Culture News

A WWII Woman Refugee’s Struggles and Achievements

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Accessibility
Mike Mark Nick with Pres Clinton Bush Obama on Moms Shelf

In honor of Women's History Month, LMI's Tom Buonaugurio shares the story of his mother, a refugee in WWII who overcame great odds, immigrating to the U.S., where two of her sons and a grandson would eventually shake hands with U.S. presidents.

Mom wrote a book shortly before she passed, detailing her struggles as a refugee during WWII fleeing Odessa in 1944 (sound familiar?). Although my family had Russian citizenship, we were ethnic Germans with an obviously German last name. Fearing deportation or worse, mom, along with all the women and children, soon began trekking across Eastern Europe and ended up on their own in Poland as various armies and work parties had drafted the men. By the time the women and children reached Germany in late1945, they only had what they had carried.

Mom, seeking to better her life, learned English (her fourth language). She eventually met my dad, an American soldier. She immigrated to the U.S. and became a naturalized citizen in 1958. Her drive extended to all her kids as she worked to better our education.

She prided herself on never giving up and that two of her sons and one grandson shook hands with U.S. presidents. She had photos of these events on her mantel by the front door.

Mom returned to Ukraine several times, the last in 2014 when the Russians had just invaded neighboring Crimea, ignoring our pleas not to go. She was always on a quest to find and help relatives left behind.

Although she wasn’t famous, my mom is a classic example of women overcoming the odds and achieving great things.



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