[Congressional Record Volume 160, Number 25 (Tuesday, February 11, 2014)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E201-E202]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                             HON. TIM RYAN

                                of ohio

                    in the house of representatives

                       Tuesday, February 11, 2014

  Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to call attention to an 
article that recently appeared in the Toledo Blade that describes the 
family heritage of our colleague and friend, the Honorable Marcy 
Kaptur. Ms. Kaptur represents Ohio's 9th Congressional District, is the 
dean of the Ohio delegation, and is the senior-most woman in the House.
  As this extraordinary article points out, Congresswoman Kaptur's 
interest in the current situation in Ukraine is influenced by her 
grandparents who were born in Ukraine and immigrated to America in the 
early 1900's.
  Last night, the House passed a resolution supporting ``the Ukrainian 
people's struggle to build an independent, democratic, and strong 
Ukraine that is free from foreign meddling.''
  Ohioans are very proud of our family heritage as I am a son of Irish 
and Italian immigrants. Marcy Kaptur is proud of her Ukrainian heritage 
and I am honored to serve with her in the House.
  I submit an article from the Toledo Blade by Tom Troy.

                    Kaptur's Ukraine Roots Run Deep

          Behind the Scenes, Congressman Encourages Democracy

       U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) looks over family 
     pictures on her desk. Miss Kaptur's grandparents were both 
     born in Ukraine, and she worries about that nation's future. 
     She plans to bring some Ukrainian farmers here on a trade 
     mission this month.
       During her 30 years as the representative of Ohio's 9th 
     Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur has carried on 
     a love affair.
       The object of her affections is Ukraine, the former Soviet 
     socialist republic that was the land of her grandmother and 
     grandfather's birth.
       ``It has been a lifelong interest because, as our mother 
     used to say, our children know the history of our family,'' 
     Miss Kaptur, 67, said last week of herself and her brother 
     Stephen, 61, who lives with her in West Toledo. As Ukraine--a 
     giant eastern European nation famed for its fertile 
     farmland--roils in political unrest, Miss Kaptur has been 
     working behind the scenes to encourage democracy to flourish.
       The Toledo Democrat said she has made at least a dozen 
     trips to Ukraine over the last four decades, and she is 
     cochairman of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus.
       In recent months the country has exploded into 
     demonstrations, triggered by outrage at Ukraine President 
     Viktor Yanukovych's decision to end negotiations to join the 
     European Union and turn to Russia to help it pay off a 
     crippling debt. Some see the revolutionary movement as a step 
     toward true independence that started when Ukraine broke off 
     from the Soviet Union in 1990.
       Miss Kaptur was the co-sponsor of a resolution that passed 
     Wednesday in a House committee calling the Ukraine leadership 
     to a higher standard, and to support rights of assembly. 
     Whether it will come up for a vote in the full House is not 
       ``As the co-chair of the Ukraine caucus I have met with 
     literally hundreds of Ukrainian leaders, existing leaders, 
     emerging leaders, presidents, ambassadors, farmers. The 
     Ukrainian embassy knows about our caucus,'' Miss Kaptur said.
       As the Ukrainian military begins making sounds about 
     intervening in the unrest, Miss Kaptur said she hopes that if 
     it does, it exercises restraint.
       ``The point is there has been a lot of interaction [with 
     the United States], training at the highest level,'' she 
     said. ``The kind of bloodshed that is historic in that region 
     hasn't happened and I hope it won't.''
       Miss Kaptur as an infant sits in her Grandmother Teofila 
     Swiecicki Rogowski's lap

[[Page E202]]

