Dancing Under the Red Star: The Extraordinary Story of Margaret Werner, the Only American Woman to Survive Stalin's Gulag

By Karl Tobien

The surprising and inspirational saga of Margaret Werner and her dazzling survival within the Siberian loss of life camps of Stalinist Russia.

Between 1930 and 1932, Henry Ford despatched 450 of his Detroit staff plus their households to dwell in Gorky, Russia, to function a brand new manufacturing unit. this is often the genuine tale of 1 of these families–Carl and Elisabeth Werner and their younger daughter Margaret–and their terrifying lifestyles in Russia less than brutal dictator Joseph Stalin.

Margaret used to be seventeen while her father was once arrested on trumped-up fees of treason. Heartbroken and afraid, she and her mom have been left to resist the hardships of existence lower than the oppressive Soviet nation, an life marked through poverty, hunger, and worry. Refusing to conform with the Socialist schedule, Margaret used to be eventually sentenced to 10 years of tough hard work in Stalin’s Gulag.

Filth, malnutrition, and melancholy observed cruel actual hard work. but in the middle of inhumane stipulations got here glimpses of wish and love as Margaret got here to gain her dependence upon “the grace, desire, and defense of an unseen God.”

In all, it'd be thirty lengthy years ahead of Margaret back to kiss the floor of domestic. Of all of the americans who made this almost unknown journey–ultimately spending years in Siberian dying camps–Margaret Werner used to be the single girl who lived to inform approximately it. 
Written by means of her son, Karl Tobien, Dancing below the pink celebrity is Margaret’s unforgettable precise tale: an inspiring chronicle of religion, defiance, and private triumph.

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I’d labored for him prior within the tank division, and he requested me to start instructing English to his nine-year-old son, Sasha. as soon as every week, prior to paintings, i used to be pushed to Andre’s house to have a gentle breakfast with Sasha and his mom and to offer him an English lesson. Then they might force me again to paintings. Sasha used to be a pleasant little boy, a pleasure to me during this joyless time. His brilliant face and keen methods raised my spirits; we’d even snort over his jokes and English pronunciations. I’ve puzzled for years no matter what turned of him.

I excelled in all athletics and used to be thrilled to obtain a few small additional issues, perhaps no longer amounting to even more than an outstanding dose of satisfaction and ego enhancer. Papa used to be very happy with me, specially while he’d come to work out me compete. Ever due to the fact that demanding day in Detroit whilst Papa had taught me find out how to swim, “You can do it, my candy lady. Now swim! And constantly be the easiest! ” have been the phrases that performed in my ears and in my brain earlier than I swam. I simply enjoyed to compete. We additionally realized people dancing at periods within the village clubhouse, solely for the foreigners, and we additionally staged musical concert events.

In truth, fact is gentle. In August 1941 all the village formative years from the factories and the more youthful academics, besides their high-school scholars, have been mobilized to dig antitank trenches. We have been advised that the German invasion of Russia was once now less than approach, as evidenced through the screeching planes overhead. a number of hundred folks have been strategically assigned to varied destinations alongside the line from Gorky to Moscow. The armed forces despatched us approximately fifty miles down the Oka River towards Moscow. We have been inching toward the advancing Germans, and gigantic, paralyzing worry loomed in our hearts.

While he graduated from highschool, Nikolai entered a pick out army flight academy within the Urals to start in depth education. His dream was once to develop into a fighter pilot. We had corresponded once or twice, yet after he left for the Urals, we wrote one another usually, and it used to be via these letters that we either discovered how a lot we cared for every different, even though we had by no means even exchanged a kiss. Nikolai’s letters gave me wish for a greater destiny. apart from short of Papa to come back domestic, I longed for Nikolai’s letters greater than something.

I by no means imagined that i'd are looking to write this chronicle of my mother’s outstanding survival. Margaret Werner Tobien skilled horror and sorrow through the process her lifestyles to levels the human center may really now not think about. nonetheless, she prevailed whilst so much others didn't. Why was once that? used to be it success? I don’t imagine so; neither did she. really, i believe it used to be due to whatever very distinctive she had within, whatever now not simply defined. Returning to the USA in 1961 with little greater than the garments on our backs, she begun back.

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