2001 Memories of Tour Members
29 May 2001
Special regards from Odessa, Ukraine.
On Tuesday, 29 May, tour members travel to visit the Liebental
villages of Alexanderhilf and Peterstal. They will see the German
resettlement sites with homes at these locations. At Peterstal,
a Lutheran church has also been built with assistance from Germany.
They will be passing by Grossliebental, Kleinliebental, Josefstal,
and Mariental of the Liebental District villages. Alexanderhilf
is where Dr. Karl Stumpp was born and raised. When I was in Tiraspol
for 16-18 May with the Moser family, I learned that he has a niece
living in this city but unfortunately does not speak German.
This evening we have our farewell dinner at the Chorne More Hotel
with the group tour and guests including Dr. Sergey Yelizarov, Lilia
Belousova of the Odessa State Archives, Elvira Zahorova of Odessa
Intourist, Dr. Pavel Anselm, a dentist; Dimitry Bratan, Jr., a student;
and Vladimir Kravchenko of Lufthansa Airlines.
On 30 May, we fly via Austrian Airlines from Odessa to Frankfurt
and then take a Binder Travel bus to Stuttgart, Germany. Tour members
will visit the Linden Museum on 31 May, hosted by Dr. Sonja Schierele,
curator of the North American collections. There is a special exhibit
on the Plains Indians featuring borrowed items from the State Historical
Society of North Dakota and the Three Affiliated Tribes, Fort Berthold
Indian Reservation, in western North Dakota. On Thursday evening,
31 May, tour members and other Americans will visit the German American
Center (Deutsches Amerikanisches Zentrum) in Stuttgart for
the presentation I will make on the "Germans from Russia of
There are a number of Americans coming to Stuttgart to stay with
us at the Hotel Royal for the Bundestreffen on 2 June 2001.
They include: Thomas and Janice Huber Stangl, Sterling, VA; Bob
and Margaret Aman Freeman, Redondo Beach, CA; Ed and Doris Bischoff;
Mesa, AZ; Gerry Walth Sommer, Mesa, AZ; Rosemary Ripplinger Schwan,
Devils Lake, ND; Mary Jaeger Marando, Crown Point, IN; and Harold
Ehrman, Pacific Palisades, CA. Saturday, 2 June, is large Germans
from Russia gathering called the Bundestreffen, where 40
to 50 thousand people will attend, many who have immigrated to Germany
since 1990 as Germans from Kazakhstan, Siberia, Russia, and Ukraine.
We will host the Amerika Haus information tables. On Sunday,
3 June, the tour group along with the other Americans will be with
the Heimat Chor of Stuttgart (German-Russian Choir) for a
concert and reception at the Haus der Heimat Baden Wuerttemberg.
The choir visited North Dakota in July 1997, including the Germans
from Russia Heritage Society Convention at Jamestown, ND. Their
dream for the future is again to return to North Dakota for a concert
tour including Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada. Tour members return
to the USA on Monday, 4 June.
Let me share with you messages from tour members of their visit
to the orphanage at the former German village of Landau, Beresan
District, on Monday, 28 May 2001. We also visited the churches at
Speyer, Landau, and Karlsruhe. The former Catholic church at Karlsruhe
from a distance is quite overwhelming and the size of a large cathedral.
We will share photos of our days in the former German villages and
at the Landau orphanage with new GRHC website pages to be available
for viewing later this summer of 2001.
Warmest regards to all from Odessa, Ukraine, as we soon say good-bye
from the land of our ancestors,
Michael M. Miller
Messages from tour members:
Eileen Dick Aafedt
Munich, North Dakota
"Enjoying this trip and seeing some beautiful fields of grains,
especially wheat. Going to the children's orphanage at Landau is
something each of us anticipated, as we had purchased items and
brought suitcases of quilts along from North Dakota. The children
were so disciplined and happy. Teachers and children welcomed us
and put on a nice program and presented us with gifts of pictures
they had painted. I received a wall hanging a girl had made. There
certainly was an air of excitement and we were treated to a large
dinner. Even though poor, by our standards, they give the best they
Father Joseph Senger
Minot, North Dakota
"Today we visited the orphanage at Landau. For 15 years, I
was pastor of a Catholic school. But today I was moved by the orphanage
student body. They had such poise and talent, and politeness. I
have never seen a group of students so well mannered. The program
they presented was inspiring, enjoyable and uplifting. It was evident
that the enthusiasm of the staff filtered down to the students.
The teachers showed such enthusiasm in their work and career. I
simply was not prepared to see such excellence in Ukraine. Every
effort we make to help this orphanage will have wonderful effects."
Fargo, North Dakota
I was quite amazed at the extent of preparation the Landau orphanage
children and teachers completed to show their appreciation for our
visit. It was clear that everyone had prepared for this day for
a long time. The most amazing was a concert the children and teachers
put on for us. Some performed while others watched with us. I tried
to imagine what was going through their little minds.
Each teacher prepared a wonderful dish as part of an exquisite
meal. The entire tour group was overwhelmed with such great hospitality.
It was questionable at first as to whether I wanted to visit such
a place. After having done so, I would not have missed it. The things
that we Americans take for granted are not even a dream for these
children: such as hot and cold running water, toys with which to
play, or even a lap to comfort them from a frightening dream.
West and Loretta Pflieger
"Hello to our family back home! Sunday was a more relaxed
day. We walked to Church of the Assumption for 9 am Mass. The church
is only about one-third renovated but what is done is extremely
beautiful. After Mass, we went to the Black Sea beaches, a Russian
Orthodox church, and dinner at a lovely Ukrainian cafe. Then we
went to the park for shopping and an evening Russian folklore concert
at the concert hall. A great day.
Monday was the visit to Landau orphanage. What an emotional experience!
After a traditional greeting with bread and salt, we were given
a tour of the classrooms and dormitories. Then a program was held
by the children and teachers of singing and dancing. One little
girl sang a song in English and a boy recited an English poem. The
children are so precious!
All dressed up in their best clothes; they appear like any other
children, but their lives are very different. They gave us gifts
of their artwork, and they are very talented. After a wonderful
meal prepared by the teachers including borscht and kaseknoepfla
(cheese buttons), we opened the boxes and suitcases with gifts from
so many of you. I have many pictures to share. Thank you all! God
Mary Steger Carpenter
"Today I cried! The walk around the abandoned church at Landau
where my grandmother Lemmer was baptized brought tears. After seeing
all the terrible ruins of the Catholic church, this was a gift from
God. Eileen Aafedt and Loretta Turner were my "comfort shoulders".
The ruins of the cemetery where my great-grandparents are buried
was also visited. Landau will ALWAYS be extra special. The orphanage
was as usual, a sea of clean well-mannered children. The staff are
true angels. But that is another story!