Reflections > Survivors

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I lost my grandfather (Finnish born) to the gulag. My grandmother (also Finnish born) survived but never got out of the USSR. An uncle (American born) survived the gulag but also died in exile.

My aunt (American born Suoma Laine Lahti), survived 10 years in the gulag. We got her out and back to the US in the 1980s, thanks to Gorbachev and others. Her mother survived but died in the Soviet Union. Her dad died in the camps. Both parents were Finnish born.

My mother's family and my aunt's family both left the US for the Soviet Union in 1931, during the Depression. They were among some 12,000 or so Americans who went. Some 300,000 or so Americans applied to go.

My aunt and another American, Walter Warwick (he died in the Soviet Union) have written about their gulag experiences but the material has not been published. We also have some photos of their worker housing, etc. when they were in the Soviet Union.

My aunt's son, Alfred Lahti, when he was an infant, was taken to Mr. Leino at the US Embassy, after people started getting arrested. He spent some 5 years in the compound. NH Senator Styles Bridges finally secured his release. He came to the States and lived with my mother (who had left her Swedish American husband and family behind in Moscow, at the age of 18).

Reuben RajalaAugust 06, 2006Link to this Entry