The 39th Bundestreffen, 2010

A Seventy Years After the Resettlement: Turned into a Harmonious Celebration of Coming Together

Fieß, Heinz. "The 39th Bundestreffen, 2010." Mitteilungsblatt, July 2010, 3-5.

Translation from the original German-language text to American English is provided by Alex Herzog, Boulder, CO. 

It was not as spectacular as the glittery Bundestreffen [national convention] of two years ago, when the presence of the then German Federal President, Horst Köhler provided an extraordinary atmosphere and unleashed strong attendance numbers. Still, this years festivities on the last Sunday in May proceeded no less happily or harmoniously.

The events that began for the attendees as soon as they entered the Forum in Ludwigsburg were indeed the intensely hoped-for reward for the experienced organizers and helpers of the Bessarabian German Association, following a long period of intensive preparation work. After two strategic discussions in Ludwigsburg, comprehensively planned preparation work and the final setting up of booths and exhibits on the Saturday before the convention, everything was nicely ready for May 30.

In the two large parking, folks walking toward the Forum were already greeting each other joyously and warmly. Many had come in their own cars or shared a ride, and some had come from far away by bus. Even before 9 AM there was a lot of life in front of the booths and at the information desk at the main entrance, as well as in the hallways housing various exhibits and booths. Also remarkable and gratifying was the presence of numerous younger people demonstrating great interest in the various happenings. In conversation and getting last-minute questions answered at specific booths, where final arrangements were still being made, the time passed very quickly before, a few minutes before 10 AM, attendees had found a seat inside the beautifully decorated theater hall. Right on time at 9:55 AM a delegation from the City Band of Esslingen under the direction of Michael Unger began to set the musical tone and to provide a festive mood.

As he began to greet people, Ingo Rüdiger Isert was very pleased to observe a considerable number of invited honorifics, of whom we shall mention as representative of the entire contingent the Minister of the Interior of Baden-Württemberg and its official Representative for the Displaced, Refugees and Aussiedler, Heribert Rech; the [Federal] Foreign Office=s Representative For Southern Europe, Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorff; the chargè d’affaires at the Moldovan Embassy in Berlin, Aureliu Ciocoi; and the General Consul of Ukraine stationed in München, Yuriy Yarmilko. In his warm words of greeting for other honored guests as well, that is, representatives of communities and institutions, including Mayor Gabriele Müller-Trimbuschthe  of the [Association’s] sponsoring city of Stuttgart, all of whom he mentioned by name, Isert paid tribute especially to their friendly ties with the Bessarabian Gerrnan Association. He also directed especially cordial greetings to guests who had traveled from Bessarabia and America.

In his festive address Minister of the Interior Heribert Rech recalled the resettlement pact signed by Hitler and Stalin seventy years back. He called that date of the signing, September 5, 1940, a memorable day, one that for many Bessarabians became an indescribably sad day. That day signified the end of 125 years of successful settlement history of Germans in Bessarabia. And he continued: It was simply because they were Germans and thus confessed to their origins, language and culture that Bessarabian Germans suffered that fate. After briefly describing life in the camps, settlement in East Europe, and flight, the Minister put strong emphasis on new beginning in Germany, which for many took place rather smoothly thanks to the considerable efforts of Karl Rüb in Württemberg. As early as July, 1945, Rüb, a certified engineer, on his own initiative founded the Stuttgart-based Assistance Project for Evangelical Resettlers and thereby made it possible for 22,000 refugees, primarily Bessarabian Germans, to find residence in Württemberg. Rech went on to describe the integration of the millions of refugees and displaced persons as the real post-war miracle. He also said that the determination of the refugees to make it was an important component for the so-called Economic Miracle to occur. He also pointed to the large exhibit Ihr und Wir [You and We]” being shown in Stuttgart as documentation of the successful integration of those who were driven from their homeland.

In his own address, Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorff made some rather different but also very strong points. During his roughly three years as German Ambassador in Chisinau he has become a leading expert on the Republic of Moldova. His very engaged remarks constituted an urgent appeal on behalf of the interests of Moldova, which can be summarized by means of the following key phrases: more German investment and exchange of goods, more political awareness, a strong desire for entry into the EU, contributions from Bessarabian Germans to improved understanding of Moldovas history. In brief: Moldova needs tour awareness and attention There is more than enough to be done. Enormous private German assistance is needed and will be welcomed in Moldova, particularly in rural areas. Graf Lambsdorff could not have paved the way any better for the subsequent, penetratingly personal words which the chargedaffairs at the Embassy for the Republic of Moldova, Aureliu Ciocoi, then expressed in his own welcoming address.

Embassy Counsel Ciocoi took up the deeply impactful and fateful changes the Hitler-Stalin Pact caused not only for the Bessarabian Germans., but also for the population that remained behind in the former Bessarabia. For us, too, 1940 meant the loss of homeland, Ciocoi emphasized. The period of political dependency on the Soviet Union that lasted until 1991 was a strange one, without its own history. In the Moldova of today little or nothing is known of the history of the Bessarabian Germans. There is the hope, as exemplified by the recent founding of a Center for Bessarabian Studies in the Republic of Moldova, conversation on cultural projects will take place, and paths toward continued economic projects might also be prepared. Ciocoi concluded by thanking the Bessarabian Germans for assistance provided to his countrymen.

