My aunt, Ninel Ivanovna Efimova, was born in 1924. I heard that my grandfather Ivan was away a lot, traveling for work. Here he is working. What did he do and where?

My grandmother become a busy doctor. She loved practicing medicine and worked well past retirement, volunteering at a local clinic. Here she is working.

In 1930, just before my father was born, Henah and Ivan hired a live-in nanny to help take care of the children. This was quite common in those years as plenty of young peasant women flooded big cities in search of work, fleeing the famine as a result of compulsory collectivization of agriculture.

Varvara, a single young woman from near Pskov entered the household. She had a limp leg and did not know how to write (and never learned). Children called her “Vava.” Vava ended up living with our family until 1982, passing away peacefully in a bed next to my grandmother’s. Here is Vava’s early passport picture.

My father was born in December 1930 and named Rem, which is an acronym for “Revolution–Electrification of the World.” This photo of Ninel and Rem must have been taken in the Summer of 1931. My aunt is in the middle of top row, my father is the baby on far right.

Was this a summer camp of sorts? Certainly well guarded.

My father and my grandfather Ivan at a May Day Parade in 1939. The family survived the Stalinist purges. Between 1937 and 1938 in Leningrad 39,488 people were killed in the purges.

Four months later Germany would invade Poland, initiating WW II.


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