|Lillia Belousova (center) assists Wally Duchscher,
Havre, MT (left) and Mary Jaeger Maranda (right) with documents
of the Kutschurgan villages.
The Odessa Region State Archives, Odessa, Ukraine
Presentation by Lilia Belousova, Researcher for English language,
Odessa State Archives
Presented on June 2, 1998 for the Journey to the Homeland Tour members
This institution is 77 years old but its real history began in
the 1830s of 19th century, when Apollon Skalkovsky, the famous local
historian and Director of Statistics Committee, found and delivered
to the Governor 200 year-old records. It was the documents of Zaporozsky
Cossacks that started the beginning of the historical department
in Governor's Archives.
During that time, there was not adequate state control of the
archives to prevent many do
cuments from being lost during the wars, revolutions, and natural
calamities. Even scholars couldn't use valuable historical sources
because of restricted admittance to use them.
Since 1918, all valuable records are under protection of the State.
The Odessa Archives was organized in 1920 with twenty collections.
Today, 10,000 archival collections are here with more than two million
files. The documents of various political offices, institutions,
estates, schools, churches, and famous persons reflect the political,
economic and cultural life of the South Ukrainian Region for 200
Some of these documents, directly dealing with the history of
Russian-Germans, are worthy of special attention.
Record 6: South Russian Foreign Settlements' Guardian Committee
Record 252: South Russian Foreign Settlers' Odessa Office
The Guardian Committee was founded in 1800 for governance over
foreign colonies in New Russia (South Russia) since 1833, its Main
Office was placed in Odessa. This office had three subordinate offices
in Odessa, Ekaterynoslav and Kishinev. After the Guardian Committee
was abolished in 1871, the Odessa Office continued from 1814 till
1834, where more than sixteen thousand files remained. These institutions
had many duties such as: registering newcomers, delivery of passports,
loans, various certificates, assistance in business, etc. Therefore,
to be good mediators between German communities and the Russian
world, which was so large, unknown and strange for foreigners, these
records are always of great interest for scholars. The first foreign
researcher, who studied them in 1927, was Georg Leibrandt, the professor
from Stuttgart (Germany).
These archival collections contain passports, allotments given
to colonists for entrance to Russia, directives to be included to
certain colonies, to collect for allotments, to travel abroad for
meeting their relatives and getting inheritances, etc.
Plans of various colonies;
Example: 1. Gross-Liebenthal (1824, #6-1-1657) was founded
in 1803. The Russian government was very interested in attraction
of Germans to settle close to Odessa. The first Odessa administrator,
Duke de Richelieu, hoped to provide the city with colonists' fruits,
vegetables and butter. But, the Russian officials didn't provide
newcomers suitable quarters for winter. The colonists, who arrived
before October, could prepare for winter and had comparatively easy
life. Those who arrived later often fell ill and died.
After the bitter winter, some Germans returned to their homeland.
Others, like a group from Gross-Liebenthal, lodged complaints. They
told, that officials had packed them into crumbling buildings "like
herring". Even worse, when some of the leaders tried to make their
protest heard, they were physically beaten. The colonists were supposed
to receive a daily allotment of forty kopecks per person, but were
lucky to get ten kopecks.
Mysterious diseases ravaged the settlements. In one small colony,
150 persons died in a single day during February 1805. The Duke
de Richelieu personally visited the devastated town and successfully
restored the morale of the settlers. The colonists called him "Father".
2. The foreign passport given to the colonists of Gross-Liebenthal,
Karl and Johann Zanzenbachers (1847, #6-2-9358-17, 18) to go
to Wurttemberg and visit their relatives. They came to Russia in
1819. The history of the family is very interesting, from poor colonists
to rich and famous merchants. One of them, the son of Johann, was
the most industrious and enterprising. Wilhem was a man of character,
recognized "self-made man". When he was twenty years old, he began
to purchase property in Odessa; thus at the end of the 19th century,
he was known as owner of four industrial works. Everyone in Odessa
knew the famous Zanzenbacher's fragrant soap, candles and waterglass.
He was the prominent entry in the records of Volost (District) and
Village (Rural) Administration. These 19 records with 4,806 files
are very valuable and interesting too. They contain information
about the governance and economic state of colonies, their inhabitants.
The most typical documents are:
- certificates issued to settlers to get their passports. (these
certificate includes informationabout age, signature and sometimes members of person's family)
- lists of colonists;
- records about guardianships under orphans;
- decisions of peasants' meetings on various questions: elections
shepherds; education; some problems with getting inheritances,
payment of taxes, etc.
- lists of men due for military enlistment (include information
about birth date and members
of persons' family)
- birth, marriage and death entries;
- inventories of personal property and dowry.
