[an error occurred while processing this directive] ZEPHYR Magazine
                              T H E
                           Z E P H Y R
                  __     M A G A Z I N E
                 Issue #55                3-18-88
            A weekly electronic magazine for users of 
                        THE ZEPHYR II BBS 
                    (Mesa, AZ - 602-894-6526)
                owned and operated by T. H. Smith
                    Editor - Gene B. Williams 
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                            (c) 1988

   I have something a little different for you this time. 
   Most of you know that I make my living as a writer. Some of 
you are even familiar with my work beyond what you see here. (If 
not, all you have to do is go to any library or bookstore. I 
usually write under my own name.)
   One project I have going is called RUN FOR FREEDOM. I gave 
a synopsis of the book in an earlier issue. What I'm giving 
you here is a complete chapter from the book. 
   Chapter One introduces the characters and their life in 
Odessa. Chapter Two shows the beginnings of the revolution, 
and acts of vandalism as a power plant is burned down, and an 
orphanage is set on fire.
   I picked Chapter Three. If there's enough interest, and 
enough requests, I can go back and give you Chapter One, then 
Two and so on. (In Chapter Four the Gruber family is thrown 
out of their home and make their way to Siberia on a forged 
   I hope you enjoy it.
   Oh, by the way, this is hardly fare for 1200 baud. I suggest 
that you capture it and read it at leisure.

                         RUN FOR FREEDOM

               Chapter Three - The Winds of Change

     The changes continued and grew in importance. The war was 
still going badly. The abdication of Czar Nicholas became a 
central topic of discussion, with some mourning that abdication, 
some cheering it, and some confused by the situation. He'd 
abdicated, turning over the throne to his brother, Michael, who 
in turn abdicated in favor of Nicholas. The news treated it as a 
game of ball, with responsibility being tossed back and forth and 
no one wanting the ball. 
     A Provisional Government was put into power. The confusion 
concerning the throne was bad enough. Within the Provisional 
Government were factions, each of which wanted control. One 
wanted power to go back to Nicholas. Another wanted Michael to 
take power, at least for a while. Still another wanted to set up 
a new Dumas made up of existing nobility. 
     More powerful were various socialist groups who wanted power 
taken from the royal house and given to the people. One of the 
most vocal of these, the Bolsheviks, made up only 10% of the 
whole, but through their energetic and often violent attempts 
made more of an impact than their mere numbers.
     The Bolsheviks wanted to draw up an immediate armistice with 
Germany. "Bring an end to the war and get on with the business of 
rebuilding our country." The Easter of 1917 saw Lenin returning 
to St. Petersburg and serving as a focal point for the 
     In mid-July the Bolsheviks made a grab for power, unsuccess-
fully. Lenin and some of his top men fled to Finland for safety. 
One leader, Trotsky, was arrested. The situation returned to the 
plodding, confusing and weak government.
     Public protests increased both in number and severity. At 
first most were small marches that remained peaceful other than 
the shouting of slogans. As the revolution spread the protests 
became riots - more violent, even deadly - especially after Lenin 
went to Finland and Trotsky was put into prison.
     Odessa was far to the south of the troubles. The rumors 
reached us, along with letters from friends all across the 
country that told of troubles. In Odessa things were still fairly 
peaceful. Although Madame Maximova went on complaining and 
suspecting that the fire at the orphanage had been set, Papa was 
convinced that it had been an unfortunate accident.
     Other events were impossible to dismiss. The fire at the 
power plant in Balzer had been set by an individual troublemaker, 
but was just one example of similar things that were happening 
more and more often. Families were packing up and abandoning 
their homes. In some areas, those families who hadn't left were 
being forced out.
     The relationship between Papa and Anatoly grew more 
strained. Some days Papa would come home with a smile, as he 
always had before. More frequently we could see and feel a 
tenseness in him. At times I'd hear him saying things to Mama 
about how distressing work had become.
     "Anatoly spent the entire day going to each employee, 
talking about how the utilities should belong to them, and how no 
one should be above anyone else. I couldn't get him to do any 
work at all. When I tried to talk to him he said that things are 
changing and walked away. He's becoming unmanageable at times, 
and I'm just not sure what to do about it."
     To me, it was like a disease spreading. And it even infected 
the orphanage. At one of the regular parties I heard one of the 
new boys telling another that the only reason my parents were so 
generous with the orphanage was because they wanted the children 
to stay there and not get out into the world. 
