Suburban Detroit Woman Hears From Family After 46-Year Separation
FARMINGTON, Mich. (AP) _ A woman who thought her family had died after she was separated from them by the Nazis during World War II says she was overjoyed to learn her brother and two sisters were living in the Soviet Union.
″It’s so exciting,″ said Barbara Kulka, 61, who came to the United States in 1950. ″It’s just penetrating to (my) head now. I assumed they were all dead ... because I could never find them.
″It’s just like a miracle, like make-believe,″ she said Saturday.
Mrs. Kulka said she hopes to visit her sisters next year in Odessa in the eastern Ukraine.
German soldiers in 1940 took Mrs. Kulka, then 16, from her home in the Ukrainian village of Pryslup and sent her to work on a farm in Austria.
She lost contact with her family after learning in 1942 that her father had died.
″They were bombing so much,″ she said. ″A lot of people were either killed or sent to Siberia. I thought that maybe something like that happened or that they starved to death.″
But about two months ago, a friend of Mrs. Kulka was visited by a brother who lives near Pryslup, now known as Lukowyna. When the friend’s brother returned home, he began making inquiries about Mrs. Kulka’s family. His efforts resulted in a letter to Mrs. Kulka from one of her sisters.
″We sat up two hours, trying to make it out,″ Mrs. Kulka said of the letter, written in the Ukrainian alphabet no longer familiar to her. ″I was very proud, passing it around.″
She said she learned that her mother and another sister died years ago, but that two sisters had moved to Odessa and that a brother - shipped to a Nazi labor camp at the same time she was removed from her family - also survived.
″I thought he was a goner,″ said Mrs. Kulka, adding that the Nazis ″were very hard on Ukrainians.″
Mrs. Kulka came to the United States with her daughter after the death of her first husband. She remarried in 1953 and had three more children.
″The kids want me to go″ to be reunited with her siblings, Mrs. Kulka said. ″It might be the last time.″