The heroine of this powerful work, Katya, is a bright, energetic and resourceful Volga German girl, a worthy descendant of those first pioneers of the steppe we learned to know in the second volume. Katya is free to reveal, through her feminine creator, thoughts and circumstances often hidden to men. Sigrid artfully illuminates dress, colors, textures, foods and challenges as Katya embarks upon an adventurous escape from a gulag on the arctic tundra and makes her way to Fresno, California, where she reconnects with a Volga German community that had immigrated decades earlier. From Gulag to Freedom is the third volume in Sigrid Weidenweber's trilogy "The Volga Flows Forever." Catherine, the first volume, brings to life the fascinating historical character of Catherine the Great who invited her native countrymen to settle the Russian frontier. The Volga Germans, the second volume, continues the story of the German immigrants and their descendants who civilized the bleak Russian frontier of the lower Volga River Valley. They survived an unpredictable and often harsh climate and the vagaries of tsarist edicts to build a culture that was uniquely their own.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Historical novel about the Voga Germans and the abuses and genocide that they experienced onced the Czars were killed or ousted and the new Russian Leaders, mainly Stalin embraced communism and forced the Volga Germans to give up all the efforts of their hard work over several generations. Stalin outlawed the Volga Germans to practice thier religions, he confiscated all churches and German schools, took their farm animals, their grain, their very homes, everything of value in their homes, forcibly discouraged anyone to speak in German, forced the young men to be on the front lines in Russian wars ensuring their deaths. Then sent all the left over men, women, children, and even the elders into concentration/ work camps in Siberia without adequate food, shelter, and medical care thereby ensuring that they would die, which about 50% did. This is the genocide that very few historians ever write/ talk about. To this day ethnic Germans in Russia experience predjudices and being...
Lovers of history, rejoice. Third in the trilogy "The Volga Flows Forever" continues the stirring generational family journey of German Lutheran farmers who emigrated at the invitation of Catherine the Great to settle on the banks of the Volga. Beginning in the mid-18th century they streamed into the wilds of the central Asian steppes to escape dire poverty and war. From barren grassland they began with nothing, and over many decades their virtue and sheer determination brought forth prospering farms, towns and cottage industries. Once you meet the first generation of settlers you won't be able to stop. Their nobility of spirit grabbed my heart. I had to follow their suffering, and their successes. From Gulag to Freedom is harrowing and uplifting.
The book is a suspenseful, fact-based tale of heroism and pioneering by Germans who migrated east to Russian-held lands, rather than west, to the Americas, in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is a reminder of the power of human determination and the value of faith and family. The horrors of the Russian Revolution, after which all the successful farmers, the land owners, called kulaks or parasites, were killed or force-marched to Siberia, has disappeared from the history American children study. This book fills in that gap with the stories of individual people and their struggles. I recommend it to everyone. It is written in a storytelling style, not as a compendium of facts or, worse, historical or political theory. It is also an excellent introduction for any researcher who is new to the subject matter
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