23. My Attempts to Rescue My Wife
There was a fairly large number of willing and unwilling Ukrainian refugees in Berlin and all over Germany at that time. Most of them were engaged in manual labor, others, as far as they were able, tried to find work in their particular professions, as for example the well-known mathematician, Rector of Kharkiv Technological Institute, Dr. Kh. S. Ryabokin, who worked in German industry and science and won considerable respect. Such experts worked in various institutions and enterprises. In Berlin I made contact with Prof. Ryabokin, M.A. Livytsky, P.I. Zaytsev, M.M. Kovalsky, T. Omelchenko, and others. We held sporadic meetings to discuss the current situation, and organizational matters of UNC.
M.A. Livytsky came to see me in my hotel on January 12, and reported that the radio had announced that the Reds had crossed the Vistula north and south of Warsaw, and that Skierniewice was in danger of being taken. I was apprehensive about my wife and took steps to reach her. It was only on the following day that I was able to get traveling orders to Skierniewice via Lodz. The train left Berlin during the night of January 13-14, but we did not get far: there was an air-raid and the train was kept standing in a woods for several hours. I finally reached Lodz in the morning of January 15,15 and found the railroad station wrecked. It took me more than an hour to get to my brother's home because there were no cabs. The city presented a frightful picture: It had been under Red bombing the day before. It was very cold and the ground was covered with snow. All people seemed to be going west, pulling sleds with their belongings. There were also thousands of marching German soldiers, but they would say absolutely nothing about the location of the front. I had disturbing thoughts about the fate of my wife, but still believed that she might have reached my brother. When I reached his home, she was not there. My brother told me that he had tried to get to Skierniewice two days before, but the train was bombed by the Reds and he barely escaped with his life without reaching Skierniewice. I was trying to figure out what could have happened to my wife: she might have been killed by bombs, or even been taken by the Communists. I went to the German command and found out that Skierniewice had been taken by the Reds the day before and that the front was now 40-45 kilometers east of Lodz.
I spent the night with my brother. At that time Major Ya. Fartushny, President Livytsky's personal aide, came to Lodz from Lascek. We left Lodz on foot: my brother and his wife to Lascek, and I with Major Fartushny to Pabianice where a German commander gave us transportation by truck to the city of Sroda. To tell the truth, I doubted whether I would survive the trip: the temperature was much below zero C° and I had only a light overcoat. We made the trip from Sroda to Poznan by freight train on an open flat-car. This was January 18. All our attempts to get on any train going to Berlin were futile. They were all evacuation trains overfilled with German officials with their families and baggage. I finally showed my document to a German military policeman, and when he saw "Ukrainian General Shandruk" he took us to the train, opened a compartment and shouted to the 20 persons inside to let us in. This way, standing up and completely squashed, we reached Berlin after 14 hours on January 20, in the early morning. Luckily, Lt. Stryisky had kept my room at the Excelsior, and I threw myself on the bed without a word and slept for ten hours.
Two days later my brother appeared and said that President Livytsky with his family and aides was traveling west to the south of Berlin. The trip of President Livytsky, as I was to find out later, although in hunger and cold, nevertheless had a fortunate ending. I had requested Dr. Arlt several times to do something to help President Livytsky, and apparently he complied.
My attempts to find my wife among the evacuees through Dr. Arlt were also futile.