So many Americans can detail the service of their grandfathers in World War II. All I can say is that my maternal grandfather served in World War II, became a POW of the occupying Germans in Kiev and came home several months after my mother was born.
I hope to have more concrete information in a few months from Russian military archives in Moscow. I finally found the name of my grandfather’s regiment, his title and service period on a historical record. There is much irony where I found this information.
I have the German government to thank for this information. My grandfather applied for German citizenship during the war because my grandmother was half-German. Germany encouraged people with German ancestry to immigrate to Germany during the war. Kiev was bombed out during the war, leaving not much hope for the future for my grandparents.
I tried unsuccessfully to get information on my grandfather’s service from Russian military archives two years ago. The archives will not give information on soldiers’ military service unless the regiment, title and service period are provided. It is not enough to know your relative’s full name, birth date, birthplace, parents’ names and wartime addresses.
Now my concern is whether the Germans documented my grandfather’s service properly on his EWZ file. Also, I wonder whether my grandfather lied about his service time so the Germans could not figure out he was a POW of their army.
Another complication is that my grandfather was a prisoner of the German army. To the USSR, this was a disgrace. My grandfather claimed he got released because he told the prison leaders that he was Ukrainian, not Russian. For some reason, the German army wanted to capture as many Russian soldiers as possible, according to my mother.
I wonder whether the Soviet government knew he was a POW. This could mean his military record was possibly destroyed as punishment. Another possible scenario is that his military record could have listed him as missing in action. Kiev was in chaos during the war and maybe the Soviet military did not document his POW status.
My grandparents applied for German naturalization in central Poland a month after Kiev was liberated. It would be interesting to know whether my family escaped during Kiev’s German occupation or after the liberation. Hopefully, the military archives will find my grandfather’s record and release details that will clear up the mystery around my family’s escape from the USSR.
The address for military archives in Moscow is ЦАМО Российской Федерации, ул. Кирова, д. 74, 142100, Московская обл., г. Подольск, Russia