Close Collaboration With Russia is Advantageous
for the Russian-Germans
"Close Collaboration With Russia is Advantageous for the Russian-Germans." Volk auf dem Weg, August 1994, 3-9.
At the national convention of the Landsmannschaft of the Germans
from Russia Minister President Erwin Teufel devoted a large part
of his speech to the problems of those of our countrymen who live
in the Federal Republic of Germany (see Volk auf dem Weg 7/9l p.
4 & 5.) The situation of the Germans in the CIS also received
In addition to the integration of the late resettlers we must also
take note of a lasting improvement in the condition of the German
minorities in the countries of their origin.
Our most important goal must be to support the Russian-Germans,
so that they can organize their lives autonomously. The development
of German districts in the area of Omsk and in the Altai in western
Siberia has awakened a new hope. These German districts and their
institutions, supported by Germany and Russia, are proving themselves
more and more and give the Russian-Germans a new homeland.
Together with the Federal Government, Baden-Württemberg intends
to set up a small village for Russian-Germans in the vicinity of
St. Petersburg. The agricultural products will be sold in the city,
thereby contributing to an improvement in the lives of the people.
The mayor of St. Petersburg, Mr. Sobtschak, is one of the initiators
of this plan. At the moment, the Russians are developing the timetable.
Then still this summer, the necessary infrastructure will be started.
We again and again remind the responsible parties in
Russia and in the other countries of the former Soviet Union, that
they also have a duty to care for our countrymen and that they must
make it possible for them to arrange their lives according to their
lights, to cultivate their language, their culture and their religion.
We are prepared to support them in this, insofar as one can do this
My particular thanks to the Federal Government for its persistent
support of the chosen centers of settlement. Its help, directed
to cultural, economic and agricultural goals, to the improvement
of loca1 commercial and social conditions, contributes to the improvement
of local living standards.
In the final analysis, the close cooperation of our country with
Russia also helps the Russian-Germans. Above au we wish to help
them to help themselves.
This particularly includes the help in restructuring the economy,
in the building up of small businesses by craftsmen, in vocational
training, in the realm of school and middle-school, but also for
agriculture, the protection of the environment and in the social
realm, as well as in the encouragement of cultural cooperation.
With this kind of assistance we are not only able to do development
work, but we also thereby ensure our own European future in peace
We live in a time of historic and breath-taking changes. That which
we could scarcely imagine a few years ago, though we had it always
in view, has become a reality. Germany has again achieved its political
unity. The peoples of southern and southeastern Europe have emerged
into freedom and democracy. Communism has couapsed. The division
of Europe has been overcome. The reason for this development is
not least the unbroken wiu of the people to overcome totalitarian
The strength and the endurance of the spirituarmoral values of
the free and democratic order in the countries of Western Europe
and their spreading to the East are also showing themselves.
We now have a great opportunity to write a new chapter of European
history. Let us utilize this opportunity with courage and faith
in God. Let us exclude no one.
Our goal must be to include the countries of central, eastern and
southern Europe in the European integration movement. The Germans
living there and the refugees and resettlers among us can be important
bridge builders in the cooperation of the peoples and the countries.
The most successful undertaking in post-war history, the political
integration of Europe, depends on people like you.
The German expeuees have always taken an interest in working together
towards an enduring European order. This is the valid statement
of the Stuttgart Chapter of the year 1950. The first chairman of
the Landsmannschaft of the Germans from Russia, Dr Gottlieb Leibbrandt
was one of the signers. At that time, with this charter, the German
expeuees already pledged themselves to a united Europe. In the recent
past we have taken a big step in this direction, even though a long
road stiu lies before us.
A unified Europe wiu only become a reality if it is also anchored
in the consciousness of the people. I constantly emphasize the meaning
of homeland and regions for the people in the Europe that is growing
The Christian-Western value-community is the foundation of Europe.
This naturauy also includes freedom and self-determination, human-,
minority- and national group rights. The actualization of these
values and the respect for basic democratic rights must be our goal
everywhere in Europe. Only then wiu we achieve a righteous and enduring
peace under which we cau experience a feeling of unrestricted welrbeing.
Our Homeland Evening at the National Convention
Next to the ceremony, the social evening is the festive highlight
of every one of the national conventions of our Landsmannschaft.