     That caused a fight between the two boys. Mama broke it up 
and tried to bring peace. The new boy wanted nothing to do with 
it. He called my mother some names I didn't understand and 
stomped off.
     Mama and Papa did what they could to keep our lives as 
normal as possible. His duties took Papa out of town more often, 
but when he was in town he spent every spare second with his 
family. We attended church, had our picnics on the beach, drove 
into the country to buy produce from the German farms and visited 
with friends.
     Summer was coming to an end. The nip of autumn was getting 
into the air. Papa had been called out of town again. Mama had 
been asked to sing at evening services at the church. We girls 
were excited, as we always were. It was wonderful having Mama 
sing to us at home, but hearing her clear voice in the church was 
something special. 
     It was a pleasant evening. We decided to walk, as did many 
others. The streets leading to the church were filled with 
people, all dressed in their finest. Almost everyone smiled at us 
and greeted Mama, saying that they were looking forward to 
hearing her sing.
     It was a beautiful service. By the time Mama had given her 
second song everyone in attendance seemed to have forgotten any 
and all troubles. After the services we had to spend nearly an 
hour on the steps of the church while people complimented Mama, 
and us.
     Finally we walked toward home across the plaza. It was 
getting dark. Suddenly we heard some shots. From around a corner 
and then across the plaza, people started to run. Many were 
     Across the plaza a group of people began to fight. Some were 
knocked down then kicked with heavy boots. It was hard to tell 
who was who. I wonder now if even they knew, or if they were just 
brawling from emotion. 
     More shots sounded. Panic broke out. I saw one man grab at 
his chest and fall, but I couldn't tell if he'd been shot. Too 
much was going on, and soon my view was blocked by running 
     Mama tried to get us away, but there was too much panic. The 
crowd collided with us. I felt Mama's hand torn from mine. I was 
     People ran into me from all sides. I was bumped this way and 
that, and finally lost my footing and went down. 
     I was being trampled. The explosions of gunfire were 
everywhere. A few hands reached down to help, only to be torn 
away. Each time I tried to get to my feet, someone else slammed 
into me and threw me back to the ground. As I struggled to my 
feet again a sharp pain, like a hornet sting, struck the back of 
my head just beneath my left ear. Everything turned dark. 
     As though in a dream, I felt someone pick me up and begin to 
run. Then there was a loud bang. I heard a groan and felt myself 
falling again. 
     When I awoke I found myself next to a fence in a small yard. 
A tiny house was nearby. It was dark everywhere else. There was 
still a stinging on the side of my head. I reached up and touched 
the spot. Even in the darkness I could see that my fingers came 
away darker.
     As I tried to stand everything became blurry. I could hear a 
dog barking and thought I felt a painful tugging at my ankle. It 
brought me back down to the ground again, with my head hitting 
the fence on the way.
     The next thing I knew, arms were around me, lifting. A woman 
was carrying me into the house and then laid me on a bench. She 
put a wet cloth on my forehead. 
     I started to cry for my mother. The woman held me close and 
kept telling me that she'd take me home if I would tell her where 
I lived and what my name was. 
     Through the rest of the night I kept passing out. The woman 
was in more of a panic than I was. She'd heard the shots and was 
frightened. It turned out later that her husband and eldest son 
had gone to the war. Neither had returned. Then here she was 
caring for a badly injured 7-year-old child.
     The sun was coming up. She handed me a cup of hot tea. At 
last I managed to get out, "My name is Ella Gruber. My Papa is 
Petre Gruber. We live in one of the villas by the shore."
     "I know where the villa is," she said. "I'll take you there. 
First let me clean your wound again and replace the bandage."
     For the first time I looked down at my clothing. It was 
covered with blood, as was the cloth she removed from the side of 
my head. Just as I felt myself beginning to panic, there came the 
sharp pain as she washed the gash and then put a clean cloth over 
it. I winced and began to cry. To calm me she muttered gentle 
phrases. "Hush, little darling. It will be okay. You'll be with 
your mama and papa soon."
     She wrapped me in a blanket and helped me into a small 4-
wheeled wagon. It was just large enough for me to sit in and 
stretch my legs straight. She'd placed pillows on the bottom and 
behind my back to soften the ride.      
     The streets seemed strange, as though the violence of the 
previous night had somehow changed them. I finally recognized the 
front gate of our home. Then Ivan's face was above mine. 
     He turned and shouted towards the house, then lifted me from 
the wagon. There were tears in his eyes. "Ellichka. Our dear 
Ellichka," and "God bless you, woman. God bless you!" he kept 
     Fraulein Schultz, Sena, Fenja and my sister raced from the 
house. It was like a long awaited reunion, with hugs and kisses 
all around until I could barely breathe. My head hurt and I felt 
sleepy, but being home again made me feel wonderful.
