An Inquiry

And a Description of Tense Coexistence between Early Catholics and Protestants in Krasna/Bessarabia

Riehl, Max. "An Inquiry." Mitteilungsblatt, October 2010, 14.

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

Klöstitz – Krasna – Katzbach. Please allow me a look back into the time when Germans were still living in Klöstitz, Krasna, and Katzbach. Following the pitiful and long years of meandering in order to escape death from hunger, in September of 1814 the very first group arrived in the Kagalnik Valley to establish their new home, Krasna.

Their origins in very different areas of Germany (a mix of Catholics and Protestants, and also Polish families with their own strange language) made the beginning rather difficult. Starting with the day of arrival, peaceful coexistence was not what it should have been. 

Everyone wanted to maintain all the customs they had brought with them, and thus is was no surprise that frictions developed which made their tough life even more difficult. The Polish families – Bunogovsky, Broshinsky, Plotzky, Rusheinsky, Shilgovsky, etc. -- were the first to recognize this, giving up the Polish language and from then on speaking only the developing Krasna dialect.  

We can only imagine with difficulty how tough the clashes over the Krasna dialect might have been. In the Krasna dialect one can find words from all provinces of Germany and, in addition, Russian and Romanian words, but no Polish expressions.

During the assignments of homesteads an attempt was made to reduce friction between Catholics and Protestants. It was agreed that the Catholics would live in homesteads in the southern part of Krasna, and Ev.-Lutheran families in the northern part. Polish families, who were all Catholic, did not receive special consideration. In time that proved to be a good decision.

After a few years, no Polish families lived in Krasna – they were all Krasnans and lived and worked peacefully alongside the others. However, any and all efforts to cooperation between the [German] Catholics and Protestants failed in mutual accusations -- for which no solutions could be found.

Year after year there were clashes during the high feats such as Good Friday for the Protestants and Corpus Christi for the Catholics, each faction accusing the other of disturbing the peace on that holy day. Finally, following recurring clashes, the minority group (Protestant families) decided to leave Krasna and make a new beginning in Katzbach. The absence of the Protestant group made room for the younger [Catholic] generation in Krasna. Thus Krasna became a purely Catholic village surrounded by Protestant and Orthodox villages. Contacts with surrounding villages were limited to purely business connections with Tarutino, Arzis, Beresina, Klöstitz, Teplitz and Paris. To the best of my knowledge, trade with Katzbach was prevented via an invisible wall of separation.

I have seen all villages in the Krasna area, but I never got to Katzbach, even though some of our fields were neighboring theirs. Again and again it was said that one does not talk with the Katzbachers. The simple question “Why not?” was always met with the answer, “You’re too young and wouldn’t understand.”

Thus my inquiry on this topic: I would be very pleased if on October 16, in the gatherings in Bad Bevensen, or by any other method, I could learn more from others. I thank you in advance.

Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation of these articles.

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