Bessarabia: Homeland in Pictures
Bessarabien: Heimat im Bild
Cover Photograph Caption: Bessarabia: Children dance in the round
in Beresina 1934
Dear countrymen: Dear friends of the Pictorial Calendar!
I hope you take much pleasure from the Pictorial Calendar “Bessarabia:
Homeland in Pictures 1986.” May it be your companion through
a good year! The Bildkalendar is appearing for the fifteenth time
in the year 1986.
The publication, well illustrated, is receiving more and more attention
from the younger generation growing up in Germany. Many natives
are also taking interest in it. On this basis, supplemental description
of the pictures was begun in1983 and is also contained in this calendar.
The bildkalendar shall also serve to report historic incidents and
events. In this year’s publication I would like to give you
a glimpse of:
“History of the origins of the German communities in Bessarabia.”
Although my explanations can be only brief, they will give you
some information on the subject. The settlement of Bessarabia is
based on the colonization of Russia under the rule of Katherine
II in the year 1763 and the colonization under Kaiser Alexander
I in 1804 in South Russia along the Black Sea. The area reached
from Odessa to Krim, Jekaterinoslaw, the Kaukasus and as far as
the Gulf of Taganrog.
The last area to be settled was Bessarabia which after the Russian-Turkish
War (1806-1812) was united with Russia through the Bucharest Peace
in the year of 1812.
After the fundamental plan of Mercantilism came into effect, it
was not the large land ownerships who decide worth and wealth, but
“der Mensch” (the person) who was to produce something
At that time, there were three large monarchies in Europe. Each
was competing to inhabit the vast prominent wastelands.
Through Friedrich der Grosze (Frederick, the Great) the three divisions
of Poland were in the Prussian area were settled.
In Austria, it was Empress Marcia Theresia and her son Josef II
who endeavored to settle the areas in Southeastern Europe –
Banat, Batscha, and Schwabian Turkey. They also wanted to acquire
part of Poland area won in Galizien and Wolhynien. Austria, at that
time, settled also Buchenland and the Sathmar area.
In Russia, settlement followed under the rule of KatherineII and
later, under Czar Alexander I.
Winning the immigrants, settling them and generously developing
the various areas was carefully planned and executed by all of the
We Bessarabian Germans are affected by all three Settlement areas.
1. Colonization of West Prussia and Netzegaus under Friedrich dem
Groszen (Frederick the Great) 1776-1786 and under King Friedrich
Wilhelm III from 1799-1807
2. The colonization of Eastern Europe is a story all its own: The
great Schwaben migration, the colonization of the Banats, Schwabian
Turkey and parts of Ungarn. Here we are interested only in migration
to Russia in about 1804 to the Cherson area and Bessarabia. In the
church records the entries read only: “From Ungarn.”
Related communities were not established.
3. Colonization of Bessarabia was high aim for Alexander I. Three
colonial areas were involved:
1. For German colonists
2. For Bulgarian colonists
3. For Russians (Kronebauren- Crown Farmers) and property owners.
We limit ourselves to the German colonization area. It covered
16 pieces of land with 115,548 Dessjatinen and 1943 Qadratfaden.
Together with the land allotted by the Kaiser at Linde it totaled
131,479 Dessjatinen and 1343 Qadratfaden. The communities of Sarata
(1822) Gnadental (1830) and Lichtental (1834) originated on the
Lindl land. For Bessarabian colonization, Kaiser Alexander I released
a manifesto on November 29, 1813 to the Germans in the Dukedom of
Warschau. In it the privelages for the immigrants were outlined.
At the same time Germans were recruited in South Germany, especially
in Württemberg. As early 1814, the first so-called Warschauer
colonists arrived and founded the communities of Tarutino and Borodeno
and Krasna. Other immigrants arriving that same year had to temporarily
be housed in the Maldovian colonies since no houses had been provided
for them. In total, there were about 9,000 immigrants.
The area designated for the Germans stretched from Leipzig to Sarata
and from Borodino to Plotzk. Length about 75 km, width about 40
km. It was located in the valley of the main rivers of Kogelnik
and Sarata. Settling lasted from 1814 to 1842.
During this period, 24 mother colonies were founded on the land
reserved for the colonists and on the Linde land. In addition, in
1822 the colony of Schabo with a population of 4000 was founded
along the Liman river. These immigrants came from the “Schweiz”
The German colonists in northern Bessarabia have their own colonial
history. They came from Buchenland and Galizien in 1860-1865.
After no more land was available thanks to the development of farming
by the German colonists, daughter colonies were established on purchased
land and rented land. This development lasted until the first World
War broke out in 1914. In 1916 Parapara was founded as a daughter
colony. Mathildendorf was the first daughter colony on purchased
land. It originated in 1858.
After Bessarabia was annexed to Rumania, a powerful encroachment
took place in the history of colonization of Germans in Bessarabia.
The colonies founded on rented land became “landless”
over night. It was also no longer possible to acquire larger holdings
of land from the closed German colonies.
As a result of the Rumanian agriculture reforms, all those without
land were assigned to 6 hectares. That is how the Hektargemeinden
(Hektar communities) originated. Here we must make a distinction:
1. Colonies that had originated on rented land, owned houses, and
farming equipment, barns, etc.
2. Colonies that had originated on Hektarland, were often near
German communities, but were on foreign land and under foreign domination.
To be mentioned also are the German groups in the towns, market
places and villages populated by foreigners.
To complete the list, the German freight handlers and temporary
workers must be named.
