Presentation by Dr. Elvire Necker Eberhardt, American Historical
Society of Germans from Russia Convention Calgary, Alberta, July
Transcription by Amanda Swensen
Edited by Linda Haag
She was born in
Sofiewka, Bessarabia, Moldova, on August the 13`", 1936. That
was a good year by the way. There were several of us born at that
time. The different stages of her life: She was among those who
in 1940 experience the exchange of the settlers to Poland. They
took them out of the other eastern regions and moved them a little
closer to Germany. In 1945 to 1947 she had an involuntary stay in
Denmark for 2 years. Then from '47 to '60 she lived in Germany,
and since 1960 she has been living in Canada, Alberta, to be specific.
For her academic achievements: elementary teaching degree in Germany.
Then she went to the University of Albert and received her Master's
in Education and her Ph.D. She also went to Strasbourg, France,
and got a diploma in French Studies from the Strasbourg University.
The topic of her dissertation was "The Bessarabian German Dialect
of Medicine Hat, Alberta", a linguistic analysis. So that is
a little it of a tongue twister there, linguistic, linguistic.
Besides traveling to Europe, including Bessarabia, she has been
teaching in elementary schools in Germany and at universities and
colleges in Quebec and Alberta. Presently she is retired with her
husband, Albert Necker. I guess she spends her time in Medicine
Hat and Calgary. In the winter she goes to the warmer climates in
In November she finished her book on the history of Sofiewka, Bessarabia,
that's her native village. It is titled "Sofiewka in Bessarabien
1892 1992", which you can order from her. She also will have
it in English, which is going to be ready in August, I believe.
Anybody who is interested in buying that book can put his name and
address down. She'll let you know when it comes on the market. Actually
I believe she'll give you her address. She brings us the history
and wonderings of the Germans from Bessarabia to Germany. So it
is to be from her beginnings in Bessarabia to Poland then to Germany,
and then to our days here. Well, here's Elvire.
The History and Wanderings of the Bessarabian Germans
Thank you. Since I am a Bessarabian German and he has told you
about my life, you already know everything, almost. I feel a little
shaken as I see people here like Mr. Flegel and Michael who are
really experts of my topic. So I welcome corrections at the end
of my talk but I'll tell you what I have prepared. If you cannot
hear me, maybe you would like to come more towards the front.
To start my talk I would like you to see a few slides, so that
you know the area of the world I'm talking about, and more of what
it looks like. I'll also give you the history of the people, the
German people how lived there.
You have a map here of Europe, and of Bessarabia. I can't reach
it, but if you see the Russian Empire there or the Soviet Union,
and Romania; you see the Carpathian Mountains there between Romania
and Russia. Bessarabia has changed hands between these 2 all the
time, as I will tell you shortly.
The actual area of Bessarabia was between the rivers Prut and Dnjestr.
The Dnjestr empties into the Danube and then into the Black Sea.
Just to orient yourself.
Would you like to point out so that they can see exactly where
Here you can see the pink area, which is Romania and the green
area, which is Russia. Right there at the border, north of the Black
Sea, you have. Bessarabia. Here you see it a little better, the
area that the arrow points to, this is the area I am talking about
and also of its history, that is Bessarabia.
I have little maps that show the wanderings from Germany. That
would be going down the Danube, or over land over Poland from other
groups. Here I have just the map of Bessarabia. You cannot see much,
except maybe these black dots, which represent settlements. If you
see in the middle there a concentration of black dots, that is the
first area that they settled on. They got all this land to settle
like an island. That was just for the Germans and they were surrounded
by other nationalities. Later on they moved out from there and settled
amongst the other nationalities.
Now like I said, it is between the 2 rivers, here is the Dnjestr
River and then the prut River is the other one. The landscape looks
something like our prairies in Canada or the United States. Here
this slice was taken in 1986. You can see the landscape is very
much like our prairie. They are known for, or were known for growing
wine. They would have vineyards, you used to see these a lot, or
corn. And again you can see the flat land like our prairies.
This happens to be a Sycamore tree, in German "Maulbeerbaurn".
It had a little fruit, but the Maulbeeren besides the grapes were
very important in their diet. A very rare commodity even today is
actually water. Nowadays they have irrigation, but these wells,
you still see them all over, were a very important part in their
life. Talking about Bessarabian Germans you must know they lived
in villages, and you can still see a lot of them. Once you saw one,
you know how they look because they all look very much alike. They
were founded along a street, so they're usually a long kind of a
village. The houses faced the street with their gables. Beside the
house you have a court then the stables and the barns. Here you
have another house with a gable. I'm showing you pictures from different
villages but they all look the same.