Here are some examples about elections in Kandel and Gross-Liebenthal:
the oath of the village mayor Valentin Roth to fulfil his duties
according to laws, honesty and for the benefit of the community.
Another document, the list of voters, shows that there were two
candidates who wanted to be firemen; but the colonists of Liebenthal
preferred candidate "N.", who the majority wrote only his name in
the middle column of the election list (#53-1-233a-14; #67-1-100).
The lithograph of "Grunau" was printed in (date obscured).
The picture of this German (Mennonite) colony is picturesque: straight
clean streets with lines of trees, neat cottages, trim fences and
bursting granaries. It was typical for German colonies in general.
The colonists came to empty steppes; however, persistency and industry
paid rewards. They produced wheat, grew fruits and vegetables, raised
cattle and engaged in small manufacture.
Among the records, we found these water-color paintings depicting
the harvester binder and the apparatus for annihilation of locusts.
These insects were a serious problem for peasants in South Ukraine;
hordes of these big black grasshoppers appeared unexpectedly and
flew down on fields, destroying crops at once. There was a special
state committee for struggle against locusts. Obviously, colonists
attempted to create their own systems of defense. The travelers
who visited the Germans, described them as humane, hard-working,
abstinent people, who called their colonies an "oasis (paradise)
on the steppe".
Religion played a very important role in the life of emigrants.
The German Lutherans and Roman Catholics made up the entire population
of Klein-Liebenthal and Josephsthal, two colonies established in
1804. Forty-four families arrived in the first year in Klein-Liebenthal
and 116 persons in Josephsthal. They passed their first winter in
Odessa. The Duke de Richelieu gave them employment and sent for
a German-speaking pastor, since all the Catholic priests in the
city of Odessa were Italian and spoke no German.
The pastor who came to serve them, Joseph Korizky, has left a
description of the settlement's difficult early days. The air was
humid, with stiff winds from the sea. The lack of forests meant
a shortage of firewood, so the Germans burned seaweed to warm themselves
and to cook their food. Snakes and rats infested their huts and
fields. In early October 1815, more than 1,000 German colonists
were reported ill, most from unknown diseases. Another German pastor,
Schabel, reported in 1815: "I found the poor colonists in total
desperation. Hundreds of them were dying of hunger and cold." And
yet the colonies survived. Sometimes, belief in God was their only
Fortunately for us, some church records escaped destruction. I
refer to the records of St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church Parish
in Odessa and St.Peter's Rome-Catholic Church Parish in Odessa.
The first record (#630) contains 357 files for years 1811-1925,
listing registration books of parishioners; birth, death, marriage
and confirmation entries of Odessa and surrounding German colonies
of Guldendorf, Lustdorf, Freudenthal, Petersthal, Annenthal and
others; certificates given to different persons; and reports of
priests, etc. The second record (#628) includes only 4 files for
years 1814-1919, since the remaining records were lost.
1. The Register of Births of Guldendorf for 1851-1859 (#630-1-139a).
This book helped to solve the riddle connected with genealogy of
the Schaffers, the ancestors of Connie Schaeffer Knight. I have
met her in May, 1996 in this room. She traveled with her father
as participants of the Journey to the Homeland Tours; and after
excursion she expressed her desire to research with records of Kandel
Village administration herself.
We together checked on files in hopes to find her grandfather,
Andreas Schaffer. The day came to an end, but we had no results.
We found many Schaffers but there was no Andreas among Kandel residents.
The next day we were more fortunate; his name was in the list of
debtors and we were rewarded at last!. Suddenly Connie become thoughtful
and said, "What a strange man my grandfather was! He never attended
peasants' meetings, didn't pay taxes and didn't want to serve in
Army". When parting, I promised her to finish our research. I told
my colleagues about this inquiry, and all of them tried to help.
Once they directed my attention on the Guldendorf Register, what
unexpected discoveries: numerous Schaffers and Andreas were found.
Perhaps he moved from Guldendorf to Kandel.
2. The records about Pastor Bonnekemper (#2-2-914), who
after graduation from the college in Kiev, went to the USA to continue
his training. He received seminary degrees, returned to South Russia
and asked to send him to some German colony. Rohrbach became the
place of his new residence.
3. Peter Martzinkevich (#252-1-316), Jesuit, Order of Karmelites,
was the only priest in Beresan district in 1821 and had to perform
occasional religious rites with all colonists, but refused to do
that with Lutherans. He even said, "I shall not go to Rastadt and
Munchen colonists, only if they kick the bucket (die)!". Martzincevich
was accused in fanatical spreading of Catholicism, before transferred
from Landau to Mannheim.
