The end of Black Sea German Colonies
Das Ende der deutschen Kolonien am Schwarzen Meer
Excerpts from a book by A. Bosch and J. Lingor
Auszuege von einem Buch von A. Bosch und J. Lingor
Bosch, A. and J. Lingor. "The end of Black Sea German Colonies." Volk auf dem Weg, April 1994, 5-7.
Translation from the original German to American English
by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado
A map of "Transnistria,"
According to a census of 1939, as many as 1,600,612 Germans lived
in the Soviet Union. This number probably did not change appreciably
by the outbreak of war [between Germany and Russia; Tr.] on June
22, 1941. The most horrible wave of terror during prewar times had
come to an end in 1938. Yet, for those in power in Moscow, Hitler's
surprise attack on the Soviet Union served as a welcome occasion
to drag out a list of grievances against the Germans that they had
kept -- just in case it might be needed -- at least since 1934.
The Supreme Soviet needed only to affix a signature to the bottom
of a ukase that condemned the Volga-Germans to forced deportation
and, thereby, would serve as leverage against all Soviet citizens
of German nationality.
On August 28, 1941, the date on which that particular ukase was
not only announced, but indeed carried out immediately, about three-quarters
of Germans residing in the USSR found themselves under Soviet rule,
while the other one-fourth -- mostly in the Ukraine -- were under
German control. For them all, in one way or another, this marked
the beginning of a vale of sorrows, which the Volga-Germans and
the Germans from the Caucasus region and from Crimea had to embark
on as early as 1941. The battle of Stalingrad occurred in 1943,
after which it was the turn of the last group of Germans who, beginning
in February of 1944, were taken from Transnistria [see map; Tr.]
to go "home to the Reich," as the saying went, officially
as well as in a much more mocking manner. At the time, Transnistria
was that part of Southwest Ukraine which Germany had ceded to its
allies, the Romanians. [Today, Transnistria is a somewhat different
stretch of land and "country" altogether; Tr.] German
residents of that particular area came under the control of the
so-called "Volksdeutschen Mittelstelle [Ethnic-German Central
Command Area]" or "Vomi."
On February 3, 1944, the Staff of the Reichsfuehrer's SS in Odessa
received notification that no plan for transport [away from the
region; Tr.] for the Germans of Transnistria, about 134,000 in number,
had yet been arranged. However, SS-Brigade Leader Hoffmeyer had
indeed made the necessary preparations for transport to Bessarabia
as soon as the military situation might make it necessary. Hoffmeyer,
it should be added, was the Director of the Vomi.
By Sunday, March 12, a radio message reached all military "leaders"
in Transnistria announcing that the Russians had crossed the northern
part of the River Bug. This caused the invocation of the so-called
"alarm level IV," which signified immediate evacuation.
Hardest hit were the German colonies in the Beresan region, which
were closest to the Bug and therefore had to move as soon as possible.
These included the villages of Johannestal, Karlsruhe, Katharinental,
Landau, Muenchen, Rastatt, Rohrbach, Speyer, Sulz, Worms, Waterloo
I and Waterloo II.
In contrast, Germans in the Kutschurgan Valley (Baden, Elsass,
Kandel, Mannheim, Selz, Strassburg) should have had a little more
time [these larger villages and the rest of Kutschurgan being quite
a bit father west; Tr], even though they did not know the exact
dates when they might have to evacuate. They were running around,
excitedly, and speaking of the misery to come and, like others in
such a situation, considering themselves in a helpless state. They
would undertake the most unimportant things, none of any consequence,
even though an incredibly great deal of preparation had to be accomplished
during a very short time. Day and night they slaughtered, fried,
and baked, they gathered the most basic clothing and food supplies
and packed up everything. It should be mentioned that it had rained
for an entire week, which had made the roads totally soft and muddy,
which would cause wagon wheels to sink down to their axles in mud.
But they had no choice. Getting ready they must, and nobody wanted
to or was allowed to stay back.
Residents of Rohrbach
prior to the Great Trek
The Kandel folks were the first in the Kutschurgan Valley to be
ordered to leave, and the night of March 18 to March 19 -- the last
one they would spend there -- was filled with agitated tension.
No one was able to sleep, and even the children, infected by the
parents, would walk around crying and agitated.
March 19, 1944, the feast of St. Joseph, was a Sunday and for Catholics
a holiday of obligation to boot. None of those who lived through
that day and are still living today will ever forget that day. It
was the saddest and blackest day in the 136-year history of Kandel
-- the day we had to leave our beloved Kandel forever.
Everybody was up early on that March 19. The wagons, loaded earlier,
and the teams of horses stood ready by five o'clock in the morning
so that the journey could begin at six o'clock, to proceed in a
southern direction toward Ovidiopol. Leaving proved to be difficult,
and the number of tears that flowed was not measurable. Not only
children, the older folks and the women, but even "hard"
and mature men were crying. Many were unable to look back -- everyone's
heart was crushed thinking about the village, the school, the church,
and the parental home.
Today we speak of those times, of "home." But at that
time we felt that "home" was not merely a State or even
a political administrative system. Rather, to us it really meant
the home, the house in which our parents, in which we, were born
and grew up -- the piece of soil we were so closely tied to, the
school, the church, even the liman and, not the least, the feeling
of belonging together. All these feelings made parting our beloved
home village so very hard.
