Welcome Home. We are ALL One.
Here is a collection of family immigrant stories from across our human experience.
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“Home, where everyone is welcome” goes way beyond a project deserving of an award. It must become a forum, a whole organization whose mission is to decimate racial, political and economic barriers and bring together people from all walks of life to pursue one common goal, which, no matter how interpreted, returns to the same thing…the peaceful, civilized existence of all of our species.
My family’s story covers several generations. It is a story of love, repeatedly caught in the crossfire of socio-political climates, a love which in every instance, prevailed over war and hatred and transcended societal boundaries.
My aristocratic German Grandmother eloped with my poor common Grandfather…
My British Father, an RAF soldier (drafted to listen in to Russian communications) wrote to my German Mother for 5 years before finding and marrying her…
And on this past Inauguration Day (one which our family did not celebrate) I, a half British, half German American citizen married a Russian-American citizen. Ironic or what…?
England, Germany, Russia, America. Go Figure.
The way ‘home’ has been long and arduous for my mother. Our family story is best told from her perspective. In 1939 when my German mother was only two years old, her mother (Liesel, my Grandmother) said to my Grandfather “Hans, you must go. Something is not right in our country”. From being a young math teacher, he had been drafted into the Reich. They were not Jewish, they were not Russian, and despite radio propaganda knew nothing about what was really going on…but they knew in their hearts whatever Adolf Hitler was doing was wrong and leading to something even worse. So they implemented their own plan. Hans got himself captured and spent the rest of the war in a British prisoner of war camp, treated respectfully and at least kept alive. And Liesel bribed a soldier to take her and the 3 children over the border to escape the Russian occupation of eastern Germany. During this journey they tell of many stories…including my mother being briefly given to a single woman without proper papers as if she was her daughter, in order to save her from the worst fate.
An important note: This side story is another example of how children were the future back then…everyone’s best hope of survival and prosperity…just as they are now, in many ways…
Eventually my mother and her family reunited, settled back in Germany and shouldered the inevitable guilt born out of the atrocities that unbeknownst to them had been afflicted on so many.
We must always remember and be reminded of what happened in that time but there are many who by simply being born in Germany since then, have taken on the legacy responsibility for the rest of the world. To them I will always be grateful because they had nothing to do with it and to Angela Merkel I also say Thank You as she has opened her borders and provided tremendous economic support for the influx of refugees to Europe from the Middle East…to help them and to continue to prove that Germany is now a different nation. Proof that things can improve.
My British Father and German Mother married in 1963 after 5 years of writing letters. Europe was still healing after the WWII and wherever they decided to make their home, they knew it wouldn’t be easy with a mixed marriage. My mother spent the next 50 odd years trying to fit in in the UK and finally when old age was creeping up and family and friends were no longer alive in Britain they decided to immigrate to be with me and my family.
History had repeated itself…I immigrated to the US, just as my mother did to the UK…and now to the US, too!
I sponsored their immigration to the USA, which took 3 years, partly because of the woefully inadequate communication and administration process and partly because the process saved my mother’s life!! There are always two sides to every coin.
After a year long hiatus in the process, because my mother had no German birth certificate (they had to research deeply to find any record of her German birth), they reached the final stage of immigration that most people do not even need to have. A full medical. For aging folks in their then late 70’s this was daunting. How could they possibly pass with all their ailments? Everything looked great until the doc discovered a heart murmur in my mother. Apparently we would have lost her at any minute. Within six weeks she had undergone open heart surgery for a new bovine valve resulting in a long recovery period and another delay in their move.
During my Mother’s recovery they received their Green Cards and planned their immigration for later that year. Which was last year.
They have been with us (in the same town) since August of 2016 adjusting to the vastly different culture (yes, VASTLY different from the UK) but happy to be with me, their Grandchildren and Russian Son-In-Law, happy not to be alone in the UK without family or friends, happy to be in a community who provides spiritual, emotional and practical support.
There are so many stories that I could tell of my family and it’s adjustment to being out of their worlds, their country, their norm…my own immigration, my husband’s immigration, my parents immigration, my children who are the first generation to be born here. (now in college).I could write a book…Or…I can just be thankful that we are all HOME and I can open my heart to all those who are going through the same thing.
We need to think beyond boundaries, draw parallels with others and build bridges. Even though I’m a privileged English speaking white gal I have been shaped and weathered by my journey and I can truly relate.
Heidi Breyer-Volkov (Musician)