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Odessa: Facets of a Changing City

Review by Mikhail Golubouski

Baumann, Joachim and Moosburger Baumann, Uwe. Odessa: Facets of a Changing City. Regensburg, Germany: Fr. Ant. Niedermayr, 2003.


Declaration of love.

There are many ways to reveal one’s own feelings.

This applies equally to people and to cities.

The city of Regensburg is one of Odessa’s sister cities. The students of Odessa State University and Odessa Musical Academy, plus Danube’s sailors, know this town very well. Most importantly, Odessa’s people appreciate a humanitarian convoy with medical supplies, equipment for hospitals and children orphanages which comes every year from Regensburg to Odessa.

During a recent year, Joachim Bauman, a journalist from Berlin, came to Odessa along with this humanitarian convoy. Immediately, he fell in love with Odessa and decided to tell about this fascinating city to his fellow-Germans.

Next time he returned to Odessa with his friend Uwe Moosburger who is a professional photographer. Their intent was to create a photo-exhibition about Odessa for display in Germany: and later, to publish a photo album, reflecting continued changes of this city.

Now I hold in my hand the photo album, which Joachim Bauman sent me from Germany. This album has photos by Uwe Moosburger when in Odessa, to accompany commentary and pictorial sketches by Joachim Bauman often lyrical and sometimes ironical. For example, the title of the first chapter of this book is: “The timely advice: Do not step on manhole covers in the streets!” The first and last pages show photos of these frequently opened manholes.

Joachim’s love for Odessa has deep roots: He graduated in physics studies from Odessa State University in 1978. During his student years, he strolled everywhere in this town. Now, a quarter century after the fall of the Berlin Wall: He has the opportunity to observe vigilantly and with loving glance at changes which happened during the recent ten years, since Odessa is now living differently.

Joachim’s humorous and discerning penmanship and Uwe’s attentive camera did not miss striking contrasts of Odessa’s cityscape: From grand architectural display of Seaside Boulevard, Potemkin Stairs, and beauty of Opera Theatre and Philharmonics, to everyday Odessa backyards and hopeless elderly people. The new and ever-changing Odessa is most attractive for these authors: Odessa’s modern discos and businessmen, also a faintly perceptible revival of German Odessa which formerly contributed so much to our flourishing city. The authors’ attention was also attracted by the World Club of the Odessa Citizens, featured by the Odessa journal “Passage” which can compete with the best of western journals; by the new public monuments such as “The Garden of Sculptures” near the Literature Museum; one of the famous “12 Chairs”; and monuments to Utjesov (Odessa singer) and to Deribasovskaya Street (tourist attraction).

Thus, two German authors transfixed by Odessa’s charm, have caught the wind of changes
which blows through Odessa’s sails. Their photo album is a souvenir gift to German readers from Odessa, but also a cultural gift to Odessa from Germany. This bilingual German-English photo album hopefully will be available in Odessa with a short commentary in Russian or Ukrainian.

Mikhail Golubouski

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