings,
but it was not a subject she could speak with her father about.
In 1992 another sibling approached their father with the idea of
searching for Emma and Adolf, but their father forbid it.
|This photo of Emma and
Adolf was all Ingram’s father had of his two older children
when he fled Russia during World War II. He never saw them again.
The request must have stayed on Michael’s heart and mind.
A few days later he called his six children together to tell them
the story of what happened in Russia. It was the first time he spoke
openly of his past.
"He was afraid that if we began to search for Emma and Adolf,
the Russians would hear that he was still alive and they would find
him and do terrible harm to his family," said Ingram.
Michael then gave his children permission to search for their older
siblings after his death. Sadly, he died just three years later
in 1995 at the age of 87. He was buried with the photo of his two
lost children in his hands.
Ingram’s story is one anyone can connect to, whether they
are of German from Russia descent or not. If you ask anyone on the
streets where their ancestral roots began, they most likely will
answer Europe, Russia, Scandinavia.
Many children and families, like Ingram’s, were lost and
separated during the immigration years. Some were found, others,
like Ingram’s siblings have remained lost.
But Ingram’s story continues in a search that proves the
lost can be found. She began with Internet searches and talking
of her plight. It comes to full bloom on a journey to Russia where
she walked the same streets her grandfather and father once walked.
What she found will fill the listener with anticipation and hope.
Ingram will share her story in depth this Sunday. It promises to
be an exciting afternoon.
"I’m still excited about it and it was two years ago,"
All are invited to attend this afternoon of heritage and hope.
A potluck will follow the program.
Reprinted with permission of the Beulah Beacon.