One can see it with Russian-German or with German-German eyes. In
Volk auf dem Weg one probably must see it with "unspoiled"
eyes. For "German-German eyes" other standards, well-known
from television and press apply…
Without exaggerating, one can say that the contributions to our
homeland evenings and to our cultural events that have distanced
themselves the most from the clichés of the gawkers, have
received the most applause among our countrymen, particularly from
the generation that was born before the end of the war. One should
therefore try to give recognition to the homeland evening as most
of our countrymen have experienced it. After au, it belonged to
au of us.
The variety of contributions
Even beforehand there was criticism, because many of the artists
thought that they were particularly well-suited for the homeland
evening. That was particularly true of the choruses, where the opinion
was expressed that by now there were good Russian-German choruses
even outside of Stuttgart. The difficulties facing the committee
of the Landsmannschaft in charge of these choices consists iu that,
that it is impossible for the volunteer workers to travel the entire
country visiting about 100 local groups to find the "best of
the best." The "old maid" then too easily remains
with the head cultural official of the Landsmannschaft, Kristina
Teppert, for whom nothing else remains than to keep the valued performers
of former cultural events and to integrate some new talent among
Magdalena Merdian, who led us through the program, is a mistress
of ceremonies very much to the tasted of our public, without snick-snack
and professional affectation, the instead with a good understanding
of the soul of the Russian-German.
The highlight of the homeland evening
Here are the opinions naturally vary somewhat. But almost without
exception one must emphasize the family ensemble, Hubert, consisting
of 19 late resettlers from Bayreuth, and to the great surprise of
au opponents of "atypical Russian-German music" the mixed
instrumental group "Iwushka," consisting of 20 musicians
under the direction of Georg Martjan. Without exaggeration, that
was a fruitful addition to better understanding of the relations
between the Germans in Russia and their neighbors of other nationalities.
Piano and Violin
These contributions are represented at our events by the youngest
generation of resettlers to which the couple, Ehard (piano) belongs.
Although their "Slavic Dances" by A. Dvorak do not belong
to a specificauy Russian-German repertory, they are never the less
welrsuited to the building of an East-West bridge. The young violinist,
Harry Schwenk, as well as Bettina and Henry Martens, received well-earned
applause for outstanding performances; who knows, perhaps one or
the other of them already has what it takes to achieve high rank.
The Stuttgart chorus under the direction of Marina Bauer is discussed
elsewhere. But there was also a children's chorus from Elmshorn
under the direction of Galina Haas that is difficult to judge after
just one performance. The children were certainly original and jolly,
and the applause was gigantic. "But,” some experts would
perhaps say…No buts!
Among these were Frau Klein and Frau Schwan from Stuttgart, as
well as Elvira Muth from Frankfurt/Oder. Au of them have previous
radio experience, some in the West, Frau Muth in the former Soviet
Union, from where she has brought along a large number of admirers,
whose hopes were directed toward encores from their singer, but
in vain. Those of the Landsmannschaft responsible for culture will
have to decide before the next homeland evening, whether the repertory
of au of the singers should be modernized or remain the same.
"There is no such thing," said one who has had some experience
in this matter.
That assertion is in error, Maria Schumm again and again demonstrates
with her own sketches on the theme resettler, "Russian-'Dutch',"
"our guys" etc. This time she offers, resolutely but without
deadly seriousness, but in dialect: "Guys, gab in 'Dutch'..."
Naturally there were many other artists present, for example a
flute player, who are not mentioned here because at the convention
there were too many stages and too few reporters. But in the past
still less was written…
Homeland evening on 6.18.1994: Flowers for the ladies. Adolf Fetsch,
Kristina Teppert, Magdalena Merdian.
Homeland evening on 6.18.1994: The children's chorus from Hamburg
made many happy.
To Odessa. searching for traces of our fathers
We were considered to be a diplomatic delegation, and our trip
was classified as a "political" trip. Anyone who had imagined
such a "political” trip by members of the Landsmannschaft
of the Germans from Russia a few years ago, would have had the soundness
of his mind questioned. However, now in May of 1994 everything had
As one would expect of a “political” delegation, there
was discussion on the trip from Bavaria through Austria and Hungary
into Ukraine: About dissension among people, about the humanitarian
aid, about today's political attitudes among our countrymen.
