The Story of an American Repatriate
In the early months of 1947, eighteen-year-old Tom Mooradian had everything — Hollywood good looks, high academic ranking in his senior class at Southwestern High School, recognition by the three Detroit daily newspapers as being one of the finest basketball talents in the Public School League and in the state. Before the end of that year, however, he would find himself with hundreds of other Soviet citizens, standing in long unruly lines hoping to purchase a kilo of black, damp, sawdust filled bread. He was fighting the daily fight for survival in the Soviet Union. But bread was the least of his worries; he was not allowed to travel or utter one word against the state in public or private conversation. Mooradian had lost his freedom. It was not a dream, but a nightmare that he and 150 other American Armenians willingly, but unknowingly, walked into when they signed up for the Armenian Repatriation.
Shortly after their arrival in Erevan, the capital of Soviet Armenia, the NKVD, the Soviet Secret Police, arrested Mooradian as he boarded a plane for Moscow. Beaten at the airport, Mooradian was conveyed to NKVD headquarters, his crime: he had authored and agreed to present a petition, he and three other repatriates had signed, to the US Ambassador, pleading for help to return to the United States.
Mooradian’s basketball prowess captured the hearts of the Soviet people and probably saved his life. Miraculously surviving 13 years behind the Iron Curtain, he had the opportunity to see what no foreign correspondent, no western journalist, no diplomat was permitted to see: the Soviet Union as the Soviets lived.
Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography,The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.