Friday, May 9, 2014


Family history..we all have one, but is it always so bloody? In honor of Mother's Day, and being the Mother of Dragons and the Mother of our Tribe, I would like to dedicate this week's blog to all Mothers and give my Students a bit of my story. This class is not about is about my Mother....and my bloody roots.

Mom and Me
My mother's roots began in Russia. Her mother's family was a long line of priests, serving the Russian Orthodox Church. During the Russian Revolution which began in 1918, the country fell into against brother sometimes.....Red vs. White. My grandmother, Sofia, joined the White Russian army as a nurse. At some point in time, she married an officer in the White Army. He was murdered in a battle and she soon found herself in a battle of her own, trying to survive on the Black Sea, fighting the Bolsheviks. She was rescued by a ship from Turkey, and luckily lived to board it.

On the ship was a Russian priest from the Crimea. He had a stack of marriage licenses and began marrying the young nurses to soldiers who had also boarded the ship. "You young women do not want to get off the boat alone, in Turkey! You will not be safe on your own!" He recommended all women get attached to someone, and do it quickly. On this boat, Sofia married my grandfather, Jakov. He was a lieutenant and a nobleman, as she was from nobility too; it was a perfect solution!

When the boat docked the survivors were taken to a refugee camp called White Tent City. I am not sure how long they resided there but at some point in time, they began their next journey and walked to Yugoslavia, crossing Greece on foot. Yugoslavia was a haven for Russians and seemed the best place to hide.
Mom - 15yrs old - Borchene, Kosovo
Why hide? Murder...that's why! Sofia had the news that her father, Father Alexi, had been murdered along with his son, her brother. The Reds had captured the two men and murdered them both with an ax!! Their body parts were thrown in the woods near the Church of St Nikita, in Tsarizan, Russia. During the dark of night, the people from the church gathered the body parts and buried them under the church. Before this happened, her brother had written a book denouncing Communism and had been imprisoned. He was tortured and even had part of his foot cut off in prison. And now, after being freed, he was murdered with her Father!

Jakov and Sofia walked to Borchene, Kosovo, eventually. On this path, children were born. Walking across countries takes time and Jakov and Sofia would stop in small villages to have a child. After the birth of a daughter and then a son, my Mother, Evrosina, was eventually born in Darkovatz, Yugoslavia, on this trek.

Life was pristine in Borchene. Located at the top of a mountain peak, Max and I once travelled there to find my roots. It is more like a tribe, with people living in the same few houses built in the 1850's. My Grandmother, who had a good education in Russia, was the village teacher and nurse. They lived in this village for many years.

On April 8, 1935, my grandfather, suffering from a fever, died as he cleaned a shotgun. My Mother was trying to take the gun from his hands when it went off. She told me how he fell and she sat in his blood, trying to rebuild his skull and make him come back to life. Youth is so innocent! He was buried in the grave of a person who commits suicide, but she always swore to me that it was an accident.

Life soon changed when the Nazis invaded Yugoslavia in the late 1930's. One morning, waking in the village, Mother looked outside the schoolhouse/home and saw the Nazi flag on the flagpole instead of the normal Yugoslavian flag that waved there previously. The Nazis heard there was a Russian family in Borchene and sent men to fetch them. They walked to Kosovo Mitrovistia and tried to hide, but were forced into labor. They cleaned barracks,stacked tobacco leaves, hunted for turtles for the German's meals and cleaned the streets. They were paid one kilo of bread for 6 hours of work.

In 1943 or '44, the family was taken by truck to Budapest, Hungary and camped by the Danube River for a day. They were boarded next on a train to Vienna. From Vienna, they were sent to a Concentration Camp in the mountains called Mao Hausen. They lived in a tent with other Russians but did not know it was a concentration camp. They were fed strange sausages that they later believed to be human meat. People disappeared each day and there was always a pit with smoke and ashes billowing up. They could not figure out what it was. It was here that my Mother first saw Americans. Young men, captured by the Nazis would peer out at the young girls and say "Baby, Baby!" My Mother's first English word...

Eventually, the family and some other healthy people were transported to a forced labor cap in Nuremberg, Germany. My Mother made the pin for hand grenades and her Mother made a part that goes in a gas mask. One day, they were so hungry, a friend stole a SS's cat and cooked it for them. Life was a constant struggle for them.
Mom and others cleaning rubble in Nuremberg

doorway of their home in the labor camp 

Mom on a rooftop in Nuremberg
In 1945, my Mother saw the American troops invade the city and eventually the war was over! Freedom at last! On the first free New Year's Eve, she wandered into the Grande Hotel after hearing the celebration and she met a young man, Frederick Kaltenegger. He fell in love with her and life began to change quickly!

They were married and he got a job translating at the Nuremberg Trials. He was able to allow my Mother to view the Trial from the small balcony. It was at this trial that my Mother found out they had been in a Concentration Camp. Frederick even took her down to the war criminal's cells and let her peak in the windows of each cell, viewing the famous, notorious prisoners. She told me Goering was overweight, sitting in his cell wearing a wife beater tee.

The marriage did not work out after a family member swiped their personal belongings as they were relocating to America and my Mother arrived in Kansas, on her own. Frederick had arranged the transport and immigration for her Mother, Sofia, and many of her brothers and sisters, as part of the divorce agreement, and soon they were all reunited.

My Mother met my Father.....but that is another story.... They had 4 children. And was was yours truly...the Mother of the Soulfly Tribe...

God bless all Mothers...

Class dismissed...