From Refugee to Rafters: A True Story of Flight, Freedom & Faith

By Rudolf Stepper with Elsie Loewen

Self-published, Calgary, Alberta, 305 pages, softcover.


When Russian tanks invaded Bessarabia in 1940, the simple carefree life of growing up in a farming village was over for 10-year old Rudy Stepper. Under a looming cloud of war, his family joined 93,000 other Germans in a mass evacuation to Germany at the invitation of a charismatic new leader, Adolf Hitler. Resettled in Poland, their dreams of prosperity under a glorious Third Reich quickly turned to disillusionment and danger. Once again threatened by the advancing Russian army and faced with Germany’s imminent defeat, they were forced to flee back to an uncertain future in the West. Rudy’s courage and resourcefulness was vital to his family’s survival in the ruins of the post-war Germany. Would it be enough to meet the challenges of the new life he was determined to build in Canada?

In the Foreword, Christen, a granddaughter of Rudolf Stepper writes: “I feel so privileged to have been able to hear Opi tell his stories. He has persevered through many challenges and hardship with a strong work ethic and by putting his faith in God. I admire him and appreciate everything he has done for his family. I want my children to know our history but would never be able to remember all his stories about being a refugee and building a new life for himself in Canada. This book give me a better understanding of where he came from and how he got to where he is today. I especially remember him telling about assisting people across a frozen river to get away from the army pursuing them.”

Bessarabian Germans resettlers’s baggage.
Borodino, Bessarabia resettlers arriving at a transit camp in 1940.

From Refugee to Rafters

$30.00 plus Shipping & Handling

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Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller