Tuesday, October 09, 2018

History of terror and migration

Erna Braun photographed pages of her grandfather Johann Johann Braun's KGB dossier. (Submitted by Erna Braun)

Sometimes the old world seems not so far away.  CBC Radio reports on a group of Manitoba Mennonites who took a river cruise to the Ukrainian territories their grandparents emigrated from -- and found themselves gaining access to the KGB reports from the 1930s that documented the arrests, interrogations, probable torture, and executions of forebears whose travails provoked the flight of the survivors to, eventually, Manitoba.

"The interrogator kept asking about his counter-revolutionary activities, but my grandfather kept insisting that after his stint in the White Army, he had not been involved in any,” Braun said.
“The interrogator responded that they had information that he had been. My grandfather requested the names of his accusers. That statement was not recognized.
"After each entry, my grandfather had to add his signature."
Braun’s grandfather was questioned again on Feb. 28, 1938.
"'You insist on hiding facts from interrogators. Tell the truth,'" Braun read from notes she took of the translated files.
In them, her grandfather replied: "'I told the truth about my activities in the German community in which I lived.’”
At the end of the session, he pleaded guilty to counter-revolutionary activity and being a member of a rebel group.
All of the men questioned during that time were sentenced to be shot to death, and all their property was appropriated.

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