     while her mother, Anastasia Rogowski, stands. During college, 
     the representative `worshipped' her hard-working 
     grandparents, who emigrated from Ukraine in the early 1900s.
       The realignment of Miss Kaptur's 9th Congressional District 
     in 2012 to snake along Lake Erie all the way from Toledo to 
     Cleveland has been widely decried as gerrymandering designed 
     to achieve Republican goals of squeezing as many Democrats 
     into as few districts as possible.
       But one upshot has been the linkage of one of Congress's 
     most Eastern European-focused lawmakers with communities that 
     have a lot of Eastern European immigrants and their 
       The district now contains the Cuyahoga County city of 
     Parma, which has a large Ukrainian-American population. Miss 
     Kaptur is also a founder and co-chairman of the Polish and 
     Hungarian congressional caucuses.
       Her mother's family was Polish living in modern-day 
       Miss Kaptur's grandmother Teofila Swiecicki Rogowski and 
     Grandfather John Rogowski emigrated from Ukraine early in the 
       ``Then it was czarist Russia. They were not allowed to 
     graze their one cow on the open field and could not feed 
     themselves,'' Miss Kaptur said.
       Over the years, as their homeland was devastated by 
     political and military rivalries, including a famine brought 
     on by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and invasion by the Nazis, 
     they lost all contact with family members in Ukraine. Her 
     grandmother took in wash, and worked in the Commodore Perry 
     and Willard hotels to earn money, while her grandfather, a 
     carpenter, struggled to find work.
       ``When I was in college I worshipped her and her husband,'' 
     Miss Kaptur said. She wanted to take her grandmother back to 
     Ukraine and find the town they came from, Burtyn, but her 
     grandmother was afraid, she said. Teofila died in 1970.
       In 1973, Miss Kaptur--then a planner for the city of 
     Toledo--and her mother, the former Anastasia Rogowski, drove 
     into Soviet Ukraine, where they found her grandmother's 
     brother, a former inmate of Stalin's gulag political prison 
     system for 20 years.
       ``He was not allowed to travel out of his area because he 
     was viewed as an enemy of the state,'' Miss Kaptur said. He 
     was released from the gulag in 1952, but lost his brother to 
     the camps. Her great-uncle's crime: He had offered aid to a 
     wounded Kulak, a member of the property-owning farming class 
     that was being driven into extinction by Stalin. They had the 
     only car in the dusty town, and were the only guests in the 
     hotel, which had no curtains but a listening device. They had 
     sent word to relatives that they would be at the hotel if 
     anyone wanted to meet them. They were on their third day with 
     no visitors when they heard activity in the lobby.
       Miss Kaptur's great-uncle Casmierz Swiecicici was a former 
     inmate in Joseph Stalin's prison system for 20 years. ``We 
     learned the desk clerk had been denying to the woman visitor 
     that any foreigners were staying in the hotel, despite her 
     repeated attempts to contact us,'' Miss Kaptur said.
       She said the moment that she finally met her grandmother's 
     brother, Casmierz Swiecicki, was an emotional one. ``There 
     stood this tall man and I looked at him and gasped because he 
     held his hands the same way that our grandmother did. He 
     looked at my mother and said, `are you my sister?' We just 
     wept,'' Miss Kaptur said. They gave him an orange. ``That 
     began the moment when we began to unlock the history of what 
     happened,'' she said. They met more family members in a 
     return trip two years later.
       Andy Fedynsky, resident scholar at the Ukrainian Museum and 
     Archives in Cleveland, said Miss Kaptur has actively 
     supported Ukraine since her first term in 1983. He said that 
     year she played a leadership role in passing a bill to create 
     a commission on the Ukraine famine, which was widely denied.
       ``This commission was set up and did a thorough job 
     establishing there was a famine, it was planned, 7 million 
     people were deliberately starved to death,'' Mr. Fedynsky 
     said. He said Miss Kapttr testified that the victims included 
     her own family.
       ``She said, `Don't tell me this never happened. I know it 
     happened because my ancestors endured it,' '' Mr. Fedynsky 
     said. The commission ``made a huge difference in Ukraine 
       Miss Kaptur and others worked to get President Obama to 
     include a Ukraine reference in his State of the Union speech 
     last week, which he did. The President said, ``In Ukraine, we 
     stand for the principle that all people have the right to 
     express themselves freely and peacefully and to have a say in 
     their country's future.''
       ``I have been meeting with Ukrainians on a regular basis. 
     We are planing a trade mission for farmers to bring them to 
     Ohio in February,'' Miss Kaptur said.
       She has a picture of herself meeting a year and a half ago 
     with one of the opposition leaders when he was in Washington.
       She said she was in Ukraine in 2013 while on her way to 
     Poland to be awarded an honorary citizenship--her father's 
     family was from Poland--when she feared that Ukraine was 
     slipping backward. ``I left very, very worried. I saw how 
     much more difficult their life had become. I was deeply 
     worried about what I saw--greater poverty among older women, 
     farmers that I've known.''
       Ironically to the girl whose grandmother had only wanted to 
     raise money in order to buy a piece of land on which to graze 
     their cow, Ukrainian farmland is being bought up by 
       ``There was a real sense that democracy was slipping away. 
     Then all of this has happened. The people of Ukraine have 
     stood up, and we should stand with them,'' Miss Kaptur said.