Professor Dr. H.C. Richard Walth Turns 80; a Tribute by his Sons, Arno and Klaus-Uwe
Professor Dr. H.C. Richard Walth Wurde 80; Widmung von Seinen Soehnen
Walth, Arno, and Klaus-Uwe Walth. "Professor Dr. H.C. Richard Walth Turns 80; a Tribute by his Sons." Volk auf dem Weg, March 2004, 55.
Translation from German to English by Alex Herzog,
Prof. Richard Walth
(Translator's Note: "Dr. h. c." means "doctor honoris
causa," i.e., an honoray doctorate. With my brother, Prof.
Dr. Michael Herzog, I am the co-translator of his Flotsam book and,
from working with Richard Walth, I know that he owns a Ph.D. in
what we could call Political Science, plus an honorary degree from
a university in the former Soviet Union. A.H.)
Paying special note to this event seems to us to be of special
significance, for one because the person celebrating this birthday
was born in Russia and is thus an important contemporary witness,
having worked for the Landsmannschaft for many years, and for another,
also of course because we are his sons.
Prof. Dr. h. c. Richard Walth was born on January 24, 1924 in the
German settlement of Neu-Glueckstal near Odessa. After attending
the pedagogical institutes in Selz/Odessa and in Lutbrandau/Wartheland
[Poland], he, as were all male LBA students [Lehrerbildungsanstalt
= Teacher's Training, or Pedagogical, Institute], was inducted into
[German] military service. After receiving a very serious injury
he was taken to a Soviet POW hospital in Bratislava/Slovakia. Since
this hospital was under the supervision of the Red Cross, only those
who were healed of their injuries and capable of working were allowed
to be deported to the Soviet Union. Those with major injuries and
unable to work were released to the German border.
The celebrant was thus able to join his parents in Bitterfeld,
where after only three evenings, his father, in his Christian-Pietist
manner, reminded him of his life's purpose and responsibilities:
"You have been saved by the Good Lord, so you must certainly
realize that you now need to prove yourself. Always remember that
any work performed with enjoyment will always bring double rewards."
That was one clear piece of instruction that the celebrant would
He was also driven by his desire to demonstrate that even someone
with serious injury could still accomplish a great deal. And so
it came about that -- at the time he was in the former Eastern Zone
-- he dedicated himself to matters of Germans from Russia. Together
with this work, and due to the fact that he was able to return to
his chosen profession [teaching], his feeling of self-esteem and
even his physical condition improved, prompting him to attend the
University at Leipzig to study for the formal examination as Interpreter
for German-Russian. Not long after that, the University called to
offer him a special teaching contract. The special aspect meant
on the one hand that, in addition to performing his teaching duties,
he explained and demonstrated at various conferences the textbook
for the Russian language, a newly introduced compulsory subject;
and on the other hand, that he and two other instructors were obligated
to provide evening instruction in the German language to high-ranking
Soviet military officers. He enjoyed this work, but in time things
became dangerous enough for him to persuade himself to cross over
to the West.
There the celebrant once again engaged himself in work for his
countrymen, serving for many years as local and county chair for
the Cologne chapters and as chair of the Landsmannschaft's North
Rhein-Westfalia State organization,as well as interim chair of the
Society's Cultural Council. His conferences, on behalf of the University
of Bonn, toward improving the integration of his countrymen, as
well as his books "Auf der Suche nach Heimat - Die Russlanddeutschen
[In Search of a Homeland -the Germans from Russia]," "Neu-Glueckstal
im Gebiet Odessa - Eine typische Siedlung der Russlanddeutschen
[Neu-Gleuckstal near Odessa - a Typical German-Russian Settlement]"
and "Strandgut der Weltgeschichte - Die Russlanddeutschen zwischen
Stalin und Hitler [Flotsam of World History - the Germans from Russia
between Stalin and Hitler]" enjoyed great approval here, in
the US, and in the Confederation of Russian States. For that reason
these books are available in the original German and in Russian
and English translation.
The celebrant has especially enjoyed the recognition he has received
from the Landsmannschaft via its Golden Pin of Merit as well as
from the Federal Government, which granted him its Cross of Special
Merit on November 19, 1998. Today, in retirement, he is once again
active for his Germans from Russia -- he plans, organizes and oversees
an exchange program for students in universities in the West and
in the East.
On behalf of his entire family, we wish him good health and continued
joy in his work,
Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation
of this article.