Still, what would have awaited us had we stayed? Who of us could
possibly foresee that this journey would be just the beginning of
many that lay ahead of us?
||Raphael and Katharina Dauenhauer
of Landau in the Odessa
Region, along with their children Raphael, Katharina, Anton,
Johann, and Evor
during their escape to Germany during the spring of 1944. Photo:
Dauenhauer, Joseph-Priller Str. 22, 86159 Augsburg. ]
During that first day, our trek advanced very slowly and only with
great effort. The cows, driven in a group as we left, soon scattered
and, despite the general confusion, soon found their proper owners,
as if wanting to go the long journey along with them. The roads,
softened by continuous rain, made progress very difficult. The wagons,
which were already overloaded, provided space only for children
and elderly people, while the others were forced to walk -- which
in the mud and with their relatively poor footwear was not an easy
Only with great difficulty and effort did our trek reach Troizk,
where we stayed overnight. Already there were difficulties with
the locals -- Troizk had many Russian residents who had fought for
the Red Army during the civil wars of 1918 - 1923 and were now sympathizers
of the partisans opposing the German occupation.
During the evening of the second day we reached Franzfeld, whose
residents had just left their village early that very day. Here
we felt very much at home, especially since cellars, storage bins
and sheds were still filled with various foodstuffs. We stayed in
Franzfeld two days before moving on to Ovidiopol and the ferry across
the Dnyestr liman. About noon of March 22 we reached the ferry crossing,
where ten motorized ferries, each capable of carrying 20 wagons,
were in operation.
We did not pause on the other side, the town of Akkermann, and
continued for our next night's stay in Monashe. The following day
our trek reached Sarata, we then proceeded to Tatarbunar, where
we took on more feed for the horses, and then we were moving on
toward Bolgrad and through various Bessarabian localities such as
Kholms, Kirnicki, Vasilyevka, and others. We stayed overnight in
some of them. Our further journey via horse-drawn wagons took us
past Vulkaneshti toward Reni and, on Saturday, April 1, we stopped
in Tatar-Anamur (Cismikoy). Due to severe weather in the Carpathian
Mountains, including snow, rain, and icy roads, we were unable to
continue and stayed temporarily in the same village -- having received
a friendly reception by its Bulgarian inhabitants -- until April
17. Meanwhile, on April 5 the village experienced a very unusual
snow storm that lasted until April 13. On April 9 we celebrated
our first Easter away from home.
In the meantime, elderly people and pregnant women were taken to
the city of Galatz via military medical trains. The day after, when
everyone believed they had been brought to safety, Galatz was bombed,
and for a long time we did not know about their fate. Indeed there
were several wounded and dead during the bombing raid of Galatz.
During the early morning of April 17 we were finally able to continue,
initially back toward Vulkaneshti, and then via Gabanossa and Pilnea
to Kabul and, across the bridge over the River Pruth, on to Kagul.
Following one overnight stop we continued on Romanian soil via Adyud,
Cayuti, Bacau, Piatra, Gergheni, Gehin, until we came to Dej (pronounced
Dehzh). This railroad center was part of Hungary at the time, but
would be ceded to Romania in 1945. Here we had to pause for an entire
week to make the necessary preparations for dissolving the trek.
We received an order to gather provisions for ten days and to make
our way toward the awaiting cargo railroad cars. After baggage had
been transported to the depot, a Wehrmacht Commission confiscated
the horses, even issuing corresponding receipts. Many a farmer shed
bitter tears on having to take leave of his horses, which had not
only served him loyally in the Kutschurgan Valley, but had also
brought bis family to this place across 2,000 kilometers [1200 miles].
Only a few hours after this procedure, the train took off toward
Budapest and passed the stations of Naska Bystritza (Alt-Sohl),
Povaza Bystritza (Neu-Sohl), Bohumm, Orlova, Ostrau, Ratibor, Oppeln,
Brieg, and Bratislava, toward Litzmannstadt [Polish name:] (Lodz).
There our people had eight days "free" for baths, "delousing,"
etc., and passed through the so-called "locks" [entry
procedures]. Having completed these steps on May 28, 1944, we were
transported to a rural county seat of Jarocin in the Warthegau.
All in all, we had been on the road for 70 days, many of us having
passed half of the 2,000 kilometers on foot. Many of our countrymen
did not reach their designate destinations.
On June 5 we who were being resettled were met by representatives
of surrounding communities and taken to various quarters. This date
clearly marks the definitive end of existence of the German communities
of the Black Sea region. We, who had lived together until then were
now being scattered, first across only one county in the then Warthegau,
but eventually across the whole world. And now we were neither collective
workers nor free farmers, but instead, temporarily employed agricultural
workers, obligated to work in surrounding farms, that is, Polish
farms that since 1940 had been operated by German farmers from Bessarabia,
Bukovina and Western Ukraine.
Source: "Entstehung, Entwicklung und Aufloesung der deutschen
Kolonien am Schwarzen Meer" [Formation, Development and Elimination
of German Colonies in the Black Sea Region]" by A. Bosch and
Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation
of this article.