Emilija Dadurkevičienė (Sudvajūtė), born in Sudvajai village in the Alytus district in 1930, is searching for Dora Gershanovitch Kustanovitch, with whom she was imprisoned at a gulag during the Stalin era. In 1961 both women were moved to a gulag in Mordovia.
Fellow inmate Ira Verblovskaya recalled more about Dora in her memoirs:
“In the same construction brigade there was Dora Gershanovitch, from a repatriated family who had returned from America to ‘victorious socialism,’ working towards a new life. How could the family who had left the Ukraine in 1918 fleeing the pogroms live in a foreign country when such great events were taking place at home? People such as Dora’s father were needed as specialists in Moscow, where the family lived safely for several years. In 1937 her father and mother were arrested and shot.
“Dora was left on her own. She had relatives in the Baltic states so when the opportunity arose in 1940 she left for Estonia… She knew Estonian and Latvian well, and English of course as well.
“She made friends with the locals and didn’t differ in her habits from the Estonians or Lithuanians. She avoided strangers and might have appeared arrogant to others. In any event it was understood she had her own narrow circle of relatives and wasn’t prepared to expand that circle. It was only because of unexpected misfortune which overtook her and for which she gained sympathy not just from her friends that she became more open. Dora worked in the construction brigade with other strong and resilient women.
“Once she was cutting a piece of wire with an axe to make a nail and she was injured when a piece of the wire went into her eye. The eye couldn’t be saved and Dora was disabled. She was depressed to be in this state. After the war she went to Tartu where she taught English, and the first chance she got she went to America, although she was old, ill and alone. What later became of her is not known.”
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