Eduard Mack – an Obituary
The Editors. "Eduard Mack - an Obituary." Volk auf dem Weg, November 2011, 45-46.
Translation from the original German-language text to American English is provided by Alex Herzog, Boulder, CO. Editing by Dr. Nancy A. Herzog.
Their difficult past continues to haunt the older generation of German Russians. Eduard Mack, who died in Ravensburg during his 94th year, was one of those who always made the past be present and thereby kept himself alive.
“One can take a man from his homeland, but one cannot drive his homeland out of him.” With these words he headlined his book Erinnerungen an die deutschen Kolonien des Groβliebtaler Rayons bei Odessa [Memories of the German Colonies of the Groβliebental Rayon near Odessa]. With the support of his family and numerous countrymen, the onetime teacher from Freudental near Odessa was able to publish and republish the book just mentioned, and also his second book, Zwischen Moldau und Ukraine. Erinnerungen an die deutschen Kolonien im Glückstaler Gebiet [Between the Vltava River and Ukraine. Memories of the German Colonies in the Glückstal Area].
His inner ties to his old homeland simply did not let him rest. In the foreword to the book on Groβliebental, Eduard Mack wrote: “After fifty years I visited my old homeland again and took back with me a handful of soil from my home village. This soil was fertilized with joy and hope, with sorrow and sweat, with slander, humiliation and parting. That little clump of soil I held in my hand, all the hurt and sadness, but also the pride I have in my people--all of these inspired me to write this book.”
He was born on September 6, 1918 in Alexanderhilf near Odessa. After completing the Groβliebental middle school, his desire for knowledge led him to The Odessa Pedagogical Institute in 1935, and later he expanded his education via correspondence courses. Then, as a teacher, he conveyed his knowledge to farmers’ children in Freudental and, toward the end, in his birth village of Alexanderhilf.
In the school at Freudental he met his future wife Ottilia, who was also a teacher. They were married in 1939, but their young happiness did not last long. The war, escape to Germany and the subsequent exile tore the family apart for ten years.
Following the “administrative” resettlement to the Warthegau [Western Poland] in 1944, Eduard was inducted into the Wehrmacht [the German ground forces], and in 1945 he landed in a Russian POW camp in Idvel-Lag in the North Urals. Also in 1945, Ottilia with their little daughter and his mother-in-law were banished from Potsdam to a cotton plantation in Tadzhikistan. Despite many obstacles, the entire was finally able to reunite after ten years.
In Tadzhikistan Eduard Mack completed a course in accounting and worked there as a chief accountant until 1984, when the family moved to the Black Sea area.
In 1990, Eduard Mack took his family to Germany. Here he finally got the opportunity to pursue his long-held dream of writing a book on the history of the Groβliebental colonies. This project eventually became one for the entire family. Daughters Elvira and Nelli in particular, as well as other family members, ended up actively supporting their father and grandfather in his passionate project.
For all these years, the Mack couple has kept in contact with many friends, relatives, neighbors, and former students and colleagues, who are scattered across the whole world. The multi-faceted, panorama image of the German colonies in South Russia, filled with many photos, thus did not take shape merely from the memories of Eduard Mack, but also from the help of numerous contemporary witnesses, all of whom gladly contributed documents, photos and memories of their old homeland.
His books have reached beyond national borders. When Eduard Mack discovered that the 200th anniversary of the founding of the communities of Groβliebental and of Alexanderhilf would be observed in 2003 and 2005, respectively, he proposed to the community leadership of the former Freudental (founded in 1806/1807, today going by the name of Mirnoye) that in 2007 it, too, should observe its 200th anniversary.
Once again being supported by the entire family, he prepared an extensive map in Russian using photo copies and other materials from 200 years of history. So in October of 2007 there was not only an anniversary celebration that included the unveiling of a memorial honoring the German colonists of Freudental, and at the same time a cornerstone was laid for a museum on the village’s history. It is thus that the passionate homeland researcher Mack in his own small way has been able to cause great things to be done. For that we honor him and owe him our gratitude.
Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translating and to Dr. Nancy A. Herzog for editing the article.