Once I learned that a burial record of my great-grandfather existed at archives, I was determined to see the record. But it wasn’t as simple as making a request to archives.
My great-grandfather died in 1946 in the former USSR. Getting Soviet-era records is a complicated process. A contact in the city was too shy to ask whether he could get a scan of the record.
Then I decided to have my researcher visit the city archives after checking for real estate records at another archive in the same city. Soon after my researcher arrived at the city archive to get a scan of the burial record, she had the luck of finding three files on three brothers of my grandmother from the communist-era. I am curious about how this all happened but I am more thrilled for one more miracle.
My father’s half-sister bragged that her favorite uncle was just like his father- an inventor with patents. Over 10 years, I hadn’t been able to figure out where records could exist to prove that story true. My aunt had a habit of telling grand stories. She inherited her uncle’s possessions but only documents of my great-grandfather’s inventions and patents were found in my aunt’s apartment.
The documents showing inventions of my grand uncle do exist as my researcher just found them at archives. A file with his technical drawings and correspondence with the agencies in Moscow and Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) about his inventions are sitting at city archives.
Then a burning question has been in my head for the 10 years that I have researched my paternal grandmother’s family, “Why was my grandmother’s family targeted for Soviet persecution?” My family tried to have quiet lives even though they were more financially comfortable than other families during the communist era.
Once my researcher discovered that the oldest brother of my grandmother made an appeal to the court for the return of his apartment taken by the communists, I realized that would be enough to get the communist government’s interest to track my family.
The file on my three grand uncles is dated 1918-1943, showing that my family was tracked by the communist government for 25 years. The tracking ended in 1943, when the three brothers and the rest of my grandmother’s family escaped the USSR.
I am so grateful that these files are finally being opened. The pages total to more than 350 pages on my family, making it the largest discovery of records in my 10-year genealogy journey into Russia.
It took the curiosity into one burial record to discover these files. This shows the importance of documenting research and staying determined on the genealogy journey.
Now, the researcher needs to open these files to review them page by page. What will be found? I don’t know what will be coming my way but it has been worth the wait.
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