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A Tribute to Memory: Krasnoe, Ukraine (Krasna, Bessarabia)

Solovjeva, Z. "A Tribute to Memory: Krasnoe, Ukraine (Krasna, Bessarabia)." Znamja Truda, 3 August 1996.

Translation from Russian to English by Natalya Kornfeld


For every person there is a place in the world which is the dearest and the most precious for him or her. This is the place where this person was born, spend his childhood, and the place where his ancestors were buried. This is what is called the motherland. This place will always be important to a person, no matter what happens with him. For Max and Franciska Riehl, Emma Leinz, Apollonny Kopp, Rosa Krechman, Philip Dirk, Anna-Maria Speicher, Berta Stargart, Adam and Karla Leinz, Lidia Weber and many others such a place, the motherland, is the village Krasnoe (Krasna, Bessarabia).

The society of Bessarabian Germans has been founded in Germany. As soon as this became possible the members of this society made a trip to visit their motherland. From that time on, the descendants of Germans colonists, who built these Bessarabien villages in the early XIX century visit these places every year. The current visit was to the village Krasnoe. They came here to see the newly dedicated German church-chapel. Many of the visitors came with close relatives: children, grandchildren, sisters and brothers.

The original chapel has been built by the first German colonists on the outskirts of the village close to the cemetery. The new chapel has been rebuilt in the same architectural style. The rebuilding was funded by the society of Bessarabian Germans (the chairman of the society is Max Riehl). The construction itself starting from technical drawing and including brickwork, painting etc., was done by Dmitry Bratan and Vicktor Krestinov, people from the village Krasnoe. They worked in the evenings, during weekends and during their vacation days. They gave to the construction not only their time, but also part of their hearts. And the results are that the church turned out to look very nice and attractive.

Archbishop Peter Gnitezky was invited to the ceremony and dedication of the church. He held a mass and consecration of the new church. He spoke to the people of Krasnoe and urged them to obey Christian traditions and ceremonies, and to live in accordance with Christians faith. He told them a Gospel story the moral of which is that all are equal with God, that even the last ones can become the first for Him, if their faith is honest. He urged people to support their faith by their deeds.

Vicktor Krestinov is the director of the first division of sovkhos (collective farm) Krasnoe. He is also one of the main enthusiasts of the reconstruction of the church. He became involved in this reconstruction because he was deeply concerned about the history of his village. He spoke about this when he addressed the people of Krasnoe and the guests of the celebration:

"Dear guests and neighbors! We are gathered here today to commemorate our ancestors, buried in these grounds. As Max Riehl says, we are celebrating their memory regardless of their nationality. Moreover, we are not only celebrating their memory by visiting the cemetery. Today, we celebrate the reconstruction of the chapel, dedicated to the memory of our ancestors. I thank those who helped in rebuilding this chapel, those who are here today and are celebrating with us. I think we can be good friends, just as we were before 1940."

The guests and the local people were mixing, communicating and using a limited number of Russian and German words known by everyone.

As a sign of good will, Max Riehl presented V.F. Gostuhina, the head of the local council, with 1500 German marks. "This is a small donation from the Culture Fund, from the Society of Bessarabian Germans to the people of Krasnoe", said Max Riehl. "Use this money where it is needed most."

Valentina Fedorovna Gostuhina thanked the guests for their contribution. She assured them that the money would be used for a number of community projects.

Local children recited poetry in German. Representing all the residents of Krasnoe, V.S. Lezvinskaya addressed the guests in German: "We are happy to greet you here, on your homeland, the place where some of you spent your happy childhood years. The war forced your parents to leave this place, to go back to your historical homeland. Many years have past and you are once again able to come here, to the village where you were born, to remember your childhood and to pay respect to your ancestors. The chapel that we dedicate today is here to help you in that. As we welcome you now, we shall welcome you for years to come. You can always count on our hospitality and friendship."

For many of the guests this was not the first visit to Krasnoe. Some of them already knew the local people, and were familiar with their troubles and concerns. Emma Leinz from Asbakh brought a present, a wheelchair, for Ekaterina Vasil'evna Rashupkina who had been unable to walk for the past four years. E.V. was very touched by such attention. Klara Hoift was born December 1941, in Germany. This was her second visit to Krasnoe. Two years ago she had come here to see the land that her parents remember as the most beautiful place in the world.

"Did I find paradise here?", says Klara. "No, I did not. I found land burned by the sun. The land that requires a lot of hard work. I understood how hard my ancestors must have worked to make this a beautiful place. I came here for the second time because this is the land of my ancestors and I hope to see it someday the way it was before. The people who live here now work very hard, so I think my dream will come true."

Residents of Krasnoe invited the guests for lunch. The food was served in tents by the house of Dmitri and Natalya Bratan. During the meal everyone shared their childhood memories. The next day the guests visited the old school house where some of them took classes several decades ago. They also visited the new school where the children study now.

To conclude the visit, the guests and the local residents prayed together in the newly dedicated chapel. They prayed for their loved ones, for peace and friendship between peoples.

The so-called "Monday" or "Guels" chapel located in the German cemetery in Krasnoe, Moldova (formerly Krasna, Bessarabia) and the stone memorial dedicated to the Germans who lived in Krasna from 1814 to 1940. The person sitting at the front of the church is the child who locks the chapel each day.
Interior of the chapel in the German cemetery at Krasnoe, Moldova. Barbara Volk donated the Lourdes Madonna. The small table on the left was made and donated by Martin Riehl.
Holy water bowl inside the chapel in Krasnoe, Moldova. It was donated by Maria Dressler Ternes, sister-in-law to Margaret Ternes Cremer.
The cross was donated by Max Riehl of Germany. The wreath and bow were donated by Margaret Ternes Cremer. The bow reads: "In honor of our ancestors." This is in reference to the Germans buried in the cemetery from the years 1814 to 1940.
Margaret Ternes Cremer inside the chapel at Krasnoe. The plaque behind her is one of the five which is inscribed with the names of the Germans who fled from Krasna in 1940.
Krasnoe, Moldova, shown in the background. People in the photo were born in the former Bessarabian German village of Krasna who were resettled in Germany in 1940. There are returning from the German cemetery.
The group includes Germans who returned in July, 1996 to the former Bessarabian village of Krasna today Krasnoje, Moldova to attend the dedication of the chapel built in the German cemetery. Many of these Germans have relatives in North Dakota and North America.

Above Photos courtesy of Margaret Ternes Cremer

Chapel at the cemetery, Krasnoe (Krasna), Ukraine, May 1997.
The cemetery at Krasnoe (Krasna), Ukraine, May 1997.
Mary Lou Leintz Bueling, Wahpeton, ND, native of Mandan, ND, and Michael M. Miller, Fargo, ND, native of Strasburg, ND, in front of the chapel at Krasnoe (Krasna), Ukraine, May 1997.
United States flag presented to teachers at Krasnoe (Krasna), Ukraine in front of school; far left is Mary Lou Leintz Bueling, Wahpeton, ND, and far right is Michael M. Miller, Fargo, ND, May 1997.

Above Photos courtesy of Michael M. Miller

Our appreciation is extended to Natalya Kornfeld for translation of this article.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller
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