The End of the German
Colonies near the Black Sea
Fifty Years Ago
Source of information: Entstehung,
Entwicklung und Auflösung der deutschen Kolonien am Schwarzen
Meer am Beispiel von Kandel von 1808 bis 1944 [Origin,
Development, and Disintegration of the German Colonies near the
Black Sea, with the Example of Kandel from 1804 to 1944], by Anton
Bosch and Joseph Lingor, 1990, book in German language only.
According to the 1939 Census, 1,600,612 Germans lived in the Soviet
Union. This number had probably scarcely changed up to the outbreak
of the war on June 22, 1941. The worst terror-wave of the prewar
years had come to an end in 1938. Hilter’s attack on the Soviet
Union was, for the rulers in Moscow, a welcoming opportunity (occasion,
excuse) to take out of their drawers the lists of German prepared
beginning in 1934 for just such an occasion. The highest Soviet
needed only to put his signature at the bottom of the ukase about
the forced resettlement of the Volga Germans in order to have a
handle against all Soviet citizens of German nationality.
When the ukase of August 28, 1941 was publicized and immediately
put into action, about three-quarters of the Germans living in the
USSR found themselves under Soviet dominion and one quarter under
National Socialist power, the latter in great part in the Ukraine.
For them, the actual trail of tears, that the Volga Germans as well
as the Germans from Caucus, from the Crimea or from other areas
of the country had to already undergo in 1941, began with the battle
of Stalingrad in the beginning of 1943. As the last large group
of Germans, in the spring of 1944, the Germans of Transdniester
were brought “home into the Reich”, as it was then and
later officially as well as mockingly called. Transdniester was
that part of southwestern Ukraine, that Germany had to cede to its
ally, Rumania. The German inhabitants of this area were under the
control, however, of the SS-run “Ethnic Germans ‘Mittelstelle”
On February 3, 1944, the staff of the Reichfurer SS received the
news from Odessa, that no transport had yet been produced for the
ca. 134,000 Germans in Transdneister. SS-Bridgade leader Hoffmeyer
had, however prepared everything for such a transport to Bessarabia,
as soon a the military situation should make this necessary. Hoffmeyer
was the leader of Vomi.
But already on Sunday, March 12, a wireless message was sent to
all relevant (appropriate) “leaders” in Transdniester,
that the Russians had crossed the northern Bug. With that the so-called
alarm level IV had been triggered, which meant the final preparation
for evacuation. The German colonies in the Beresan area were particularly
hard hit, as they lay closer to the Bug and had to break up very
quickly. Those were the villages Johannestal, Karsruhe, Katharinental,
Landau, Munchen, Rastatt, Rohrbach, Speyer, Sulz, Worms, Waterloo
I, and Waterloo II.
The people in the Kutchurgan Valley (Baden, Elsa, Kandel, Mannheim,
Selz, Straburg) still had a little time, although one did not know,
when the departure would begin. They ran together excitedly, talked
about the coming misery and appeared to themselves to be, as are
also other people in the same circumstances, helpless. They did
the least important, most irrelevant things. Then in the shortest
time, they had to take care of unbelievably many important preparations.
Day and night one butchered, roasted, baked, brought together and
packed the necessary clothing and supplies for the first days. In
addition, it had just rained uninterruptedly for a while week. Therefore,
the streets in the whole area were completely soft and mushy, so
that the wagon wheels sand up to their axles in the mud.
But one managed to get ready to set off; no one wanted or was allowed
As the people from Kandel were the first in the Kutschurgan valley
that had to set off, the night from March 18-19th, 1944, the last
night that they could spend in Kandel, was full of tension and excitement.
No on could sleep, even the children, infected by the hurried preparation
of their parents, ran around excited and weeping.
March 19,1944, was Sunday, St. Joseph’s day, in former times
a mandatory holy day for Catholics. No one of those still alive
today, that was there at the time, has forgot this day. The day
we had to forsake our beloved Kandel forever was the saddest and
blackest day of its 136-year-old history.
Everyone was up early in the morning on March 19. Already at five
o’clock the loaded wagons stood hitched up in the front of
the farmyards, in order to set off around six o’clock in a
southerly direction, to Owidiopol. The parting was hard. The tears
that flowed on this day were immeasurable. Not only children and
old men and women wept, but many “hard” and “grown”
men also wept. Many couldn’t look back; everyone felt a lump
in his throat at the thought of the village, the school, the church,
and one’s ancestral home.
Today, we speak of that time, as “at home”, that is
of one’s homeland, in which under “homeland” we
understood not a state or a state of even a political system of
governing, but our home, the house of our parents, in which we were
born and grew up, the soil, with which we were so closely bound,
the school, the church, the Liman river, and not last, the feeling
of belonging together. All of this made the parting of the beloved
home village so hard.
