Olga MalijewskiSeptember 16, 1926 ~ April 19, 2017 (age 90)
Hemet, CA - Olga Malijewski, a long-time resident of Hemet, passed away peacefully, Wednesday the 19th of April, at Rancho Vista Assisted Living in Vista, California.
Born in 1926 in Zakalye, Belarus to Nikolai and Melanie Baluk, Olga grew up as the oldest of five children in what was about to become war-torn Eastern Europe.
In 1939, when Olga was barely a teenager, Hitler’s Blitzkrieg swept to the East and German tanks rumbled through villages already suffering under Stalin's oppressive communist rule. Near Olga’s village, trainloads of war refugees fleeing the Germans would sometimes meet an opposite-bound trainload of refugees fleeing barren communist fields - the passengers in the passing boxcars astonished that anyone should want to head in the other direction.
In 1942, Belarus was trapped in the middle and Olga's village awaited the German occupation. Nazi infantry marched into town demanding that the eldest child of each family step outside of their homes for conscription into the German labor force. At 15 years old, carrying food and personal items in a 'fire engine red' wooden briefcase her father had made, Olga was dragged from her family into Nazi Germany. She wouldn't see her mother for another 27 years; her father, never again.
For the next three years, Olga worked in a munitions factory in Izarlone near Ludenscheid, Germany - a regular target of Allied bombing maneuvers. In the factory, she became proficient in German - translating on behalf of prisoners toiling 12-hour shifts living only on bread and water. As conditions grew worse and the war continued, Olga survived in the factory while other prisoners would escape and purposely put themselves into the path of the Allied bombs to end their own suffering.
Following the surrender of Axis forces in 1945, Olga was moved to a refugee camp where she met an accordionist playing at a dance in the English sector of the camp. Paul Malijewski lived in the Polish sector of the camp and would ride his bike - through ruts created months ago by rumbling tanks - to visit Olga in her sector. Many bike rides later, the two fell in love and, when it was announced that the refugees would be returned to their respective homes in the Ukraine, the two hid in nearby woods to avoid the deportation and stay together. After fleeing to a new camp, they were married by a local priest.
In 1946, living in a film projection booth above a movie theater near Ludenscheid, Olga was pregnant with their first child. On Sunday mornings a Ukrainian Baptist group worshipped in the movie theater and, with a new baby, Paul was largely annoyed by the worship. He would play his accordion loudly during the Sunday service to the point where the group asked him to bring the accordion and join the services. The young couple found salvation through faith - eventually spreading their love of Christ to America where Paul and Olga were often referred to as the “backbone” of a church that now serves more than 100,000 Baptist Ukrainians.
In 1949, now with three children, Paul and Olga fled to America to avoid Josef Stalin's order that all returning refugees, "polluted" by the war, be killed at the Russian borders. Paul and Olga's visa to America was sponsored by Iner and Elizabeth Carlson living on a farm with their own four children in Sandstone, Minnesota. As the farm couldn't support everyone, the Malijewskis followed work and Baptist service to Minneapolis, Chicago, and California.
Along their journey, Olga would give birth to a total of seven children - Peter (1946), Helen (1947), Irene (1948), Richard (1949), Mary (1951), Steven (1954), and Timothy (1955).
Olga was eventually reunited with her mother in 1973 on one of multiple trips to the Ukraine - trips that included bibles smuggled to Christians in Eastern Europe 20 years before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
While raising her family in the US, Olga also worked at Abbot Northwestern Hospital and Honeywell, Incorporated, both in Minnesota. She and Paul retired to Hemet, California in 1991.
Olga is preceded in death by her son Steven (July 4, 1973) and her husband Paul (December 10, 2007). She is survived by six children and nearly 50 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.