Journey to the Homeland: Germany and Ukraine
North Dakota State University Libraries Tours
24 May 2003
2003 Memories of Tour Members
Katherine Ann Kary (Kitty) Murphy
My thoughts of coming to the fatherland: I had panic attack before
I left my home in Sutherlin. I had no idea what to expect. Would
the residents of Landau, Bersean District, accept me? Or would they
think that I was invading their territory? The director Tatyana
and her assistant director Valentina of the Landau Orphanage greeted
us with open arms, which was a great surprise and made me feel special.
Our lovely guide, Emma, told them that we, Evelyn Fleck Simpson
and I, were trying to find our ancestors birth houses. They asked
if we might have a map of Landau, so they could orient themselves
to where these houses may be. As it was, I had my map that Michael
Miller sent to me for them to review. They asked if they could make
a copy of the map of their village. I said yes and so we set out
to locate the house. We did find the houses. Evelyn's house is not
far fromthe orphanage in Landau. My ancestral house is farther away
from the ophanage. There was only the land my father's house was
destroyed and a new house was built about 6 years ago.
The orphanage appeared to be well maintained. It was nice and clean
with the children being polite and cheerful.
Marilynn Senger Hannesson
West Fargo, ND
Frank M. Senger
Devils Lake, ND
Our trip to the "Homeland" took us to all of the six
Kutschurgan District villages: Selz, Baden, Mannheim, Elsass, Kandel,
and Strassburg. Each village was unique and yet the same. The churches
were the focal point of the village for us.
It was an emotional experience to stand in the midst of such ruin
and think of the hardships of our ancestors....and thank God that
they had the perservance to make the journey to America.
The local people who escorted us around treated us with such love
and kindness. I felt a connection to them and therefore to my ancestors.
What a moving "Journey" to have taken.
I was also very glad to have the chance on Sunday, 25 May, to visit
the Landau Orphanage. I was pleasantly surprised to see how very
clean everything was. This is a good sign that the children are
well taken care of. The staff was wonderful to us and genuinely
loving and caring to the children.
The program the children performed for us brought tears to my eyes.
What a moving experience to know how hard it was for them to learn
some songs in English.
I wanted to take the children home with me. The many pictures I
took will fill my memory book but I will sent copies to the children.
They so love it and so did I! A very moving experience.
Ron L. Scherbenski
St. Louis Park, Minnesota
The villages of my destination were Alt Posttal and Hoffnungstal
in the former Bessarabia, today in Ukraine. I had a chance to speak
with the local school teacher in the German language and see the
place where Johann Scherbenski lived. The church is there as a community
club and the cemetery has many German markers. Most are not legible
and some have tipped over.
One day I went to Hoffnungstal accompanied by our host from our
overnight village stay in Bessarabia. He was very knowledgeable
on the town site even though the town no longer exists. He did have
a photo of the church as it was in 1940 and showed us where the
cemetery was. There had been a Soviet military base there until
1991. That is also in ruins. The trip has been very worthwhile!
The trip on Sunday, 25 May, to the Landau Orphanage was a life changing
experience. The children seem to be doing so well that it is hard
to believe they are the product of an orphanage that is so remote
and in such great need. The great results are surely from the love
and care showered upon them by the staff. The visit with two old
women speaking in the German language is something I will cherish
the rest of my life.
Roy and Dianne Green Mienk
In the village of Teplitz, Bessarabia, we found the old German
cemetery. There are about 150-200 grave markers - few are readable.
A few years ago from residents of Teplitz now living in Germany
returned to Teplitz and erected a granite monument at the cemetery
in memory of the Germans.
In the village of Borodino, Bessarabia, we found the old German
school house where a monument has been erected. It is dedicated
to all the Germans who left there in 1940 for Poland and Germany.
I believe it was dedicated in 1989. There is no longer a German
cemetery at Borodino.
Evelyn Fleck Simpson
On 23 May, I visited the former German village of Landau, Beresan
District. I was thrilled to be in my grandfather, Adam Fleck's house.
It was still intact, with a family living in it. They are a young
couple with small children. It appears to be the original structure
with a beautifully designed concrete fence and original grape arbor.
This tour of the "Homeland" was something I hope to repeat,
as it really made me want to delve more deeply into my roots.