     Even Ivan and Sena forgot their feud for the moment and gave 
each other a hug. Then she seemed to catch herself and pulled 
away quickly, giving Ivan a glare. Just as quickly the glare 
disappeared and was replaced by a smile. She reached over and 
patted Ivan on the shoulder. I had to laugh, which made my head 
hurt again.
     We all went into the house. Sena and Fenja rushed about, 
bringing hot tea from the samovar and plates of cookies, candies 
and pastries. Fraulein Schultz explained that Mama was still gone 
in a search for me. Everyone was curious as to what had happened.
     "My name is Marusja," the woman said. "There was all that 
trouble last night. I live alone just one house from the plaza. I 
think I even heard some bullets hitting the house. I couldn't 
sleep. Then the dog started to bark. I went outside and found 
this little girl. I'm sorry to say that my dog bit her on the 
     "I don't know how she got to our yard. Someone must have 
carried her. I saw other blood on the fence and on the ground. I 
don't think it was hers. Someone must have carried her - someone 
had also been injured.
     "Her head was bleeding and she was unconscious. I brought 
her into my home and tried to take care of her. It wasn't until 
this morning that she could tell me where she lived."
     It was at that moment that Mama came through the door. She 
had her arm in a sling. It had been broken. The hugs - and the 
story - had to be repeated. We learned more about Marusja in the 
hours that followed. 
     Her husband, Frantz, and son, Timofrey, had both been 
drafted. She had already been informed that her husband had been 
killed. Timofrey was missing, presumed dead. She lived alone in 
the small house with her dog, and took in laundry and ironing 
when she could get it.
     She'd obviously had many hardships. They showed in the lines 
of her face and in the shabby, ill-fitting dress and boots she 
     Anatoly Bogdanov arrived moments later. It surprised even 
Mama when he told her that he'd spent the entire night searching 
for me when he learned that I was missing in the riot. He also 
had found out more details. The full story began to be pieced 
     A troop of soldiers had come into a street just off the 
plaza and had become involved in an argument. Angry words were 
exchanged, then blows. One of the soldiers fired his rifle. 
Citizens began to fire back. It turned into a full riot, with 
many people being injured, some severely. Amazingly, only one 
person had been killed.
     Marusja looked more and more sad with the news. "This 
frightens me, Madame Gruber. When children aren't safe, the times 
are very bad."
     Mama went upstairs and came back carrying some dresses and 
three pairs of shoes. "These belong to my mother," she said to 
Marusja, "but don't fit her now. I think she'd like it very much 
if you would have them."
     They went into the music room where a large mirror hung on 
the wall. All the dresses and shoes fit her perfectly. As she 
tried on each, more tears came to her eyes.
     "You are too kind, Madame Gruber. Too kind. I've never had 
dresses like these ever in my life. They are even from Germany."
     Mama turned to Anatoly. "I'm so glad Papa didn't have to go 
through all this, Anatoly. And so glad that you were here to help 
us. I appreciate it very much."
     "Madame Gruber, I owe you and your husband so much. Any 
time, if I can be of help, please call on me."
     The next day Papa came home. He was shocked to hear the 
story. Even as Mama was telling it to him, he pulled me up onto 
his lap and hugged me close for over an hour. 
     The next day they took me to the doctor. He was whispering 
but I overhead him tell my parents that it looked like a graze 
from a bullet. It frightened me badly when I heard him say that 
if it had been just an inch or two different I would be dead.     
I had bad headaches for several days. Mama made me stay in bed 
and gave me herbal tea and some medicine from the doctor. It was 
irritating to have a bandage on my neck and over my ear, but I 
was determined to be brave, like the characters in Fraulein 
Schultz's stories.
     Anatoly stopped by twice to see how I was. The second time I 
could see that there was something wrong between he and Papa, as 
though they'd had an argument earlier that day at work. That must 
have been the case. As he left I over heard Anatoly saying to 
Papa, "Please accept my apologies Comrade Gruber. I didn't really 
mean what I said this afternoon."
     As their voices faded away down the stairs, it seemed that 
the tone was friendly again. Even so, Anatoly didn't come to see 
me again. He didn't return to our house until early November.
     It was the beginning of November. Late one afternoon he 
entered the yard with a huge smile on his face.
     "We've won, Comrade," he said to Papa. "Have you heard?"
