My grandfather really knew how to make anyone his friend. He made an interesting friend while his family tried to live a more normal life in Bavaria after they escaped the USSR during World War II.
After knowing his special friend for a while, my grandfather learned his friend was a Soviet repatriation officer, AKA the person who sends escaped Soviet citizens back to the motherland. Typically, this type of person during World War II was no one’s friend. But he turned out to be quite a great friend to my family.
The man, Vasil, sponsored my family through the United Committee to Aid Russians in Europe in New York City. It was not easy to come to the USA after World War II. So many people from the USSR wanted to immigrate to the USA and only so many were approved for immigration.
Somehow, Vasil helped my grandfather to make all the right arrangements for my family’s immigration and I am grateful for his kindness. My mother told me about the repatriation officer who befriended my grandfather. I did not know it was the same man who sponsored my family until I started researching friendly Vasil.
His name was on my grandfather’s individual assurances form for the Displaced Persons Commission in Washington, D.C. My grandfather had to show that a U.S. resident agreed to sponsor him and had arranged housing and a job upon arrival.
I originally thought Vasil was a U.S. Army soldier who reported information on the German army for the U.S. military. When I searched his name on Google, his name was listed among people included in declassified army staff records. I was in for a surprise when I read his file from U.S. National Archives.
Vasil was investigated for black market and Russian intelligence officer activities. He didn’t help himself by declaring himself as Russian, Ukrainian and Lithuanian and changing his birth date for each nationality with submitted falsified papers. Vasil was even brave enough to have a friend write from his real U.S. address to his ex-mother-in-law in Munich, Germany, telling her about what to say if someone questions her about his activities. The U.S military got access to this letter, naturally.
The only truth the military could determine about Vasil is that he was a Soviet prisoner of war at Buchenwald concentration camp, served as a repatriation officer in Paris, became involved in black market activities and left behind his family in Germany.
There is more information in the file about him but the military has not declassified seven pages. I don’t understand why this information cannot be revealed to the public almost 60 years later.
I am extremely curious about what happened to Vasil after this investigation. Was he deported? Was he left alone? I can’t find anything on him on ancestry.com. I may try to get his Alien File from the USCIS Genealogy Program. The mystery of Vasil continues.
See the followup at 60 years later, a family story starts to come together