A Bit of Personal Insight into History | Review of “No Longer on the Run” by Lorraine Fell (2014)

KlischenkoBookCover

Headlines and history tend to bombard us with details that overwhelm us at times. But when we hear a personal story from someone first-hand who lived through important events, the details become vivid in the mind’s eye that we remember them with clarity. That is what occurred when I read No Longer on the Run: The Untold Story of a Young Ukrainian in the Soviet Secret Service recently. Lorraine Fell has documented the life of Andy Klischenko in an interesting and sensitive manner.

Page 9- Talne

Andry (Andy) Klischenko was born on November 30, 1925, in the city of Kiev, in Ukraine. The early years of Andy’s life were filled with turbulent change and upheaval in his country. Beginning in 1917 a series of revolutions in Russia led to the emergence of Joseph Stalin as supreme leader of a new Soviet regime, resulting in colossal change in the lives of people in surrounding countries.

Thus, Andy’s life and that of his only sibling, a sister Hallena (Halla) born in 1927, began in the Ukrainian Republic. Stalin’s authoritative rules and dictates soon rendered great upheaval in the lives of the Ukrainian people. Nevertheless, in their early years Andy and Halla led privileged lives, growing up blissfully unaware of the underlying turmoil about to erupt in their country.

This book documents the life of Klischenko through the hardships of the Stalin regime, the invasion by Nazi Germany in World War II and his incarceration in a German labour camp. Now after many years since his immigration to Canada does Klischenko feel safe about talking about his experiences to his Canadian neighbour Lorraine Fell.

Page 22-23 The Untold Story

Remembering the fate of his father at the hands of the NKVD, Andy said “At first I had grave misgivings about co-operating in any way with the Soviet dictator.” Then he thought of his grandfather’s current involvement; he remembered his grandfather telling him of the active role he had taken in the Russian revolutions in the past. He reasoned that the Soviet Union was now an ally of the west; his country was at war, and they both faced a greater threat from Germany. As these thoughts ran quickly through his mind, he concluded the Soviets and the Ukrainian people now had an enemy in common. Andy agreed to accept the job.

Subsequently the officers took Andy through a period of training. Andy said, “They appeared very knowledgeable, first telling me all the details about the day Germany first invaded Poland.” He said, “Then the agents stressed, the most important part of this job is to appear invisible at all times, at the station or going to and from the station. They warned Andy, “Write nothing down, but remember everything you see.” Andy paid attention. He succeeded in spying and reporting to the agents for almost two years without being detected.

There is a strong human element to this book. No matter what the political or social situation was around Klischenko, he always maintained a bit of human dignity around him. The story was a pleasure to read for that element.

Page 35-36 The German Labour (Prison) Camp

In 1945, two weeks before the war ended the labour camps were suddenly liberated by British soldiers. Most of the German soldiers and guards fled and the British tried to direct the prisoners and restore some semblance of order for the inmates, now free but with nowhere to go.

One day, walking along the roadway to meet a friend from another camp, Andy suddenly heard a shot. Up ahead, he saw two soldiers scrambling in the ditch by the roadside. One was a young German, and the other an older British soldier. Both had bayonets. Andy said, “The German had drawn the blade, which looked to be 12 inches long. The British soldier, reacting quickly, shot the German in the leg. I was about twenty feet away as I saw the young German fall backwards into the ditch. The British soldier grabbed the German’s bayonet, and stood over him pointing his own gun at the German. As I came up to them, the British soldier just stood there, looking down at the German with his hand on the trigger. When her turned toward me, there were tears in his eyes. He cried out to me, “I can’t kill him; he looks like my son!”  “I looked down at the young lad and saw the fright in his eyes, and his face streaked with tears.” It was an emotionally charged moment. “As we stood there, tears welled up in my eyes; all three of us were silently crying together. Abruptly, the British soldier turned; carrying both guns he just walked away. A Red Cross truck arrived shortly afterward to take care of the wounded German. That was the last I saw of them, but I will always remember the look of desperation on that British soldier’s face.” This episode likely lasting less than five minutes may be considered by some, to be just another incident of war; to Andy it was a personal experience that left a lasting impact. The stories of war, the atrocities committed the constant fear endured, the heroism of many, and the simple human anguish of one soldier will never be forgotten, so long as one person lives to tell the story.

Lorraine Fell has documented the story of Andy Klischenko in No Longer on the Run: The Untold Story of a Young Ukrainian in the Soviet Secret Service with detail and passion. An interesting read and one that won’t be forgotten.

*****

Link to Wallbridge House Publishing page for No Longer on the Run