Groundbreaking Actions Contributing Toward Reconciliation
Mit Grenzueberschreitenden Aktionen zur Versoehnung Beitragen
Paulsen, Nina. "Groundbreaking Actions Contributing Toward Reconciliation." Volk auf dem Weg, January 2005, 10.
Translation from German to American English by Alex Herzog,
Historical Research Society of Germans from Russia Was Founded
Five Years Ago
The building of cultural bridges will remain one of the central
themes for the activities of the Historischer Forschungsverein der
Deustchen aus Russland [Historical Research Society of Germans from
Russia], stressed its chairman, Anton Bosch, in a reflection on
the Project of the Year, "Gedenkstaette Friedhof Archangelsk
[The Archangelsk Cemetery as Memorial]," which is dedicated
to the contributions of Germans of that region, and to the victims
of political repression during the 20th Century.
The Society's final meeting on November 20 in the Haus der Heimat
in Nuernberg also included the celebration of a minor anniversary:
Five years back, twenty like-minded people established our Society
under the motto "Our home is our history, and history is our
The meeting featured, among others, Marina Efimova, Director of
the "Regional German-Russian House" and her presentation
on the groundbreaking project for a memorial on the former Lutheran
cemetery in Archangelsk. As Marina stated, "Without the financial
support of the Nuernberg people, this project would never have happened."
She also presented a letter from Oleg Nilov, Mayor of the City of
Archangelsk, to the Mayor of Nuernberg, Dr. Ulrich May.
The Russian-German House of Archangelsk had gained further partners
in support of this project: Haus der Heimat of Nuernberg, the City
of Nuernberg, and the City of Archangelsk. Nuernberg started the
ball rolling on December 24, 2003 via a contribution of 1000 euros.
By means of several interviews on the radio and in the press concerning
the contributions of Germans ever since the founding of the city
[of Archangelsk] in 1574, and concerning the suffering and victimization
of German-Russians during the war, the energetic director succeeded
in mobilizing that city's public toward the project.
During six successive Saturdays (subbotniks) the erstwhile severely
neglected cemetery was cleaned up, and a memorial for the German-Russians
was erected. Around a thousand residents of the city -- school children,
students, soldiers, visitors of the German-Russian House, and others
participated, primarily on a a volunteer basis. The city made available
machinery and power equipment. Businesses provided construction
materials and transportation at cost. For the dedication on August
28, 2004, the City of Nuernberg was represented by Erna Malygin
of the Historical Research Society (VadW reported on this event
in its October, 2004 issue). Six tablets of the memorial carry the
permanently inscribed names of 64 families who contributed to the
development of the City, and a central memorial tablet is dedicated
to the memory of the terrible suffering of the German-Russians during
the 20th Century.
"Our task is to find a path toward reconciliation and to put
past statements into perspective," said Marina Efimova, adding
that it was particularly during the 20th Century when the Germans'
contributions and their victimization were -- through political
maneuvering -- purposely not mentioned and erased from the memories
She expressed her own hopes by saying, "I view this project
as the beginning of a beneficial cooperation between North Russia
and South Germany, as a bridge between Nuernberg and Archangelsk."
Around 12,000 Germans in the [Archangelsk] area are supposed to
have been killed during and after the war years, a statistic that
some members of the Research Society are questioning and making
a subject of further research.
As ever, the Research Society works toward popularizing the history
and culture of the German-Russian ethnic group, and its expert members
continue to research and analyze them.
The Society's contributions during the past five years since it
was founded are considerable, as seen in these publications: "Die
deutschen Kolonien in Suedrussland [German Colonies in South Russia]"
by Konrad Keller, "Die deutschen Kolonien an der Wolga [German
Colonies on the Volga]" by Johannes Kufeld, the Almanach of
2000-2001 with its historical contributions by various Society members,
"Russlanddeutsche Zeitgeschichte [Contemporary German-Russian
History]" (2002 and 2003), "Handbuch Russlanddeustche
[Handbook for German-Russians]" by Ulrich Mertens, and "Die
Deutschen in Sibirien [Germans in Siberia]" by Viktor Bruhl.
In preparation for publication is the title "Trauerbuch Odessa
[Odessa Book of Mourning]," which is dedicated to the victims
of mass repression during 1937-1938.
The Society's Calendar has been published since 2000. As Bosch
stresses, "The Calendars, with their positive representation
of our ancestors and the presentation of positive images of integration,
are our contribution toward assimilation. The main theme of the
2005 Calendar -- locating and building bridges -- is to be treated
even more deeply in the future. These calendars are selling well,
not only among German-Russian immigrants, but even among indigenous
Bosch pointed to the fact that several good examples of good research
being published privately "are going around us." Among
these is the book "Lebende Ahnen [Living Ancestors] by Gerhard
Walter, who is also a member of the Society. [Curiously, neither
Nina Paulsen nor Bosch comments why a member is publishing privately.
Tr.] In this book, the author, who was born in Germany, follows
the tracks of his father, who was born in the Molotchna area and
emigrated to Germany in 1923, all the way back to ancestors from
Baden-Wuerttemberg. Bosch commented on this book: "A powerful
work or research and an example for the way the pathways of the
German-Russians developed." This exciting family chronicle
came into being after eight long years of painstaking combing of
archives in various countries in Europe.
Bosch stressed further that in the future we ought to concentrate
strongly on topics that have been swept under the rug, relativized,
analyzed only partially or devalued by political machination. An
example might be the mass emigration from Baden-Wiuerttembeg during
the 19th Century, or perhaps the entire subject of the Warthegau
[Poland]. The whole story of banishment and exile of the 20th Century
also contains a great number of unresearched topics. And as Bosch
emphasizes, "we should also look at both sides carefully."
By staying grounded in facts and doing conscientious research, German-Russian
researchers will be able to place a few matters in the right light.
Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation
of this article.