What would have happened to us, had we remained? Who among us imagined
that this path was only the beginning of many more paths that lay
before us? The first day the trek made slow and painful progress.
The cows, that had been driven from home in herds, soon dispersed
and, in spite of the confusion, found their owners, in order to
make the long trek together with them. Progress was very difficult
in streets still soggy from the constant rain. There was only room
for children and the old in the over laden wagons; the others had
to go on foot, which was, with bad shoes, not easily done in the
With great difficult the trek managed to reach Troizk on the first
evening, where we spent the night. In fact there, there were problems
with the local people, because many Russians lived in Troizk, who
had fought for the red army in the civil war of 1918-23 and in World
War II sympathized with the partisans.
In the evening of the second day, we reached Franzfeld, whose inhabitants
had forsaken their village early that morning. Here we felt at home,
as the cellars, pantries and store-rooms were still filled with
food. We stayed in Franzfeld for two days, continuing on to the
ferry over the Dniester-Liman. We reached the ferry on March 22
around noon. In all there were ten motorized ferries, that could
at the time accommodate up to 20 vehicles.
We did not stop in Akkermann, which lay across the river, but continued
as far as to Monasche to spend the night. The next day, the trek
reached Sarata; after that it went to Tatarbunar, where fodder for
the horses was taken on, and farther in the direction of Bolgrad
through various Bessarabian villages such as Cholms, Kirnicki, Wasiljewka
etc. We spent the night in some of these villages. We continued
our trip with our horses through Vulkaneschty in the direction of
Reni; we arrived in Tatar-Anamur (Cismikioj) on Saturday, the third
of April. Because of unfavorable stormy conditions in the Carpathians
with snow, rain, and glare-ice, we could not continue and, well
received by the Bulgarian inhabitants, stayed in the village until
the 17th of April. On the fifth of April, we were surprised by an
unseasonable snowfall that lasted until the 13th, so that in that
place on April 9th, we celebrated the first Easter festival outside
of our homeland.
During this time the elderly people and the pregnant women were
brought to the Rumanian town, Galatz and spent off on an ambulance
train. The next day, when one believed them to have been brought
to safety, Galatz was bombed. For a long time we knew little or
nothing about the fate of those on the train. During this attack,
there were numerous dead and wounded in Galatz.
Early in the morning of April 17th, we finally went on, at first
back to Vulkaneschty, then through Gabanossa and Pilnea to Kabul
and over the bridge on the Pruth to Kagul. After spending the night
we went on to Rumanian soil, crossing the Carpathian Mountains to
Birlad, Adjud, Cajuti, Bacau, Piatra, Gehergheny, Gehin, and Dej
(pronounced Desch). This rail center was at that time part of Hungary;
after 1945 it was attached to Rumania. Here we had to stop for a
week in order to make all the necessary preparations for breaking
up the trek. The order went out to collect supplies for ten days
and to go to the freight trains standing ready for us. After the
baggage had been transported to the station, a commission from the
armed forces took over the horses and gave out corresponding receipts.
Many a farmer wept bitter tears at parting with his horses that
had not only served him well in the Kutschurgan valley, but had
also brought his family more than 2000 km westward to his place.
Just a few hours later, the train went on in the direction of Budapest
and on its way to Litzmannstadt (Lodz) passed by the train stations
at Banska, Bystriza (Alt-Sohl), Powazka Bystriza (Neu-Sohl), Bohumm,
Orlowa, Ostrau, Ratibor Oppeln, Brieg, and Breslau.
There, one had a week off for a bath, “delousing” etc.
and went through the so-called “orientation.” After
these procedures, on May 28th, 1944, we finally went on to the county
seat, [chief town of the district] Jarotschin in the Warthegau.
All together, we were underway a full 70 days and made half of the
more than 2000 km. on foot. Many of our compatriots did not make
it to their destination.
On June 5, the re-settlers were picked up by deputies of the surrounding
communities and housed. At this time, the German communities on
the Black Sea stopped existing. The people who had lived together
until that date, were scattered, at first only into one district
in the Warthegau of that day, but soon into the whole world. And
they were neither workers on a collective farm nor free farmers,
but agricultural day laborers, duty-bound to work on the surrounding
farms. They were Polish farms that since 1940 had been cultivated
by German farmers from Bessarabia, Bukvina and western Ukraine.
Source “Entstehung, Entwicklung und Auflosung der deutschen
Kolonien am Schwarzen Meer” by A. Bosch and J. Lingor.
This book is available from the Landsmannschaft.