A shocking twist gets thrown into finding the mystery birth father from WWII

ancestrydnaAt Christmastime, I was daydreaming that my cousin would have great matches to finally find her father’s family on Ancestry DNA.

But nine months after sending her the DNA kit, I don’t even have my cousin’s completed DNA test in my hands yet. I am still fuming on the why.

Thanks to the strict regulations of the Russian postal service, the completed kit was sent back to my cousin’s daughter, who attempted to mail the kit to me. She told me that she sent the kit in April and I was counting down the days to when it arrived in my mailbox at my front door.

I only learned a week ago about the Russian Postal Service rejecting my cousin’s package to get through customs. She felt so horrible that she didn’t have the heart to tell me until recently.

Meanwhile, I am getting more matches on Ancestry DNA from Russians living in RUSSIA. What is so special about their packages that they don’t have our problem?

I contacted a distant cousin match living in Russia about how he managed to get his package out of Russia. Apparently, the trick is marking the package as a test sample or plastic tube and using an expensive express service of the Russian postal service to get the tube of spit through customs.

This match lives in Moscow so I am wondering whether a big city advantage exists. My cousin lives near the border of Belarus in a medium-sized city.

No matter what the advantage is, I am praying and hoping others will pray that the second kit makes it out of Russia and into the lab of Ancestry DNA in perfect condition.

My cousin got her Family Tree DNA kit to me last year and none of the matches are close enough to determine who is the mystery father. Hope started dying down when Ancestry DNA changed its DNA file format for transfers to Family Tree DNA and now those transfers are on hold.

All my kits at Family Tree DNA were getting many matches every week, probably thanks to the Ancestry DNA customers paying $39 to find more matches at Family Tree DNA.

I am convinced someone who tested through Ancestry DNA is the key to solving this 71-year-old mystery. With more than 2 million DNA kits processed, I am hoping my cousin can finally find the mystery WWII soldier who helped bring her into the world.

My cousin shouldn’t even be alive. Her mother returned with her to Soviet Ukraine in 1946 after they escaped to Germany. They were the perfect candidates to be killed at a Siberian gulag but somehow the crafty mother and her daughter lived a quiet Soviet life.

They escaped being sent to the gulag but a darn DNA test can’t get out of post-Soviet Russia in 2016. Apparently, divine intervention is needed for my cousin one more time.

Related post:
A DNA test and small paper trail face off to complete a WWII love story

Get a new view into your Russian and Ukrainian genealogy

086It’s hard to understand why genealogy is so challenging in the former USSR for many people. Anyone can piece together a few reasons by using Google but that won’t give the full picture.

I thought I knew enough just from the stories from my relatives who were born in Russia and Ukraine. Those stories made me wonder how common these experiences were and how much exaggeration was added into the family stories.

Then, I discovered that these stories weren’t exaggerations nor uncommon by moving away from technology and onto books.

So what is really worth the time and knowledge? Here’s the books I’ve refused to donate nor sell. (And yes, many of these books are available on Kindle.)

List updated on Jan. 4, 2020

Soviet-era Life:

Stalin and the Scientists: A History of Triumph and Tragedy 1905-1953 by Simon Ings

Everything is Normal: The Life and Times of a Soviet Kid by Sergey Grechishkin

russiansThe Russians by Hendrick Smith

brokenRussia- Broken Idols, Solemn Dreams: A Provocative Look at the Russian People by David K. Shipler

whispThe Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia by Orlando Figes

Soviet Women: Walking the Tightrope by Francine Du Plessix Gray

World War II (or the Great Patriotic War):

Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943 by Antony Beevor

moscowMoscow 1941: A City and Its People at War by Rodric Braithwaite

Soviet Persecution:

gulagGulag: A History by Anne Applebaum

The Diary of a Gulag Prison Guard by Ivan Chistyakov

Just Send Me Word by Orlando Figes

Two Lives, One Russia by Nicholas Daniloff

Stalin’s Children: Three Generations of Love and War by Owen Matthews

Russia Today:

The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen

Russians: The People Behind the Power by Gregory Feifer

jorneyRussia: A Journey to the Heart of a Land and its People by Jonathan Dimbleby

lostLost and Found in Russia: Lives in a Post-Soviet Landscape by Susan Richards

reelingReeling in Russia by Fen Montaigne

vodkaVodka, Tears, and Lenin’s Angel: A Young Journalist Discovers the Former Soviet Union by Jennifer Gould

Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich

 

 

Bears in the Streets: Three Journeys Across a Changing Russia by Lisa Dickey

Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia by Peter Pomerantsev

Perception of Americans:

pizzaPizza in Pushkin Square: What Russians Think About Americans and the American Way of Life by Victor Ripp

Collapse of the Soviet Union:

leninLenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire by David Reminick

Cossacks:

The Cossacks by Shane O’Rourke

The Russian Revolution:

Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd, Russia, 1917 – A World on the Edge by Helen Rappaport

The Russian Revolution: A New History by Sean McMeekin

The Romanov family:

Comprehensive History:

russiaRussia: A 1,000-Year Chronicle of the Wild East by Martin Sixsmith

The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine by Serhii Plokhy

Russian leaders:

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie

The Return: Russia’s Journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev by Daniel Treisman

Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva by Rosemary Sullivan

Stalin and His Hangmen: The Tyrant and Those Who Killed for Him by Donald Rayfield

So what’s the point of reading these books? It will give a new understanding why it takes lots of charm to get information from archives, why former USSR-born relatives don’t like talking about the past nor know much about their relatives in the homeland, and why anyone with records saved from the former USSR should feel lucky.

Also, the best part of reading these books is learning how not to put foot in mouth when interacting with potential relatives from the former Soviet Union.

Related posts:

When family “wild stories” are nothing but reality

Top 10 things to never say to potential relatives in the former USSR