The Lost Daughters of Ukraine, Reader Letter

by Erin Litteken | March 17, 2023 |

It’s been over one year since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. In that time, countless war crimes have been committed. Thousands of Ukrainian children have been kidnapped. Tens of thousands of soldiers and innocent civilians have died. Millions of families have been displaced.

Throughout it all, the world has witnessed the strength and tenacity of Ukrainians battling for their right to exist, but Ukraine’s black earth is soaked in the blood of generations of its brave defenders. How many people realize that this war actually started nine years ago, in 2014, when Russia invaded and illegally annexed parts of Ukraine? How many know about the millions killed in the Holodomor, Stalin’s terror famine? How many remember that the Soviet Union was allied with Nazi Germany and collectively started World War II by invading and occupying Poland (and what is now western Ukraine) in 1939? How many realize that one of Hitler’s main goals was to eradicate Ukrainians and colonize their land with Germans?

For many people, the past feels far away. Historic events are brought to life on TV or in novels. They aren’t a part of our everyday lives. But in Ukraine, the death and destruction of Russia’s invasion eerily echoes the tragedies their ancestors endured—trench warfare, attacks on civilians, genocide, and Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II.

I explore many of these themes in my book, THE LOST DAUGHTERS OF UKRAINE—combining history, fiction, and my own family’s experiences in Ukraine and as refugees to create the story of a family ripped apart by World War II. I’m honored to share this deeply personal novel with you, but just as when THE MEMORY KEEPER OF KYIV published last year, I am, sadly, once again releasing a book about a past assault on Ukraine during the current invasion.

Keep Ukraine in your hearts. Listen to and elevate the voices of people living through this horror. Learn about their vibrant culture and both the tragic and beautiful parts of their history to understand why they fight so valiantly for their country. And, most importantly, please continue to support Ukraine in every way you can.

Slava Ukrayini!


Posted in


  1. Sue Briggs on April 4, 2023 at 5:09 am

    I knew absolutely nothing about Ukraine’s history until I read The Memory Keeper of Kyiv. It was an amazing read and you Erin are to be commended in bringing this little known history to life. I am recommending it to my friends and their Book Groups. Its a story to be shouted out until everyone hears and takes measures to ensure it’s never, ever repeated anywhere in the world.

    • Erin Litteken on April 4, 2023 at 12:20 pm

      Thank you so much, Sue! I’m so glad my book was able to shed light on this piece of history for you, and I’m very grateful for your support.

  2. Annelies on January 28, 2024 at 11:42 am

    Nooit geweten dat in Oekraïne zoveel is gebeurd en dat al in de jaren 30. Heel goed dat dit nu beschreven wordt. Wat triest en wat heftig.

    • Erin Litteken on January 28, 2024 at 1:16 pm

      Thank you for reading and being willing to learn about this history.

  3. Eileen Peyton on March 21, 2024 at 11:09 am

    We are reading the Memory Keeper of Kyiv in my book group. It is soooo frustrating to be witnessing the repeat of this atrocity and have our congress completely inept at the same time money needs to be released to help Ukraine. It is unfathomable to me that we can put money in Afghanistan for decades and they lose their country in 4 days and we aren’t continuing to help Ukraine who clearly is fighting tooth and nail to keep their culture. I am so ashamed of our response. I do have reps in congress and the senate who are pushing to continue to contribute to Ukraine. It’s little consolation. I am so sorry for your people. PS No I knew nothing of this part of our world history.

    • Erin Litteken on March 26, 2024 at 10:42 pm

      Eileen, thank you so much for choosing my book for your book group! It’s wonderful to know there are people like you who support Ukraine and want to learn more about this history. Thank you!

  4. Anna Taylor on March 26, 2024 at 5:50 pm

    Dear Erin.I have very recently read your very emotionally moving book-“The Memory Keeper of Kyiv”.

    My mother was Ukrainian.She originated from Jenakijeve, near Donetsk.Aged 14 she was interned for 2 years in a prisoner of war camp -1941-1943-which was run by Italian Nazi partisans,before escaping to Italy when Italy surrendered in 1943.Her story is long and complex,but she eventually met and married my Polish father in Montefano in Italy in 1945.He was in Italy fighting on the assault of Monte Cassino.

    She never knew what happened to her 4 younger sisters and parents at the time she was taken and interned in the camp,whilst on an errand to get some bread for the family.

    She died in 1969, aged 42 years after a short illness.I was 13 years old at the time.There are so many questions I would have liked to ask her.She and my father,like Bobby (Katya) in your book,spoke very little of their terrible wartime experiences.

    I really appreciate the fact that you have written your books in order that Ukrainian history and especially the Holodomor, is not forgotten.

    I intend reading your other book,”The Lost Daughters of Ukraine”.

    from Anna Taylor-UK

    • Erin Litteken on March 26, 2024 at 10:54 pm

      Dear Anna,
      I am so sorry to hear about what your mother endured and that you lost her at such a young age—such a tragedy in every way. Though it can never compare to hearing personal stories from a loved one firsthand, I hope reading about these pieces of Ukrainian history brings you some insight into what she may have encountered. Thank you for reading and sharing your mother’s history with me. It’s an honor to hear from readers who are personally connected to these tragic parts of Ukrainian history.

  5. Gilardeau on March 29, 2024 at 2:28 am

    Bonjour Erin,
    je viens de lire ” La jeune fille de Kiev” juste après avoir vu le film ” L’ombre de Staline”. Comme beaucoup de mes proches, je ne connaissais absolument pas les faits de L’Holodomor. Je suis sorti sonné par la lecture de ce génocide organisé méthodiquement pour asservir une nation. Je constate qu’au niveau des atrocités Staline n’avait rien à envier à Hitler. Je comprends encore mieux la volonté farouche des Ukrainiens de résister encore aujourd’hui contre l envahisseur Russe et tous les moyens que les Européens doivent mettre en œuvre pour aider ce peuple. Merci beaucoup, je vais maintenant lire vos autres ouvrages et en parler autour de moi pour honorer la mémoire de toutes ces victimes.

    • Erin Litteken on April 1, 2024 at 12:27 pm

      Thank you so much for reading! Knowing my work has helped inspire you to want to learn more, honor this history, and share it with others means everything, especially now as Ukraine needs the world’s support more than ever. Thank you!

Leave a Comment