     "I haven't heard anything, Anatoly."
     "Comrade Bogdanov from now on. That's the way it will be. No 
more Gospodin. That is are obsolete now." Papa and Mama both 
looked puzzled. "Yes, they're not to be used anymore," Anatoly 
continued. "The old regime is gone at last. We took the palace 
last night and now we're in charge of things."
     Mama quickly and politely excused herself giving as the 
reason that it was time for our baths. She took Linachka and I 
out of the room before we could protest that we'd had a bath that 
morning, as we had every morning.
     "Shhh, Papa wants to talk to Anatoly alone," she told us. 
     It wouldn't have meant much to us children anyway. Not at 
the time. Over the next weeks it didn't make any sense to us. We 
knew about St. Petersburg and that the Czar had his winter palace 
there. For Linachka and I, in Odessa, it meant little more than 
stories in letters from Uncle Paul.
     What meant more was that fighting had begun around Odessa. 
The army there was considered "White" - the loyalists. The 
revolutionaries - the Red Army - were fighting to push them out 
of the area. From our house we'd occasionally hear gunshots in 
the distance.
     Papa came home one day and told us that the White Army had 
left and that the Red Army was in control of Odessa. There were 
many rumors. Nobody knew what the truth was, or how bad things 
would be. 
     Grandpa Adam began to spend more nights with us. 
     "I heard that the town is under control of the Red Army," he 
said. "This morning I saw armed guards driving people from their 
homes. Then the homes were plundered and set on fire. Such a 
waste. It's wrong to put people out of their homes, but why 
destroy the homes afterwards? It doesn't make any sense.
     "Petja, we're going to have to be very careful and be ready 
to make some quick decisions."
     At times I thought Papa would go along with those 
instructions and that we'd soon be moving. I wondered where we'd 
go. To see Aunt Lina in Grossliebenthal? Maybe to Saratov to 
visit with Papa's friend Valentin? Or perhaps we'd go to the 
house in Kurgan where Papa lived before marrying Mama, and which 
he still owned? It may have been not knowing that kept Papa in 
Odessa. Rumors were that fighting had spread everywhere, which 
meant that no place was any safer than Odessa unless we left the 
country completely. Grandpa Adam was willing. Papa wasn't.
     Each time he seemed ready to pack us and leave, something 
would come up and he would have to go out of town on business. He 
hated to leave his family, and hated to travel during the winter, 
but there was no choice. Now more than ever it was important that 
he do his job perfectly, without mistakes or complaints.
     Papa came back from one such trip. Things quieted down 
again, at least in Odessa. When he went to work the next day he 
took me along. I was thrilled. It had been many months since Papa 
had let me go to the plant with him. 
     When we arrived in the office Anatoly's desk was gone. Papa 
finally found it in another room. Standing beside it was a man 
wearing the uniform of the Red guard, including a cap with a red 
star on the front. It wasn't until the man spoke that Papa 
realized that it was Anatoly.
     "Ah, Comrade Gruber," he said. "As you can see I've made 
some changes here. From now on I am in charge, and you work for 
me. I'll have my own office and everything will be reorganized as 
I instruct. Of course, you'll work just as you always have. I 
expect you to help me hold my position and to handle any problems 
that arise."
     Papa had been used to the changes in Anatoly but seemed to 
be taken aback by this sudden change in attitude. Anatoly had 
been smug before, yet he always realized that Papa was in charge 
of the plant. He knew that only Papa had the skills to keep it 
all going.
     I could see Papa swallow hard and take a deep breath. 
"Anatoly, what has happened to you?"
     Anatoly leaned back against his desk. "You keep forgetting, 
Petre. It's not Anatoly. Not anymore. From now on it will be 
Comrad Bogdanov. And you will show me respect, as fits my 
station. You work for me now, not the other way around."
     As he spoke, anger crept into Anatoly's voice. Papa pulled 
me closer. I could feel the tightness in his muscles. His deep 
voice was just as tight as he said, "It will be as you say, . . . 
Comrade Bogdanov."
     It was a dreary day. Papa went through his work mechanically 
and didn't talk much. He'd give me reassuring smiles and pats now 
and then, but there was no hiding that something was very wrong 
that frightened him.
     That evening at home I heard Papa as he told Mama. "Can you 
imagine that, Musja? Anatoly! He has changed so much, and so 
fast. He has put himself in charge. He'll never be able to handle 
things. Certainly not on his own."