Some of the houses were rather elaborate, like this one. It was
nice. But they also have different ones, like this one here, and
again the gable faces the street. Like here toward the street there
are two windows and the gables. They all look the same. You always
can recognize a German village. You will always know them. I just
show you a group of children, because the people are the most important
part of this country. These triangles here are mud bricks which
was their building material. I took this picture in 1986. They are
still used nowadays.
You will see an entrance sign at most of the villages. Of course
they are now in the Cyrillic alphabet. Some of the villages have
the same name as before. Some have changed their name. This happens
to be Sofiewka where I was born.
The most important part of this group of people was their religious
life, so every village, I think anyway, had either a prayer chapel
or a church. This happened to be a prayer chapel, nowadays it looks
like that. Here is a little different view. Today it is a school.
This is how a school in Moldova looks nowadays. At one time it had
a steeple. In this particular village we have a very nice church.
It happens to be Albota. Here is a very good view of it. And here
again I have a few children of today in Moldova in 1986.
I want to address my talk to people who are interested in their
ancestry, or to people who are interested in traveling to Bessarabia.
So you have to forgive me if I don't satisfy everybody but I thought
that was the greatest group I could address.
I have to start with the early 1800's and life in Germany. In the
1800's life in Germany was very different from what you might encounter
nowadays if you go there. Germany for one thing did not exist yet;
it consisted of many different independent little states. There
was no welfare there; if you were poor, you could not expect any
help from the state, nor did you get a pension when you were old.
You were in the middle of war, political upheaval, famine, and if
you believed differently than the state church, and you wanted to
follow your beliefs, you couldn't do that. It was not at all the
way it is nowadays. And on top of it all in the beginning of the
l800's was the time of the Napoleonic wars. For poor people, and
most of our forefathers were poor, it was a very hard life in Germany.
So when they heard of an offer from the Czar in Russia they really
perked up their ears, because that was really something.
The Czar at the time was Alexander I. In 1812 he brought out an
offer to immigrants who wanted to come to Russia. The offer he gave
was for land (I am just naming the main ones), for religious freedom.
They could hold their own divine services. They could use German
in their schools and meetings, and they did not have to go and do
military duties. When the people in Germany heard this, they saw
it really as a God sent. Also I have to tell you that at this time,
in the early 1800's some Germans had already gone to Poland to find
better conditions. But because of the Napoleonic armies going on
into Poland and Russia, they had been swept over by these armies.
They also had to settle in the rough parts of Poland. These people
then too, when they heard the offer of Alexander I, they took advantage
of it to come to Bessarabia.
Now why did the Czar offer these points? He had acquired this land
that I showed you earlier on the map from the Turkish Empire. The
Turks who had lived there moved away because now it belonged to
Russia, and so Alexander I had this empty land. His grandmother,
who was Catherine the Great, had already invited German people to
Russia. You who are of Mennonite background know about this. So
now her grandson, Alexander I, knew this was a good way to settle
the land. He thought he should really get German settlers into this
territory and he would do very well with that. He also had a German
mother, she was a princess of Wuerttemberg, and her brother, Alexander's
uncle, ruled in Stuttgart, so he could tell his uncle, I need settlers.
His wife was a princess of Baden, which is in the Black Forest,
so he really had German connections. So this offer was made known
in Germany, and the people really tried to take advantage of it.
I want to stress that they came to Russia be invitation. Because
of what happened to the Jews and what Germany conquered in the last
war, Germans are thought of as a war loving kind of people, well,
you know our history. But this time they were invited to come to
Russia. They came by invitation. So between 1814 and 1842, in almost
30 years, 9,000 Germans took advantage of this, came to Russia and
founded in Bessarabia 25 what they called "Mutterkolonien",
i.e. original settlements. Old villages like Tarutino, Teplitz,
Alt Elft, Arzis or Kulm you might have heard these names, 25 of
them. And they were settled on one piece of land that Alexander
I gave them, just to them. So they lived like on an island in the
sea of other nationalities. This was very good for them because
this way, they lived like in their own country, for a while anyway.
They had their own German environment, really. They had their German
services, their German schools; everything inside this really was
German. Their settlements were German. I am saying this because
when you are interested in genealogy, your records will most likely
be in German. This is the reason, they lived in German settlements.
