A Family Torn Apart, by Justina D. Neufeld
2003. 250 pp. ISBN: 978-1894710404
A Family Torn Apart is the harrowing story of one family’s flight from Soviet Ukraine in the early years of the Second World War. Beginning her narrative in her youth, Justina faithfully recreates the peace and security of growing up in a Mennonite community in Ukraine. This security, however, is threatened more and more by political changes in the Soviet Union in the
1930s. With the outbreak of the war comes an irrevocable rupture in the peace of the Neufeld’s lives and Justina is forced to flee the Soviet and German armies along with her family and community. In retelling her story, Justina describes the feelings of loss and abandonment she felt as she watched her father and brothers disappear forever and the rest of her family being scattered across Eastern Europe and Russia.
“A Family Torn Apart is an account of immense pathos. The story of this one family is a microcosm of the dislocation and separation of millions during World War II. It is a story of compassion and care of Mennonites for their own. The work of Mennonite Central Committee in the resettlement of postwar refugees will always stand as a testimony to human goodness and to religiously motivated benevolence. The small touch of Zion that comes to some members of the Neufeld family, in the immediate postwar period, comes through this generosity. It is also the story of transcending tragedy, of the human capacity to survive, to rebuild and to reconstruct meaningful, constructive lives. In the concluding chapters we see the triumph of various members of the Neufeld family over the devastating years.” - Paul Toews, from the Foreword
Justina D. Neufeld was the youngest in a family of ten children. She and her family were caught in the suffering and turmoil of the Stalinist purges and World War II. As a teenager she fled her homeland. Unexpectedly separated from her mother, she lived as a refugee for four years in Europe. Rescued by Mennonite Central Committee worker Peter Dyck, she and one of her brothers and family were brought to safety in Holland. In 1947 Justina immigrated to the United States. Her parents and siblings were scattered across three continents by the war. Justina graduated from college with a degree in nursing administration and a masters degree in gerontology. She is now retired and lives with her husband in North Newton, Kansas