A particular subject was the discussion about a “report”
broadcast, in which “Volk auf dem Weg” had been considered
to be similar to publications of the radical right. Most of the
participants felt this report to be slander. However, there was
one among us, also a native-born German, who purported to be a friend
of our group of people and maintained that among our countrymen
there was a shortage of understanding of democracy. One should at
first explain to the resettlers the basics of the fundamental law
of the Federal Republic of Germany. In this manner, two differing
viewpoints were pervasive throughout the entire trip. (They, however,
were not directed at “Volk auf dem Weg,” but at the
attitude of our countrymen. Editorial comment. ) A so-called “shift
to the right” in the Landsmannschaft could not be detected.
A second theme of discussion concretely concerned the ca. 4,000
fellow Germans living in the area of Odessa: should they stay or
should they go? Should one help them?
The discussions on the bus took place without heat. The participants
in the trip, whose ages varied from approximately 20 to 50 years,
showed themselves to be tolerant in regard to all points
At the Hungarian-Ukrainian border in Chop (Tschop,) we were processed
in a very friendly manner and relatively quickly, between 10:30
and l2:30. In the customs declaration we needed only to declare
money over DM-400 and as most of us did not have such a large amount
of money with us, this line of our declaration stayed blank. However,
one was asked about weapons and, what was new to us, about radioactive
We were almost embarrassed that our tour bus was processed more
rapid1y than the so-called “minor border traffic” between
Ukraine and Hungary. On the one hand we were happy about it; on
the other hand we had a bad conscience.
At the border, through the good offices of the our trip 1eader,
in reimbursement for his year-long care of the resettlers in Freiburg,
our only native-born” German had his passport stamped in red
with the text “Tamoshnja Tisa.”
The first kilometers in Ukraine impressed us mightily. Instead
of the well-known communist slogans of the past, one occasionally
saw the exhortation to protect the local environment (“Beregite
ridny prirodu.”) Only once did we see, on the high tower of
a cement factory, as a remnant of the communist might, the old slogan
"Slawa KPSS." Apparently one coLildn't find a crane iu
order to reach as high as the saying.
The sovereignty of the new Ukraine produced town signs on which
Russian texts were pasted over with Ukrainian letters.
The so-called Carpatho-Ukraine (Sakarpatskaja Ukraina) made a good
impression on us, if one overlooks the rough roads. The stone markers
on the graves with Ukrainian inscriptions are cared for. Everywhere
on rural and village streets one sees simple freshly planed wooden
crosses, some as high as 7 meters. Everywhere we notice a kind of
renaissance of Christian belief. Even in the smallest village we
see newly-built or partially-built attractive churches, in some
places even several. When we ask where the money came from to bui1d
these churches, we hear unanimously that it all came from donations
of the members of the church and that the biggest contributors are
the old babuschkas.
The sacred buildings, usually with several silver-gray onion towers
and covered with sheets of zinc, fit harmoniously into the mountainous
landscape from Ushgorod over Mukatschewo, Stryj, Tarnopo1 as far
as Chmelnitzkij. In other towns, all the way to Odessa, we could
no longer observe similar phenomena. Beginning in Ushgorod the streets
become worse and worse, so that our modern tour bus that has already
endured quite a bit in its trips to Königsberg rocks back and
forth and left and right like a yo-yo.
On an old town-sign we read that at one time a collective farm
named "Nagirne" must have been here. Astonished, I establish
that nothing remains here of 50 years of collective farming: the
large cow barn on the hillside is empty, the tiles have been taken
off of the roof by an unseen hand, the small transformer house is
still standing, but the transformer is gone and the remains of a
Tschetese tractor lie about as rusty junk. The administration building
is empty; the windows nailed shut and covered with a tangle of barbed
We spend the night in Chmelnitzkij in the hotel "Podolia,"
a concrete building reminiscent of the last decade of the Soviet
epoch that one ca\' also see in Germany. The town itself presented
itself to us in its green summer raiment with oaks and beeches in
the front gardens of the two-story brick houses dating from the
time of the dual monarchy. The food consisted of four or five courses
and was very fatty and rich in calories. One can easily become accustomed
to it. There is no coffee, but instead a great deal of tea, black,
fruit tea or the "Odesskij," a mixture of peppermint and
dandelion. It is even palatable.