     "Just be careful, Petja," Mama said. "These are dangerous 
times. Anatoly was a good friend. He even helped us to look for 
Elichka that night. I haven't been sure about him for a long 
time. One day he seems like an enemy and the next he spends the 
entire night walking through the streets looking for our daughter 
and the next . . . ." There was a long pause. "I'm not sure about 
him. Or about anyone. Who can we trust?"
     The situation worsened. Anatoly enjoyed his new position of 
being the boss. He demanded not just that Papa carry out the 
normal duties but expected Papa to do most of Anatoly's work, 
too, while Anatoly sat in his new office. And he demanded that 
Papa not tell anyone that it was he, not Anatoly, who was taking 
care of things."
     It put a strain on Papa. As hard as he tried to keep our 
lives happy, he rarely smiled through that winter. Not even with 
the approach of Easter.
     In March the new Bolshevik government had signed an 
armistice with Germany. Many were bitter about it. The country 
was torn from within which meant that the treaty wasn't a good 
one for Russia. Much land had to be given up or made independent, 
which included the Ukraine where much of the produce was grown.
     Instead of ending with the war, shortages got worse and were 
made worse yet as more and more landholders were thrown from 
their land. The idea was that the land should be owned by all the 
people instead of just by the rich. What happened in reality was 
that the owners were turned out - sometimes shot, sometimes sent 
into exile to the prison camps of Siberia. Then the houses were 
burned to the ground. The crops and animals were left to die. All 
over Russia people were starving to death, dying of rampant 
disease. Often both.
     We still got most of our food from the German settlements. 
They'd been relatively untouched which meant that we could get 
the food we needed. Despite that, our Easter of 1918 didn't have 
the same sense of joy of earlier years.
     Before World War I it had been a common custom to hold an 
open house and lay out a big spread of differents foods. The 
celebration lasted a week or longer, with people coming and going 
constantly. By 1917 the shortages had caused most people to have 
more simple fare, and less of it. Or to forego the open house 
tradition entirely. By Easter of 1918 there were almost no open 
house celebrations. There was too little food, and too much fear.
     Mama received an invitation to sing again at the church. It 
helped to give us a better sense of normalcy and eased the 
tensions for us.
     By tradition food was to be blessed at the church. We packed 
the basket filled with colored eggs, paska and kulich and climbed 
into the carriage Ivan had prepared for us.
     The ceremony was beautiful. Mama's clear voice made it even 
better. There were so many people that the priest suggested that 
we all go outside to form the line for the blessing of the food. 
He walked along, chanting prayers and sprinkling holy water over 
the baskets. 
     Suddenly there was shouting. Rocks began to fly into the 
crowd of churchgoers. A man standing near to me was hit in the 
face and fell down. The churchgoers broke in a panic. People 
began to run everywhere, bumping into each other, knocking over 
the baskets of food which were then trampled underfoot. Mixed in 
were the cries and screams of injured people.
     Our family became separated. I couldn't see Mama, Papa or 
anyone else of the family except for Linachka. I grabbed her hand 
and together we ran in the direction of the carriages. Linachka 
wanted to crawl beneath one of the carriages, but I wouldn't let 
her. The horses seemed badly spooked and I wasn't sure that they 
wouldn't tear loose and run us over. 
     Ivan was the first to get to us. He picked us up, one in 
each arm, and carried us behind the carriages. He told us to stay 
down and then went to calm the horses. 
     Mama came up, bringing the other children with her, and 
shouted, "Ivan, let's get the children out of here and home. The 
others will come when they can."
     During the drive home Mama did what she could to calm us 
after the frightening experience. 
     We found out that the same thing was happening elsewhere, at 
all the churches. It was the work of the anti-Christ movement. 
The communists. They wanted all the churches to close down and so 
had organized attacks on churches all over the country.
     There had been extensive damage to the church. The alter had 
been vandalized. Priceless religious icons were stolen or 
destroyed. The priest was in the hospital with severe injuries. 
     A few people came to our home over the next few weeks, 
hoping that Papa might have some answers or might be able to use 
his influence to help. It was heartbreaking to hear him have to 
say that he had no influence. Not any more. 
     "My son came back from Rostow last week," one lady said. "He 
told me that the same incident happened there, too. Where is our 
country heading?"
     The Easter spirit was gone. Our beautiful table of food went 
almost untouched. Very few people came to enjoy the open house or 
the celebration. Even fewer had celebrations of their own. No one 
even dared go to the church for fear of another anti-Christian 
     The people of Odessa began to stay at home more often. The 
heart hadn't just gone out of Easter, it had been driven out of 
the city entirely. It was rare to see smiles. Those who had been 
friends before gave each other suspicious glances.
