|You Can't Banish Your
"Heimat" From Your Mind
Man Kann die Heimat Nicht aus dem Menschen
Paulsen, Nina. "You Can't Banish Your "Heimat" From Your Mind." Volk auf dem Weg, March 2008, 40-41.
This translation from the original German-language
text to American English is provided by Alex Herzog,
Preserving the History of the old “Heimat”
-- a Job for Generations of the Mack Family
The two titles
“Erinnerungen an die deutschen Kolonien
des Grossliebentaler Rayons bei Odessa”370
pages, with numerous photos, priced at 23
"Zwischen Moldau und Ukraine. Erinnerungen
an die deutschen Kolonien im Gleuckstaler
Gebiet," 160 pages, with numerous photos,
priced at 18 Euros
May be ordered from: Eduard Mack, tel, 011-49-751-15861;
Elvira and Ernst Schock, tel. 011-49-751-24172,
or Walter Schock, tel. 011-49-07131-167929.
"You can banish the person from his “Heimat,”
but you can't banish his “Heimat“ from
him." Eduard Mack of Ravensburg uses these words
to introduce his book Erinnerungen an die deutschen
Kolonien des Grossliebentaler Rayons bei Odessa.
The former teacher from Freudental, with the support
of his family, has re-published this book as well
as a second one, Zwischen Moldau und Ukraine.
Erinnerungen an die deutschen Kolonien im Gleuckstaler
Gebiet. Both publications offer an insightful
look into life in the German colonies in the Grossliebental
and Gleuckstal areas, beginning with the founding
and settlement times, to life aspects such as church,
school, work, customs and more, to repression, persecution
and banishment during and after World War II, and
into the situation of the former German colonies fifty
years after the War.
Their fateful past has left many members of the elder
generations in an anxious and restless state of mind.
And so, being part of them, Eduard Mack has, with
these two books, written straight from his soul, about
the trauma of losing one's home.
After fifty years I revisited my old home and took
with me a clump of soil from my home village. This
soil is fertile with the joys and hopes, sorrows and
sweat, with denunciation, abasement and parting. That
small clump of soil I held in my hand, the pain and
the grief, but also the pride of my countrymen inspired
me to write this book," one reads in the introduction
to the Grossliebental publication.
Eduard Mack was born in 1918 in Alexanderhilf, and
his wife Ottilie in 1917 in Kleinliebental. These
two Black Sea Germans became acquainted while teaching
at the school in Freudental in the Grossliebental
area, and they married in 1939.
Their young happiness did not last long. "Ten
years of our marriage need to be disregarded,"
says Eduard Mack, for that is how long they were soon
separated. War, escape to Germany and subsequent banishment
tore the family asunder.
and Eduard Mack with daughters Elvira (right)
Following escape into the ”Warthegau“
(1844), Eduard Mack was drafted in to the German ”Wehrmacht“,
and in 1945 he became a prisoner of war and was sentenced
to ten years' imprisonment in the banishment camp
at Ivdel-Lag in the northern Urals. Meanwhile, Ottilie,
little Elvira and mother-in-law were dragged off from
Potsdam to the Tajikistan cotton plantations. Only
through a happenstance and with some help from her
countrymen, after three years of uncertainty, did
Ottilie finally learn that her husband was alive,
and after ten years, despite many impediments, they
were finally reunited.
As always, the couple kept in contact with many friends,
relatives, neighbors, former students and colleagues
scattered all over the world. And the result is a
rich picture of the German colonies in South Russia,
including a plethora of photos, not only from the
memories of Eduard Mack, but also from numerous contemporary
witnesses who made available documents, photos and
remembrances. Of course, in the background of this
remarkable project there are years of deliberate research
efforts and the support of the entire family.
The Macks have been living in Germany since 1990.
Most of the family resides in the Ravensburg area,
and they tend to stick together closely, in good times
and bad ones. From the times in the camps, Eduard
Mack carried the basic tenet of always remaining human.
In Germany he at last found the opportunity to realize
a long-time dream, that is, to write about the history
of the German-Russians in the Grossliebental colonies.
In time this project gradually became a task for the
entire family. Daughters Elvira and Nelli did a lot
of editing and correcting of content, and grandson
Walter Schock took over the processing of photos and
the formatting of the book.
"Not rarely do we get calls from young people
who wish to know more about the history of their grandparents
who are already dead, and about whom the parents told
little or nothing at all," reports daughter Nelli,
who works for a bank and is a dedicated musician.
Because there were constant inquiries by countrymen,
and even from native citizens who had seen references
to the book, the family decided to republish both
books. And because the first edition had been met
with good response - not only in Germany, but also
in the US, in Canada and in Switzerland - many countrymen
came forth with memories and documents, some of which
found their way into the second editions.
These publications also provided other powerful impacts.
When Eduard Mack learned that the former German villages
of Grossliebental and Alexanderhilf were to celebrate
the 200th anniversaries of their founding (2003 and
2005, respectively), he proposed to Alexei Kotoich,
community chairman and former school principal of
Freiudental (which today is called Mirnoye) a commemoration
fo the 200th anniversary of settlement (1806-1807).
"If you'll help us," was the reply from
And so the entire family went into action. Daughter
Elvira, a doctor, translated into Russian various
materials from the book on the history of Freudental,
and an extensive folder containing photocopies and
other contemporary matter was prepared. Finally, in
October of 2007 there was not only the celebration
of presenting a memorial for the German colonists
of Freudental, but in addition a cornerstone was laid
for a museum on the village's history.
Our apprecation is extended
to Alex Herzog for translation of this article.