Searching for my family history
Wassil Gregoravitch Russow-Russakowsky (or Russakowsky-Russow) married Olga Wassiljeni Zekalo (daughter of Gregori Wassiljevitch Zekalo) which produced Ivan Wassiljevitch (my Father, born 26th November 1927), followed by Maria Wassiljeni, Nicholaus Wassiljevitch, and Wassil Wassiljevitch (believed to have died young). I am searching for members of my family who may be alive or any information regarding the circumstances of their death.
My Grandfather came from the northern part of Russia and I believe was full blood Cossack. He was also in the Czar's army for a period of time. I also believe that my Grandfather came from a wealthy family which bred horses. This is based, in part, on information that to be in the Czar's army one needed their own horse. My Grandfather, after serving in the army, became a Civil Engineer and travelled extensively, as far as Siberia. I also believe my Great Grandfather was married twice. I know this because he had a son from his second marriage who was my Grandfather's half-brother. This half-brother took part in the war between Poland and Russia in 1939. This man was a high ranking Officer and had duties allotted him in Warsaw. My Grandmother came from a very large family with my Father having 18 Aunts.
My Father's family had 2 homes. In the summer they lived in Tokmak, a port city. In the winter they lived in the city of Pologi. On my Father's 14th Birthday the Germans invaded Tokmak. When the Germans landed in Tokmak they wanted one male from every household. A German Officer apparently told my Father that it was either him or his Father - that was his only choice. Those who resisted were forcibly taken and made an example of and served as a reminder to others who were thinking of not complying. My father was transported to a naval camp in Hamburg to work in a munitions factory.
I have found some of his papers recently, but as I do not read German very well all I can decipher is Hamburg and a few other words. This paper was used to gain a Polish passport. My Father refused to return to the USSR (even when an ooportunity presented itself under Stalin), and we were told not to visit either. The reasons he gave were that under the old regime he would be considered a traitor and any family would be also. His fear that the KGB would 'immediately apprehend' upon stepping onto Russian soil was always stressed. Under the new Russia, he had not much to say except, "maybe times have changed, maybe not".
After the War my Father was 'adopted' by a wealthy german aristocrat, Clarissa Wagner, who died when I was about 10 years old. There is a story there but I feel in order to honour her memory I won't go into details as they are sketchy. Suffice is to say she was my Father's saving grace as I know from him that his time in the Nazi camp was not very pleasant at times.
My Father is convinced he is the only surviving member of his entire family. I am not as convinced. All records were apparently destroyed but we have no confirmation of this. My Father is now in the final stages of an aggressive cancer with only a few months to live. Throughout my life I have asked him questions, as has my Mother and my children, about his life. Although he has not been very forthcoming with information (for his own reasons) we have been able to piece certain things together, most of this gathered by my son Nicholas (at the time of my son's naming, I was unaware I had an Uncle of the same name) for a school project.
This is all I can gleam from what little he has spoken about over the years. I do know for sure that Pologi did exist, as many years ago he showed me a map which had Pologi marked. Times have changed, documents may or may not be available, and always we have accepted my Father's wishes to do no searches for his family. Now, I am older and I believe the time has come for me to at least try. This is my heritage, and I am very proud of it. My father has little time left in this life and, I know, unfinished business and regrets. I dont expect miracles and I am aware this may take the rest of my life and still nothing will come of it. But I also know my children will take this on where I leave off. This seems a good place to start.
The internet is a vast resource and whilst I do have another avenue to pursue simultaneously, I am hoping that someone, somehwere, might have just a little bit of information, or even some advice as to other resources I can use in my search. Any information, no matter how small, would be gratefully accepted.