Born in Neu-Baden, Odessa
Geboren in Neu-Baden, Odessa
By Eva Kiefer
Heimatbuch 2001/2002, Landsmannschaft
der Deutschen aus Russland, Stuttgart, Germany, Pages 231-233
Translation from German to English by Alex
Herzog, Boulder, Colorado
About the Author
Eva Kiefer was born on September 9, 1909, in Neu-Baden,
Odessa, and died on March 12, 1994, in Koblenz-Guells. We received
this article from her son Peter Kiefer, who in his office as chair
of the local organization in Koblenz continues to be active in
the Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland.
My ancestors go directly back to Schwabia, those
of my husband to the area of Weissenburg in North Alsace. At the
beginning of the 19th century they settled as farmers in the area
near Odessa. In March of 1869, when my father Wendelin Schlosser
was merely six weeks old, he moved with his parents from Baden
in Ukraine further north into the steppes, where a new settlement
with the name Neu-Baden had been founded. (At the time the Baden
settlement had existed for 50 years on the Kutchurgan-Limanski,
a tributary to the Dnjestr River.) The South-Ukrainian Black Sea
steppe was settled quite sparsely; there were few Russian villages
and baronial estates, i.e., farms of the Russian agricultural
nobility. Thus it was relatively easy to move out of the mother
colonies and establish daughter colonies.
Customs and mores from the old home, the mother
tongue and religion were carefully maintained and preserved. There
was hardly any mixing, by marriage or otherwise. The German and
Russian villages kept to themselves and so did the Catholic and
Evangelical Lutheran ones. That is why I still speak the dialect
preserved by my ancestors. It consists of components from a variety
of dialects that were brought together from Mother's and Father's
sides and passed on within the family and villages.
In my village school I had been a good student and
was able to continue to one further stage of schooling. However,
1917 brought about not only the Soviet October Revolution and
thereby the end of the Tsarist regime, but also the forceful transformation
of political, economical and spiritual life, reaching even as
far as the German settlement areas.
For years my father had been village mayor and,
among other things, made sure that the position of village teacher
was filled every year. After the regional administration had failed
to approve a teacher for the autumn of 1921 to spring of 1922,
he publicly spoke up at a community council meeting and dared
to voice his doubts about the Soviet policy on schools. He was
imprisoned for four months, beaten half to death, and in September
died of complications from his mistreatment.
When the Bolsheviks had taken up power and had more
or less established their Soviet system, all private property,
particularly privately owned land, was put under state control.
Many farmers were persecuted as "kulaks" and
In 1930 I married into the village of Alexanderfeld,
but within my church community. Only two years later my husband
Ludwig was condemned as the son of a kulak and banned
for four years to a work camp. His banishment took him to the
estuary region of the Petchora River (Barent Lake), to work in
the woods felling trees and then in the infamous coal mining area
of Vorkuta. Two of his brothers were condemned to work camps in
1938 and were lost without trace. Subsequent to my husband's return
-- our first two children had both died at about two years of
age -- we were forced to make a living essentially as illegals
(lacking residence and work permits).
Following the occupation of parts of Ukraine by
the German Army we were able to return in 1942 to our property
in Alexanderfeld, which by now was quite dilapidated. Being at
home we were now able to take care of ourselves, at least making
sure that hunger, our worst evil to that point, became a thing
of the past. Gradually and haltingly, the village was able to
revive cultural aspects of life, including church services, school,
and feasts such as weddings and consecration of the church.
In the spring of 1944, our German villages began
to be evacuated ahead of the approaching front. On two huge treks
we were moved in a northwesterly, upriver direction along the
Danube and resettled in the Warthegau, reaching the county of
Wollstein southwest of Posen [today called Poznan]. Families on
the trek traveled on via horse-drawn wagons that, except for seating
for children and the elderly, there was hardly any room on them
for our possessions. And after three months of arduous trudging
on foot and on muddy roads with frequent rainfall, we received
an order from the accompanying Wehrmacht soldiers. The wagons
and animals were to be left at a collection center, and the rest
of the transport toward the Warthegau would be on freight train.
In the Warthegau, Polish residents were simply driven from their
properties to provide living space for the "resettlers."
January of 1945 then brought the further order for everyone to
evacuate the Warthegau to move on westward toward the "Old
Together with my children Peter, Anton, Emma and
Hans, I took flight via Bentschen toward Germany; my husband had
been temporarily inducted to dig trenches and therefore was not
with us at the time. However, he was able to locate us along the
path of our far-flung flight, near Berlin and Jueterbog. On February
25, 1945, I gave birth to our son Wendelin in the Jueterbog hospital.
Only eight days following the birth we continued further westward.
We reached Himbergen west of the Elbe; my siblings, along with
their families, remained on the eastern side of the Elbe.
In accordance with the Allied agreements of Yalta
and Potsdam, the Soviet Union had the right to take back their
prisoners of war nationals and any civilian nationals. Commissioners
of the Red Army searched for Russian citizens in all regions controlled
by the Allied troops. Transport trains from collecting camps were
put together and took them eastward.
It was from one of these collection camps, though
guarded by Soviet soldiers, that we successfully escaped to Hannover
in the fall of 1945. We were registered as refugees from Poland
in order to avoid danger of being deported again.
According to the provisions of a quota agreement
covering the occupied zones, we came to the Rhineland-Palatinate
area in 1950. In the agricultural part of the county of Koblenz
our family of nine, including my mother, were given two rooms
to live in. In 1960, taking advantage of a loan provided by a
law granting financial compensation for losses during the war,
we were able to move into a house we had built.
And this is how my siblings fared:
-- Agatha, sister, b. 1897, died in 1974 in Karaganda,
Kazakhstan. Married to Wendelin Leopoldus, who was "resettled"
1930-1936, arrested in 1938 and eventually disappeared without
-- Rochus, brother, b. 1899, condemned in 1945 to
20 years of work camp and banished to the Urals. Settled in Karaganda
following the general amnesty of 1955. Immigrated to Vancouver,
Canada, in 1962 along with wife and children. Died 1973.
-- Valentin, brother, b. 1901, died in Siberia in
-- Albina, sister, b. 1903, died 1964 in Koblenz.
-- Barbara, sister, b. 1906, died 1962 in Koblenz.
-- Antonius, brother, b. 1911. Severely wounded
as soldier of the German Army, assumed to have died in a Hungarian
-- Ida, sister, b. 1913. Deported from a collection
camp east of the Elbe to the Soviet Union in 1945. Condemned to
20 years of work camp in the Urals, settled in Karaganda in 1955
following general amnesty. Immigrated with her only daughter to
West Germany in 1982 and currently lives in Wolfsburg. Her husband
Michael Leibhan starved to death in 1939.
Of my husband’s six brothers, he himself died
in Germany in 1973, two had been banished to a work camp in 1938
and disappeared forever. A younger brother was a German soldier
and captured by American forces; in 1976 his wife and three children
were permitted to emigrate from Kazakhstan to join him. Two younger
brothers still live with their families in Central Asia, and another
younger brother immigrated to West Germany along with wife and
son from Aktyubinsk, Kazakhstan, in 1989 at the age of 79. My
mother-in-law, Katharina Kiefer, nee Krafft, was taken to the
East from a collection camp near Teichrode, immediately condemned
and later given amnesty. She died in 1972 in Aktyubinsk.
Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for
translation of this article.