While founding of the mother colonies was governed by the same
rules and regulations – instructions for internal establishment
and administration of the “Neu-Reußischen Ausländischen
Kolinen” (New Russian Foreign Colonies) there was a different
plan for the founding of daughter colonies. Under the rules, purchases
of land were also a community project, but in contrast with that
the Mother Colonies, each owner could sell his land according to
his own judgment, as well as leave the community.
In the year 1940, at the time of the Resettlement, there were 150
German colonies in Bessarabia. The call for resettlement was answered
by 93,000 Bessarabian Germans.
Each German colony in Bessarabia has its own history. We have chronicles
from many colonies wherein the history from the founding to the
resettlement are recorded. Much has been done in this field in the
last two decades. The community spirit is still alive in the village
Christian Fiess, President in Residence
Chairman – Home Museum
The Heimut museum of the Germans from Russia is located in the House
of Bessarabian Germans in Stuttgart, Florianstrasze 17 (from the
main train platform by bus 42 to Ostenplatz) Open time: Monday through
Friday 9.00-16.00. Open Saturdays and Sundays to research groups
by previous appointment. Attention Christian Fiess, Chairman. 7130
Mühlacher, Lindenstrasze 37
January 1986 Bessarabia Foals on a street on Tarutino-about 1936.
February 1986 Bessarabia Winter silence in Bad Burmas at the Black
March 1986 Bessarabia Church in Wittenburg
April 1986 Bessarabia Beresina girl spooling
May 1986 Bessarabia Entrance to a German farmyard in Krasna
June 1986 Bessarabia Boys in their free time on village street
July 1986 Bessarabia Water well on the Bessarabian steppe
August 1986 Bessarabia Gnadenfeld- Reading newspaper after work
September 1986 Bessarabia Reeds in a brook in the Parapara valley
October 1986 Bessarabia Purebred trotters of German farmers in
November 1986 Bessarabia Gunboat Hill in Sarata
December “ “ Indoor view of Evangelical church in Kischnew
Brief Descriptions of Photos
Title Photo The children were well guarded by their grandparents.
They had opportunities to be very active. They were responsible
for farm work but had time for their play and games, different according
to age. Simple, childish singing of paraphrased songs and imitating
were a favorite pastime.
January The foals were free to roam at certain times of the day
and caused no problems in the wide streets.
February In winter the shores of Bad Burnas lay empty and forsaken,
but during the bathing season, the beaches were crowded with many
visitors who came from a distance all of Rumania, from Poland and
also the mother country of Germany. Bad Burnas was founded by German
farmers in 1923. Located there also were a teacher’s home,
a nurse’s home and the home for German youth of Bessarabia.
March Wittenburg, a mother colony was founded in 1815 by Schwaben
(Schwabians) who came from Herzogtum (Dukedom) of Warsaw. The Wittenburg
church was built in the years 1867-1870. It had 800 seats and two
bells. In the choir was an organ with the inscription “Gloria
April The picture was taken in Beresina in 1940. The young woman
is spinning the wool for use on the knitting machine. As mentioned
earlier, the spinning wheel was in every farm home, but the technique
of yard gords commercially became more and more prevalent. The knitting
machine came into wide usein the last two decades.
May The German farm yards in Beresina, like the yard pictured in
Krasna, were marked off on the street side with walls of stone.
These were kept clean and newly whitewashed each spring. The farm
house in our picture is still covered with schilfrohr (reeds). In
the last decade roof tiles were required by law.
June The wide street in Friedenfeld with the acacia alley is very
impressive. There the school boys had much to discuss as they met
under the acacia trees. Their vacation time was often spent playing
various kinds of ball games. In about 1923, football was played
with great enthusiasm.
July The typical wells on the Bessarabian steppe supplied water
for the livestock herds in areas without streams.
August During the time that Bessarabia belonged to Russia, the
Odessa daily newspaper, “Das Bindeglied” (The Connecting
Link) served the German colonists in South Russia. There was also
“Die Deutsche Zeitung Bessarabians” (The German Newspaper
of Bessarabia) and “Das DeutscheVolksblatt” (The German
People’s Newspaper). With impatient anticipation, one waited
for the new issue read to the entire family.
September Jargara already belonged to middle Bessarabia and no
longer to the Steppe district as declared in South Bessarabia. Fed
by the waters of the brook, reeds flourished there. Cut in the spring,
reeds were economically divided among land owners to be used for
roofing, sheep huts, etc. (schilfrohr dach schäfer hütten).
October The best helper of a farmer was the German colonist’s
horse. It was highly valued and very well cared for. Our picture
shows a team of thoroughbred Trabern in Tarutino.
November The steppe in South Bessarabia is recognizable by its
cone-shaped hills rising from flat halls, but also found in wide
valleys. At first it was believed that the hills were formed during
war times. They were called Kurgane or Movilen by the surrounding
population. Our ancestors gave them the name Kanon schügel
(cannon hills). More rightly they should be called Hügelgrab
since in each of these hill one or more people ar buried. Grounds
for discovery of the graves is based on reliable research which
establishes the origin of the kanonen hügel (cannon hills)
during the Bronze Age, stemming from Nomadic Rider People, the Kimmerians
who in the 8th Century were driven out of their territory on the
north shore of the Black Sea by the Skythens. Some of the Hügelgräber
(hill graves) could be about 3,000 years old.
December Kischenew became the capital city when Bessarabia was
made a part of Russia. It was also the garrison town.
As early as 1827, and Evangelical church parish was founded. In
1838 the parish was already in a position to build astately church.
The church parish of Kischinew existed until the Resettlement in
Translation by Alma M. Herman June 1991
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