The stories of my grandmother’s brothers’ lives have been incomplete since I began researching them six years ago. Thanks to their “illegal political activity” in the 1930s, their arrest records are filled with gems of information that cannot be found in online databases nor at archives.
I have been wondering about the simple things about their lives such as their military service, work and education. Now, I have learned some stunning facts.
One brother earned the rank of second lieutenant in the Russian White Army. His voting privileges were taken away when Russia became the USSR, thanks to his service in the czar’s army.
Another brother was a volunteer with the Red Army, the army of the USSR, from 1919-1922. That makes me wonder whether he served in the Russian-Polish War.
My curiosity got me moving to contact Russian military archives to see whether his records can be obtained. His daughter didn’t even know he served in the army.
I also learned three brothers worked in the same factory together, while another brother worked at another factory before their arrests. One brother was unemployed.
Four brothers finished their secondary education. Another brother completed five years at a commercial school but didn’t finish his secondary education.
I could have obtained this information six years ago when I made my first request with the Federal Security Service in the Russian region where my grand uncles were arrested. Six years ago, I just asked to confirm whether the family story of all five brothers being arrest was true, which law they “violated” and where they lived at the time of their arrests.
I knew there had to be more information in their files, beyond name, birthdate, birthplace and address. My curiosity was peaked about what else was sitting in those files when a genealogy researcher asked whether my family was persecuted during the communist era.
Once I told her yes, she gave me the wording needed to obtain the personal family information from their files that I can’t get elsewhere. “My relatives (names and birth years) were arrested as enemies of the people in (town/city) in (year ) and were under investigation until (year, if known). Later they were justified. Please send me extracts from their criminal cases to the above e-mail address. I’m especially interested in ………..(addresses, education, employer, relatives who lived with them, etc.)
I got a response from the Federal Security Service by e-mail in 17 days and the information was free. Most of the personal information was never known by my family.
This is all thanks to false accusations of “participating in a counter-revolutionary organization and carrying out anti-Soviet agitation.” This proves that truth does come from lies.
Also, check under political terror victims on the Free Databases page to search for relatives.