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Die alte und de neue Heimat der Bessarabien-Deutschen: eien Dokumentation, 1920-1980 (The Old and the New Homeland of the Bessarabian Germans: a Documentation 1920-1980)

Review by Barbara Kremer Bruzelius, Fargo, ND and Marion Mertz, Fargo, ND

Die alte und de neue Heimat der Bessarabien-Deutschen: eien Dokumentation, 1920-1980 (The Old and the New Homeland of the Bessarabian Germans: a Documentation 1920-1980). Edited by Richard Heer. Bietigheim-Bissingen, West Germany: Eine Dokumentation, 1920-1980.


Richard Heer follows the lives of those German who, seeking freedom from dictatorship, emigrated in the 19th century from Schwaben in German to Bessarabia in Russia. While the lived in Bessarabia they became followers of the Skythen, the Turkish nomads of Skythien. When the Reich called these Germans back home again these wanderers returned to Warthegau in Germany. Borders shifted, and part of Poland came under German rule. Foremost in their wanderings was the thought that freedom and peace were worth any sacrifice.

Heer gives authenticated accounts of the leaders and the individuals who were an influence during this period while the adventurers adjusted to their lives in a changing environment. Readers of this book would be interested in seeking out trustworthy information of their forefathers who struggled constantly to protect their precious freedom.

Published in the German language, the book contains passages written in Old German. Reference is made to historic events: growth of Hitler’s power; World War II; the position of the Church at that time; a copy of the 1763 Manifesto of Empress Catherine II of Russia and the countries under her control; and a copy of the Manifesto of Alexander I, Emperor of Russia, decreed on February 20, 1804.

The book also contains well-illustrated maps; graphic color plates; a table of ruler, both Russian and German, from 1250 to 1918; and photographs of persons prominent in this chronicle. Mentioned, among others are: Dr. Hans Otto Roth, who was instrumental in acquiring financing for the settlers; Rudolf Brandsch, a State Secretary, who influenced politics; and Pastor Daniel Haase, a prelate, who used his influence to preserve German heritage and culture.

Somewhat disappointing is the physical layout of the book. The printing is crowded and in some cases difficult to read. Better quality paper would have improved the readability. However the book is still a reliable source for serious research on the Germans from Russia. One should note that there has been a controversial reaction to its content. 

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North Dakota State University Libraries
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
Libraries
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PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
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