Irina N. Krajcik, age 66, of Edgemont Road in Sunapee, NH, died Monday December 5, 2005, at New London Hospital as the result of an automobile accident.
She was born in Armavir, Russia, on April 3, 1939, the daughter of Nikolaj and Ludmilla (Wilken) Borisjuk. At four years old, she and her family fled to Germany and lived in an American refugee camp for several years. She graduated high school in Lubeck, Germany, shortly before immigrating to the United States in April 1957 at age 18.
She was fluent in five languages and started working in the United States at a dress factory and took evening classes in a beauty academy to support her parents and two younger brothers. On January 24, 1959, she married Dr. Frank A. Krajcik, optometrist. Recently, Irina had worked with her husband as office manager. As an accomplished and professional seamstress, she made religious vestments among other items. She enjoyed many hobbies and especially enjoyed being with her family. She was a member of the Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church and served as director of the parish bookstore.
Members of her surviving family include her husband, Dr. Frank Krajcik, Sunapee, NH; her mother, Ludmilla Borisjuk, Sunapee, NH and Gulfport, FL; six children, Richard Krajcik and wife, Jody, Pembroke, NH; Deborah Krajcik, Keene, NH; Sandra Cashion, Cary, NC; Ellen Wirta and her husband. Mark, Sunapee, NH; Lorena Montefusco and her husband, Frank, Raleigh, NC; Tanya Kress and her husband, Joel, Weare, NH; 14 grandchildren: Carol, Matt, Rachel and husband Dany, Sarah, Hannah, Alexandra, Anna, Erin, Nate, Tara, Jake, Loren, Anthony, and Samuel; brothers: Igor Boris and wife, Suzanne, Westbrook and Lova Borisjuk and wife, Deborah, North Haven; and many nieces and nephews.
Funeral Matins Service was held at 4 p.m. this Friday in the Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church. Calling hours were immediately following. Funeral liturgy was celebrated on Saturday in the church with the V.Rev. Andrew Tregubov, officiating. Graveside services followed in Mountain View Cemetery in Claremont, NH. Arrangements were under the direction of the Roy Funeral Home, Claremont, NH.
Memory Eternal, dear Friend!
Daughter about Her Mother
My mother, Irina Krajcik, lived an extraordinary life while she was growing up in Europe. She spent the rest of her life trying to forget her traumatic childhood. Just recently, she started talking about her experiences growing up during the war.
“I was born in Armavir, Russia, in 1939. World War II had just started when I was four years old. We were forced to flee to Germany. If we had stayed home, we would have been taken to Siberia to be put in the prison camp. The reason the Soviets wanted to persecute us was that my mother was half-German. They also wanted to punish my father because he married a German; therefore, he wasn’t trusted. Anyone living in the Soviet Union who was German was automatically imprisoned.
“We fled to Germany by train packed in like sardines. We stayed with the grandparents in Memel, Germany. My brother, Igor, was born shortly after we arrived. Because Igor was a Russian name, we called him Zegfield, which is German. He was baptized Lutheran to prevent the Soviets from taking him away. I remember waking up in the middle of the night to bombs going off and sirens, warning us to go quickly to the nearest bomb shelter. Because of the constant bombing, my parents decided to move to Lubeck. We left by horse and buggy. As we looked back at Memel, we saw the entire city on fire. This near-death experience happened three times before we reached Lubeck.
“When we arrived, some farmers were kind enough to hide us from the Soviets. They were still after us because we were now considered traitors. The Red Army soldiers kept finding families that were hiding. It was getting very dangerous for farmers if they were caught hiding Russians. The farmers advised my parents to give themselves up to an American refugee camp in Germany. We took their advice and went under English protection. My family shared a tiny room with another family, with only a blanket separating us. Food was scarce. We relied on care packages of food and clothing from America.
“When I was seven years old, I got tuberculosis. I was sent to a sanatorium for one year. It was the first time I was away from my parents. We were all forced to drink cod liver oil after every meal. The worst thing about this sanatorium was the nurses. They tried to abuse the kids sexually. Luckily I was able to escape this.
“Shortly after I returned to the camp, a school was set up for the kids. My parents volunteered as teachers. When I was in fifth grade, a peace agreement was made between the Russians and the Germans. Consequently, my brother and I were taken to a German school outside the camp. We had a hard time at school. The kids and even the teachers were very mean to my brother and me because we were Russian.
“Throughout the years we lived in the camp, the Soviets constantly tried to entice us to return. Those who went back, believing they would be welcomed and not be treated as traitors, were imprisoned or killed shortly after arriving.
“My family started the process of immigration in 1952. My brother, Lova, was born at this time. We went through many tests to see if we were healthy enough to immigrate. We also had to parade naked in front of the doctors. It was done purely for their enjoyment. They found a shadow in my lungs when they tested me for tuberculosis. This delayed our immigration for a few years. Finally, in 1957 we were allowed to immigrate.
“We came to America in the warship named General Langfit. It took eleven days to cross the ocean. During this time, we learned some common English words, phrases, and customs. It was not a comfortable journey. It was crowded, there was hardly any food, and many people got severely sick. I turned 18 on the ship. Three days later, on April 7, 1957, we all strained our eyes to catch the first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty through the fog.”
I am proud of my mother. In my mind, I see her as having much more strength and courage than I ever would. I admire that. And knowing what my mother went through, I now have much more appreciation for my life and an understanding of what happened during WWII.
Published in In Our Midst, 1997