The third day of travel took us from Chmelnitzkij by way of Winniza
and Umanj on the Kiev-Odessa throughway towards our goal. The well-known
panorama from our childhood stirred our memories, and we asked ourselves:
"What would have become of us and our old homeland, if there
had been no war?"
There was little time for sightseeing on the trip. Everyone, including
the trip leader wanted to reach our goal as fast as possible. But
in a restaurant named “Hirsch," 35 kilometers from Winnize,
we found time at least to ask about the prices in Ukraine. The prices
at the counter (all in Karbowanzy) were as follows:
|1 spoonful sauerkraut
|1 kg goose sausage
|1 boiled egg
|1 bottle vodka
|1 bottle sparkling wine
According to our rate of exchange that was almost normal, but for
the saleswoman with 234,000 Karbowanzy per month, what she offered
was unaffordable. She told us that she and her husband and two children
could not have manages without their own pigs and cows.
As we were discussing the high prices we met a “lost”
son of our people, born in the Crimea in 1941, grown up in Karaganda
and at the present living in Winniza using the name of his Russian
wife. We could converse with the “German-Russian” in
German without difficulty, until he tearfully bade us good-bye.
As we came nearer to the Odessa region and saw a road sign with
the name “Perwomajskaja,” black earth covered with delicate
green plants like a carpet spread itself out to the right and left
of our bus. One saw the endless acres of lush green winter wheat
and imagined the boundless golden yellow sea of the ripe fields
of summer. This picture gave our farmers the feeling of limitlessness
of this world, a feeling of safety and freedom on God’s earth.
One who has had these feelings instilled in him in his childhood
cannot forget them even 50 years later in a western land of Cockaigne.
Tired from the difficult trip, we arrived in Odessa late in the
evening from the direction of Perwomajsk and Akschibej-Liman. Here
we made ourselves comfortable in the sanatorium, “Rossija”
in the city borough of the Arcadians. From now on we were guests
of the sanatorium, an institution for former functionaries, generals,
The stated goal of our trip, however, was information about the
mass terror of the years 1937-38. We knew that there were no families
of German colonists on the Black Sea that had lost no close relatives
at that time. No wound dating from our prewar history pains as much
as this one.
At that time there was no German settlement that was not affected
by this terror, but the ones affected the most were the Germans
of the city and area of Odessa. Many members of our older generation
have been waiting for almost 60 years for the working-up of this
part of their history. This chapter of German and Russian history
can only be minimally found in the files of the former NKWD. Hundreds
of the victims’ relatives wrote to the officials of Odessa
during the years between the 50’s to 80’s, trying to
find out something about those people of who they did not know anything
definite, but suspected the worst.
The whole extent of the tragedy is more and more uncovered, since
in Odessa itself, a branch of the organization “Memorial”
started by Andrei Sacharov had opened. Its director is Nicholai
Nikolaievitch Danilov, who has already been introduced to the readers
of Volk auf dem Weg many times.
After the publication of the first names of executed [shot] Germans
in the “Neues Leben” of Moscow as well as in Volk auf
dem Weg and in the Heimatbuch [homeland book] 1990/91 of our Landsmannschaft
many of our countrymen recognized their relatives. The terse information
(number, name, year of birth and date of execution [by firing squad]
in Odessa) is naturally not sufficient for exact research. According
to our information, the more than 2,000 names of executed Germans
have been publicly named, and they originated from an institute
from murder: the Odessa Prison. As “Memorial” informed
us, until now only 40% of all the cases of those arrested have been
We want to have the entire tragedy of our countrymen funded and
thoroughly investigated. For this we have received a green light
from the national head of the Landsmannschaft. Unfortunately the
Landsmannschaft does not have the means to finance such a research
effort, at least not at this time.
On May 19, 1994, Mr. Danilow was at our disposal for the whole
day. Every participant in the trip had the opportunity to inform
himself privately about the fate of his executed relatives. The
fate of 37 victims could be spontaneously reconstructed.
(To be continued in the next issue.)
Reprinted with permission of Volk auf dem Weg.