The following quotation is from a memoir piece by Anna Kroeker. She was a Mennonite living in Kyrgyzstan when World War II broke out. The Stalin regime mobilized her into the labor army. Like many other Russian-German women conscripted into these forced labor brigades she was forced to abandon her children. When her sister died due to the poor material conditions imposed upon Russian-Germans by Stalin during the 1940s there was nobody left to care for Anna's son and daughter. The mass induction of adult Russian-Germans into the labor army led to the separation of hundreds of thousands of families. Thousands of Russian-German children with nobody to care for them suffered horribly in Kazakhstan, Central Asia and Siberia. Anna Kroeker's description of finding her children after her release from the labor army is found in John P. Toews, Journeys: Mennonite Stories of Faith and Survival in Stalin's Russia (Winnipeg, MAN: Kindred Productions, 1998), p. 43.
When I returned home after being away for four years, I had found my children living in bitter poverty. We didn't have any beds to speak of. An old pelt was placed on the ground for Lilie and Alfred. The stove had been built in such a way that no one could sit or sleep on any portion of it. There were no dishes - the children had found tin cans in the hospital's rubbish heap. Since the death of my sister, no one had cared for my mother and the children. As a result, Alfred starved. People would often ask, "Is Anna's little Alfred still alive?"