This Book Belongs in the Home of Every German From
Dieses Buch Gehoert in Jedes Russlanddeutsches Haus
Meier, Andreas. "This Book Belongs in the Home of Every Germans From Russia." Volk auf dem Weg, July 2006, 39.
Translation from the original German-language text
to American English by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado
|[Translated Title:] "Zone of Total
Silence." The German-Russians during War and Postwar Times.
Reports by Eyewitnesses. Waldemar Weber Verlag [publisher],
Augsburg, 2003; 480 pages; Price: 17.90 euros. Russian-Language
Edition: Gerhard Walter "Sona polnogo pokaya" Waldemar
Weber Verlag, Augsburg, 2004; 512 pages; Price: 17.90 euros.
Available from the book offerings of the Landsmannschaft.
The new edition of the book "Die Zone der totalen Ruhe [Zone
of Total Silence]" by the German-Russian author Gerhard Walter,
who died in 1998, appeared in the Waldemar Weber Verlag [publisher],
both in German and in Russian. In fact, this book has been on the
market for nearly three years. It is currently the most-purchased
and likely the best known book on the German-Russian tragedy of
the last World War and of the subsequent years. When the book was
displayed at the Frankfurt Expo, German journalists called it the
German-Russian "GUlag Archipelago." Most journalists emphasized
that the author was not satisfied with just presenting single memories
and a few historical documents. Rather, by combining under one cover
numerous different life stories and a great deal of statistics,
he attempts to show the fill picture of the tragedy of his people.
Gerhard Walter was born in 1923 in Ukraine in the German village
of Kruposchin in the Zhitomir area. During the fall of 1941 his
parents, siblings, and he were exiled from his home to Kazakhstan.
Between January of 1942 and August of 1946 he spent his time doing
forced labor in the GUlag. Later, he endured the life of so many
other "Special Settlers," who were under strict and tight
supervision by State authorities. Following studies in history and
philosophy, he became a teacher at a middle school in the Ural region,
and later at a higher-level secondary school in Kirgistan. During
his teaching years, he was collecting and compiling eyewitness reports
he would later use in this book. He emigrated to Germany in 1996.
The book deals with the period of forced recruitment into the [so-called]
Work Army and subsequent forced resettlement under the supervision
of the KGB.
The author in this book allows the survivors to speak for themselves,
gaining 150 co-authors. The tragic lives of our people is reflected
documents and memories by numerous eyewitnesses.
Why the title "Zone of Total Silence?"
It is this dictum that was posted at every gate of every camp and
zone. These words had strong symbolic significance for the author.
in the world was aware of this tragedy, no one was allowed to know.
outside world, those subsisting behind barbed wire and fences did
exist. It was the zone of silence concerning real crimes. In the
there was total silence. During the course of the Nuremberg trials,
millions of Germans were being plucked out of their homes and deported
Siberia. All of this was condoned by the same Allied powers who
were sitting in
judgment at Nuremberg over the crimes of the National-Socialist
criminals. No one thought of the German-Russians on the other side
of the Urals --
there was total silence.
This work by Gerhard Walter is absolutely unique. It is a book
of innermost human witness. Much is written in the scientific literature
about the German-Russians, but there has never been a report on
the organized killings of the German-Russians that is told with
such forcefulness and with such shattering realism. As long as people
are alive, who are concerned with this topic, and personally affected
their children, and their grandchildren. As long as individual people
are conscious of their German-Russian roots, there will be demand
for this book. Thus far it is the only book which reports in such
an intense manner on the German-Russian tragedy and at a purely
human, existential level. From it, one can learn more than from
any scientific treatises.
The book contains many official documents. They are authentic,
because Wolter succeeded, during the brief time when archives had
been opened up, in photocopying documents that were of the highest
importance. These are the orders to executioners, plus other documentation
of modern barbarism that the author dug out from the KGB. The documents
deal only on the surface with the mobilization of work forces for
the war economy. At a deeper level, the actual goal emerges, that
of liquidation of people. Still, for me personally, the most exciting
pages are those dedicated to the human eyewitnesses. The book will
not provide historical-scientific citations toward proof of the
actual happenings. This kind of a book has no need for such. It
is the preserved memories of people that constitute the main concern
of this book.
Many top German politicians were given a copy of this book, among
them Edmund Stoiber, Wolfgang Schaeuble, Roland Koch, and Christian
Wolf. One can only hope that Gerhard Wolter's opus may help to reach
the feelings of the federal, indigenous Germans, that it may help
them to look differently at the Germans from Russia living next
to them, and that they may understand them better.
Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation
of this article.