Friedenstal Celebrates 175 Years

Albrecht, Frieda, "Friedenstal Celebrates 175 Years." Mitteilungsblatt, December 2009, 6.

Translation from the Original German-language text to American English provided by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado

Around 200 people from near and far met on October 17, 2009 in the Citizens’ Hall at Ludwigsburg-Pflugfelden to celebrate the 175th anniversary [of Friedenstal].

On behalf of the Friedenstal Homeland Committee, Mr. Edmund Ross welcomed the guests and thanked them for attending. As always, the beginning of the festivities was marked by a religious service. Deacon Martin Dermann spoke a few words on the values God has provided us. Then Professor Dr. Edwin Buck, a son of teacher Otto Buck, delivered a homily tailored exactly to his dear Friedenstal countrymen. Professor Buck expressed his joy over being able to get together once again, to celebrate this anniversary with his Friedenstalers. It was this occasion that had brought him and his wife from their home in Canada to Pflugfelden.

During the final hymn, “Nun danket alle Gott [Now thank we all our God],” diligent helpers were collecting a generous donation amounting to more than 800 Euros, which is to benefit the care center “Haus Friedenstal” in Ludwigsburg-Eglosheim.

Following the beautiful and heart-warming service, Oskar Großhans conducted the honoring of the dead, while everyone stood as a grandson of  Bernhard Jäckel played the piano to the tune of  “The Good Comrade”  [A sad and sentimental traditional (military) song called “Ich hatt’ einen Kameraden, einen bess’ren gibt es nicht … (I once had a good comrade, none better …) – Tr.].

Dr. h.c. Edwn Kelm, the well-known Friedenstaler, then gave a very interesting talk. He told about his travels to his old homeland. Friedenstal was founded in 1834 by German colonists who had arrived from Poland or directly from Württemberg and who had been called by Tsar Alexander I to settle in South Bessarabia. The place was initially just a wild steppe that would have to be made arable before anything else. During its first few years it was one of the poorest colonies. Still, and despite many poor harvests, drought, and bitter cold winter months, the settlers managed to transform that village to one of the richest ones in South Bessarabia. During the 100-year anniversary [1934], folks could simply not imagine what might occur in only six more years. With the resettlement in October, 1940, everything our parents and grandparents had been able to accomplish in a fairly short time was simply snatched away. It was the beginning of a hard, stony path to travel on, and it would affect everyone and claim many victims.

Next came a year of life in a camp in the Sudetengau [at the time, still (a German) part of Czechoslovakia – Tr.], with multiple families to a single room. and finally the settlement in the former Warthegau (Poland) [German-controlled part at the time – Tr.]. There, Polish farmers were expelled from their places overnight. If they were lucky, they were able to serve as hired hands on their own property. The Friedenstalers put forth their best efforts and met the requirements placed on them. Their young men were inducted into the Wehrmacht [German armed forces – Tr.] to fight at the war front. When Soviet forces broke through German lines on January 18, 1945, many families were unable to take flight in a timely fashion. They would be rolled over by tanks, and anyone who survived had to return to one’s farm. Many horrible events ensued. Whole families were deported to Siberia and there spent as many as ten years in forced labor.

A number of Friedenstalers who actually succeeded in escaping would eventually, with the aid of Pastor Tetz, reach South Germany via the Lüneburger heath country. Most of them found a new home in Ludwigsburg county. They also found employment with the Bosch Company or other firms. Formerly independent farmers had become factory workers. 

Since 1940, Friedenstal has been called Mirnapolye and has been part of Ukraine. Through the many travels to the old homeland arranged via Dr. Kelm, good contacts have been established with today’s local residents, and the 175th anniversary was celebrated there in 2009. Even today, after seventy years or so, it is still apparent that this was once a beautiful German village.

Our national chair of the Bessarabian German Association, Mr., Isert, and the Director of the Alexander-Stift, Mr. Voßler, were there to express words of greeting. The city administration of Ludwigsburg also sent a representative, who also greeted all the guests.

Following an informative presentations by Mr, Kelm and by other guests, it was time for lunch. It was an excellent noon meal that included good, fried meat, a salad and spätzle. There was time for conversation before the program continued.

Martin Dermann and his grandson presented a film entitled “Friedenstal heute [Friedenstal Today],” and Dr. Kelm showed some more of his slides of Friedenstal then and now, and some other slides of Bessarabia

It was a beautiful, thought-provoking and joyful day. Many old friends had come from near and far to enjoy the day together. The song “Kein schöner Land [There’s no land more beautiful …,” an old German folk song - Tr.]” concluded the program.

God willing, the former Friedenstalers will make it possible that another get-together may happen. Unfortunately, the time of those who were born in the old homeland is beginning to wane, and the younger ones are really “at home” hereabouts [in Germany – Tr.].     

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

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