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The Ziatyk Family, Chapter Three

Updated on December 25, 2012

The Saga of a Ukrainian Canadian Farm Family in Saskatchewan

Two days later, Orest arrived at the relief center somewhere in the extreme eastern part of southeastern Germany. As he approached the center, there were three recognizable American soldiers there: Lt. Greenspan, Pvt. Anderson, and Cpl. Dickerson. Lt. Greenspan barged his way in front of the two soldiers. He icily glared at Orest.

As Orest was getting some food, Lt. Greenspan extended his arm forward. Orest was nonplussed. Lt. Greenspan indicated that he wanted to question him. Orest went inside a makeshift center composed of six American soldiers and three dishevelled Red Army soldiers, a Russian, a Kalmyk, and a Jew.

Lt. Greenspan proceed to question Orest and brought some material witnesses, the abovementioned group of boys. One of the boys, a survivor of the Lvov pogrom maintained that it was Ukrainians willingly massacred thousands of Jews in that town. Another boy revealed that as a Galician Jew, he lived among Ukrainians and they were viciously anti-Semitic. Orest interrupted, saying that this was tragic and horrible, however Lt. Greenspan and another officer, Lt. Abraham Solomon brusquely cut him off.

The two lieutenants bade the two boys to continue talking. The two boys strongly asserted that Ukrainians either killed Polish Jews or reported them to the SS. To these boys, Ukrainians were worst than vermin. Two more Jewish boys, both who looked no older than fifteen, came forward, the first was Jacob Salomon, a blond Roumanian Jew, and Elie Bergin, a dark brunet Ukrainian Jew, both partsan fighters, concurred with what the other two Polish Jewish boys stated.

Jacob stated that Ukrainian Bandurists in Roumania revealed Jewish hiding places to the Iron Guard and the SS. Elie maintained that in his Ukrainian village, he and ten other Jews were the only surivivors, the SS and their Ukrainian auxiliaries killed the rest. Elie expressed a bitter hatred for Ukrainians. He went over to Orest and spat in his face and slapped him harshily, drawing blood. Orest steadfastly maintained that he never killed Jews and would not! All the boys shouted liar to him. Lt. Solomon stated that he wished to question Orest further.

More Jewish concentration camp survivors came into the makeshift center. Orest recognized two of the survivors, the girl that he hid four years ago in Lvov and the granddaughter of an elderly Jewish man that he helped. These two girls came forward and testified that Orest helped them to survive by hiding them and giving them food. These two girls further avowed that Orest is a kind, decent person. Lt. Greenspan and Lt. Solomon seemed skeptical; however, they decided to release Orest.

Orestr went on his way to a nearby displaced person's camp. The average displacement camp was often no better than many of the internment and concentration camps that many people survived. People were grouped in displacement camps according to their respective country of origin. Oftentimes many an concentration camp survivor room with a Nazi collaborator or an ex-SS murder. Physical conditions in many of such camps was fair to middling to say the least. It was the hope of Orest that he would soon leave this hated place and immigrate to either the United States or to Canada.

He spent one year and nine months in this purgatorial place. There were some good days and some bad days in the displacement camp. In this camp, he met two members of his former unit who became his lifelong friends. Andriy Savchenko and Kyrylo Yushchenko. Andriy and Kyrylo were also teenagers when they joined the 14th Grenadier Waffen SS Division(1st Ukrainian Division). All three teenagers were happy to be reunited and were lucky not to be POWs, especially of the Red Army. Andriy's family were educated and upper middle class professionals while Kyrylo's family were blue collar. All three teenagers discussed their future plans to immigrate to North America.

Orest was cleared to immigrate to Canada. In late 1947, he immigrated to Canada. He stopped at Toronto, Canada. He had distant relatives living there. One of the first jobs that he had was a laborer at a granary outside of exurban Toronto. He worked twelve hours daily;however, within three months, he obtained a position as a male au pair to the Oppens, a wealthy German Jewish couple with a daughter, Hedy. He enjoyed reading to and caring for young Hedy. She was a very happy, chubby, and precocious child. Orest considered Hedy to be a little sister. He often thought about Zenovia, his youngest sister. He hoped for her safety.

Orest enjoyed taking care of Hedy. Some new neighbors of the Oppens who were newly arrived Polish Jewish refugees, the Waldsteins, warned them that their daughter's caretaker was a Ukrainian of dubious war status. The Waldsteins exhorted Mrs. Oppen to immediately fire Orest but she ignored them. The Waldsteins further asserted to Mrs. Oppen that she would be sorry one day. Mrs. Oppen just laughed it off.

Orest continued to work as au pair for three more years, caring for Hedy. Both he and Orest benefitted from their symbiotic relationship. While he worked as au pair, he furthered his education ultimately finishing high school. Soon his two older brothers, Fjodor and Kostyantyn joined him. While Orest lived with the family, Fjodor and Kostyantyn lived in a boarding house on the outskirts of Toronto, taking factory jobs. Fjodor eventually attended university to become a business executive while Kostyantyn became a highly successful entrepeneur.

Orest eventually resigned from his au pair position. He saved enough money to move west to Saskatchewan and become an independent farmer. He knew that being a farmer was vastly different from being a peasant. He brought a small plot of land and as he became wealthier, he increased the size of the land. During this time, he studied technology and agriculture for two years at a nearby college.

As a young single man in Canada, Orest had plenty of opportunities to have lovers. This he freely indulged in until he met Nadya Pugach, a comely, Junosque brunette beauty. Nadya Pugach was also a Galician Ukrainian who also came from an impoverished peasant family. She was the third of eleven children. When Orest met Nadya, he instantly found a twin soul in her. They courted for three years before they married. However, the couple wanted a while to have children after they are financially stable and somewhat affluent. It the Ziatyks' vow and desire not to bring up their children in poverty and want.

The Ziatyks were affluent farmers. They could be classified as somewhat upper middle class. They had so much land that they had farmhands working on the land. Many of their farmhands were native Canadians and Italian immigrants from Sicily. The Ziatyks worked along with their farmhands to work the land. Besides being a successful farmer, Orest also had a thriving business selling male grooming products. His hard working peasnt background caused him to work tirelessly to provide for his eventual brood of children.

The Ziatyk children came one after another. Orest and Nadya instilled a peasant work ethic to their seven children. They were taught the importance of hard work and education. Even though the Ziatyk children were affluent, they also worked the farm with their parents and field hands. The Ziatyk brothers, George, Bodgan, Gregory, and Julian were high-energy boys who loved sleigh riding and ice hockey. Julian was the most adventurous of all four brothers. Julian was more like Orest in looks and personality.............


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    • d.william profile image

      d.william 6 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      Still enjoyable reading. very enthralling and interesting.