REFUGEE. DEATH MARCH SURVIVOR.
“I couldn't walk. I couldn't even move my toes.
I was shot and left lying in a field all alone."
Anni, during a Yugoslavian Death March, 1945
Anni Kessenich was the youngest child in a family that slid into poverty just as Stalin began implementing his first Five-Year Plan and his harsh policies of collectivization. She experienced communist indoctrination in school, collectivization, famine, and the Purges of the 1930s. She and her family left their home in Nieder-Chortitza in 1943, when she was 17, and became war refugees. She found herself in Yugoslavia when the war ended, a Soviet zone. Attempting to escape across the border, Anni became separated from her family, and was wounded in a death march that claimed the lives of thousands.
A compelling and colorful storyteller, you can read Anni's first-person account below.