I just finished a biography of a rather ordinary person: Jacob Ekert. He is now about 90 years old, living in my mother’s senior residence. He decided to write a book about his life.
His roots are German Mennonite. The Mennonites immigrated in central Russia, being attracted to virgin farmland, with a government that valued their farming talents. When Stalin came to power, the Mennonites were subject to his pogroms. Jacob’s family and community moved to Siberia to set up an agricultural life again. The pogroms eventually caught up with the Mennonites. One night, the entire community crossed into Manchuria. They took on all sorts of jobs, and eventually found themselves in a farming community.
Eventually Manchuria came under Japanese occupation. The Japanese valued the agricultural enterprise of the Mennonites and left them alone. But after WW2, the Russians took over. Jacob’s father was taken away as an enemy of the state.
Mao eventually gained control. Initially, there was some peace between the Chinese and the Mennonites. Jacob even fought the Chinese Army in Korea. But social forces were coming against the “whites”.
Jacob’s family eventually immigrated to Duchess, Alberta, Canada. His story gets more ordinary at that point. And English became his fifth language. Jacob did eventually return to his Chinese village.
ISBN is 978–0–9919242–3–3
Title is: “No More a Stranger”