The Bells of Leipzig in Bessarabia

Sprecher, Helga and Egon. "The Bells of Leipzig in Bessarabia." Mitteilungsblatt, June 2012, 12.

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

On April 14, 2012 we visited the home village of our parents in Bessarabia. Right away we paid our respects to the couple Lillie and Waldemar Remann and, once again, our reception by them was very friendly.

Afterwards we, along with Waldemar Remann, we visited the former home of my parents. On the way I was once again depressed over the state of the streets and of some homes. This impression became even stronger when we arrived at and inspected the former house and property of my father, Christian Sprecher. The house was merely a ruin of its former self, and in the garden in the back, which was once my mother’s pride, a donkey was grazing.

Nothing in this place remains unobserved. At the property we were also met by the local mayor and the Orthodox cleric. We launched into a conversation, during which Waldemar and Mrs. Svetlana Kruk helped out as interpreters.

The mayor reported on the current situation of the village and noted that he was happy about any and all contacts with German descendants, and that the village certainly needed German support.

The Orthodox cleric reported that the property we were visiting would soon be the site of a new Orthodox church.

Afterwards, the “Pop” [Orthodox priest] led us to his old church, which was situated just across the street. This church, too, had seen better times.

We were, however, happily impressed with a framework of iron that served as a bell tower. Two iron bells, a larger and a smaller one, were suspended from the “tower.”

On closer inspection, we noticed that the larger bell carried an inscription “Verein i. Bochum 1908.” Upon further inquiry the mayor explained that this was one of three bells from the church built in 1908, and that Leipzig was the only locale in Tarutino County that possessed a bell from German times. After the new Orthodox church is completed, this bell is to be given an appropriate place in the new church.

The mayor proudly pointed to the fact that it was thanks to him, a former policeman, that this bell was still around. Following the final service in September of 1940, all three bells were taken down by the Soviets, and the church bell tower was destroyed. The smaller, still existing one was taken over by the collective, to serve for some decades as a company bell.

During the 1990s the bell was said to have suddenly disappeared. He suspected that hoarders of metals might have stolen it for the value of the metal. During his investigations he discovered the bell in a small church in Kuruchka, a former daughter colony and a current neighbor locale of Teplitz.

That church’s Pop, however, was not willing to give up the bell and acted deaf toward the policeman. But the latter pointed out that he might compose an article for the paper and publish it to report on the events  Since the Pop wished to avoid this, he finally proved willing to allow the bell to perform its “spiritual service” in a church in Leipzig.

Ever since then the bell hung in the “bell tower” of the Orthodox church.

Asked about the fate of the other two bells, the mayor had no exact answer. With a mischievous smile he allowed as the German soldiers might have taken them away.

Following the report by the mayor, Egon remembered his time as a Hessian church boy, when there was no such thing as an electric operation of the bells and that he, along with his brother, would ring the bells with a rope every Sunday and every evening.

For him it was  especially moving to be able to ring a bell that seventy-two years back had hung in the Ev.-Lutheran church in Leipzig, one that had been donated by Leipzig citizens a hundred years ago. He succeeded in evoking just a few sounds from the bell, and the mayor asked him to quit because the citizens of Leipzig might think there was a fire somewhere.

The history of the bell was a moving story for the visitors, and all were agreed on the future use of the bell.

Egon Sprecher was of the opinion that his father would certainly have been pleased that a church would be built on his former property, and that in that particular church a bell would ring which in 1908 had rung on the occasion of his baptism.

Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation and to Dr. Nancy Herzog for proofreading the article.

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