Sunday, May 12, 2019

A Branch that Survived!

About five weeks ago, I sent snail mail letters to some of my family's ancestral towns in Ukraine.  I tailored each for the specific town but generally asked if they had any records or photos on my family (thanks to Google Translate).  I didn't know if I'd hear anything back, but if I didn't, I'd just be out postage.

One of those letters has already come through in a big way.
Some of the letters sent to Ukraine; the one to Kolodne is the bottom one

On Friday, I received an email from a man named Victor.  He lives in the eastern part of Ukraine, and the Kolodne village council had contacted him because of my letter.
My name is Victor. My father is Rutner Riven Mendelevich. He was born in the village of Kolodno, Transcarpathian region in 1929. His mother (my grandmother) - Rifka, father (my grandfather) - Shemel (note from Lara: Rifka's maiden name was Samuel). The grandmother died in childbirth, and the grandfather was shot in 1942. My father miraculously survived and left for Hungary.

After the war, my father returned to the village of Kolodno and lived there.  We received a request from abroad. His relatives were looking for him, but the circumstances that were at that time in our country did not allow my father to respond to the request.
I had Victor's family on my tree as far down as his father; I have his father's birth record, giving his name is Ruven Meir Rutner, son of Mendel and Rivka.  Since Ruven Meir Rutner was born in 1929, I'd assumed he was killed in the Holocaust, but I'd never seen proof (so he didn't appear on my Yom Hashoah list, although some of his siblings did).  Well, it turns out that he survived!  He had three children--Victor and two sisters--who all live in eastern Ukraine with their families.
Ruven Rutner, Courtesy of Victor Rutner
Ruven's father Mendel was my great grandmother's first cousin, so Victor and his siblings are my mother's third cousins.  Most of Mendel's siblings and nieces/nephews were killed.  But I know of two nieces who had made it to England just before the war and then emigrated to Australia.  I've already reached out to them to let them know about their second cousin Victor.

The internet can help to reconnect families.  But sometimes resorting to snail mail works as well!

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  1. This is really so fulfilling! We have also had a few discoveries recently, but they were facilitated by internet, so I really appreciated what you have accomplished with snail mail, amazing!

  2. Lara, this is so very exciting! I am thrilled for you, and thanks for reminding us that good old fashioned letters work!!

  3. Reading your post the day after Mother's day. Tears and smiles. Who would have ever thought?????? Wondeful!!!

  4. This is so exciting! And you heard back relatively quickly.

  5. That whole story is incredible! That you can write in Ukrainian, that you sent it snail mail and someone responded, and most incredible---that you found this cousin's family whose story is also incredible. Brava!

  6. This sent shivers down my spine. Absolutely amazing!

  7. This is absolutely wonderful! How exciting for all of you!!