FAMILY NAME: UNKNOWN
FAMILY NAME AFTER THE WAR: BASCHINSKY or BASCHINSKI
GIVEN NAME: UNKNOWN
GIVEN NAME AFTER THE WAR: Emi Nadia
BIRTH DATE: Probably in the second half of 1945. Possibly May 21st 1945.
BIRTH PLACE: Berlin, Germany
This is me, Emi Nadia. I live my life as a Jew, but actually my origin is shrouded in mystery.
By sharing the photos in my possession and telling you what I know about my past, I hope I will be able to find who my biological parents were and what happened to them and to my extended family in the first years after World War Two in East Berlin, East Germany.
It even looks like I had an older brother!
Here is my story:
I came to the States in 1951 with my parents Nikita and Lidia Baschinsky and my baby brother Jura from Hannover, Germany. Our family was Russian Orthodox.
This family photo was taken in the States in 1951, shortly after our arrival. My father was then 60 years old, my mother 34 years old, and my baby brother less than a year old. I was probably six or six and a half years old.
But things were not quite what they looked.
My mother Lidia and my father Nikita later told me that they had been brought from the east to Germany to work as forced laborers during World War Two. There they had met in a factory and started to live together. My mother Lidia at some point had an accident and broke her thigh bone. She spent around a year in hospital in Germany.
During the war my mother Lidia became pregnant and gave birth to twin daughters. Sadly the little girls died of pneumonia. This is the grave of those twin daughters, in Berlin, possibly in East Berlin.
Could their names have been Emi and Nadia?
One possibility is that these twin daughters were born on May 21st 1945 and that my identity as Emi Nadia Baschinski is that of one ( possibly two) of the twins.
The other possibility, less likely, is that the twins were born earlier (end of 1944, beginning of 1945) and that I was indeed born on May 21st 1945.
If I was born some time during 1945, this photo was probably taken in the summer of 1947.
My mother Lidia once told me that I was not her biological daughter!
She said that I had been born prematurely and that she had worked for a family in East Berlin as a wet nurse.
So my theory is that the twin daughters did not live very long after their birth and that my mother Lidia, still with a lot of milk for breastfeeding, could breastfeed me, a preemie.
But who was my biological mother? Who was my biological father? My mother Lidia never told me, but she had two photos of the family she worked for.
This is the first photo taken of me and my foster parents Nikita and Lidia . From the way I am dressed we understand the weather is warm. It is summer time.
If, according to my theory at this point, I was born in the autumn or in the end of 1945, then this photo could perhaps have been taken in the beginning of the summer of 1946.
Now to the two crucial photos in my search. The two photos seem to have been taken on the same occasion.
My foster mother Lidia said she worked for the family in these pictures. So, logically, this should be my biological family. But is it?
If I was born some time during 1945, then this photo was probably taken in the autumn of 1947, in East Berlin.
We see an elderly couple to the left – “Grandfather” and “Grandmother”. I am sitting on Grandmother’s lap. “Father” is sitting in the middle, looking a little shy, with the family dog in his lap, and a “Brother” next to him.
“Brother” is probably around four years old (he has longer legs than me!), so he could have been born around 1943. We, the two children, and at least “Grandmother” wear coats suitable for spring or early autumn.
In my opinion, the little boy and I have the same facial features, so it seems likely this is my brother. Somehow there seems to be some likeness to “Father”.
The “Grandparents” seem to be the parents of “Father”.
What background did my family come from?
Were they German Christians?
Could it be that the “Grandparents” and “Father” were Jewish? If so, how had they survived the Holocaust?
“Mother” is dressed in a short-sleeved elegant dress. Could it be she wasn’t Jewish?
But if she was a Christian German girl, how had my parents managed to get married and have children during the Nazi regime?
If “Mother” originally wasn’t Jewish, perhaps she had converted? To convert to Judaism during the Nazi regime would have been a very dangerous choice.
Or could it even be that my biological mother was no longer alive and that the “Mother” figure is perhaps a maid?
Or – perhaps, as already mentioned – the whole family wasn’t Jewish at all? Considering that these photos perhaps were taken as late as in the autumn of 1947, under Communist rule in East Berlin in East Germany, that is perhaps more likely.
The crucial question for me is what happened to these five family members – “Grandfather”, “Grandmother”, “Father”, “Mother” and “Brother” after this photo was taken in the autumn of 1947?
This second photo shows “Grandmother” and me dressed in the same clothes as in the bigger family photo. We seem to sit on the same bench. I am standing up.
From the rose/flower in my hand my assumption is that the photo was taken in the autumn of 1947. To the right on this photo sits my foster mother Lidia.
From this we may learn two things:
My foster mother Lidia knew the whole family
All the family members seen on the earlier photo were alive when these photos were taken in the autumn of 1947.
Could these photos have been taken as some kind of parting photos?
Perhaps for Lidia taking me with her for safekeeping, leaving the family?
Or could it be Grandfather, Grandmother, Father and Brother going away somewhere else? They are dresses up in coats, while Mother seems like she is staying.
Life in East Berlin in Eastern Germany 1945 – 1948
When the Second World War was over, Berlin was divided. The Soviets ruled over East Germany and East Berlin.
Nikita and Lidia Baschinski, Polish Ukrainians, who had come to Germany as forced laborers during the war, were, I was told, living in East Berlin.
My biological family therefore also seems to have lived in East Berlin. What happened to my biological family between the autumn of 1947 and December 1948?
Were they arrested by the Communists?
Were they deported?
Information about me from the ITS
According to my DP Identity Card found at the ITS, I was registered in Hannover on Dec 14th 1948.
How were Nikita and Lidia Baschinski allowed to leave Soviet territory in 1948?
( According to a story they told, they left East Berlin on the last American airplane from East Berlin to Hannover. Did they escape the Communist regime illegally? Did an American plane leave East Berlin in November or December 1948?)
How were they able to take me with them?
My theory is that they used the birth certificate for one of the twins and therefore could “prove’ I was their daughter.
From the ITS cards relating to myself and the Baschinski family, I learn that we were “Handed over to the German Authorities in July 1950”. What does this mean?
We were in DP Camp Lyssenko in Hannover in April 1950.
If we had come to Hannover in December 1948, how were we “handed over to the German Authorities in July 1950”?
Does this mean that our status changed from living as DPs in Camp Lyssenko to being free to emigrate to the States in July 1950?
As already mentioned, in April 1950 we lived in Camp Lyssenko in Hannover.
There is a website with some information about this DP camp
From this website: “From April 1948 to June 1949 the camp had the number 76/2716; at that time mostly Polish Ukrainians lived in this camp”. The Lyssenko camp was situated in Moeckernstrasse 27 in Hanover.
On Sept 25th 1951 our family left Germany for the USA through Wentorf to Bremen- Grohn.
Whatever the answers are to my questions, I would like to know who I am and what happened to my biological family.