My Soul More Bent: Memoir of a Soviet German
By Maria Kreiser, translated and edited
by James T. Gessele
Germans from Russia Heritage Society, Bismarck, North Dakota,
2003, 172 pages, hardcover.
The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection is pleased to provide
this important book of Maria Kreiser recounting the compelling story
of a Soviet German woman born in the German village of München,
Beresan District, near Odessa, Ukraine on the Black Sea. It is the
voice of her mother, Magdalena Hecker.
The time is 1928. Magdalena is brought into a world of terror fostered
by Stalin's agrarian collectivization. From first breath, Magdalena
is caught up in a struggle to survive the torment of force starvation
and imprisonment lasting through the 1930s. In 1944, she experiences
the grueling trek on foot and by rail back to Poland.
In 1945, the surviving Hecker family and countless other German-Russians
are loaded into freight cars and deported to forest work camps in
the Urals. Here Magdalena survived the ordeal and degradation of
forced labor for almost thirty years. Her spirit endures in the
end, for she lives to make a triumphant final journey.
Carol Just, oral historian, writes: "Kreiser's memoir of her
Soviet German mother, Magdalena Hecker, is the story of a fiver-year
odyssey through famine, collectivization, German occupation, crossfire
in the final days of World War II, and lastly deportation to forced
labor in the Russian Urals. Not a journey for the faint of heart.
Magdalena emerges as an incredibly resilient woman. Gessele's translation
is flawless and connects the reader with the voice of one who witnessed
and survived the unthinkable. Magdalena's soul was bent but did
review by Carol Just
Though My Soul More Bent: Memoir of a Soviet German
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