The Little Ukrainian

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More About This Title The Little Ukrainian


In the Ukraine during World War II, a father sends his little son to live with his brother and his wife. Shortly thereafter, the father joins the partisans in the East, while his brother, wife, and the boy proceed West with the retreating Germans. On the way, the boy is forced to fend for himself while his aunt and uncle pursue various jobs. They finally arrive in Berlin, where they work helping a flower and vegetable grower amidst many bombings and much suspense.In about a year, the Russians enter Berlin, and the war ends. The aunt, uncle, and boy prepare to return to their homeland—but the boy doesn't want to go. On the way East, he escapes, returning to the flower grower, who is reluctant to have anything to do with the boy for fear of Russian retaliation.After several days, no Russians appear, and life returns to normal. Soon, the boy is enrolled in a German school and does well. After a few years, the flower grower receives a letter, supposedly from the boy's father, asking the grower to return the boy. The flower grower and the boy ignore the letter. Soon another one arrives and is treated like the first. A month later, two men arrive and ask for the boy who, fortunately, is in school, a process repeated several more times. The flower grower and his wife have had enough, and they contact the authorities. One day, a woman and a man meet the boy, identifying themselves as being from the district government. To prevent the Russians from kidnapping him, he must accompany the woman immediately, without saying good bye to anyone. Within a couple weeks, the boy is smuggled out of Berlin on an American Army train. After two weeks in a displaced persons' refugee camp in Hanau, West Germany, the boy is driven to the International Refugee Organization (IRO) Children's Village in Bad Aibling.His case worker tells the boy he cannot live in the children's village forever. The boy tells the case worker he wants to go to the United States, but the case worker says her job is to return him to his parents. To do anything else, the boy's father must give them his permission—permission the boy doubts he'll get. The boy asks a girl who knows Polish to write a letter asking his father for permission to emigrate to the United states. To the boy's surprise, the father gives him the required permission. After the appropriate vetting, the boy is sent to an American family in Wisconsin and begins life in the United States.He graduates high school in the Wisconsin Dells, studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and plays in the marching bands of both schools. Nevertheless, he still feels like a foreigner. His dream is to become a full-fledged American. As soon as he's been in the United States for five years, he applies for naturalization. Four months later, he becomes an American citizen. With a bachelor's degree in physics from UW, he attains a master's degree in physics from North Carolina State University. In the Air Force, he marries and receives orders to report to the Defense Atomic Support Agency—the successor to the Manhattan Project—at the Pentagon. After fathering a son and daughter, he retires from his job as an Air Force subcontractor and moves to Florida, where he now enjoys watching his grandchildren grow.


I was born in the Ukraine. As the Germans were retreating from Russia during WWII, I was swept along until I found myself in Berlin. In a year the Russians entered Berlin and the war ended. The relatives I was living with decided to return to Poland or Ukraine and I was supposed to return with them. I liked Berlin and wanted to remain in Germany. As they were heading east out Berlin, I fell farther and farther behind them and then I turned and began walking in the opposite direction. I returned to the German couple we had lived with. They were reluctant to have anything to do with me as they feared Russian retaliation, but nothing happened. I enrolled in the local school and did quite well. For several years no contact from the East occurred, then a letter came asking the German couple to return me. We decided to ignore the letter, but another soon arrived requesting the same thing. That letter received the same treatment as the first. Several months went by and then two men showed up asking for me and were told that I was not home. This was repeated for several months. Fortunately, I was never home. These visits upset the couple and they went to the authorities. One day I was met by a couple from the district government. I knew the man but not the lady. The man explained to me that to prevent the Russians from kidnapping me, I had to leave with lady right away, which I did. After several days, the lady told me that I had to move to children's home in the American sector as the Americans could help me unless I lived in their sector. I moved and within a few days an American appeared to tell me in two days we would be leaving Berlin on American Army train. True to his word, on the second day he appeared in a station wagon to get me and drive us to the train. We had a sleeper compartment and as the train began rolling out of Berlin, we were slipping under the covers on our bunks. We woke up in Frankfort. The American told me that as soon as he could find the case worker, he would hand me over and his task would be done. The case worker turned out to be nothing but a driver. He took me to a displaced persons camp in Hanau. I spent some time there before proceeding to the International Children's Village at Bad Aibling in southern Germany. There I convinced my case worker that I wanted to emigrate to the United States. To do that, since I was a minor, I had to have the permission of the person who claimed to be my father in Poland. Since I did not know any Polish, I asked a girl in math class to write such a letter for me. In about two months I received a reply and, to my surprise, I received the permission. My case worker started the process of getting me to the United States. I crossed the Atlantic in a troop ship. It took ten days. I was delivered to reception center in the Bronx where I spent about two months. I was then placed on an airplane and after multiple stops and multiple strangers, I was delivered to my new parents. Before I could figure out What had happened, I was a freshman in high school. I completed high school and was enrolled at a university. By my sophomore year I had been in the United States for five years. It was time for me to apply for US citizenship. I became a US citizen the following January. I received a bachelor of science degree in physics and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. I served for twenty years, retired, and worked for another thirty two years as contractor for the Air Force. I finally completely retired and moved to Florida to be near my son and watch my grand kids grow.