The long-awaited sequel to The Last Bridge, this biography opens as Eva Friedt Ziebart’s daughter Elvera and her husband Erwin celebrate their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary with immediate family members gathered in Arizona. Through conversations among relatives present at this commemorative, Ziebart family history after 1949 unfolds. Those familiar with Elvera’s first book will appreciate that she here refreshes the reader’s memory of the most significant events before immigration. Especially welcome are prints of more than 100 vintage photos from Elvera’s personal albums that substantiate her poignant recall.
Not surprisingly, Eva’s strength and values clearly reflect in Elvera. Through this daughter’s vivid memories, the reader sees how Russian military advancement forever alters her precious childhood in Bessarabia. Elvera contrasts her native customs to the Nazi indoctrination that she and her siblings stoically tolerated as refugees under close scrutiny. And, at last, the fates of two half-brothers and two elder sisters complete the Ziebart exodus story.
Elvera begins the story by recounting her initial landing in New York when scarcely 19. Two years later, Elvera encourages blossom on the family tree, when she marries a U.S-born German, and together they nurture their own farm in South Dakota, where they raise six happy children and share an all too familiar Ziebart tragedy, the untimely loss of one precious son.
Elvera inherits her mother’s hand skills, a welcome means to supplement the family farm income. Only recently does she discontinue offering custom upholstery services to devote her skills to exquisite tailoring and designing and crafting accurately detailed ethnic dolls and heavenly angels. Notably, Elvera’s Depression Babies™ are part of a handmade doll collection at the Smithsonian Institute.
When eligible, Elvera joyfully chooses United States naturalization, a status she has cherished ever since. For two decades, numerous veterans’ and ethnic organizations in Arizona, California, Canada, the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have relied upon Elvera to fill their programs with heart-rending speech and slide presentations that reveal the personal experiences of displaced Germans during the last world war.
Throughout the first half of her adult life, Elvera was unable to verbalize the horrific wartime nightmare long harbored in her memory. But realizing that her mother’s imminent passing would forever seal the fading details of their miraculous escape, Elvera began probing and recording her mother’s recollection. Readers are fortunate that this may have precipitated an emotional cleansing that freed Elvera to commit her family biography to print.
The biography closes on an upbeat note as, after 56 years, Elvera comes full circle in a cathartic first revisit to her former Russian home—now a part of Ukraine.