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They Took My Father

Finnish Americans in Stalin’s Russia

2004
Authors:

Mayme Sevander and Laurie Hertzel
Foreword by Tom Morgan

They Took My Father

A riveting memoir of one family’s struggle under a totalitarian regime

A riveting memoir of one family’s struggle under a totalitarian regime.

Mayme Sevander and Laurie Hertzel tell a poignant tale of a hidden corner of U.S. and Soviet history. Tracing the hopes and hardships of one family over two continents, They Took My Father explores the boundaries of loyalty, identity, and ideals.

Amy Goldstein, Washington Post

“Mayme Sevander and Laurie Hertzel tell a poignant tale of a hidden corner of U.S. and Soviet history. Tracing the hopes and hardships of one family over two continents, They Took My Father explores the boundaries of loyalty, identity, and ideals.” —Amy Goldstein, Washington Post

“What makes Mayme’s story so uniquely—almost unbelievably—tragic is that her family chose to move from the United States to the Soviet Union in 1934, thinking they were going to help build a ‘worker’s paradise.’ They found, instead, a deadly nightmare.” —St. Paul Pioneer Press

“This gripping and timely book traces the beginnings of communism not as dry history but as a fascinating personal drama that spreads across Russia, Finland, and the mining towns of Upper Michigan and the Iron Range of Minnesota. . . . An important and largely ignored part of history comes alive in one woman’s story of her tragic family, caught up in the all-consuming struggle of the twentieth century.” —Frank Lynn, political reporter, New York Times

They Took My Father

Mayme Sevander (1924–2003) was born in Brule, Wisconsin, and emigrated with her family to the Soviet Union in 1934.

Laurie Hertzel is a journalist at the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

They Took My Father

Mayme Sevander and Laurie Hertzel tell a poignant tale of a hidden corner of U.S. and Soviet history. Tracing the hopes and hardships of one family over two continents, They Took My Father explores the boundaries of loyalty, identity, and ideals.

Amy Goldstein, Washington Post

What makes Mayme’s story so uniquely—almost unbelievably—tragic is that her family chose to move from the United States to the Soviet Union in 1934, thinking they were going to help build a ‘worker’s paradise.’ They found, instead, a deadly nightmare.

St. Paul Pioneer Press

This gripping and timely book traces the beginnings of communism not as dry history but as a fascinating personal drama that spreads across Russia, Finland, and the mining towns of Upper Michigan and the Iron Range of Minnesota. . . . An important and largely ignored part of history comes alive in one woman’s story of her tragic family, caught up in the all-consuming struggle of the twentieth century.

Frank Lynn, political reporter, New York Times

They Took My Father

Contents

Map of Soviet Karelia
Foreword Tom Morgan
Acknowledgments

You Must Remember
Big Red, Little Red
The Little Communist
Pioneers Again
Filled with Hope
Wanting to Belong
They Took My Father
The Dark Days
Enemy of the People
A Grave Injustice
Trusted to Serve
Too Late for Mother
No Tears Left
To Know the Truth
Faces from the Past

Afterword