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Women Tell of Experiences at Hands of the Russians

"Women Tell of Experiences at Hands of the Russians." Emmons County Record, 31 March 1998, 9.


Magdalena Broekkel and Amalia Sheifel’s stories are similar in many ways. Magdalena, too, lived in Russia. They both lost family members and suffered severe hardships when they were sent to Siberia by the Russians. Eventually, Magdalena was able to return to Germany where she lives with other family members. Amalia’s story is summarized as follows.

Amalia was born in Wilhelmstal, (now called Vasylivka) in 1927. When she was seven years old, her father was taken by Russian soldiers and presumed shot. He was never heard from again. Russian soldiers broke into their home on three different occasions, ransacking it and taking anything of value.

When the Germans invaded Russia in 1941, Amalia, her mother and other siblings were taken to Poland where they were forced to work in a factory. When Poland was invaded in 1942, the family was taken to Germany where they milked cows in a dairy. When the Russian army invaded Germany in 1943, they were sent to Siberia where they labored in the forest as woodcutters. Amalia’s mother died there.

Amalia married her husband, Johann, in Siberia in 1948. They were sent to several different places before they were allowed to return to Odessa where they labored for the collective farm. Amalia milked cows and delivered milk by wagon for the collective.

Amalia’s husband is deceased. She is now retired. She still owns one cow which she takes to pasture every morning and brings home in the evening. Calves from the cow are given to her children. She said the last calf was attacked by jealous neighbors and killed.

Amalia owns her own home but it is old and needs much repair. She waits for her children to have time to help repair it and install an indoor toilet but they never seem to have the time. So she patiently waits.

Reprinted with the permission of the Emmons County Record.

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