Book review by Geraldine Walth Sommer, Mesa, Arizona
Bender, Ida. Dark Abyss of Exile: A Story of Survival. North Dakota State University Libraries, Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, Fargo, North Dakota, 2000.
The Dark Abyss of Exile: A Story of Survival by Ida Bender is along overdue account of one family's holocaust by the hands of the Russians that lasted for 50 years. Starting in 1941, they were stripped of their land, homes, furnishings and sent by cattle cars to Siberia to work in forced labor camps. They lived in sub-human conditions with little or no food, heat or furnishings and insufficient clothing for working outdoors doing manual labor.
Everyone should read this horrific account of their lives. For many years they were not allowed to move freely around and when they were finally allowed to move it was with the stipulation they could never go back to their original homes. The authorities claimed that was because they had been resettled by other people and they could not now displace them. Upon further investigation, this was proved to be false and that many of their original homes were standing empty. During that period they had to give up their German language, religion, schools and festivals.
After many years, Ida and Rudy moved. Finally after the death of her husband Rudy, Ida and her son, Rudy, and his family were able to obtain visitors visas to Germany. Packing as if they were only going for a visit, they once again left their belongings behind and once in Germany have never returned.
This book should bring all of us to thank our Lord that our ancestors had the foresight and perservence to immigrate to a new land.