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In 1941, Sergei’s parents spirited him to safety upon the German troops’ invasion of his Belorussian town. A baby, Sergei never would know his father, who died in the Soviet Army, fighting against the occupiers. Despite suffering from dysentery, Sergei managed to live through train trip after train trip, each one in inhumane conditions, until he, his mother, infant sister and grandmother, made it to an eastern town overrun with other refugees on the Volga River. Sergei’s earliest memories are of cold, hunger, overcrowded quarters and fellow refugees covered in lice. Loved ones of all ages were brutally murdered by the Germans, shot into the ravine in which they perished.