Though 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 not break."

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Book review by Carol Just

Though My Soul More Bent: Memoir of a Soviet German

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