Lexikon of German-Russian Literature
Lexikon der Russlanddeutschen Literatur
Brantsch, Ingmar. "Lexikon of German-Russian Literature." Volk auf dem Weg, February 2005, 17.
Translation from German to American English by Alex Herzog,
Warkentin's enthusiastic sonnet cycle "Russlanddeutsche Berlin-Sonnette
[German-Russian Berlin Sonnet]" demonstrates his powers of
observation. In it
the author depicts the problems of German-Russians following the
the Eastern Block.
For his life's work and particularly for his efforts following
reunification, Warkentin justifiably received the German Federal
of Merit in 2002.
A special place in German-Russian literature is occupied by Alexander
Reimgen, who had been published even before WW II, but had not received
until after the war.
After the end of mandatory military surveillance, when he finally
notice again in 1959, he, unlike most of his author colleagues,
did not depict so
much the past of deportation and forced labor camps, even though
had spent fifteen years in forced labor. On the contrary, he dealt
renewed efforts to open up the Kazakh steppes during the nid-1950s.
His positive attitude toward the world and toward life during these
pioneering efforts do at times slide into cliche, especially when
represent all too prominently a friendship toward other peoples
and a socialist
ethic. Perhaps because of this the negative characters of his sparse
pleasant prose are not Kazakhs, but always backward German-Russians,
contrast to progressive German-Russians. Annette Moritz certainly
makes note of
this, as does Johann Warkentin in his work on German-Russian literary
Real rejection of a superficial, often striking optimism is provided
literary efforts of the younger generation of German-Russians who
longer familiar with life before deportation.
One of their best known representatives is Viktor Heinz. Born in
Novoskatovka in the Omsk region, Heinz was drawn to literature as
a student of
Viktor Klein, who steered him toward lyrical and terse prose. By
emigration to Germany in 1992, he had passed through a journey that
extraordinary for a German in the Soviet Union. He was a professor
of language at
the Pedagogical Institute of Omsk, occupied a chair at the Pedagogical
Institute of North Kazakhstan, and was director of literature for
Viktor Heinz' works prior to and after his immigration enjoy a
reputation. His drama trilogy "Auf den Wogen der Jahrhunderte
[On the Waves of
Centuries]" (1992) dealing with the fate of the German-Russians
immigration to Russia to the wave of [reverse] immigration during
perestroyka and the downfall of the Soviet Union were a perennial
hit on stage. His
autobiographically tinged novel "In der Sackgasse [In a Blind
depicts his life in the Soviet Union, and by it he creates a memorial
teacher Victor Klein and the latter's prose piece "Der letzte
Grabhuegel [The Last
The brothers Weber came upon the scene as innovators while still
former country. Robert was born 1938 near Moscow and Waldemar in
Western Siberia. Both lyricists, both also trending toward the modern,
verse and used daring metaphors.
Waldemar Weber stands out by his clear essays that unmask the hollow
of Socialist realism as, for example, when in "Wozu sich abkapseln
Isolate Yourself]" he writes about German-Russian literature,
"Our life is good because it is supposed to be good! The result
is that we -- a
people with an extremely tragic fate -- possess a literature that
'luster' that is without equal!"
Wendelin Mangold (b. 1940 in Shevchenko near Odessa) also "polishes"
sheen of superficial optimism. Encouraged toward the field of literature
Victor Klein, he, like Viktor Heinz, launched himself on a path
university studies and, like him, eventually occupied a professor's
Kokchetav) and became a member of the authors association of the
After immigration, his experiments in language gained even more
complexity. He views the Federal Republic of Germany in a multilayered
particularly as seen in his volume of poetry entitled "Deutschland,
zurueck. Reisegedichtzyklen [Germany, to and fro. Cycle of Travel
Today we are faced with the all-important question as to whether
there is a
future for a literature of Germans from Russia, whether German-Russian
immigrant authors will be able to catch on, given the realities
of the Republic,
with its market mechanisms, its party and club politics and a transforming
mentality of its citizens.
As Annette Moritz indicates by the example of Agnes Giesbrecht,
who was born
in 1953 in Podolsk (Orenburg region), there is hope. This former
Russian, who has been living in Germany since 1989 and works as
at the University of Bonn, and by rediscovering the complexity of
tongue, she began to write lyrical and prose works.
In 1995, she founded the very active "Literaturkreis der Deutschen
Russland [Literary Circle of Germans from Russia]," for which
she has been the
leader ever since. By organizing readings and seminars and by creating
opportunitites for publishing, she very purposefully supports the
Among her comrades-in-arms is the sensitive prose writer Waldemar
who was born in 1951 in Krasnoturinsk (Urals) and immigrated to
1979, where, thanks to Agnes Giesbrecht, he found himself drawn
From the distance of their new home in Germany, some of the recent
authors see their former home in a new, more colorful light that,
hiding the dark sides, provides them with contrast and variety.
Works like Ilona Wagner's "Mein Laecheln fuer Sibirien [My
Sibieria]" or Nelli Kossko's "Die geraubte Kindheit [A
Childhood Robbed]" should
find interest here in Germany. Unfortunately, these two authors
mentioned in Annette Moritz' Lexikon. Neither is Alexander Reiser,
author of the
volume of humoresque and satire, "Die Luftpumpe [The Pump]."
original prose pieces are of comparable quality to texts of the
cult author Wladimir
Kaminer, with the difference that Reiser has yet to come up with
necessary friends and supporters.
This complex and thoroughly researched Lexikon by Annette Moritz,
characterized by its remarkable sensitivity, deserves not only gratitude
her great effort, but also evokes the wish that it may find a multitude
readers. It is not only a compendium in the normal sense, but is
Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation
of this article.