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, August, 2000.

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 of ours.

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, "Help me!"

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 of Neu-Paris.

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 this article.

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