In his official words of greeting from Ukraine, General Consul Yuriy Yarmilko expressed his admiration for the long-lasting, continuing and successful work of the Bessarabian German Association. The current political situation in Ukraine under its new President is one that can be considered stabile enough to engender efforts aimed at improved relations with Russia and at expressing the special desire for integration into the EU {European Union]. “Regular participation by Ukraine in meetings of Bessarabian Germans is proof of how relevant an understanding between peoples really is,” added the General Counsel.

With visible pride for his city of Ludwigsburg, “First” Mayor Konrad Seigfried [sic], representing Lord Mayor Werner Spec, who was away on a visit to Crimea, appeared as the quasi landlord in the beautiful Forum in Ludwigsburg, and was pleased to be able to express his close solidarity with the Bessarabian Germans. The fact that fifty percent of the residents can demonstrate a background as refugees or immigrants clearly demonstrates an unbelievably successful history of integration efforts and a remarkable achievement by the city.

Following the wishes of a large group of attendees from Ukraine, Dr. Ivan Raynow, administrator of the county of Sarata, happily joined the circle of those expressing words of greetings With the assistance of interpreter Anna he spoke a hymn of praise for Bessarabia and acknowledged in particular reconstruction efforts by Bessarabian Germans, especially in agricultural areas, but in social and cultural areas as well. He warmly thanked Dr. Edwin Kelm for his great contributions toward understanding between peoples. As a symbolic gift his delegation presented the Association with a ceramic Cossack figurine holding a wine glass to symbolize liberty and understanding.

The celebration turned very serious and even more festive as Honorary National Chairman Dr. Edwin Kelm memorialized the dead while Siegfried Rundel played the song “In Ewigkeit [For Eternity].”

Following a time of group singing of the first verse of the Heimatlied and of the [currently only verse of the German] national hymn, national Managing Director Werner Schäfer concluded the proceedings by thanking the speakers and expressly mentioning the exhibit “Ihr und Wir [You and We],” stating with some pride: “The process of integration during the last seventy years has been highly successful.”

During the ensuing stand-up reception there was plenty of opportunity for -- depending on varying language skills -- lively conversations between the visitors from Ukraine and Molodva and the invited honoraries. Those speakers who were still present were feeling visibly good and were pleased to participate in relaxed communication. And here is a not so common occurrence: Olga Gusarenko, leader of the Cossacks who had come from Ukraine, dressed in an impressive uniform, emphasized that she had always fought for freedom in Ukraine. Another highlight occurred when she presented the National Chairman with a plaque in his honor and also gave him a certificate making him an honorary Captain of the Cossacks. The same honor had been bestowed previously to Honorary National Chairman Dr. h.c. Edwin Kelm. Finally she presented to each of those two gentlemen an awe-inspiring and fear-inducing saber which, she hoped, they might sport at official occasions in the future.  

Meanwhile, there was a lot going on in the hallways of the Forum. Anyone not getting sustenance from Bessarabian dishes prepared by the culinary team of the Alexander Foundation was able to acquire much information from the colorful multiplicity of exhibits and booths, including a large table with books, offers of Bessarabia travel, Internet services and the Mitteilungsblatt, hand-made wares from the Alexander Foundation home, a raffle, wine and halva sales, a picture gallery covering the resettlement and life in the camps, and – one which many crowded around – the information booth for family research.

A traveling exhibit created by the Moldova Institute adhered closely to the motto of this Bundestreffen, “Seventy Years after the Resettlement. “ Via richly informative texts and impressive images all who were interested learned of important topics relating to the political background of the resettlement and the course of its events.

The attendees also showed great interest in the afternoon program presented in the theater hall and the citizens’ hall. For example, Heinz Fieß provided a slide show on Bessarabian German history from the original immigration all the way to the new beginnings in Germany. He used the theme “The circle has closed,” which meshed with the motto of the Bundestreffen and the main topic of resettlement. Dr. h.c. Edwin Kelm, in turn, using his vast experience, used photos on the topic “Bessarabia Today.” The film “Schwabenumsiedler [Swabian Resettlers],” also relating to the convention motto, as well as a film on Bessarabia produced by Werner Schabert rounded out the presentations in the theater hall. In the citizens’ hall attendees took advantage of the opportunity to meet with members and various home chapters, and they enjoyed a performance of the Dobrudzha Choir.

Quite satisfied with the multifaceted program, and enriched from many new contacts during this 39th Bundestreffen, the more than 1400 visitors finally started their travels home, certain that they would be present next time as well.

Invited High-Ranking Honorifics
Presentation of the Cossack Figurine
The Stand-up Reception, with Guests from Moldova and Ukraine
Lively Happenings at the Exhibit Booths

Photos by Herbert Hablizel

Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation of this article.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller