Meet Again in Heaven: Germans in the Soviet Union Write Their American
Relatives: 1925 - 1937
Book review by J. Otto Pohl, author of the book, Ethnic Cleansing
in the USSR, 1937-1949.
Ronald Vossler's new book is a valuable collection of primary
source material ignored up until now by most scholars. The bulk
of the book consists of English translations of letters written
by ethnic Germans in the USSR to relatives in the Dakotas. Spanning
the years 1925 to 1937, these letters provide first person views
of the ethnic German experience in the USSR. Among the traumatic
events dealt with in these letters are collectivization, dekulakization,
exile to labor settlements and the murder famine (Holodomor) of
1932-1933. The perspective of ethnic Ukrainians on the Holodomor
and the events that preceded it has received significant attention
from scholars in the last two decades. This book, however, is the
first systematic attempt to show these events through the eyes of
the large German minority that lived in Ukraine.
These letters are not comfortable to read. They depict some of the
most horrible suffering inflicted upon one segment of mankind by
another in world history. The brutality of the Soviet regime in
collectivizing farms, deporting Germans labeled as "kulaks"
to freezing wastes and forcibly removing every stalk of grain from
Ukraine is graphically depicted in these letters. Collectively,
these letters tell the story of the ethnic Germans in the USSR during
the 1930s. It is a story that has received almost no attention in
the US in recent decades. Vossler has provided a great service to
historians by collecting, translating and collating these letters.
In addition to the letters themselves, Vossler provides an excellent
introduction, index and explanatory notes. His son, Joshua Vossler
has embellished the text with a series of finely executed black
and white drawings. The volume as a whole provides a view of German
life in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s. In doing so it
also provides a powerful indictment of the Soviet system.
to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested
by contacting Michael