German Community In Odessa
There were many reasons for some colonists to leave their colonies
and move to a large cosmopolitan city as Odessa: for better earnings,
training, etc. Odessa was the capital of the New Russia, the center
of education, science and cultural life. The German community in
Odessa had its own traditions, however.
In 1861, the German Society "Harmonia" was founded. Their aim
was to keep national ethnic traditions, to contribute to upbringing
young Germans, to make life more enriched in content and beauty.
Many musical parties, performances were organized, many people received
moral and material support (#2-1-584).
So was the German Club in Odessa (1908-1915, #2-7-230)
The Germans engaged in making wagons, shoes, clothes, watches,
etc. But for what they were most noted was their printing technology.
The lithography advances by Gross, Munster, Braun, the Printing-house
of Nitsche were well-known in New Russia (#89-1-1567).
About education: When the Germans came to Ukraine, opportunity
was a difficult time. The main struggle was to survive. I found
the records showing that the colonists didn't let their children
visit schools, because the children worked much and helped their
parents to keep households. But as time passed into the end of the
19th century we found many Germans among the students of the Novorossiysky
(New Russia) University, the only institution of higher education
in Odessa region at that time. They tried to register in 1909. Some
students gave their application to the City Mayor to allow them
a funding of the Teutonic Society "Teutoniu Euxina" (#2-7-350).
The initiators were....
Here are excerpts from the University's records: Research this
gentle, kind and noble young man. He is a student of Jurisprudence
department, Boris Falz-Fein (#45-5-13478). He is well-educated,
a real gentleman, and fourth generation of the family. The history
of Falz-Feins is a bright example for anyone who wishes to reach
success. The first generation was Johann Fein. He was forced to
leave Wurttemberg because of violent conflict with his army commander,
(He shoot at him and was wounded). Fein arrived to New Russia at
the end of the 18th Century
Johann Fein had a great desire to became a rich and independent
farmer. In spite of his terribly cold first winter in New Russia,
he didn't give up. Without help of community, he lived alone for
a long time in the Crimea steppe, studied local conditions, weather,
way of life in that region and made his farm the best functioning
model. He learned to defend his sheep herds from windy storms; find
water in the hot steppe, and overcame winter periods. Johann married
Elisabeth Pfalz on condition that her father would change family
name of Pfalz (it sounded clumsy, he considered) into melodious
Falz and get permission to carry the double-name Falz-Fein, like
Russian nobles. Johann Pfalz did it. Czar Alexander II gave that
exclusive privilege because of great services of both families.
Their grandson Friedrich became more famous, he founded the largest
open-air Zoo in the world, Ascania Nova. Czar Nickolay II visited
the zoo, was impressed with results and raised the whole family
to the nobility. During the Russian Revolution of 1917, they left
Russia. Today, Baron Edward von Falz-Fein, one of the last male
descendants, is living in the Principality of Lichtenstein. He is
a businessman, well-known in the world of sports and international
trade. He always won awards in international exhibitions with golden
medals and stars in Cologne, Madrid, Moscow, Saint Petersburg and
But the last project, his "swan -song ", was the brewery, founded
in 1890 as really remarkable: the newest modern equipment from Germany,
France, England and even USA (the Firm "Gustav & Thompson") gathered
wide attention. The brewery produced five types of beer; the best
was "Kannenbier" in ceramic jugs. The daughter Ottilia and elder
son Emil were expert assistants and partners. However, his younger
son, Adolf, got into constant troubles. Being a waster, caused numerous
debts and made Wilhelm unhappy.
The soap and beer king died in 1894, but his business is still
alive. His children left Odessa after the Russian Revolution of
1917 and now the descendants live in Garnburg. Since the brewery
transferred into a joint-stock Company "Gambrinus" two years ago,
the results are very successful. These are all facts I know from
archives files. We helped this company prepare materials for their
history book and Museum of Beer.
Lists of colonists for various colonies exist for various years
(newcomers, debtors, orphans, vaccinated peoples, and inhabitants,
Information about general welfare of colonies - statistical and
personal lists of the births, death and marriages, especially about
marriages and transfer of households in Beresan, Kutchurgan, Liebenthal,
Glueckstal districts and Hoffnungsthal.
|The Glückstal Colonies Research Association
and the NDSU Libraries presented gifts of research books to
the Odessa State Archives in May, 1998. Standing from left
to right are: June M. Kraft, Bismarck, ND; Gerry Walth Sommer,
Mesa, AZ; Duane W. Bittner, North Highlands, CA; Janice Huber
Stangl, Sterling, VA; Lilia Belousova; and Vadim Vasilenko,
Odessa researcher and born in the German village of Lustdorf.
Reprinted with permission of Lila Belousova, Odessa State
Archives, Odessa, Ukraine.