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Former MGM VP Luba Keske Recalls 1944 Escape From Ukraine Amid Current War: ‘Prayer Will Overcome This’

Luba Keske from Movieguide® TV’s “Ukraine: A Legacy of Hope”

Former MGM VP Luba Keske Recalls 1944 Escape From Ukraine Amid Current War: ‘Prayer Will Overcome This’

By Movieguide® Staff

For ​​Luba Keske, former Senior VP of Business Affairs at MGM, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is all too familiar.

“I’m telling you this story, because when I see these people lined up at the border of Ukraine, it reminds me of our trip,” Keske told Movieguide® founder Dr. Ted Baehr.

The 79-year-old producer recalled 1944 when her family fled Ukraine during the Russian’ liberation’ of Ukrainians.

“I was born in Ukraine. We left Ukraine in 1944 when we were again ‘liberated’ by the Russians,” Keske said. “First we were ‘liberated’ in 1939 by the Russians from the Poles. Then we were liberated by the Germans from the Russians in 1941. Then in 1944, the Russians came back and liberated us again, from the Germans.”

After Keske’s father fought against the Russians and the Nazis, he knew they would not be safe in Ukraine.

“My father was a marked man, he had fought both the Russians and the Nazis, and the word came down to him with the Russians coming back, we had to leave,” she explained. “That was 1944. It was March, I was very little. I don’t remember that. But I have my mother’s memoirs.”

“He was told to leave because we would have either been killed, shot or sent to Siberia, slow death, right. They said goodbye to everything they had ever had. He had to save his children. So they had their sights set on going west to freedom,” she continued.

As Keske and her family fled west across Ukraine and into Slovakia, she remembered several poignant occurrences, like the sound of bombs falling and a homemade meal from a hospitable farmer.

“The lady said, ‘Well, all I have in the garden right now is the ends of this green onion… and I have a little bit of homemade cream that I made.’ So this is what we had, green onion and homemade sour cream,” she recalled. “To this day, I make it at home because it reminds me of my mother, and because it tasted so good.”

As Keske and her family made it to Hungary, they were captured by Nazis and put in a concentration camp.

“We were put into this some kind of a makeshift concentration camp. What I remember is that it was cold and wet. I see barbed wires around, and just loads and loads of people crowded in, like just shoved in there,” she said. “There was just a lot of confusion. There was chaos. Because, you know, the war was ending, the Germans knew this. But still they had these people.”

After a couple of weeks, Keske recalled that the Germans started to force everyone in the camp to leave via train. However, Keske said that her mother turned against the flow of the crowd, and she, her 5-year-old older sister, and her father hid at the back of the concentration camp.

“The Germans were in such a hurry, nobody came back to check anything because they had to get all these people out of here. Right? We were saved,” she said.

However, Keske said that the current invasion of Ukraine by the Russians reflects the previous “liberations” she and her family experienced in the 1940s, with Ukrainians dying in the street.

“We’re finding similar pictures of people dying on the streets,” Keske said. “What’s going on today and what happened then, we’re seeing the same slaughter, we’re seeing mass graves, all these people that are leaving Ukraine.”

Despite the war against Russia, Keske said that the people of Ukraine have relied on their faith in God, led by their president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“I truly feel that God has something to do with it,” she said of Zelenskyy’s stand against the Russians. “He loves Ukraine. He has a family. They’re there with him. We don’t see them. But they’re there. They’re not going anywhere. And he has, I think, given Ukraine hope that Ukraine can win this war.”

“This is a David and Goliath story. But I think Ukraine, I know in my heart that Ukraine will win this war. He speaks to them every day and he invokes God, he prays,” she added. “He said to the Russians, you can murder us, you can burn down our buildings, you can bomb us, but you cannot take our faith away from us, our faith in God.”

Keske said that she has faith that prayer to God is what will give Ukraine hope and courage to win the war.

“Pray,” she encouraged listeners. “Ask God to save Ukraine, preserve Ukraine, save its people… They’re praying. Yes, prayer will overcome this.”