And in the beginning they had all these German neighbors.
The roads they came were not easy. If they came over land, usually
they came by oxen, or horse or any kind of vehicle, or just on foot.
It often took a whole year to come from Germany to Bessarabia. If
they came on the Danube, it took 3 months to get there. We know
of a group who started out with 1,500 but only 800 arrived. So almost
half died, it was very hard in those days, you have to believe that.
When they came there, they were offered a section of land, no a
1 /4 section of land, I am sorry. But the rest of the promises,
like financial assistance, they were supposed to get a little house,
a "Kronshaeuschen" as it was called because the Imperial
Crown had offered it, these things were very slow in coming. Often
they did not get these at all. Then the climate was so different.
Continental Russian climate is something like Canadian climate in
the 60's when we first came. Now it is not like it used to be. It
has warmed up, and I don't believe Canada is so cold anymore.
It was very hard in the beginning but they had each other, they
had their faith, and it was better than in Germany. Slowly they
could work themselves up a livelihood. They had their houses. The
original land was virgin land, but they farmed it well and they
had an income. They grew in numbers, of course, and soon this land
that they had received originally was not enough, and they had to
expand from there. So they formed new villages but now amongst other
nationalities. But they were very keen on keeping their settlements
pure German. Nowadays we may think that is racist but they had their
reasons for that and these are the reasons for you when you do research
that the papers are in German. Later on the papers had to be in
Russian but they tried to keep their settlements pure German. Even
in the newer villages when they had to move out from the old ones
because there was not enough land.
I want to say that all the villages, at first there were these
25 and then more and more were formed so in 1940 when we had to
leave Bessarabia there were 150 German settlements. The settlements
were grouped into parochial districts. A parochial district had
1 pastor and often he would keep the records. If you are interested
in a certain village, you also should know what parochial district
it belonged to and in which village of it the pastor was living.
You may find material there. Sometimes parochial districts changed
for a village. I know my own village during the time of its existence
belonged to 3 different parochial districts. So you have to find
out the different ones, and you might get more material when you
know where your village belonged to.
Life could have been very good for these Bessarabian Germans in
Russia, if it had not been for 2 things. One thing, I have mentioned
already and that was that when they grew in numbers there was not
enough land. So they founded other villages but again there was
just so much land and eventually there was not enough. Now a lot
of them took advantage to emigrate and then immigrate to other countries.
North Dakota was one, Brazil was another. In the beginning they
tried to move into neighboring countries. So they moved into Dobrudja
or they went to the Caucasus, where ever there was land. A lot went
to "Amerika" like they called Canada too and of course
there was land. So one reason of their hardship was the shortage
of land, but another reason was that between 1870 and 1875 you had
the rise of "Russian Slavic Nationalism". That meant that
everything that was not Russian was slowly either persecuted or
at least not very well tolerated.
The Germans were one of the groups they could really target. What
it meant was that slowly their privileges with the German services
and German schools were taken away. One other thing that I may have
forgotten to mention was that compulsory military service was introduced
for every male Russian citizen. The Germans had to become Russian
soldiers too, or soldiers in the Russian army. That doesn't sound
so hard in our days but in Russia it meant 7 years of military training
and often the barracks were so far away that they never could come
home all the 7 years. Furlough practically was nonexistent. So it
was very hard for families, on the farm to do without a male hand,
and also of course to be without a father. Therefore many of them,
once it was really enforced went away. And when you look at the
lists of immigrants to Canada at the time, you notice a lot of young
men who wanted to escape this hardship. Often they came alone; the
rest of the family stayed in Russia. They didn't come to Germany,
very rarely anyway, because Germany didn't have anything to offer
So this went on from the 1870's. In the late 1800's and early 1900's
many tried to escape military service. They tried to find a livelihood,
i.e. land somewhere else. Then shortly before WWI they had Czar
Nicolas II at the time, the last czar, with a German wife. You would
think people had a little compassion with the Germans. But they
didn't and certainly she didn't. They made a law where all German
property was to be confiscated and all Germans were to be deported
to Siberia. I know in my own village, only 15 km away was the next
train station. They already had trains there, and they were for
the Germans who were to leave and be taken to Siberia.
I want to testify to the grace of God because you cannot explain
that any other way. In 1916/7 there was such a sever winter like
no one had ever experienced before. Snow was as high as up to the
roofs of the houses. The trains were just covered with snow, and
there was no way they could move. So this harsh winter of 1916/7
really was the reason they didn't get deported to Siberia.
Then in March of 1917 started the beginning of the Russian Revolution,
in October then came the rest. Russia was in such turmoil that there
was no way they were interested in deporting people. Besides in
this turmoil, Romania came in which was the neighboring country
to the west, and annexed Bessarabia. So from 1918 on Bessarabia
was part of Romania.
I don't know about the United States but here in Canada I often
hear people say, our forefathers came from Romania and another group
says, my forefathers came from Russia. But if you track down their
places a little more, then you really have the same place. The reason
is, because from 1918 on, Bessarabia belonged to Romania and before
it was part of Russia.
The Romanians wanted to remain friends with the Germans and at
first they revoked all laws that would have taken away the land
from the Germans. They tried to give back their German services
and schools, a very nice move. But soon they introduced their own
rules which were you could not have more than 100 hectars of land,
Romanian was to be the language everywhere. So in the end there
were only 3 villages that had German schools. And they only had
them because they supported the schools themselves. They didn't
get a penny from the state. One of these villages was my village.
But now because the Bessarabian Germans were outside of Russia and
the other Germans in Russia, they had to develop their own identity.
And so nowadays in Germany, the Bessarabian Germans think they are
Bessarabian Germans, nothing else, but here in North America you
think Bessarabian Germans are Russian Germans. In Germany they have
their own museum, their very own organizations and then there is
another organization apart from them, the Russian Germans.
During the Romanian time too they developed their own economic organization.
The church was connected with the one in Transylvania, the Lutheran
church anyway. Now the church head quarters were in Sibiu formerly
called Hermannstadt. There are documents there also. Anyway they
developed their own way and did pretty well economically at the
Again everything could have been very well for them if it hadn't
been for the war. In 1939 WWII started. In the beginning Hitler
and Stalin were still friends. This was a blessing for the Bessarabian
Germans. Hitler gave in to Stalin though. Stalin said: If I attack
Poland from the east, will you let me do that? Then if Hitler would
attack Poland from the west, he would be allowed to do that and
you can have all the Germans in Bessarabia and other parts of Eastern
Europe if I (Stalin) annex Bessarabia. In 1940 this agreement was
made between Hitler and Stalin, Stalin would invade Bessarabia and
the Germans there would be allowed to leave.
Before the Bessarabian Germans could get out of Bessarabia though,
they had to prove that they were pure German. Again this is interesting
for you who are interested in genealogy. I have seen many people
who are not so good in keeping track of documents or making records,
but at this time you had to. You had to prove 4 generations back
that you were not Jewish. So when in June of 1940 the Russians occupied
Bessarabia and in October the Germans were supposed to leave for
Germany a frantic work started to get documents. You had to prove
that your grandmother or whoever was all German. People were trying
to get birth certificates, baptismal certificates. Everybody had
to make an "Ahnenpass" which is a family tree, 4 generations
back. This "Ahnenpass" everybody had to carry on him to
Germany but other written material had to stay back. It was not
to come out of the country, not in 1940 anyway, not officially.
Secretly some documents were brought out, but most stayed there.
So in all those 150 German villages in 1940 records were kept of
their families. These records were in German, often by the pastor
or the teacher, and these several generations back. Now it is important
too, that in 1920 Russia had changed their calendar, and the Germans
in Bessarabia lived in Romania since 1918 anyway, where they had
the new calendar. Between the old and the new calendar there is
a difference of 1 I days. So if you are looking up a person born
before 1920 there may be different dates depending what calendar
it refers to. Don't worry about that, it might still be the same
person. Sometimes they adjusted a person's dates in 1940 when they
recorded the 4 generations. Sometimes they let it be and so you
get this discrepancy. But don't worry about it if it is just those
O.K. Then as I said there still was the official agreement between
the Nazi German state and the Soviet Union. It was all well organized
that the Germans could leave Bessarabia; the women left first then
the men. There were trains there, then we came to camps in Germany.
It was all organized; there were beds, and kitchens and all of that.
About 93 000 came out, so there were 10 times as many that came
out as had entered Bessarabia in the early 1800's. This moving was
called "Umsiedlung". Like I said, this happened in 1940.
And most documents, like church books, village records, had to stay
behind. But shortly after Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union became
enemies. Germany overran Poland and went farther even into Russia.
During this time Bessarabia came within German territory.
