The Large, Beautiful Village of Seelmann-Rovnoye
on the Volga
Das Grosse, Schoene Dorf Seelmann-Rownoje an der Wolga
Laikam, Raimund. "The Large, Beautiful Village of Seelmann-Rovnoye on the Volga." Volk auf dem Weg, April 2007, 25.
This translation from the original German text to American
English is provided by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado
Seelmann was established in 1767 by immigrants from Germany
on the upper left shore of the Volga.
At the onset of World War I the village had 14 streets, a population
of over 12,000 souls, and more than 3,000 farm estates. By far most
of the residents were German Catholics; only two percent were Lutherans
and another two percent were Russians.
The World War, the Civil Wars, and the famine of 1921 - 1922 made
the village smaller by three streets, so that during my time there
were only eleven streets left. From the main street, which divided
the village into an upper and a lower village, there was merely
one road leading to the Volga River.
Near Seelmann the Volga forms a branch of the river that is called
Saton; it had two sand islands that were grown over with grazing
pasture. During the 1930s, Volga sailors would stop at Seelmann.
Subsequently the Saton became too shallow, causing ships to bypass
the stop. Today there is no longer a part of the Volga at Seelmann.
The dam at Volgograd caused a small lake to be formed there.
In 1982, when my wife and I visited our home village, we found
it to be deserted, in ruins, seedy and dirty - and that only 41
years after our deportation from the beautiful village.
Editor's Note: The author will celebrate his 92nd birthday
on April 29 (congratulations!) and would be pleased to receive letters
or calls from former residents of his village of Seelmann. Address:
Raimund Laikam, Nordstr. 6, 31028 Gronau-Leine; Tel: 05182-51146.
The farm estate
of Leo Laikam, father of Raimund Laikam. A typical place:
house, baking oven, feeding barn, pigs' sty, two stables,
a barn in front of the backyard and grainary.
The beautiful Catholic
church in Seelmann. It was built between 1904 and 1906 and
was furnished with an organ with 1,000 pipes. The church was
torn down in 1939.
The Catholic chapel
at the cemetery was built at the same time and is said to
be standing to this date. When something was especially beautiful,
people in Seelmann would say that "it is as beautiful
as in the chapel."
Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation
of this article.