Journey to the Homeland: Germany and Ukraine
North Dakota State University Libraries Tours
Sunday, 11 June 2000
Journey to the Homeland Tours
North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo
Hello to all from the Internet Cafe in Odessa, Ukraine. We are
experiencing wonderful days with good weather and temperatures in
the 70s for our visits to the former Black Sea and Bessarabian German
villages. Tour members are in good health and doing well.
On 9-10 June some tour members traveled to the Glueckstal District
villages and stay overnight in Glueckstal. Other tour members traveled
to the Bessarabian villages for 9-10 June and stayed overnight in
Tarutino. Other tour members were on a one way visit either to the
Kutschurgan villages or to the Beresan villages.
On 11 June, 6 tour members have gone to the villages of Kassel
and Klein Neudorf for one day. On 12 June, tour members travel to
the Liebental villages, to Bessarabia and to the Beresan villages.
Tour members arrived on Wednesday, 7 June and leave from Odessa
on Austrian Airlines for Vienna, Austria, and Stuttgart, Germany,
for 14-19 June 2000.
Below are some memories shared by tour members of their visits
to the villages:
Percy and Lorraine Brossart Zeiler
[visiting the Kutschurgan villages]
Dear Canadian and American friends,
"In the past two days (8-9 June), we have visited seven villages
in the Kutschurgan District. It has been a great experience to walk
down these streets and see their homes. It was sad to see how the
Catholic churches have been ruined beyond repair.
On Monday, 12 June, we visit Mariental and Kleinliebental (Liebental
District). Percy's father lived in these villages until 1927. This
has really made us realize how fortunate we are that our ancestors
immigrated to Canada. Thank you to Michael Miller for making this
trip possible for us."
--- Percy and Lorraine Zeiler
Louise Messer Hughes
West Covina, California
[visiting the Beresan villages]
"Mission accomplished - Halbstatt still exists! This is a
nice little village in the Beresan district and was a daughter
colony. In nearby Karlsruhe, a small museum has opening in June,
2000. There are lists of early settlers to Karlsruhe and among
them Bernhard Messer of my family tree, plus his children. I
was able to get a photocopy of the page from one of the lists.
Please share this message with Joe and Carole. I am fine and
doing well. Tour members are so very helpful in many ways. On
Sunday evening, 11 June, I am going to see a performance with
other tour members at the Odessa Opera House"
--- Love, Mom.....Louise Hughes
Christ and Ann Lesmeister Klein
Carrington, North Dakota
[visiting the Kutschurgan villages]
"The feeling we have experienced on the ground where our ancestors
walked, worked, lived, and worshiped in the 19th century has
been unbelieveable. They worked so hard and accomplished so
much. For us looking at the churches in the Kutschurgan villages
of Kandel, Mannheim, Selz, Baden, Strassburg, and Elsass, we
can hardly believe they could build such large and beautiful
churches, schools and homes. They too were able to organize
their ways of living so beautifully and proudly. Our ancestors
were very talented people of their time.
We are so fortunate that they decided to immigrate to America
and settle our land in North Dakota. They gave us the opportunity
of a good life which we experience today. Should our ancestors
have decided not to come to America, we would have experienced
the terrible hardships of the Germans who decided to stay in
South Russia. The poverty in which the Ukrainian people have
to live with here today is far beyond what we could have imagined.
We need to preserve the memories of these people and our forefathers.
For us it has been sad to see the destruction of the buildings
especially the churches of the faithful work of the Germans."
[Note: The Kleins and the Zeilers visited Louisa Rissling
who lives across the street from the church in Selz, Kutschurgan
District. We had lunch with Louisa. In 1998, Louisa made application
for Mr. and Mrs. Rissling to immigrate to Germany. She continues
to wait and see if this will happen. Louisa mentioned that they
could not survive if they did not receive help from her brother
in Germany. The monthly retirement pension that the Risslings
receive is a total of $35 for two persons. This past spring,
Mr. Rissling was at the Odessa hospital for 10 days. She has
serious financial problems since this had to all be privately
paid including $100 for medicine which continues to be required
for Mr. Rissling's health. There has been a lack of rain in
the German villages which affects the need for more water irrigation
to the gardens including the large one of the Risslings.
As we were driving in the van with Mrs. Rissling to show us
German homes in Selz including the Brossart home, we saw a funeral
procession and music of band instruments walking to the Selz
cemetery. Then we saw Lydia, daughter to Antonina Welk Ivanova,
walking to the village of Kandel. We picked up Lydia and went
to the Selz cemetery where she showed us the new gravestone
and fence for her mother, Antonina, who died in October, 1998.
We said a special prayer together for Antonina and took some
photos. The next day, on 10 June, the Kleins and the Zeilers
traveled to Kandel where Lydia lives. They had a very nice visit
and lunch with Lydia. Both Lydia and Lousia Rissling extend
special regards to all former tour members who have visited
Selz and Kandel. Lydia wanted to especially thank those persons
who helped to see that her mother could be properly buried with
a nice iron cross and fence at the Selz cemetery.
--- Michael M. Miller
If time permits, we will send another message with memories
from tour members before we leave Odessa, Ukraine, on 14 June
or we may send the message from Stuttgart, Germany, via the
With special Ukrainian greetings from Odessa, Ukraine
P.S. Elvira Zaharova, Dr. Sergey Yelizarov, Dr. Pavel Anselm,
English translators, Pavel Pratchuk, and Pavel Sigov, and Lilia
at the Odessa State Archives, who help us with the tour group,
all exend a Ukrainian hello.