During this time one man was authorized by the Bessarabian Germans
to try and get as many papers out of Bessarabia as possible, those
ones which had been left there in 1940. This man's name was Artur
Kraenbring. He worked there from 1942 to 1944, and he did get a
lot of documents out, but some areas he did not reach. He mainly
worked on those oldest settlements which were all together in one
area. The other settlements which were farther out, he just did
not get to. Now what happened to those papers he did get out? They
were collected in a place in Berlin or Potsdam which was called
"Reichssippenamt". From there when the Russian army slowly
moved toward Germany, and as you know German cities were bombed
and rail lines were bombed so it took a long time to get to Berlin.
So they thought it was better to move them to Poland which at this
time was still in German hands. And the Bessarabian Germans had
been resettled in Poland too as this was then German territory.
In that time it was either "Warthegau" (Warthe is a river
there) or "Westpreussen" that is West Prussia, in that
area the Bessarabian Germans were settled. So because of the danger
of the bombs in Berlin, they said, let's move out our records to
"Bromberg'. It is now called "Bydgoshtsh". Mr. Kraenbring
who was in charge of bringing these documents out also had his office
Everything could have been fine but the war front came closer to
Poland and then eventually to Germany. When this area was close
to being overrun by the war front, they did not let anybody flee
until the last minute. In great haste they had to flee. Now you
can imagine, if you were in this situation, nobody would think of
papers. You think of your clothes, because in January 1945 it was
very, very cold. You think of food, and very few people thought
of their papers and certainly not of the papers in Mr. Kraenbring's
office. Some of them eventually did get back to Berlin in 1965 and
were moved to Leipzig. You have the Genealogical Institute there
in Leipzig. Now this happened to be in East Germany and it was hard
to get to them. If you had saved your "Ahnenpass", you
had your own family tree 4 generations back. But the official papers
which were in Leipzig were hard to look at. I want to illustrate
that the Germans had to leave Poland in great haste with 2 stories.
One story I have in my book, and you can read it there. This is
the story of a family who was able to get a place on a boat when
they fled. They took a boat in Gdansk and ended up in Denmark. It
was a boat supposedly for 4,000 people, but at this time because
they were so short of boats, they put 6,000 wounded soldiers on
and in addition 5,000 civilians, refugees as they were called. It
was so crowded that person was sitting next to another person to
accommodate everybody. If you left your seat, you didn't have a
chance to get back because people wanted to stretch out a little
bit and filled in on your place. That wasn't the worst yet, but
on the way to Denmark they were attacked by bombs and she describes
this situation in the book. They survived that, women and children,
and then there on the Baltic Sea they came on mines. You have to
read that, it's an incredible story.
Another illustration I would like to make with a story I just read
in the Bessarabian German yearbook of 1995. Every year they bring
out a yearbook which is called "Bessarabischer Heimatkalender".
There is a story of what happened to the president of the "Landsmannschaft"
of the Bessarabian Germans in Germany, Edwin Kelm. He was amongst
those trying to flee in January of 1945, and like I said you could
not do it till the last minute. So that one morning in January 1945
somebody on their farm yelled: "Save yourselves, the Russians
are coming." So they quickly threw something on a wagon and
fled in great haste. Of course the streets were full with refugees,
soldiers, and tanks. They tried to flee going west, away from the
Russians, of course. But they found themselves in the middle of
a group of tanks, and so to avoid them they went to the side into
a little forested area. Then they saw in the distance people in
uniform. It looked like German uniforms. So they thought, well,
these are German soldiers, we'll go there and ask for help. As they
got there, the family and some others, they approached this group
of supposedly German soldiers. The soldiers called to them: "Come,
we are Germans too." And as they came closer, they shot every
one coming close. It turned out they were Polish underground workers
and had only dressed as German soldiers. Well, here was this family
seeing the dad shot right in front of their eyes, and so dispersed
in all directions. Edwin Kelm who was 14 years old had just seen
his father shot, he lost track of his mother, his brother and his
sister, and just tried to get away from this scene. When he was
out of the immediate danger, he was all alone, he had lost all of
his family. So he tried to go on foot, at night, and don't forget
this was January 1945, very cold, snow and ice everywhere. It took
him 3 months to get out of Poland into what was then East Germany,
to cross the Oder River. It took another 2 months for him to find
his mother and the rest of his family in what then became West Germany.
This is just a little illustration of what happened at this time.
So you understand that documents were the last thing that people
had on their minds. If you don't find what you are looking for,
have compassion. Just ask them what happened. Because people say,
why didn't they keep records.