     Pro-Boshevik and anti-Bolshevik factions were everywhere. If 
either side got the the idea that someone might be a part of the 
opposition, that person too often ended up dead. Just the act of 
not reporting someone, even within one's own family, could be a 
capital crime. 
     The bad news continued. In a letter Aunt Lina described 
their own growing fears. Many of the landowners and manufacturers 
in and near Grossliebenthal had been under attack. Many had been 
thrown out, with all their property confiscated. Some had been 
let go. More had been taken captive and then sent to prison camps 
in Siberia. More than a few were simply taken outside and shot. 
Aunt Lina was afraid that they would soon become targets.
     Papa answered the letter right away, urging them to leave 
everything behind and come to Odessa immediately. A week went by, 
then two, then three. There was no response. Finally Papa decided 
to take a few days from work and get Aunt Lina and the rest of 
the family there.
     Papa had told Mama to pack his case, saying that he'd be 
going whether Anatoly liked it or not. He brought me along with 
him so as to have an excuse to leave the plant early.
     Anatoly readily granted Papa a few days leave. Papa hadn't 
told him the real reason, just that it was a family matter. He 
insinuated that Grandpa Peter's health was getting very bad and 
that we wanted him to be with us in his last days. Anatoly seemed 
to recognize that things were going badly, and maybe he even felt 
a little guilty about it. 
     "How are you going to travel?" Anatoly asked. "There are 
almost no trains running now, and all of them are only for 
military personnel."
     "I don't know," Papa answered. "I'll find a way, even if I  
have to walk."
     Anatoly looked at Papa for a while and finally said, "Maybe 
I can help. I've become a powerful man now. I can give you a 
pass. It will allow you to use any train, first class." He bent 
over the pad of paper and began writing. "I'm sorry to hear that 
a member of your family is ill, Comrade Gruber. And I hope he'll 
be better soon. We know that you're a valuable employee at the 
plant, and want your mind to be on your work, not elsewhere."
     He put several stamps on the paper and handed it to Papa. 
Papa began to thank him. Something in Papa's voice seemed to 
affect Anatoly. That or his own conscience. Or both.
     He waved his hand and shook his head. "No, Comrade. Don't 
thank me. You did so much for me and my family in the past. It 
might seem like it at times, but I haven't forgotten. I truly 
believe in the cause, but so often I can't but wonder why it is 
that people like you and your family have to suffer."
     He reached over and touched my hair. "I remember the night 
Ellichka was injured. When your wife told me that she was missing 
in the riot, I forgot all about the class struggle and could only 
think that it might have been my child. If the situation had been 
reversed, and it was my child who was missing . . . I know you 
Comrade Gruber. You would comb the city and keep going until the 
child was found."
     All that night I kept thinking that if it hadn't been for 
you and Madame Gruber, my children might not even have a father. 
You intervened and prevented my being sent to the front two 
     "It's my turn to help, Petre. And please forgive me for not 
doing more."
     Papa turned to leave. "Comrade Gruber! One more thing." Papa 
turned to face Anatoly and saw that he was smiling. "While you're 
gone, I'll watch out for your family, just as you've so often 
watched mine. I won't let anything happen."
     Next day Papa left. None of us wanted him to leave, Mama 
least of all. Emotions were high. There was danger all around us 
and having Papa gone was frightening. 
     As they climbed into the carriage I heard Ivan whisper to 
Papa, "Don't worry, Gospodin Gruber. I'd lay my life down for 
your family." As Papa began to smile Ivan added, "And if that 
isn't enough, Sena is here. The Red guard wouldn't stand a 
chance, at least not if they try to get in through the kitchen 
     Papa and Ivan rode off laughing. We were left behind with 
only our worries, and the rumors of ever increasing fighting in 
the country. Trains were being attacked on a regular basis by 
both sides in the conflict. The only thing that helped was that 
we were kept busy in preparing the house for our visitors. There 
would be Aunt Lina, her husband Robert, their daughter Erikie, 
her husband Ulrich and their three children. No doubt they'd all 
be here for some time - at least until all the trouble cooled 
down and they could go home again.
     We'd taken to sitting by the window each day watching for 
Papa to return. Days passed. Then a week. I once heard Mama 
whispering to Fraulein Schultz that we should begin to pack and 
get out, and her fears that Papa would never return. 
