In Memory of the History of the German Colonists in Ukraine

Zur Erinnerung an die Geschichte der Deutschen Kolinisten in der Ukraine

Wenger, Elvira. "In Memory of the History of the German Colonists in Ukraine." Volk auf dem Weg, October 2007, 22-23.

Translation from the original German to American English is provided by Alex
Herzog, Boulder, Colorado

In the February, 2007 issue of Volk auf dem Weg I reported on the intent to create a memorial in memory of the German colonists in the former Speyer in the Beresan Valley (today the village has the name Peschanyi Brod).

Owing to the great effort and engagement by the Orthodox priest of the local church (formerly the Catholic St. Martin's Church), Ioan Fetchko, also owing to donations of my relatives and friends, a beautiful memorial has meanwhile been erected on the church lot in Peschanyi Brod.

The Inscription on the Memorial

Engraved on the memorial are the dates of the establishment and of the dissolution of the German colony of Speyer (1809 - 1944). The dual-language inscription (in Ukrainian and German) reads as follows:

This memorial is dedicated to the founders and residents of the German colony of Speyer, who here, in this cemetery, have found their rest, and also to the builders and creators of the church. Peace be on their ashes and honor in their memory. In memory of our ancestors, by their descendants.

The consecration of the memorial took place on July 22 of this year. Since the work on the new roof and erection of seven cupolas was recently completed, Ioan Fetchko used this occasion to ask the Archbishop of Nikolayev and Voznesensk, Vladyka Pitirim, to consecrate the church as well as the memorial.

It was an impressive celebration, beginning with services in the church and continued with a procession to the memorial, accompanied with ringing of the bells. These, by the way, are the bells from the original bell tower, and which Pastor Ioan Fetchko had installed in a new bell tower.

Archbishop Vladyka Pitirim and the priests from the entire region celebrated the festive liturgy. Also present were the top administrators of the village and of the county seat of Voznesensk, as well as a reporter from the regional newspaper.

Before the consecration of the memorial, Pastor Ioan Fetchko reported on the history of the German colonists and said, among other things: "These people came here in the year 1909; only three years later they built a church. They did not even have their own houses, but it was important to them to have a church in the village. These people deserve the greatest respect. In 2009 we will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the village; by then we must clean the former German cemetery of refuse, plant a park at the site, and put up the cross from the former church tower and erect a gravestone as a memorial. These deeds are to prove that we are not barbarians, but Ukrainians." In his sermon he added: "There is no future without the past."

Archbishop Vladyka Pitirim at the Consecration

The event was a sensation in the region. There was a report, with photos, in the newspaper, and the interest shown by the Ukrainian residents was so great that I was invited to an interview, and subsequently an additional large article appeared in the regional newspaper.

The village administrator, W.F. Borsik showed himself to have been moved and promised soon to clean up the German cemetery and to begin with the planting of a park.

The Orthodox priest Ioan Fetchko had no lack of ideas and projects, he merely lacks financial support ...

Further comments:

In the August, 2007 issue of Volk auf dem Weg, pages 8-9, I read the article "Intensifying the cultural activities for our countrymen." With a background of what was stated therein I can only say that we must pay particular attention to Speyer and Katharinental in the Beresan Valley. There, engaged folks like Pastor Fetchko and the director of the German Museum in Katharinental, N. Denisyuk, attempt, with meager means but with much effort, to revive the history of the German colonists, and they have been performing valuable cultural work for fifteen
years now.

I am personally prepared to support this project corresponding to my own means.

Elvira Wegner
Klufterner Str. 134
88048 Friedrichshafen, Germany

Our 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