|Odessa – Straszburg
– Tiraspol After 45 Years
Reinhardt, Father Eugen. "Odessa – Straszburg – Tiraspol After 45 Years." Volk auf dem Weg, April 1991.
Translation from German to English by Alma Herman
Prof. Dr. Johannes Florian Müller once told me that as a young
priest from Rumania he was sent to the Catholic parishes in the
Ukraine in 1941. At that time all priests were displaced and he,
together with another priest, was to try to locate these orphaned
parishes. On Christmas Eve he came to Straszburg. He was amazed
beyond measure how beautifully the church was decorated and how
wonderful it was to hear the people sing German Christmas songs.
While visiting the houses of birth, I suddenly understood the whole
problem of efforts to create a Wolga Republic, especially with the
Germans being scattered over all of Russia.
When the Russian, who for more than 40 years had lived in what
was once our house, realized that we had come from Germany and wanted
to see our parental home, he was deadly shocked. We solemnly declared
several times that we wanted nothing and were in no way making demands
on him. We only wanted to see the house where we were born. In spite
of it all, he refused to let us enter the house. He was friendly,
but felt insecure.
Fear of, and hate for the Germans ruled in most parts of the USSR.
The hate is fomented by the fear that the Germans could perhaps
return to drive the Russians out. Religious fanaticism is another
reason for the hatred besides the nationalistic awareness and mutual
antagonism toward all Germans in Russia. They are still considered
war criminals of Hitler’s Reich. Ten years of hate propaganda
cannot be erased overnight.
One of the two German women was related to us. Unaware of this
we were surprised to see a photo of our mother on a table. The woman
could hardly believe that we had come from Germany with a POW (prisoner
of war). Again and again she stammered, “Did you come from
the Reich?” She was so excited and confused that we feared
for her heart because she was at least 83 years old. She still spoke
fluent German in our dialect. We had long and interesting talks.
She kept repeating, “The Russians are lazy. They steal, and
drink too much Vodka; they are also quite liberal with women.”
The Vodka drinking was obvious everyday. A bottle was quickly emptied.
Two people could easily master one bottle per meal. They had a cute
way of quickly tipping and tilting the glass. Vodka is expensive
under Russian conditions. But since they can buy very little else,
enough rubles are left for the Vodka. Even the old babushkas were
used in case of a spill.
One night there was a big fight at a hotel in Odessa. Weddings
were celebrated nearly every evening, sometimes several at a time
in the hotel restaurant. Things would get loud and rowdy. One evening
while the guests were out in the street, things began to happen.
There was a great mix up! The groom was lying on the ground being
beat upon; the bride in her flowing gown stood by the hotel door
crying bitterly. The two male wedding guests continued to beat on
each other like one can only see in classic westerns. The most unusual
thing about it was that the militia was called and after they arrived
they just watched the fighting for a while. At last they intervened
and the fighting bums separated in haste.
Our appreciation is extended to Alma Herman for translation of this article.