My maternal great grandfather was a vigilante back in Lithuania when they were fighting the Communist take over. They called him the "Red bearded terror of Lithuania".He and my great grandma escaped with their 6 children and came to Chicago where he became a barber. He was involved in two "incidents"; the first was when someone tried to rob him on his way home from work and ( being over 6'4" and about 280 lbs) from what I'm told by my grandmother, he picked up the robber and tossed him off a bridge in Marquette Park. Another time he threw a local man with whom he had a money disagreement threw a store front window. ( they had both been frequenting the local tavern). All my mom remembers about him was that he looked like a giant and used to bring her stale peanuts.lol
Last edited by icecat; 12-16-2011 at 06:53 AM. Reason: correction
So I talked to my mom tonight and I asked her about my grandfather freeing concentration camp prisoners, and according to her the Soviets liberated Auschwitz first, then my grandfather came afterwards--he was the head of his own unit. She said his unit escorted some of the refugees to Munich, where he served as a military advisor to the mayor, since he was one of the few American soldiers who could speak german. He helped with resettling refugees (apparently the Soviets were not as interested in helping refugees resettle), then he was taken to Nuremberg to act as an interpreter for the Nazi prisoners. He acted as a translator and prison guard for a very short period of time--then he asked to be removed, because it was too painful for him to do. After that he helped with "de-nazification" of Europe, and his job consisted of helping write the newspapers now that the third Reich was gone, and he also had to search for printing presses that did not contain the "gothic type" Hitler liked to use.
My grandfather was in the German army in WWII. He never talked about it. Ever. My mother and her sister were in the Hitler Youth, although the eldest sister, my aunt Ingeborg, basically got blackballed even though she was the Aryan ideal - pretty, blue eyes, blonde hair. She was the tallest girl in her class (5'10" at age 12) and was too embarrassed by her height to stand up with the rest of the class to give the Heil Hitler salute. When the HJ recruiters came around and saw that, they talked to her teacher, the principal of the village school, went to the house repeatedly and gave my grandmother no end of hell...but Tante Ingeborg sat her ground, so to speak. She just wouldn't do it, no matter what.
"...some people are moulded by their admiration, others by their hostilities.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, The Death of the Heart
I met her a couple of times. The last time I saw her was at my grandmother's funeral in 1997. I had dyed red hair at the time and Rose Mary told me her hair used to be the same color when she was young. Her siblings were redheads as well. I didn't have the heart to tell her mine was fake, she was such a sweet old lady.
He grew up in Riga during the war, and when the Germans arrived, my grandmother who was on her own with two small children befriended one of the soldiers, who kept an eye out for them and helped them get food. Later, when it became clear that my grandfather was never coming home, they fled to an Austrian refuge camp before eventually ending up in Canada. My father met my mother, herself an immigrant from Germany, in college.
The deep dark secret is that my father's in-laws - my German grandparents - never realized that my father could read and understand German perfectly.
This goes back awhile but on my mother’s side - I had a relative who was a figure in the Albanian military during the Ottoman invasions. Eventually he was chased out of Albania by the Turks (the story goes that he had a price on his head) and ended up in Italy. Italy has a sizeable “Arberesh” population (former Albanian refugees fleeing the invading Ottomans). I didn’t know anything about the Arberesh until someone in the family did extensive research into the family tree.
Figure skating is hard.
Last edited by Scintillation; 12-16-2011 at 05:38 PM.
Fascinating thread Thanks!
Afraid don't have any fun stories to share -the history of the European Jews is far from amusing....
My ggUncle on my mom's side was Major General Harries Wikipedia blurb. He was pals with Pershing and in 1919, he intervened and prevented the death of a bunch of Red Army officers who were being repatriated.Old article. Doesn't sound so bad, right?
Unfortunately, he was also a major player in "removing" an awful lot of Native Americans -- Cheyenne, mostly. And while he was ridding the choice parts of the American West of "Indians," he also was busy populating it with little half Harries / half Indian babies, from what I've read and heard.
Thanks for posting all your stories. They are great to read.
When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.
Another Kolyubakin woman married a man named Juvatchev and their son was later known as Daniil Kharms, a quite popular Russian writer.
Last edited by Moka-Ananas; 12-17-2011 at 04:12 AM.
"I'm not in this world to live up to your expectations and you're not in this world to live up to mine."
My mother discovered about 30 years after her mother, my grandmother, died in the late 50s, that she had been married previously and had abandoned her son to marry my grandfather in 1910. I believe that they had met in a park. My mother never knew. It turns out that her cousins and possibly her sister, who was deceased when my mother found out, all knew. Why no one ever told my mother is strange, as her parents had moved to her home town for the last 20 years of their lives, and she became their resident caretaker. Apparently, she had at some point re-established a secret relationship with her son, who even came to her funeral, which was very small--why didn't we notice. Unfortunately, by the time my mother had discovered the existence of a half-brother, he was deceased. So she never met him, at least knowingly, perhaps he had seen her or met her but she didn't know. I believe discovering this story really messed up my mother's feelings for her mother.
Wow. What fascinating stories.
All I know about my father's family is that my grandfather was escaping the draft in Romania to come here, and that my last name was actually a distaff name that he took to avoid being caught on the way out. My father and his brother used this name, but the three sisters used the original family name, making my family tree confusing.
However, without going into detail, I know from my own life and that of my ex-spouses that there are skeletons in the closet in most families, often involving children whose parents are not really their parents, or coverup stories about how people died.
For any of you who watched the old Dick Van Dyke show, Morey Amsterdam was my second cousin.
"Youth and vigor is no match for age and deceit." -- Prancer
At the start of the Vietnam War, my mom left the North and traveled South with her family. My grandmother left the youngest daughter with aunts because she was still a baby and would not be able to survive the trek (my mom is second youngest amongst a ton of children, but was old enough to handle to distance traveled). Due to the war, no one knew where the aunts and my mom's youngest sister were. My mom (and most of the family) immigrated to NA in the mid 70's. They did not find out where their sister was until the early 90's. In the interim, my aunt suffered extreme poverty and hunger but somehow survived. My Grandmother would send money but never got to see her. I loved my (dearly departed) grandmother but always found her sad.
My Grandfather had concubines and fathered children with multiple women. He left Vietnam before any of his wives did (some never left; my own grandmother left immigrated to NA years later). One of my uncles somehow found the children of those concubines. Most of my donation money goes to my "cousins"' education (two of them are trying to be nurses).