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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” (Vomi).

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 to remain.

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 mud.

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.

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