Trees in the Snow


I thought to title this post “Accidental Book Review” since I hardly ever write them so this is to share that a new book was published, which is an important, if not a must read, for those with roots in Russia/Ukraine/Soviet Union.


It is a memoir by Eva Smiller, who was 15 years old when Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Her family lived in a small town of Chudnov near Zhitomir. The family did not run away and was murdered by the Germans and Ukrainians, except for Eva who managed to escape. For two years, she was wondering through the countryside and in Kiev itself. She was betrayed to the Ukrainian police where the deputy chief wanted to shoot the damn kike right away but the chief begged him to let the girl go. She practically froze to death in the middle of a winter forest (hence the book title) but was saved by a peasant couple who happened to be walking by.  She was betrayed again, to the Gestapo in Kiev, where she managed to convince the interrogating officer, despite the best efforts of his Ukrainian translator, that she was a simple Ukrainian girl, and thus was sent to Germany as an Ostarbeiter.


What was really surprising to me personally, was the warmth and kindness with which Eva Smiller described virtually all Germans whom she met in Berlin and a few other places.


After returning back to the Soviet Union Eva lived in Odessa. That’s where her son, Michael Lehrman, a good story teller in his own right, contributed to her story, putting it in a proper historical context and concluding with his account of their emigration and life in the United States.


The value of this book, in my opinion, is in the excellent description of the family life in the pre- and especially post-war Soviet Union. There are many published stories of survival. However, not many, at least not that I’ve seen in English, describe the dynamics of the family relationships among the survivors and the sufferings that ordinary people endured in the country which called itself a “workers’ paradise” and the “beacon of progressive mankind”.  Even the process of emigration and early life in America are presented in an interesting and analytical way.


The book just became available on Amazon, at


·  ISBN-10: 1733457216

·  ISBN-13: 978-1733457217


It is also available at Barnes and Noble.


Boris Feldblyum



Boris Feldblyum Architectural Photography * 8510 Wild Olive Drive, Potomac, MD 20854, USA *


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