George Trofimoff, as a teen-age boy, escaped the Nazi enlistment and the close of WWII by escaping to Paris. At first he found a job painting silk scarfs, but when that employer closed, he was desperate to find work. It was impossible to get employment without a work permit from the government. However, that was impossible for George because the application required documentation regarding citizenship.
George was effectively “stateless” and could provide no documentation. He was not a citizen of any country, because his parents were living in exile in Germany when he was born there. By German law, he was a citizen of his parent’s country. However, the Communists did not recognize those living in exile as “citizens”, and most particularly, they did not recognize “white Russians” as Soviet citizens.
A friend suggested to George that he visit the office of the Society of Friends for help. He did, and it was there that he met a man who provided the opportunity for George that would change his life. Mr. Tom Bodine was a Quaker and head of the Paris office of the Society of Friends. He asked George, “Why don’t you go to the U.S.A.?” George explained that he would certainly like to, but he had no relatives there to go to, nor did he have any friends there that might receive him. Mr. Bodine had George sit down at a desk and write his entire biography. When he was finished, Mr. Bodine told him that he would contact friends in America, and he immediately began initiating interviews and appointments for examinations with the U.S. state department. So that George would have a job, he hired him to split firewood and keep the office supplied through the winter, and also allowed him to have two meals a day along with the office staff.
In December, 1947, George Trofimoff would arrive just before Christmas Day at the family home of friend Butterworth in Sunset Farm, on the outskirts of West Hartford, U.S.A. He was warmly received, “It’s George from Europe!” The Butterworth family became George’s family. He never forgot them nor the Society of Friends and many times in the years to come would show his gratitude.
I write of George’s life in my book: “Observer: The Colonel George Trofimoff Story, the tale of America’s highest ranking military officer convicted of spying”