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Book Image Not Available
Book details
  • Genre:BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  • SubGenre:Personal Memoirs
  • Language:English
  • Pages:270
  • eBook ISBN:9780983233084

How I Became A Comrade: An American Growing Up In Siberian Exile

by John E. Armonas and A. Ruksenas

Book Image Not Available
Overview
An American child deported with his mother to Siberia, torn from her when she is given additional punishment at hard labor in the notorious GULAG, is raised as a Soviet in order to survive. This is a true story of survival, adaptation, and ultimate triumph over injustice.
Description
John Armonas was a U.S. citizen, but had been left behind when his American-born father and five-year old sister, Donna, were urged to leave Lithuania back for the United States, after the Soviets first occupied Lithuania in 1940. His mother Barbara, a native Lithuanian, was assured by American officials she could soon follow with nine-month old John, as soon as her immigration papers were expedited. Instead, they ended up in Siberia in one of the massive waves of deportation from Lithuania and other Soviet occupied countries after World War II. John became Ivan, an "orphan", with his past hidden, because his mother's alleged political offenses would have cut off all chances for his survival, let alone any opportunity for success within the Stalinist system. A dramatic public encounter by his sister, Donna, with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev during his visit to America in 1959, elicited from him a promise to let her mother and brother leave the Soviet Union and be reunited, ending a separation of 20 years, but not without additional bureaucratic harassment.
About the author
John E. Armonas was born on November 30, 1939 in Lithuania, just as war started by Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin began raging in Europe and would soon engulf the world. Though a U.S. citizen through his American-born father, U.S. officials urged his parents that he be left behind with his mother to assure sympathetic expediting of immigration papers for her exit to America. Instead, the Soviets deported her and young John to Siberia in 1948, where he spent the next 10 years of his life. From the age of 12, John was alone in the depths of the Siberian taiga, aided by his own wits and the unseen hand of his imprisoned mother, who managed through bribes and connections with other deportees to have his background erased. He grew up in Siberia as an "orphan" under the Stalinist system, and finally at the age of 20 came to America with his mother, after his tenacious sister, Donna, secured a promise for their release from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev during his visit to America in 1959. John continued studies in the United States, became a chemist, adjusted anew to American life and eventually started his own company, American Polymer Standards Corporation in Ohio. His wife, Dalia, is the daughter of Dr. Algirdas Nasvytis, who collaborated with John's mother on her own memoir, "Leave Your Tears in Moscow". He has a grown daughter, Crystal, by a previous marriage.
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