     One evening we heard carriage bells ringing. A buggy was 
entering through the iron gate. It was Papa! We all ran out to 
greet him, and all felt our hearts fall when we saw that he was 
     "Where are Aunt Lina and Uncle and the rest of the family?" 
I asked. 
     Papa gave me a quick hug and said, "They can't come right 
now. Maybe later. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow." He leaned 
over and whispered something to Mama. Her face turned white and I 
could see that she was fighting back tears. 
     Something was wrong. She turned to Fraulein Schultz and 
said, "Give the children dinner and put them to bed. I'm going to 
help Papa put the horses up." Then she turned to us and said, 
"Your father is very tired, my dears. You can talk to him in the 
morning. Tomorrow he'll tell you all about his journey."
     I heard Grandpa Adam come in. Sister was still asleep. I 
tried to go back to sleep but heard Grandpa say, "You've been 
crying, Petja. What happened?"  I laid there in the darkness, 
frightened. Listening. 
     "I don't know how to tell you this, father."
     "What has happened," Grandpa repeated. "Have they been 
disowned? Were they driven out of their home."
     "No, no. They're . . . they're not with us anymore." 
     There was silence. I could hear both Mama and Papa sobbing. 
Then Papa continued. "They were executed, father. All of them. 
Even the children. It's a miracle that I'm still alive."
     I couldn't believe it. The whole family, dead. Murdered. I 
wanted to rush downstairs.
     "I got there in the evening," Papa said. "There weren't any 
carriages available at the station so I had to walk to their 
house. It was almost dark by the time I got there. 
     "Erica opened the door. She looked scared. We went into the 
living room where the rest of the family had gathered. They were 
all surprised to see me and seemed concerned. Robert said that I 
shouldn't be there. That it wasn't safe.
     "The house was a mess. There were broken things all over. 
Robert told me that the soldiers had done damage all through the 
house and barn. They'd come to deliver an order from the 
commissar that the family had to leave their house and 
possessions. Their name was on a list of names. Many of the other 
German families had already been thrown out, and quite a few had 
been arrested and taken away. They were surprised that Ulrich and 
Robert hadn't been taken away.
     "All their horses and cattle had been confiscated. So had 
both carriages. They had no way to leave, and no where to go.
     "I insisted that we pack quickly and leave immediately, and 
that we all come here to Odessa. They were afraid to take 
anything. The Red soldiers had warned them to not take anything. 
I told them that they should at least pack some clothes. I wish 
to God that we hadn't even tried. If I'd known, we would have 
left right then.
     "We were just about ready to leave when there came the 
sounds of horses. There was a knock on the front door, but before 
anyone could get there it was kicked in. Five soldiers and an 
officer stormed in.
     "They drove us all out of the house, into the backyard and 
pushed us against the brick fence. It was then that we realized 
what was going to happen. Katarina, the oldest child began to 
scream. One of the soldiers hit her in the face and knocked her 
     "I screamed, 'What are you doing, you bloodthirsty animals?' 
A soldier hit me in the head with his rifle and ordered me to 
line up with the others against the wall. I took out the pass 
that Anatoly had given me. The officer saw all the stamps on it 
and seemed impressed.
     " 'Come with me, Comrade,' he said. 'We'll talk about it.'
     "I told him that he'd be held responsible if anything 
happened to me or to my family. He lead me through the gate and 
around to the front, saying that the light was better for him to 
examine the pass. 
     " 'You alone are mentioned on the pass, Comrade Gruber. I'm 
sorry, but I have my orders.'
     I tried to push him away and get to the family. There were 
gunshots from the back. The officer grabbed my arm. 'You can't do 
anything,' he said. 'Get out of here. Quickly! Or even your pass 
won't help you.'
     "I spent the rest of the night in hiding. Soldiers were 
everywhere. Now and then through the night I heard more shots. I 
don't know how many other families died that night. 
     "I went back the next day. The house was empty. In the back 
I found a few personal things. Helga's little shoe. Andre's 
jacket. A blood-stained wedding ring. The grass was crushed and 
bloody where they had fallen.
     "All seven were murdered. Even Helga, and she was only two-
     Again it was quiet except for the sobbing. I heard some soft 
clinking and imagined Mama pouring a glass of herb tea for Papa. 
After a moment he began again.
     "There were some of the neighbors waiting for me when I came 
to the front again. At first I wasn't sure what was going to 
happen. Then one came forward carrying a picture in a frame. She 
said that she'd sneaked into the house and had taken it. She'd 
recognized me the evening before. They all expressed their sorrow 
and said that they knew something bad was happening but that they 
were too afraid to try to help. 
