In memory of Heinrich Siemens
I was eight years old when my father was arrested. My Father was taken on February 3, 1938.---Heinrich Siemens and two of his brothers were arrested.The night father was arrested, the family said evening prayers as usual. We prayed as we had been taught and then went to bed. However, even this act, if someone reported it, was considered an act of treason, punishable by a sentence of five to ten years of forced labour.Margaret, at eight years old, recalls: We were woken up at 2am. He was supposed to report to the police station. We children were all woken up and instructed to get dressed and then gather in the main room. Father asked us all to kneel to pray and then he prayed for all of us, and then for each of us children individually, that we would all come to faith and be saved. Father also prayed for our mother who would be alone with eight children and without help.Unless a wife denounced her marriage, she would be left destitute, without requisitioned food, the small amounts that citizens were allotted.According to the historical record, a number of the men in the village were arrested in 1938. Raids in all the surrounding Ukraine Mennonite villages were commonplace. This era is now historically known as Stalin’s “Great Purge” from 1936-1938. Men were interrogated and tortured in prison and asked to provide names with the inducement of a reduced sentence, or release.These were horrible times.For three months following our father’s arrest, our Mother often walked the 30 km stretch to the prison in Zaporozh’ye.Women lined the prison walls waiting to see, or hear word of their husbands. Heinrich’s wife Susanna brought food parcels hoping her husband wasn’t starving, but, not able to see him, had no other choice but to give the meagre food to the guards and hope her husband would receive it. As for information about Heinrich Siemens, he was never heard from again, save for one brief note his wife received from him from the prison in Zaporosh’ye.In April, Susanna made her last walk to the prison and back, forced to resign any thoughts of seeing her husband, and not knowing where he was when a guard shouted to her that her husband was no longer there.