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The chronicles of Novosibirsk

Woman in tearful re-union with her sisters and brother for the first time since World War Two

By The Siberian Times reporter
20 February 2013

An astonishing story of the power of family bonds has seen Galina hold an emotional meeting with her siblings who last saw her as a tiny baby in 1945.

'My main concern now is not to die from happiness' Galina said before the meeting. Pictured here with brother Dmitry, picture: town of Mariinsk police

Unknown to each other Galina Sleptsova and her sister Vera were separately trying to find each other after they were parted in Siberia due to the tragedies of war. This week they met again thanks to the diligent, old-fashioned detective work of a police captain in Kemerovo, Sergei Morozov, who refused to give up in helping Galina find her missing family. 

Galina was called Zina before - as the youngest of the family - she was sent to the orphanage at less than one year old and put up for adoption after the sudden death of the siblings' parents.

Her father was killed at the front in early 1945  and a day later her mother by coincidence dropped dead in their Siberian village.

The family's eldest daughter Maria, then 15, raised her younger siblings, but the village council believed she could not cope with the baby, and that it was best to put Zina into the care of an orphanage - the Baby House in Yashkino village - from where she was later adopted. 

Galina (Zina) only discovered about her real identity on her adopted mother's deathbed in 1984.

'I was called Zina, and my new family renamed me  Galina,' she said. 'Mother told me that I had two brothers and two sisters and that they might still be alive. After she died I went on trying to find my family. I went to the village of Yashkino but by then the Baby House (orphanage) did not exist and no-one knew where its archives were. 

'I went to my adoptive mother's relatives in another village, but they had no clue either. Years went by.

'In 2011, I moved from the village of Malopeschanka, where I had lived, to the town of Mariinsk and went to police station there as a final hope.'

70 years apart sisters meet after II World War

'They slowly walked towards the 'baby' of the family and eyed her for several seconds, as if to remove any doubts that this was Zina, taken from them in 1945. After another moment - and all of them burst into tears of happiness, along with many of the police officers present'. Picture: town of Mariinsk police

Captain Morozov took an active interest in the case, sending out dozens of requests, visiting address bureaux and studying wartime archives. To everyone he met, he explained the search he was on. One place he had visited was the Yashkino registration office. 

On 14 February 2013, the policeman received a call from a female worker at this office. She had checked her records and said that in 2005 she was approached by an elderly woman who was looking for her younger sister. 

'She said she last saw her sister when she was less than a year old. Could that be your girl?'

'That was it,' said Captain Morozov. 

This woman was called Vera Semyonovna Glushkova, now 77, who lived in the town of Taiga. She said she was looking for her younger sister called Zina who had been adopted. 

'She explained that there were five children in the family - Fyodor, Dmitry, Maria, Vera and Zinaida (Zina) Nozhnikov,' said Captain Morozov.

'They had earlier moved to Siberia from Belarus, fleeing from the German troops. 

'Their father Semyon died at the front on 18 January 1945, and the mother-of-five had died a day later on 19 January'.

70 years apart II World War


Separated since 1945

Captain Morozov, pictured with Galina and at his desk took an active interest in the case, sending out dozens of requests, visiting address bureaux and studying wartime archives. To everyone he met, he explained the search he was on. Picture: town of Mariinsk police

Days after the mother's death, little Zina was taken away but Vera - then nine - successfully hid from the officials, fearing the same fate. Maria cared for the others and even tried to find Zina, and restore her to the family, in the middle of the 1950s, but to no avail. 

They never gave up and kept alive the hope of finding her. Fortunately, at some point approached the same official that Captain Morozov had met and the link was made.  The policeman went to meet Galina (Zina) to break the joyous news. 

'My main concern now is not to die from happiness', said Galina before the meeting. She took a pile of handkerchiefs and heart medicine plus presents for her long lost siblings. It was years and years of searching, you know, and the most common answer I heard was 'Sorry there is no information about your family',' she said wiping the tears from her cheeks. 

'I hope so much we look similar - please!' She didn't have long to wait. 

Fyodor had sadly died three years ago, but Maria, who raised the other children, is now 83. With her came Vera and Dmitry. There was a hush as the three of them entered the room to meet their missing sister. They slowly walked towards the 'baby' of the family and eyed her for several seconds, as if to remove any doubts that this was Zina, taken from them in 1945. 

After another moment - and all of them burst into tears of happiness, along with many of the police officers present.

'Last time I saw you was when you were a baby!' said Vera, hugging her younger sister. You were given to the orphanage in 1945 after both our parents died,' she explained. 

'I remember people taking you away and me and my elder brothers crying as you were carried off. I don't think you remember it, but all of us do. 

'We were desperately trying to find you in the middle of the 1950s, when we were older. But by then the trace was lost. I had no hope to ever see my little sister again.'

Maria - who kept the rest of the family together - was 'happy beyond all words' to see the moment when the family was re-united. It turned out they had lived about 240km apart.

'They won't part us again,' she said.

Comments (1)

This and other stories like this always bring a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. I myself am the First Generation and firstborn of Displaced Persons from Ukraine and heard first hand the tragedies that befell our people and the separations that occurred. My father and mother were 'torn' from their families, being the 'babies' of their families and were never able to go back home. It was not until some time in the 1960's that my paternal grandmother tracked her baby son to where we were living and then we were able to track my mother's family. It is so, so sad that this happened to so many families. But it was a joy reading this story, heartwarming and very tearful. May God bless them all and all others who are trying to trace their families - unfortunately records were never kept and many of our elders have passed away.
Valentyna, Perth, Scotland
22/02/2013 14:39
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