I found your
site as I was researching Dad. Thank you so much for it. Keep
up the good work!
Where was Dad after the war?
It's funny how these
questions about your parents only occur to you after they're
I knew Dad was a Ukrainian,
drafted into the Red Army. He was captured on the first day
of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, on 22 June 1941. After
that, he told me, it was a German prison camp. The war ended
in May 1945 - should have been great news. But like other POWs
he feared prison by Stalin for treason. After all, he had allowed himself to be captured. He was interrogated by SMERSH, at one
point forced to dig his grave--a gun to his head. When he
got the chance, he squeezed under the barbed wire and made his way
into the American zone, changing his name as he went.
a DP until 1948, when he came to Australia and married Mum. Nearly
three years in limbo. But
where? What was it actually like? What thoughts went
through his head? Despair? Frustration? Hope?
It's hard to imagine
Europe from here. Australia is sunny and bright; its buildings
new and its people naively optimistic. Returning Aussie soldiers
were met by nice ladies at the docks, with cups of tea and lamington
cakes: Did you have a nice war? It has small experience
of ancient quarrels, complex cohabitations and invasion; history
happens someplace else. It's even harder to imagine a Europe
destroyed by bombs, people brutalized by want and daily cruelties
-- traumatized by the prospect of random death. Scarred. Dad
had to put all that behind him. This is Australia mate. Don't
wanna hear about all that wog stuff.
wrote poems as he grew old. Poems in Ukrainian. None
of us kids read Ukrainian. For
all these years, they might as well have been written with invisible
ink. A long time after he died, I finally became curious about
them. I asked a nice Ukrainian lady to translate some. He
writes about Ukraine, his mother, the war; but moslty about lost
he mentions his DP camp. Korenburg. Korenburg? Must
be easy to find in any atlas. Nope. Konigsberg? That's
in the book, but not likely. Did he forget the name? Did
he make it all up?
onto the DP Camps site. Wow. So much stuff. Gotta
love modern technology. What
fine people -- those generous souls who made it. Let's
see now. Dad was in the American zone. Not that many
hard could it be? But no Korenburg.
outside playing. I'm on the computer, again. Searching. Hmm.
'DP Camps in Germany'. Maybe the K was a C. Cammer? No
that's the British zone. Not even close. Coburg? That's
closer. But nope. Cornberg? Doubtful. Hang
on, there's a photo album of Cornberg, a fat photo album of
Cornberg -- posted by Judy Hrynenko. Nothing else to do!
fall out of my chair. Slide
38: "A lecture in the course for drivers." That's
Dad, surely. The guy giving the class! Dad once said
that in the camp "I was lecturer." I pull out
some old photos Dad had. The buildings in the background look
similar, those shutters are the same. And there's a door
with those V-pattern slats. And here he is about that time
in another photo fatter
in the face than normal but he looks just like the man giving the
are the chances? What are the chances? Doubt creeps
in. 'Cornberg' isn't that close to 'Korenburg'. I
email my brothers. We all believe we have found the camp, pretty
much. And the photographs are superb. But...
this winter. She
married Dad in a double wedding in 1950; her sister also married
a Ukrainian -- two Australians marry two Ukrainians. It
made the newspapers: "Canberra Sisters Marry New Australians"
and "Talk to them of love -- and they need a dictionary."
Among Mum's papers I
found a thin yellow sheet, spotted and ravaged at its edges: Cornberg.
WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
This is to certify that Szafranowycz Wolodymyr,
a registered Displaced Person of Camp 566, werked
(sic) in the Camp as driver school teacher from
November 1945 to December 1946.
He proved himself to be a hard working honest man.
UNRAA Area Team 1023
DP Camp 566 Cornberg
Click to enclarge photos
1946 Arbeitsbuch (work book)
Thank you Judy. Thank
Peter Shafron/Szafranowycz Email: firstname.lastname@example.org