It was winter. The mother was 35 years old. Her husband was gone, fighting in the war. She had five children. The oldest daughter was 9, her oldest son was 8, and there were three younger daughters. With them was her mother, the children’s grandmother. They packed up a few suitcases with the most important belongings and they left their home. They locked the door. They headed west. They never saw their house, their home, again.
The year was 1945.
The town was Breslau, then Germany, now inside Poland.
The mother was my paternal grandmother. She would die in childbirth two years later.
The 8-year-old boy was my father.
The invading force they were fleeing from, closing in on Germany, were the Russians.
My father is still alive today. He knows what these thousands of fleeing Ukrainian families feel like today.