The Atlantic

My Grandfather Was Welcomed to Pittsburgh by the Group the Gunman Hated

He came to this country a refugee, and paid his debt forward.
Source: Hulton Archive / Getty

On their second attempt to leave Europe, in 1921, my grandfather and his family spent three days in an outdoor potato cellar. The potatoes don’t seem to have been much help; my grandfather would later recall that they subsisted, for those three days, on stale bread and water. He was 12, or maybe 14—official immigration records conflict with family lore. His father and older brother had already settled in the U.S.; my grandfather, along with his mother and two of his siblings, had left their Ukrainian village once before, but had been caught by the Bolsheviks, jailed, and then returned to their village. This time, having successfully crossed the river into Romania, they were determined to evade that outcome. They left the cellar and traveled mostly across open fields. Eventually they reached a

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic3 min read
A ‘Ridiculous’ Emmys Night for Fleabag
The acclaimed Amazon series created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge swept the comedy category, beating out heavyweights such as Veep and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
The Atlantic10 min read
Spain’s Attempt To Atone For A 500-Year-Old Sin
The country is offering citizenship to Jews whose families it expelled in the 15th century.
The Atlantic11 min readPolitics
What Would Jeremy Corbyn Mean for Britain’s Foreign Policy?
The Labour Party leader could be the country’s next prime minister, and could well redefine its role in the world.