Grünefeld in the Ukrainian Steppe

Grünefeld in der Ukrainischen Steppe

"Grünefeld in the Ukrainian Steppe." Volk auf dem Weg, December 1993, 6.

Translation from German to English by Ingeborg Wallner Smith, Western Springs, Illinois

This is the way it looked in the summer of 1993, 23 kilometers from Orshonikidse, near Kamenka in the neighboring district Apostolowo, where a new German village, Grünefeld, is going to be founded: containers from living in the Ukrainian steppe. They had been sent from Germany and one had already placed 20 of them on foundations. 16 Russian-German families, that had come from various districts of the former USSR lived in them and more were going to come.

However, the difficulties are piling up. The new construction of the settlement does not go forward; money is lacking. One cannot even pay the work that had already been finished. The money is transferred from Germany does not arrive. It was lost in the banks or was used for other purposes. Where should one turn – the people do not receive the help promised them. They have electric light but no water for heating or toilets. Drinking water is brought in trucks. The situation is even worse in the case of building material, though ordered it is absolutely not to be had. One finds the same problems in the construction of similar settlements in the districts Djnepropetrowsk, Wassiljew, and Sinelnikow.

I also wanted to photograph the people with whom I spoke during my visit, but they asked me to wait until the building of their houses had at least begun. The small daughter of the housing administrator had nothing against a photo, and so she with her kids came to be on the picture. The kids are apparently domestic animals in the settlement. We hope that the little one will find a new home there and that her kids will also sometimes give milk.

During my short homeland journey I also wanted to visit the other settlements in the region, but my dream was not fulfilled. I had to spend several entire days finding some gasoline for my D marks; there was none to be had for Ukrainian money.

With a heavy heart and sad thoughts, I left the courageous ones in the container settlement, who now towards the end of the 20th century dare to take a similar way as the one our forefathers took 200 years ago. I sought an answer to the question, why are they again coming into this unending steppe, in which our forefathers and also some of us already found it so diffcult. I found the answer when our auto drove past wheat fields in which the not yet ripe, but luxuriant ears of wheat bowed down towards us…

These Russian-Germans, for the most diverse reasons, are not coming to Germany. But we can help them and must do so. The Ukrainian and German officials have promised them help, and the people believe them.

Then in October I received a letter from the village director Viktor D. Heinz and the administrator, Valentine W. Nujansina, which I have translated. They write: “…You are naturally right, that our destiny will not be easy, but one cannot lose one’s optimism, as we nevertheless hope that at some time a German settlement will be founded here. In the meantime 72 people live in Grünefeld. One has not yet begun to build dwellings, even though they had still been planned for this year. As we want to build in an empty place, we need many things, above all hand tools, but also food and clothing. Our center is in Djnepropetrowsk, so it is probably best to store the goods there. An addressee the society “Wiedergeburt” should be given, with the marking for Kamenka. The address of our center: Ukraine, 320095 Dnjepropetrowsk, Simferopolstr. 17, Zi. 205, Allberg Alexander Wladimirowitsch.

One can also send the goods through our church in Dnjepropetrowsk: Ukraine 320095 Djnepropetrowsk, Karl-marx-Str. 103, Lutherische Kirche.”

Our appreciation is extended to Ingeborg Smith for translation of this article.

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