     "There were so many times I didn't think I was going to get 
home again, even with the pass Anatoly gave me.
     "When I arrived at the train station I showed my pass. The 
ticket officer looked at the red star and showed me to a car that 
was filled with Red Army officers. I was the only civilian. 
     "I wish I could have been anywhere but there. I was sure 
that at any moment one of them would begin to question the pass 
and my reason for being there. Instead they were polite and all 
in a good mood. They even offered me vodka from the bottles, and 
food from a basket of sausages, fried chicken, cheese, and bread. 
Another brought out cans of chocolate candy and passed them 
     "I did my best to appear friendly. They asked me where I 
lived, what I did, why I was traveling and so on. I acted 
friendly and a little drunk. They believed me when I said that I 
was on business for Commissar Bogdanov. We clicked glasses and 
said 'Sa sdordvie' - to your health. It was still very 
     "At last I pretended to pass out from the vodka and listened 
to them talking. Each told about his particular assignment. One 
of them had been involved in making out the lists and orders for 
executions. I wanted to grab him by the throat to find out if 
he'd been responsible for the deaths of our family.
     "They were bragging about their new lifestyles, and how 
their families had moved into large, expensive homes that had 
been confiscated. One talked about the beautiful jewels and furs 
he'd taken from homes and brought to his wife. Another said that 
he had a box of jewels in his pocket that he'd taken from the 
last mansion he'd sacked. I opened one eye carefully to look. He 
had bracelets and rings and necklaces. I wondered how many had 
lost their lives so he could have them in his pocket.
     "They talk about how they're distributing wealth among the 
poor. What it comes down to is that they're taking it for 
themselves and killing anyone who objects.     
     "Finally I did fall asleep. When I awoke all the officers 
were gone but one, and he was sound asleep in a corner. Very soon 
one of the other officers came in and said that there was 
shooting at the next station. Even as he talked the train began 
to slow down and then stopped. We sat there for several hours 
before the train got started again. That happened several more 
times on the way. 
     "Once, when we passed near some thick trees, there were some 
shots that broke the windows. Soldiers on the train fired back 
into the trees, but we didn't stop."
     As Papa told the story, I kept thinking about Helga, just 
barely two, and eight-year-old Andre, a boy my own age, being 
stood against a wall and shot down with the rest of their family. 
Their only crime was that they were the grandchildren of people 
wealthy enough to have owned a power station. It didn't matter 
that the station had been burned down. It didn't matter that 
three of the victims were just children.
     My parents began to prepare for anything that might happen. 
It was still quiet in Odessa, but there had been trouble, and the 
situation was getting worse and worse elsewhere. I heard more 
people talking about the Red Army, Lenin, Marx, communism, how 
unfair and unjust the rich were. It didn't make any sense to me. 
People were being shot. More were being arrested and sent to 
prison camps where they could expect to live just a few months 
because of the harsh treatment. No trial was needed. The only 
crime they'd committed was that of having some wealth. The more 
wealth, the harsher the treatment. 
     The offspring were also punished. It didn't matter that a 
young man was on his own, working hard and struggling to make a 
living for his new family. If his parents, and often just his 
grandparents, had any holdings at all, he was declared just as 
guilty, as were his new wife and any children he had.
     Fraulein Schultz moved into our room. She brought in a 
mattress and slept on the floor. Sister and I both woke up many 
nights screaming from nightmares. 
     We didn't know that the nightmare hadn't even begun yet.

   The Soviet Union of today is a far cry from how things were 
in the decades following the 1917 revolution. The ruling family, 
the Romanovs, were thrown out of power, which left a Provisional 
Government. That was an extremely weak system that ended up 
actually promoting a fracturing of those in control. 
   Although they held only 10% of the government seats, the 
Bolsheviks were both vocal and violent. They grabbed power. Lenin 
created the forerunner of the KGB in December of 1917 to make sure 
that anti-Bolsheviks were squashed. 
   What followed were some useless efforts to pull the country 
back together. When Lenin died there was another power struggle 
which left Stalin in charge. Under his thumb there were a series 
of purges so violent that no one knows how many were killed. The 
estimates run anywhere from 5 million to 60 million. So many were 
killed, in so many ways, that it wasn't possible to keep records. 
   RUN FOR FREEDOM is a true story about those times. 
   As I said at the opening, if this chapter stirred interest I 
can easily put up other chapters from the book. All you have to do 
is to let me know. 

Zephyr Magazine is © Gene Williams. All rights reserved.