How I Became a Comrade: An American Growing Up in Siberian Exile
by John E. Armonas
© 2013 Meridia Publicationers in cooperation with Dynasty Effect
Hardcover | 6.5″ x 9.5″ | 260 Pages
In his autobiography How I Became A Comrade: An American Growing Up In Siberian Exile as told to John Ruksenas, author John Armonas Relays the difficulties he endured coming of age in Soviet times. His was no ordinary life. The author is the son of the late Barbara Armonas, whose 1960 autobiography Leave Your Tears in Moscow was among the earliest firsthand accounts of Soviet deportations to Siberia Published in the West.
“You’ve seen your son enough!” said the Soviet secret police official upon the arrest of Barbara Armonas as “an American spy”. (The charge was brought because of the letters and parcels the young mother would receive from her American husband.) She had already spent three years in Siberian exile with her young son, John, after being deported from her native Lithuania in 1948 by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. John E. Armonas was a U.S. citizen through his American-born father, but–as an infant– stayed with his mother, while she tried to get an exit visa to the United States during World War II. Instead they were caught up in a massive deportation to Siberia in 1948. When his mother received an additional 25-year sentence at hard labor, John became an “orphan”, with his past hidden. “Our American connection placed a ‘bull’s-eye’ on our backs,” he would say years later.
John witnessed the Stalinsist system from the inside, as an “orphan”, a child soldier in a Soviet tank division in Mongolia, and a student in the highly selective university world of the Soviet Union. A dramatic public encounter by his American-born sister, Donna, with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev during his visit to America in 1959, elicited a promise to Release the girl’s mother and brother to the United States.