Helenendorf Celebrates 100 years of Existence (PART 2)

"Helenendorf Celebrates 100 years of Existence (PART 2)." Volk auf dem Weg, January 2014, 35-36.

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

(Continued from the July, 2013 issue:)

Around 4 PM on Pentecost Monday a second downpour, but without the earlier sleet, occurred, not really making the muddy street any worse, but causing the cancellation of a few planned items on the program of festivities. So, the date of the celebration[June 9] having finally been set during the final meeting of delegates, preparations were beginning immediately and with much enthusiasm.

Contents for the commemorative brochure were hurriedly gathered, sorted, and edited, and the program was worked out, then distributed to the organizers, directors, and overseers. Under the given political and societal circumstances, the proper festive mood was unfortunately lacking. A dark future, the present changing nearly on a daily basis, a climate not favorable for our gardens and fields, the nearly total lack of demand for wine, and similar other worries were clearly casting a cloud over the joy of looking back on the proud accomplishments of the Caucasus Germans during the previous century, so that the date of June 9 loomed more with dark thoughts than jubilation.

On the early morning of June 9, two “honor portals” decorated the colony, that is, one on the southern entry to the town, and the other at the entry to the communal square. Festive greenery decorated the homes, complementing the succulent leafage of the street plantings. A deep silence prevailed everywhere. Here and there you could see scattered groups awaiting with impatience the coming events.

The general silence was broken around 7:30 AM by the majestic chords of the chorales ”Nun danket alle Gott [Now thank ye all our God]” and “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott [A might fortress is our God],” and from the church tower the local brass ensemble announced the beginning of the celebration.

In the meantime, invited guests and a great throng of Helenendorf residents of all ages were gathered at the community plaza awaiting the festivities, and all moved to the southern portal from which the festive parade would open the day’s program. The brass chorus, progressing through “thick and thin” in the middle of the street, provided the requisite beat with its lively marches.

En route, the parade was joined by two wagons. The first was an old colonist wagon with equally old arched supports for its cloth cover. Sitting on the wagon were people of both genders in proper folk costumes recalling the immigrant colonists and their families The second wagon, with its festive decorations and passengers dressed in their finest represented the present. By the time the parade reached the entry to the street at its gate of honor, a lot of folks, among them twelve riders meant to round off the parade, had gathered there to join in as well. Passing through the gate first were six men high atop their horses, followed in order by the above-mentioned colonist wagon with its passengers, the brass chorus, representatives of other colonies and communities, and various guests accompanied by officials of Helenendorf, members of certain clubs, a group of students, the men’s chorus, a mixed choir, pupils from the Realschule [secondary school] and from the elementary school. Each of the latter groups was led by a flag bearer, and following them were residents of Helenendorf and, finally, the festive wagon and six riders.

Accompanied by singing and drumming, the parade wound all the way to the upper part of the main street, turned from there via the last cross street into Helenenstraβe and continued along the latter to its northern end, from there to the Kirchenstraβe and, finally, to the square in front of the church. There the parade ended at around 9 AM. All those arriving were greeted by strong-voiced speakers with the invitation to enter the new century and with best wishes to everyone for a good future.

Next the participants entered the church through a door festively decorated with greenery. The service began with an opening song (Nb4 B. 1, 7, 10), followed by the sermon, which was based on texts from Kings 1, verses 57 and 58.

In his impressive remarks, Deputy Senior Pastor Baron Waldemar von Engelhardt strongly pointed to the help from God in olden and more recent times, and to the unfailing trust in God by the old ones. With a pedagogical tone, he harkened back to its importance, especially in difficult times, which usually were marked by deepening religiosity, particularly in the most difficult times of all, that is, during previous war that was characterized by unmitigated persecution against anything and everything German and culminated in the infamous liquidation laws. However, he continued, at present gradual improvement was discernible, and he clearly voiced the thought that this particular celebration was a true expression of gratitude to the elders, because we were now reaping what they sowed. It was now our task to evoke similarly the gratitude of future generations, and if we set out to work on solving problems with the same trust in God, then God would certainly be on our side as He was on the side of our parents.

During the service, the church choir sang the hymn “Bis hierher hat der Herr geholfen [The Lord has thus far been our help],” which was followed by a prayer and the hymn “Tritt im Morgenrot daher [Step forth in the light of dawn],” and the entire community ended with the hymn N2, B. 1-3.

Following the service, guests and the community gathered at an open space of the secondary school, where a speakers’ platform had been erected and seating for the public had been put up. In addition to representatives of various locales, the governor of Gandsha, several officials, and important personages were in attendance.

Mr. Th. Hummel welcomed the guests on behalf of the community, whereupon Assessor R. Zeitler ascended the platform to proclaim the commemorative writings regarding the founding of the Helenendorf colony and significant events during its past century. In colorful language he described the unspeakable difficulties of  long travels the immigrants had endured, the heroic stamina of the emigrants, and their tireless diligence in overcoming all sorts of difficulties.

The Church in Helenendorf.
Immigrant wagon, part of the festive parade.
Immigrant wagon, part of the festive parade.
Impressions from the festive parade.
Impressions from the festive parade.
Impressions from the festive parade.
Impressions from the festive parade.

Appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translaiton of these articles.

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