- http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/story.html?id=9fb2d41d-be4a-4593-a404-1f01be0f6a91&k=34689 Woman reconnects with family after 63-yearMessage 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2007View Sourcehttp://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/story.html?id=9fb2d41d-be4a-4593-a404-1f01be0f6a91&k=34689
Woman reconnects with family after 63-year separation
Richard Watts, Times Colonist, FilePublished: Sunday, April 01, 2007
The last time Ella Kamman saw her sister was in 1944 and her world was in ruins. Now that world has been partially rebuilt via the Internet.
In 1944, the Russian army had overrun the family farm in what is now Poland.
They had taken away Kamman's father, forced the children to herd, the family's livestock into Lithuania on foot and then forced them to walk back. After they returned to their village, the army refused to let anyone in or out.
But Kamman, then a young teenager, said news spread that the Russians had agreed to allow one train to head west, and she told her older sister that she was going to be on it.
"My sister gave me a three-pound loaf of bread and we said goodbye."
Now 77, widowed and living in Victoria, Kamman said she hadn't thought of her sister and three brothers in years.
Then a friend who lives in the same building offered to see whether an Internet search would turn up anything about her long-lost family.
And this past week, Kamman said she has been reconnected with the family she left behind. Her two sisters and two of three brothers remain alive. One older brother has died.
When she left on the train in 1944, Kamman didn't even get a chance to say goodbye to any of her brothers. It was night and they were asleep.
They couldn't have come anyway since the Russians had a habit of taking away anyone that looked remotely like a young man, she said.
And the train out was indeed stopped. Russian soldiers boarded, took off all the luggage and belongings and many of the younger people.
"I guess I was too ugly," she said.
Kamman said the train brought her to an uncle in Berlin, where she stayed until 1953, when she saw an ad in a newspaper looking for domestics for Canada.
Kamman, by then 20 years old, decided to make the trip.
"Everybody laughed and said, 'You can't even speak English,'" she said. "I told them, 'Well, I'm going to try.'"
She ended up in Quebec working for a "nice family" until she met the German man who would become her husband. "We were both lonesome."
They later moved to Victoria, where the couple raised one son, who now lives in Parksville. Her husband died in 1997.
Kamman said she is looking forward to flying to Germany to reunite with her family, perhaps this month, in time for her sister's birthday.
But she worries she won't be able to speak with her family in her native German because she has been away from the country so long. And she definitely will not be staying for an extended period.
"I'm a Canuck. I love Canada. So did my husband," Kamman said.
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007