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Babushka's Journey: The Dark Road to Stalin’s Wartime Camps

by Marcel Krueger I.B.Tauris
Pub Date:
Hbk 272 pages
AU$44.99 NZ$47.82
Product Status: Not Our Publication - we no longer distribute
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Some forebear of mine was a violinist,

A horseman and thief, moreover.

Isn’t that where I got my wanderlust,

Why my hair smells of wind and weather?

Marina Tsvetaeva, Some Forebear of Mine was a Violinist


This is the story of a grandmother, and what happened to her and to Eastern Europe in World War II. Following the tracks of his grandmother Cilly, or ‘Babushka’, into her vanished homeland of East Prussia and to the labour camps of the Soviet Union, Marcel Krueger has interwoven contemporary landscape and family history into an poignant and evocative travel memoir. Babushka’s Journey is the record of his grandmother’s journey from the snow-covered battlefields of East Prussia in January 1945 to the Soviet labour camps in the Urals, where she spent five years before returning to Germany. Chasing the sights, sounds and voices of past and present along this route, the author describes two different journeys that follow the same path. As he stumbles through the bars of present-day Poland and dreams on the bunk beds of the Trans-Siberian railway, Krueger forges an authentic retelling of Cilly’s tragic yet hopeful story, discovering that her journey reflects tens of thousands of similar personal histories, which continue to haunt Germany, Poland and Russia today.
Marcel Krueger is a writer and translator whose articles and essays have been published in The Daily Telegraph, Süddeutsche Zeitung and CNN Travel, among others, and who also works as a local Berlin expert or ‘Spotter’ for Spotted by Locals. Marcel divides his time between Berlin, Cologne and Dublin. He is the author, with Paul Sullivan, of Berlin: A Literary Guide for Travellers.