I Look Forward to new Surprises
Ich Freue Mich auf Neue Ueberraschungen
Riss, Hilda. "I Look Forward to new Surprises." Volk auf dem Weg, March 2007, 11.
This translation from the original German text to American
English is provided by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado
NOTE: This article also deals with the Russlanddeutschen
Bundestreffen in Wiesbaden, Germany for May 26, 2007!
May 26 of this year the 29th Bundestreffen of Germans from Russia
will take place in Hesse's Wiesbaden. During the more than eleven
years I have been living in Germany, this will be my fifth Bundestreffen.
The previous four (1986, 1998, 2001, and 2004) in Stuttgart and
Karlsruhe were also fulfilling highlights of my life, and with regard
to the convention in Wiesbaden, I look forward to ever new surprises.
I came to Germany when I was already at retirement age, too late
for getting into a new career, even as an experienced scientist
in the field of biology. So I looked for an area of activity that
today fulfills my life and makes it worthwhile, namely, historical
research and, with special fascination, with the history of Crimea-Germans
- I was born there in 1935. I wrote the book "Die Krim ist
unsere Heimat [Crimea is our Home]" (in Russian), which deals
with the history of the Crimea-Germans, beginning with settlements
in Crimea to documents on the deportation to reports by contemporary
witnesses. Furthermore, also part of the content is a list of 1,150
families who in 1941 were deported to 440 locales in the then Soviet
Numerous Crimea-Germans already know me fairly well by now. Since
I've been working, over ten years now, on a book of memories of
Crimea-Germans, many have helped me with putting together an address
list with around 1,000 names. During the past few years I have visited
Crimea eleven times and have undertaken research in archives and
libraries. I have visited former German colonies - some no longer
exist, were renamed, or have altogether disappeared from the face
of the earth. In 2004 I participated in the scientific conference
"History of the German Colonists in Crimea" and was presented
with a medal for special contributions to the development of the
German Diaspora in Crimea. In 2005 I attended the grand celebrations
of the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Zuerichtal colony
(today called "Solotoye pole").
Particularly after the most recent book [appeared], many readers
called me to ask for help in looking for their roots. In conversation
I often find that many are not aware that since 1950 they have had
a Landsmannschaft of Germans from Russia, which represents their
interests and is a conversational partner for the entire ethnic
group, also that there are the periodical "Volk auf dem Weg"
and the "Heimatbuch" [series], all of which contain a
plethora of cultural-historical information.
For me, too, the first Bundestreffen was a surprising discovery.
For tens of years I have been active in science, in which German-Russians,
for well-known reasons, were represented rather rarely, especially
in my generation. Then, experiencing my first Bundestreffen, I was
overwhelmed by the tremendous mass (about 20,000) of Germans from
the former Soviet Union.
At that time I had a feeling that is difficult to describe: in
many ways, and often, attempts had been made to extinguish our ethnic
group, but we survived, are still around, and remain a powerful
group. During the meeting of Crimea-Germans there were also guests
from the United States, and I met an American woman by the name
of Riss. Her ancestors had emigrated to America in 1898. She did
not speak German, but she had a lively interest in her roots in
the faraway home of her ancestors.
Every Bundestreffen is full of surprises: unexpected meetings,
seeing old schoolmates, acquaintances or former village neighbors
- and all that during a single day!
For this May 26 I invite all Crimea-Germans, now for the second
time, for a "round table" where we can exchange information,
memories and opinions. We can get acquainted and keep up contacts.
And it may happen that together we will write the history of Crimea-Germans,
which still contains a lot of unknowns. That can be done only in
united fashion, and we owe that to our ancestors. The history of
Crimea-Germans, and those who helped shape it and characterize it,
must not be forgotten. We owe that also to our future generations.
Personally, I would love to converse with like-minded folks about
my plans and projects. And certainly, photo opportunities will not
be lacking. Once scattered in all directions, in a few months we
will be able to get together again. Anyone with interesting suggestions
for the Bundestreffen should please contact me by telephone or by
Tel. fax: 0911-422454 [from the US; replace the leading zero with
Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation
of this article.