By Carl Tobien
The extraordinary story of Margaret Werner, the only American Woman to survive Stalin’s Gulag
This was an incredible story! It is written by Margaret’s son, Carl.
between 1930 and 1932, Henry Ford sent some of his employees over from Detroit to Gorky, Russia, to live and operate a manufacturing facility. Carl and Elizabeth Werner were one of those familes along with their daughter, Margaret. Joseph Stalin was in charge of Russia at this time. When Margaret was 17, men came into their house and arrested her father on a trumped up charge of treason. Her mother and her, never saw him again. (He was pardoned post-humanously many years later.)
Heartbroken, they attempted to survive in the harsh climate of the Soviet state. They lived in a tiny apartment that would not be classified as much more than a closet here, survived by eaten potatoes that had frozen and were horrible tasting, but kept them alive. They had a sense of humor which kept them going, laughing at the horrible food they had to eat and the lifestyle they had to live. Margaret could not keep from wondering about her father and asked alot fo questions, she asked some of the wrong people, who although had good intentions, it got around to people who had Margaret arrested and sentenced to 10 years of hard labor in Stalin’s Gulag.
Even in this, with horrible living conditions, hard work and other things, she trusted God. Her mother could come to visit her when she could and she became part of a ballet group that entertained the other workers. She became very close to some of the other people there, so much so, she really missed them when she was freed!
It was 30 years before Margaret ever made it back to the USA. Through a mix-up her citzenship has been revoked and it took alot of work to get her out of Russia and Germany.
I found this story inspiring! It could have been a very depressing story, yet her story is told in a way that you see the grace of these 2 women, Margaret and her mother, as they survived where they did not belong.
I was really surprised as I did not know why Henry Ford would send Americans over to Russia at that time. Her father had so much trouble with the workers as they were not good workers. On the back of the book it says how Margaret came to realize her dependance upon “the Grace, favor, and protection of an unseen God.” I think if more of us saw that, we would look at the difficulties in our lives in a different way as well.