|Stations of a Life: Volga - Siberia - Kazakhstan
- Wolga - Germany
Lebensstationen: Wolga - Sibierien - Kasachstan - Wolga
Tietz, Ella. "Stations of a Life: Volga – Siberia – Kasakhstan – Wolga – Germany." Volk auf dem Weg, July 2006, 29-30.
Translation from the original German-language text
to American English by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado
Ella Tietz, nee Trippel, who was born in 1939 in Marxstadt in the
Volga-German ASSR, reports as follows on the stories of her parents,
siblings, and family:
My parents, Gustav add Maria Tippel, who had six children, were
Marxstadt. My grandfathers Peter Trippel and Karl Resner were merchants
the Revolution and at times sold grain in the Volga region. As early
during Lenin's time, everything they had was taken from them, and
things got even worse. Grandfather Resner and my parents' brothers
arrested and shot by the NKVD.
In 1938 my parents built a house. Father worked on the shores of
at an "elevator," mother took care of us six children
and had her hands full
with the house and the garden as well.
At the onset of the German-Soviet war in 1941, my parents and we
were denounced as enemies of the people and as spies. We were forced
house and home and were dragged off to Siberia. One could say that
chased away like dogs.
My parents and all of us children were taken to Engels by wagon
then loaded into cattle cars and transported away by train. Half
hungry, we reached the Kemerovo region, where we were put up in
houses and barracks.
My mother would often tell us that among the Germans in the Soviet
there was a constant and great fear, and that all were feeling that
world hated them. We constantly heard the nasty word "fascists"
hurled at us,
but were not able to complain to anyone. One solace for us was our
Lord. God's hand was resting on us, and that gave us strength and
During January of 1942, my father and four siblings were dragged
the family and taken to a forced-labor camp. Mother remained behind
six children. After a while she worked in the collective farm. My
siblings, only twelve and nine years of age, battled hunger by going
the villages. My other two brothers, eight and five years old, had
baby-sit me -- I was three years old at the time -- and our youngest,
aged one and
a half years. Hunger and deprivation were a constant companion,
at one time
causing mother to trade her beautiful long hair for a bucketful
Our lives had indeed been destroyed.
At the time, father and many other German men were forced to work
quarry within a forced-labor camp. By nature, father was a courageous
never complained. But when he returned from the work camp, he was
just skin and
bones. Often, with tears in his eyes, he would tell us, "Things
terrible in the work camp. We were treated worse than animals. Many
people ended up under the ground. It was a terrible time, with nothing
terror." At the time of father's return, the two youngest of
us siblings were
experiencing swelling bodies and had hardly enough strength to walk.
After the war three more children were born to our family.
Like all other Germans, we were subject to the NKVD's so-called
"Commandature" [a military command reporting structure
specially designated for
There was no longer any hope of being able to return to our original
village, so my parents decided to start a new life at our current
In 1956, they and we children built a house for ourselves. At the
time, children were working by age 10, in the garden, in the forest,
and in the fields. During the summer we worked very hard, and during
winter we attended school. I was able to complete eight grades,
and at age 18 I was able to take a job and receive further training,
so I moved to the city. I started out as a plasterer and finished
the 9th and 10th grade at night school. It was a difficult time
for me, living in cold barracks without heat.
But I was determined to get onto my own two feet. After completing
grade I started training in sales and worked as a managing salesperson.
my parents and siblings moved to the Alma-Ata region in Kazakhstan.
In 1963, Johann Tietz and I were married. My husband was born in
Eigenfeld/Ukraine, in 1943 had reached Germany with his family,
where his father had
been inducted into the German Wehrmacht. However, in 1945 they were
Together my husband and I raised two daughters. During those years
as a saleswoman, as a manager in a business, and as a director of
kindergarten. Later I completed correspondence studies. My husband
at first worked
as a demolition expert, then as a tractorist, and as an agricultural
also finishing correspondence studies.
To accomplish all these things was certainly not easy. But after
difficult postwar years we were very pleased to have our freedom.
Between 1976 and 1979 two of my siblings and their families emigrated
Germany. There was a lot of talk at that time about the restoration
Volga region's autonomy, and in our hearts there was a secret wish
to be able to
return to the Volga and feel at home again. Therfore in 1979 my
sister and I and our families decided to move to Marxstadt on the
So after 38 years we were back on our original soil, the place
parents' and their children's cradles had stood. My heart harbored
a mixture of
warmth and sadness. The homes of our grandparents, parents and other
relatives were still standing, but they were occupied by strangers.
We were again faced with the task of making yet another new life
ourselves and with the possibly greatest optimism. Some of the locals
friendly, but others were quite aggressive, especially those who
had moved into the
former homes of Germans. Perhaps they feared that we would demand
to get our
homes back, but we had no such intentions.
By our work we were able to demonstrate what kind of people we
were and what
we might be able to achieve. I was hired as a "Tovarovod"
but with all the nationalities in the area it was not easy to get
done. I can still remember how the female director of the "Univermag"
introduced me to the sales personnel as their administrator. Suddenly
I heard one
of them saying out loud, "Who is this woman with such a weird
name? Titz -
Ella - and Gustavna to boot!?" Many laughed about this comment,
and I was
Despite all obstacles, I engaged my work with diligence, courage,
patience. I even managed to attain the position of managing director
business and, eventually, in 1988, I received a medal from Moscow
for my good work.
My husband was also rewarded repeatedly for his work as an engineer.
My sister was also hired as a saleswoman in the same business,
and later as
a director. She also finished correspondence studies. For her good
was honored with a plaque carrying her picture. Her husband worked
truck and bus driver and thereby also attained a good reputation.
following conclusion of their 10th-grade education, entered training
office manager and kindergarten teacher, respectively.
Toward the end of the 1970's, a very dedicated Eleonore Herdt was
collecting signatures for the restoration of the autonomous German
Volga Republic. In 1978, these signatures were taken to Moscow,
and the answer was relayed to the regional government, after which
the local residents became even more hostile toward us, and the
propaganda and the hate directed toward Germans gained even more
strength. In the face of all this, all hopes for renewed German
autonomy, despite the fact that our nation could easily have lived
peacefully next to others, vanished.
|Ella Tietz with sister
and daughter in front of parents' home
It was for all these reasons that we decided in 1989 to emigrate
My husband and I had reached the age of 50 by now, so we were aware
would not be easy for us to find jobs. However, we used every opportunity
for getting work.
Now we are pensioners and are taking care of two grandmothers in
And after all these years we have come to understand that God's
always with us and continues to remain with us. Our children's lives
of our six grandchildren, all of whom were born in Germany, continue
hopefully forever in peace.
Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation
of this article.