Ken Wetcher was born in 1941 in Bolshaya Rechka, a town in Siberia. At the time, the town was known for the Soviet forced labor camp there.
Due to Nazi advancement into Poland and the Soviet Army’s retreat, Ken’s parents, Polish Jews, followed the Soviet Army out of Poland. Ken’s parents were not yet married. Upon arrival, they were deported to Siberia with thousands of other Poles. They were imprisoned and put to heavy labor. They married and Ken’s mother was taken off food rationing when she became pregnant because she was unfit for labor. Ken’s father and other Jewish Polish prisoners spared some of their rations for her. Ken was circumcised which risked the lives of his parents and all other prisoners involved.
Ken’s father joined General Anders’ Polish Army when Stalin ordered the Polish prisoners’ release. Ken and his mother stayed with Anders Army’s families in Uzbekistan and Turkistan until 1945.
When the USSR let Jews leave to return to Poland, Ken and his mother traveled on foot and by cattle car to return. They moved on to Germany after learning that their family had perished. They lived in a Displaced Persons Camp in Bad Reichenhall.
Ken’s father was not aware of his family’s fate. They managed to reconnect through a cousin. A relative in Brooklyn sponsored their immigration to the United States. Ken became a psychiatrist. He married and had two children.