When people fled, a lot of them did make it into either East Germany
or West Germany, to settle there. But some didn't and they were
deported back to Russia for slave labor if they were alive at all.
But the group in West Germany, which was the largest group, formed
organizations which might be helpful to you to approach. For one
thing, the Bessarabian Germans organized themselves into something
called "Landsmannschafl", and right now the president
of the "Landsmannschaft" is Edwin Kelm who had this experience
when he fled with his family. They have a museum in Stuttgart and
the museum has all kinds of rooms where you can find a lot of material.
They have a "Hilfkomittee" which is an organization which
in the beginning of 1945 tried to help a lot of people. They told
me that Americans helped a lot of German people, Bessarabian Germans,
through this organization the "Hilfskomittee". They have
a religious organization called "Gemeinschaft Nord Sued"
which often has retreats. They have 2 homes, one in North Germany,
one in Schorndorf close to Stuttgart. And if you want to, you can
go to their retreats. The museum is very good to look at for their
archive and the material they have. They have a nursing home in
Backnang which is between Stuttgart and Schwaebisch Hall, if you
know your area. And all these places, the nursing home, the Hilfskomittee
in Hannover, the "Heimathaus" in Stuttgart where the museum
and the Landsmannschaft is, they have tried to collect material
from people who have something. What they have there, they collected
and accumulated. They tried to organize it, it is not that well
organized yet but if you are interested in their material you'll
find something there. What ended up in East Germany, some of it
you may find in Leipzig, in the place that is very useful for genealogical
work. Now after the unification you'll have no problem to get there.
I have to relate to you something here, because I have a little
time, about what happened to me before the German unification. I
was working on my book, and I knew they had something in Leipzig
of my village which is called "Familienbuch", a register
of different families of my village of the time of 1940. I knew
one of the volumes had somehow survived and was kept in the Genealogical
Institute in Leipzig. When I wrote to them, they told me, you cannot
get it and we will not give any information out. Then I wrote, can
I look at it if I come there. They told me, no, this is only for
citizens of East Germany. Well, this was now May of 1989, after
Glasnost and Perestroika, and I thought .I'll try anyway. And would
you know, in the train I met a lady from Leipzig. I told her my
story. So she said, you know I'll pretend I want this book for me.
So we went to the Genealogical Institute together. First thing they
asked,: "Are you all citizens of the Deutsche Demokratische
Republik" as East Germany was called in German? Well, I kept
very quiet, the lady said: "They are my friends." Then
she asked for the book, they showed it to us. I saw it, and it was
the original document. It was what I wanted. Then the lady asked
if she could have a copy of the 8 or 9 pages, that this book only
had. It is only the second volume of the register of my village.
The first is lost. Could we get copies of these pages and could
we take them along. Yes, we could have it but that takes 3 weeks
to get that done. So my lady friend gave her address, and they sent
it to her. And I got them from her. So sometimes you are lucky that
way. But this was then. They are very different now, and you can
get material from there now.
Another experience I had in Sibiu, formerly Hermannschadt in Romania.
There is a lady in Germany, she is working on her doctorate degree
on the Churches of the Bessarabian Germans. She knew that there
was a lot of material in Hermannstadt which is now Sibiu. She got
into Romania already at the time when Ceaucescu was still alive
and it was very dangerous for her to get into Romania. Since then
Romania is still not as open as East Germany. Now of course there
is no East Germany. She nonetheless succeeded in getting out material
and some of it was very helpful for my area which I was interested
in. So there you can find material also.
I don't know what else I should touch on. If you have questions,
maybe I could answer them. But I would like to say to people who
are interested in taking a trip to Bessarabia. Bessarabia is only
an area. Politically the southern part is owned by the Ukraine,
the rest of it is now, since 1992, an independent country, the country
of Moldova. Up to 1992 it was the "Moldavian Soviet Socialist
Republic". Moldova has its own money, the name is "leu",
the same name as Romanian money. But the southern part nowadays
belongs to the Ukraine. So if you want to go to Bessarabia, you
need 2 visas. Another thing is, your village may have changed its
name. Over the years I have tried to collect the new names. I have
copies here of the list if anybody is interested. So Katzbach is
now Lushanka, Borodino is still Borodino and so on. Some of them
have changed. I know of one person who went to Bessarabia, 2 or
3 years ago, he tried to find Alexanderfeld. Well, nobody knew about
Alexanderfeld, so you have to know the name nowadays.
If anybody is interested, I have a list of different places where
you might find material and also a list of the new names of the