Last WWII prisoner arrives back home

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Pacific Historian
Jun 4, 2005
Orange County, CA
On September 5, a train left Vladivostok in Russia for west Europe. Among the passengers on board was a special guest, the last prisoner of WWII. Seventy-five- year-old Ursula Rosmaye was captured by Soviet troops in Soviet-occupied territory in East Germany 60 years ago. Since then, Ursula has been a prisoner. She repeatedly refused Soviet Union citizenship and attempted to escape several times. Living in a strange land for many years, her life has been full of hardship. Not long ago, a Russian newspaper published an article about Ursula's 60 years of hardship in Russia as the last captive of WWII.

Ursula looks like an ordinary Russian woman: she is somewhat plump, has a thick Russian accent, is wrapped in a headscarf and is very chatty. The only time her Germanic origins are apparent is when she hums some of the German ballads of her childhood. Ursula was born in Swinemunde in Germany in 1931. Her parents passed away when she was quite young. Ursula and her three brothers were raised by their grandmother in Hiddensee Island on the border of Germany and Poland. During World War II, young Ursula resorted to begging to supplement the family's income. When the war ended, Hiddensee Island was occupied by Soviet forces. Ursula found a new job; clearing the city ruins. One day, Ursula and several other girls were picked up by a Soviet patrol. She became a servant of the Soviet garrison headquarters. Every day she had to clean the floor and cook for the soldiers. Ursula was kept in a special place established especially for 'training' foreigners. Along with many other Germans, Poles and Lithuanians, Ursula was forced to study Russian for five hours every day.

One day, after finishing her work at the headquarters, Ursula was brought to a command officer who beat her with a belt and forced her to admit that she was a Russian named Maria Millenovna Makarova. According to the officer, 'Maria' dressed up like a German because she did not want to return to the Soviet Union. Ursula at first refused to admit that she was 'Maria', but unable to withstand the officer's intimidation, she gave in. Under a totally different name, Ursula was sent to the sifting camps in Grodno. This institution was established particularly for the inspection of foreigners recently arrived in the Soviet Union. Although expatriates were allowed freedom of movement, they were also kept under surveillance. Ursula missed her family very much and tried to escape three times, but was seized and sent back on each occasion. A year after arriving in the Soviet Union, Ursula was granted her freedom. By then though she had lost her German citizenship and was forced to stay in this strange land.

During the half century she spent in the Soviet Union, Ursula married twice (both husbands have passed away) and had six children. Clinging to her German identity has caused Ursula considerable difficulty. When she refused Soviet citizenship following the expiration of her original residence permit, Ursula was blacklisted, which affected her entire household. This has made it difficult for her to find a job and prevented her from sending her children to kindergarten. Her door has often been marked with the Nazi swastika. Ursula and her children had to move around the Soviet Union to survive. Later, she found a job as a gardener in a sanatorium in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. A few years after the breakup of the Soviet Union, she moved to Nakhodka in the far east of Russia where she lived in a 12-square meter apartment on a 1740 ruble retirement pension (less than 600 yuan) every month.

During the 60 years she has lived in Russia, Ursula has never given up the idea of returning to Germany. Once the 'iron curtain' came down it actually became possible. In 1956, she sent a letter to her relatives in Germany and was immediately summoned to the police station. Fortunately, the police officer who was responsible for the investigation was understanding and reasonable. After clarifying the situation, the officer let her go and even restored her real name. From then on, 'Maria' was once again known as Ursula. Later, her relatives in Germany began to send her gifts. This once again caught the attention of the Soviet government, who suggested that she not accept 'charity' from outsiders. Ursula did not agree, because these gifts helped her family's lives. Only by selling some of these gifts could she afford the family's basic living expenses.

In 1970, Ursula's efforts to return home produced some results. That year, she came to Moscow from thousands of miles away to collect a German passport valid for five years. Everything seemed to have been righted. She was ready to lead a new life. However, the Foreign Ministry of the Soviet Union told her that she could not take her children to Germany with her. Ursula did not want to leave her children with her drunkard husband. She had no alternative but to stay in the Soviet Union. In 1975, Ursula was granted another opportunity to be reunited with her family in Germany. Her niece came to Moscow for a meeting and decided to visit her aunt in Dushanbe when the meeting concluded. For this to happen, Ursula needed an invitation letter from the foreigners' visa office. Her first application was rejected on the grounds that her entrance hall was too dirty, therefore damaging the country's image. Ursula and her family members re-painted the entrance hall and corridors, cleaned up the yard and reapplied. However, she was rejected a second time because there was a pig farm near her home. Again she was told that it was 'inappropriate' for foreigners to see such things. Poor Ursula did not get the chance to see her niece after all.

In 2004, Ursula moved to Nakhodka where she befriended a clergyman at a church in Vladivostok and who served as an honorary consul in the German consulate. This time luck was with her ¨C she became acquainted with Peter Swartz, a German teacher at the church. After listening to her three-hour narration, Swartz decided to assist this helpless old woman.

With Swartz's help, Ursula's identity was successfully restored; she got her German identity card and a Russian green card. To complete the necessary procedures for this, she had to take the train from Nakhodka to Vladivostok almost every month, which used up nearly all her savings. Her family members and friends in Germany, Nakhodka and the church pooled money to buy her a ticket back to Germany. However, the money was only enough for a seat ticket. On the morning of September 5, Ursula put her belongings into several large plastic bags and stepped onto the train to Germany with her daughter.

On her way home, Ursula felt somewhat unnerved. She was not sure whether her hometown would accept her. She wanted to visit her father's grave, her 91-year-old aunt and her gray-haired brothers, who had worried about her all this time. However, Ursula cannot forget Russia so easily. After all, she has spent 60 years in Russia, a country in which she has five children, 19 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren . Ursula loves Russia and says that she would like to come back one day.

In fact, there are other former World War II prisoners in Russia. However, they have adopted Russia as their home and chosen to stay there for life. Ursula is a special case. This brave and determined German woman would not submit to the country that had forcibly taken her from her home. Fortunately, her life as a 'prisoner' has finally come to an end.

Source: Global Times
See, this story is a great example of how people in the West can't believe the outlandish stuff the Russkies did. So much secrecy and strange goings on.
The Ruskies in some ways were werse than the Nazis were. I am still a firm believer that they held POWs from Vietnam there.
DerAdlerIstGelandet said:
The Ruskies in some ways were werse than the Nazis were. I am still a firm believer that they held POWs from Vietnam there.

They under Stalin were evil bastards forsure. Nazis did things that no one else would ever think of and so did the Russians under Stalin.

I agree very possable that they held POW's from Vietnam there.
Wonder how many American prisoners from Vietnam are still languishing in the Soviet Union somewhere... We know there were a lot of missing still from that war so there is the question of how many were picked up by the Viet Cong...
One thing the Nazis did that the Soviets did not do was make enormous blunders that allowed their defeat. The USSR never decleared war on virtually the entire world.

If the Germans were so determined not to win they should have surrendered to begin with.
The Nazi atrocities were terrible but are certainly not unique. There are many examples of genocides throughout history--ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, Rwanda 1994, Cambodia under Pol Pot are some good post-WWII examples.

The thing that is amazing about Nazi Germany is that they managed to make so many enemies moreso than the atrocities they committed.

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