|Georg Hildebrandt Survived 17 Soviet Camps and Reached
the age of 95 on June 27!
Georg Hildebrandt Ueberlebte 17 Sowietische Lager - und
Wurde am 27. Juni 95 Jahre!
"Georg Hildebrandt Survived 17 Soviet Camps and Reached the age of 95 on June 27!" Volk auf dem Weg, July 2006, 34.
Translation from German to English by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado
|Georg Hildebrandt, whose
marriage was childless, with his best girl friends of three
generations, at the Luise Ebert Senior Center in Heidelberg,
shown here following the presentation of the Federal Cross of
Merit on June 27, 2003 (l. to r.: Laura Wiens, Georg Hildebrandt,
Marlis Lowka,Tamara Wiens)
In the past our readers have offered several different German names
for the Russian word "Trudarmiya." They range from the
literal translation, "Work Army," to "Death Camp."
For example, the NKVD camp at Krasnoturyinsk has most often been
dubbed "Extermination Camp."
The commemorative book ("Kniga pamyati") of the Internationaler
Deutscher Kulturverband [International German Cultural Association],
of an average number of inmates of 10,200, it lists the last names,
first names, father's names, places of birth, birth and death dates
of 3,461 German-Russians who died at Krasnoturyinsk during the wear
years, most of them in 1942 and 1943.
The historian Hilda Riss, in her investigation into the fate of
her countrymen, the Crimea-Germans, goes even further. In a contribution
to the upcoming Heimatbuch (2007) of our Landsmannschaft, she documents
the fact that of the 405 Germans, who in August of 1941, had been
exiled from the Crimea to the Sverdlovsk region in the Urals, 49
men were taken to the camp at Krasnoturyinsk, of whom only one,
Eduard Widmann, born in 1824 in Neusatz/Crimea, actually survived.
Another survivor is the Donetz-German Georg Hildebrandt, who since
been living in Heidelberg and had made painful acquaintance not
Krasnoturyinsk, but during the course of 23 years of Stalinism had
aquatinted with 17 camps between Ukraine and the Far East. While
in 1942, he was also sentenced to three years and, in 1947, to an
5 years in prison.
Georg was born Isaak Hildebrandt on July 19, 1911 [slight mix-up
birth date with the date of his award; Tr.], the son of well-to-do
Kontratyevka in the Donetz region. The change of his first name,
managed to make in Germany, is a story in itself. He had simply
grown tired of
nasty neighbors' snide remarks concerning his biblical name of Isaak
quickly decided to change it to that of his father instead.
In the following paragraphs, Georg Hildebrandt describes the stages
life, here exclusively for "Volk auf dem Weg."
"Following the completion of a central school I worked on
my father's farm.
In the fall of 1929 we were dispossessed, and during March, 1930,
were arrested, and the women and children were taken by militia
to a Russian
village. I escaped, for the first time, and took a correspondence
technical drawing in Leningrad. During the fall of 1931 I escaped
second time and learned that I had been sentenced in absentia to
five years of
forced labor. I changed my place of residence and worked in Krivoy
Saparozhye, in the Urals, and in Mariupol.
During 1937/1938 nearly all men in my kinship became the victims
repression. I avoided arrest at first via another escape, to Krasnoyarsk
faraway Siberia. Then came the war everyone and Krasnoturyinsk for
me. There we
existed like inmates behind barbed wire. Hunger was a constant companion,
and my hands and feet kept swelling up. My friend and I began to
food stamps in order to get an additional bit of soup. We were caught
were taken into a camp that was bad enough, but not as bad as Krasnoturyinsk.
In 1945, before completing my sentence, I was released and married
Schmidt. But in 1947 I was arrested once again and exiled "in
Kolyma. However, in early 1952 I was released again and allowed
to rejoin my
family. On June 15, 1953, I was arrested for the fifth and last
Magadan, Vladivostok, Chabarovsk, Novosibirsk and Sverdlovsk I reached
Urals, where my family had been exiled to.
From then on my life began to exist under a new star. First, I
was taken to
a hospital for tuberculosis patients, and in November of 1955 two
my left lung were surgically removed - in Moscow!
In 1961 I moved to Alma-Ata, where I was able to follow my occupation.
1971 I was granted retirement status. And on November 16, 1974 we
Another new life now began for Georg Hildebrandt, one that was
taken up in processing his past. The result of this work he documented
life opus "Wieso lebst du noch" ["Why are you still
alive?"], available from
the Landsmannschaft. The book was first published in 1990 by the
Bernhard Abend of Stuttgart. In the meantime it has been translated
English [and is available through GRHC; Tr.]. It is among a not
German-Russian books that is talked about to this day. It presented
with numerous adoring fans within and outside of his ethnic group.
Three years ago, on June 27, 2003, he was honored with the Federal
Merit at the Luise Ebert Senior Center in Heidelberg, where he is
most interesting of residents and receives loving care.
The Landsmannschaft and "Volk auf dem Weg" extend their
best wishes to the
celebrant, especially for better health, which he could really benefit
Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation
of this article.