I met a Genealogist in Cambodia. As we chatted together she became fascinated with my family history. She feels it is important for us to know and understand where we come from in order to know and understand who we are. Why we are like we are. Maggie lectures and studies Genealogy professionally and lives in Beijing.
I gave her two family names. One was my Grandfather's name. This is Luder - my birthname. The other was my Grandmother's name. This is Bluestone.
My Paternal Grandparents were Polish and Russian. Maggie has since discovered passenger lists on the Aquitania leaving Southampton, destination New York, naming Harry Bluestone born in a town called Plock in Poland, aged sixteen in 1911 and my Grandmother's younger brother, as a passenger off to seek a new life.
The Luder family seem easier to track. I know my Grandfather came from a town, in what is now The Ukraine, called Gorodok.
Sometimes family stories can be Urban Myths. Embellished to make them more interesting. More compelling. This family story is fact.
Around 1905 a young man was murdered in the town of Gorodok in the Ukraine. The officials of the town declared a Jew was probably the killer and that it was alright for any Jew to be killed for no other reason other than revenge.
My Grandfather, just a boy, along with his younger brothers and sisters, hid in the cellar of their home in Gorodok as an attacker with a sword aimed to kill them all. He took pity on them and instead killed their cat and spread the blood around the house tricking any other intruders to believe The Jews had been killed.
That's when The Luder family left and took refuge in the UK.
I'm not much of a family person beyond who matters to me in a close and a now way. My dear Mum, my daughter, my grandsons matter more than anything. Beyond first cousins would be too much for me as I am more interested in why and how or what strength of charactor and survival allowed my Luder and my Bluestone Grandparents to make that journey to the UK with no money, belongings, no language and start again.
I already knew and felt these strengths before I met Maggie the Genealogist from Beijing but somehow seeing all these facts trailed back, my own researching on the Interweb discovering the history of the towns where they were born and the horrors they escaped from have reinforced my belief in myself. Why I am like I am. Why I feel like I feel.
Then, there is a startling fact that emerges from all of this. So far, all the towns, such as Plock, where they were all born or lived are on rivers.
My favourite travel experiences are always on rivers. I love canals as well. I see there's a river trip along the Vistula where Leah Bluestone was born and her brother Harry.
I can sense one coming on.