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An unsolved family history mystery author visits Kelowna

UBCO hosts award-winning author who writes about Holocaust-era secret

There are certain things about our families that we know as fact. But what happens when what we thought we knew turns out to be only partly true?

This is the question author Julija Šukys struggled with when she began to write about a well-known, albeit dramatic, family history of her grandparents who were forcibly separated during the Second World War and not reunited for 25 years.

The family story is of a proud people forced from their homeland by soldiers. In mid-June 1941, three Red Army soldiers arrested Šukys’ grandmother and sent her to Siberia where she spent 17 years working on a collective farm, separated from her children and husband. The family story maintained that it was all a terrible mistake, according to a UBCO release.

But when Šukys began digging into letters, oral histories, audio recordings and KGB documents, her research soon revealed a shattering Holocaust-era secret—a family connection to the killing of 700 Jews in a small Lithuanian border town. According to KGB documents, the man in charge when those massacres took place was Šukys’ grandfather.

Šukys will discuss this captivating story, and examine what happens when family truths become fiction and how forgiveness operates across generations and the barriers of life and death, said the release.

Join the discussion at this free, public event presented by UBC Okanagan. Register at Eventbrite. Šukys’ book Siberian Exile will be available for purchase from the UBC Bookstore at the event, Feb. 8 at the Okanagan Regional Library on Ellis Street.

This event is organized by the Remembering and Commemorating Trauma Research Cluster, a cross-disciplinary group of UBC scholars interested in the impact of traumatic events and in exploring ways in which our responses to trauma can be used to heal, reconcile and empower, said the release.

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