Question: What name were you born with?
Answer: Emma Wasylenko (pronounced Va-sy-linko)
Question: Why did you change your name to Amy?
Answer: Because Amy seemed like a more American name, whereas Emma seemed like a Russian name at the time.
Question: What were your parents’ names?
Answer: Fyodor and Maria Wasylenko
Question: Where were you born?
Answer: In Drushkovka, Ukraine, in the years prior to World War II.
Question: Can you tell me about your father?
Answer: Unfortunately for my father, he was an educated man. This can be seen as a threat to the Russian government, especially when you don’t comply with their reasoning and rule. Fyodor openly disagreed with Stalin and the government which made him a target of the NKVD (secret police). He was a lawyer and really valued education, especially the education of my brother, sister and I.
Question: How many siblings do you have?
Answer: I have two siblings, a brother and a sister, both of whom live in the United States now, as well.
Question: Where was your father sent away to and why?
Answer: He was watched by the NKVD (secret police) and was taken by them late one night and was then sentenced to Siberian slave labor camps for 10 years.
Question: So, your mother raised you and your siblings?
Answer: Yes, I didn’t meet my father til much later in my life.
Question: Did you stay in the Ukraine for most of your young adult life?
Answer: No, I only lived in the Ukraine for a short time. My village was eventually raided by Germans and all the people in it were forced to Hitler’s Germany.
Question: So, your village was raided and you were sent to Germany?
Answer: Yes, there we were forced into German labor camps, where my family suffered many hardships. Because my brother was much older he was forced to become part of Hitler’s Nazi’s, luckily for him he was able to sneak away and escape one day.
Question: That’s amazing that you brother was able to escape, but he didn’t think it would be easier to just stay with the Nazi’s?
Answer: He didn’t have the same beliefs as they did. Also, many Russian people are Jewish, many of our friends growing up were Jewish, he would be forced to kill his own friends and fellow countrymen. He knew he could never did that, so he tried to escape and luckily he was able to make it out alive.
Question: How long were you in the concentration camp for?
Answer: For too many years, we worked all day for a bowl of oatmeal, it was an awful place.
Question: Where did you go once you got out of the concentration camp?
Answer: My family and I actually stayed in Germany, at this time we were so poor we could not afford to leave and return home. However, we had many hardships staying in Germany; none of the German kids were allowed to play with us. Their parents had told them not to because we were foreigners.
Question: Most people would not be able to endure so many hardships, but you seem to have embraced it and appear strong from it all, why?
Answer: Because, I had faith that I would make it through and that God would take care of me, that is how many people make it through. You learn to be thankful for the little things and to work hard.
Question: Now that you are out of Russia and Germany, would you ever go back?
Answer: No, not to Russia, while they say they are done with communism over there it still exists today and I would not want to go back and live under that rule ever again.
Question: What would you say to people who might have or have had to deal with hardships possibly like yours or different?
Answer: I would tell them to stay strong and to keep going. They can make it out, don’t let it break you, let it make you. You can be capable of anything you just have to have faith, faith in yourself and faith in God.
Want hear more of Amy’s testimony, read the first chapter of her book, or order your own copy? Check it out at Goodbye is Not Forever.
Blogger Bonus: White Russian Recipe
2 fluid oz. Kahlua
1 fluid oz. vodka
1 fluid oz. cream or milk
Pour all ingredients over ice in a rocks glass.
For a flavor twist, try Kahlua hazelnut, french vanilla, or mocha; For a “skinny” version, use skim or soy.