The Lonely Bell of Neu-Paris (Die Einsame Glocke in Neu-Paris)
Maier, Hermann and Ida Moritz Maier. "The Lonely Bell of Neu-Paris (Die Einsame Glocke in Neu-Paris)." Mitteilungsblatt, 4 January 2001.
Translation from German to Englisy by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado
The new clock at Neu-Paris, Bessarabia,
This is not intended as a comprehensive trip report covering our
visit to Bessarabia August 25 through September 7, 2000. That has
already been written elsewhere. However, we did wish to provide
some personal impressions and, thereby, to touch on a special concern
Our expectations for the trip centered mainly on revisiting our
home village of Paris and on meeting in person and getting to know
better the folks of Paris and Neu-Paris whom we had become acquainted
with through our shipments of care packages and resulting correspondence.
A further reason for the trip was the dedication of the new church
of the Gospel Christians/Baptists in Akkerman. We were greatly moved
and surprised when on the day of the dedication ceremonies we were
able to admire for the first time the church edifice in its imposing
size and form. It really demonstrates how a small community, strengthened
by its faith and personal commitment and sacrifices, can achieve
true miracles. The dedication liturgy, heavily attended by the local
citizenry, was an impressive and very special experience.
On the second day of our stay, the two of us along with other travel
companions rode to Paris in a "bumper-less" and well worn
old VW bus. There Emma (nee Beierbach) and her husband Miron, were
expecting us and, after a quick welcome, invited us to dinner in
the "good room." During the course of a very lively conversation
with Emma, I became increasingly convinced that her ancestors must
have come from Schwabia. She confirmed this by her repeated use
of typically Schwabian expressions. And so, to our great surprise,
we discovered that her ancestors' original home was only a few kilometers
from our own home town in the Remstal Valley in Baden-Wuerttemberg.
Afterwards we all took a walk along the village street, coming at
one point to the location of my own parents' former farm property.
From there we continued to the rail line, which is only partially
usable. Seeing the old church in its current dilapidated external
appearance, we assumed it was either on the verge of demolition
or of a grand restoration. Of course, the latter seemed quite impossible,
given the current state of the country's economy. What a sad sight
that was for us, especially when we remembered how proud our ancestors
were of their once beautiful church.
The following day we drove back to Paris and, together with Emma
as our interpreter, continued on to Neu-Paris, another 10 kilometers
away. The road leading there was in terrible condition -- hardly
passable for modern Western cars. We first visited with the principal
and his wife, the Trikova, with whom we had become acquainted through
their coordination of care package shipments. Again we were received
with great hospitality by the entire family, and it was a joy to
get to know each other in person. Intense conversation about current
conditions in general and in this remote village in particular,
and comparisons with living conditions in our own country, made
the time fly.
Among other subjects we also touched on a point of special interest
to me, which I had spent much thought on since our previous trip
to this area a few years back. At that time, "Jakob" had
taken us to what used to be a farmstead. Out in the open there,
a bell had been placed, mounted on an iron frame. It had likely
been desecrated and transported there as a consequence of the "socialist
planned economy" actions. It should be mentioned that this
bell constituted not only a deep symbol for the villagers of German
descent, but it also bore the former village name of Neu-Paris.
In the meantime, I have determined that we are probably dealing
with the "church" bell that used to be part of the original
school and community building. Along with the Trikova family, we
were horrified during the current visit by the fact that bell remained
located at the same site it had been previously, and that it was
completely exposed, without protection of any kind, to wind and
weather. A tiny knock on the bell almost seemed to make it cry out,
In conversation with the school principal Trikova and the mayor
of Paris/Neu-Paris, Mr. Vasily Stepanovich-Kuchnich, we came to
the unanimous conclusion that this old relic, probably the only
one of its kind in the entire region, should be preserved for the
people of the area. However, since the local government and the
citizenry are not in any position to provide a secure home for it,
we would therefore like to use this forum to kick off a project
called "Help the Bell of Neu-Paris." We have presented
this idea to the national chairman of our Society, Mr. Kelm, who
asked us to add his voice to an appeal to all our members and people
of "our kind" to support the cause of saving the bell
We therefore plead with all former inhabitants of Paris/Neu-Paris
and all our own folks: with your donation, please contribute to
the preservation of the bell of Neu-Paris, so that her pleasant
sound may spread joy in that remote village.
Contributions may be sent to the following account:
Landsmannschaft der Bessarabiendeutschen,
Konto Nr. 229 360 009, BLZ 600 901 00 [account number]
Stuttgarter Bank, Verwendungszweck [purpose]: "Glocke Neu-Paris"
We thank you in advance for your participation in this project.
Appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation of