Glückstal (Valea Norocului), a German Village in Northern Bessarabia, today in the Republic of Moldova
Andronachi, Vladimir. "Glückstal (Valea Norocului), a German Village in Northern Bessarabia, today in the Republic of Moldova." Mitteilungsblatt, February, 9.
Translation from the original German-language text to American English is provided by Alex Herzog, Boulder, CO.
During the past November my travels were supposed to take me to Glückstal, where I wished to learn more about the village. The name itself attracted me – Glückstal [literally, Valley of Happiness or Happy Valley. - Tr.]. I was well prepared (with some older maps from the Bessarabian German Heimatbuch), and my apparent route took me to the village of Putineşti, but there I found that I had unfortunately reached the wrong village. No Germans, only a few Jews, had lived there formerly.
From an elderly woman I found out that Glückstal was actually nearby, although difficult to reach because of bad roads. A long detour would have to be used to get there. So we decided on the spot to try again to drive there in December.
On December 5, we (driver Igor and I) set off on our way. This time we succeeded right away in locating the correct village, which is now called Valea Norocului, a verbatim translation of the name Glückstal. The lady mayor, Mrs. Fedora Eşanu, was expecting us, and after a brief conversation we drove into the village. Community advisor Valentin Marcu accompanied us through Glückstal and told us a very interesting piece of history about the village.
Let’s start with the post-war year of 1946, since the history of the village up to 1940 is documented by Pastor Albert Kern in the Heimatbuch on pp. 245-248 [no year given. – Tr.]. After the war the former German homes remained unused, so it was decided to populate them with mostly Ukrainian families from Chernovirz, formerly Buchenland, and people from Vinnizya County in Podolia. Three German families had stayed in Glückstal because they had been excluded from the resettlement. Mixed marriages were cited as the reason. These were the Germans Vogel, Kormann and Tersemann, all of whom had married women of Ukrainian origin.
In 1948 a work camp was established in Glückstal, given its remoteness and slim possibility for fleeing. The camp received all those sentenced for up to three years of prison.
Beginning that moment the former German colony became a reformatory, and instead of a “Happy Valley” it had had been transformed into a genuine valley of unhappiness.
The work camp was erected on the village square, where in earlier times a smithy, a workshop and the church had stood. The work colony also owned 400 hectares [ca. 900 acres] of fertile soil, which was farmed by the convicts. To be able to transport them more quickly, an asphalt road was built between the fields and the camp. Segments of the road still exist. In 1965 a trade school for difficult youth was built in Glückstal.
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and after Moldova gained independence in 1993, a technical school was established in Glückstal and, in 1995, an orphanage.
Visitors from Germany -- Bessarabian Germans -- began to arrive in in the 1980s, and later on, visitors from the United States (Florida).
A Bessarabian native of Glückstal once said the following, something that has not been forgotten there: “As you get older, you are drawn to where you were born and where you spent some childhood years.” He took home [to Germany] some soil from his parents’ farm, saying: “Such black soil I have never seen anywhere else.”
The soil in Glückstal is fertile, black, and rich in humus, containing between 86 to 92 % minerals.
The German American from Florida said that if he had such soil in Florida, he would be a happy man and would get rich growing strawberries. As he was leaving the place, he said to the natives, “You are treading on gold and are not aware of it.”
One of the things Glückstal inherited from the Germans was a water pipeline system. Glückstal is located in a valley, and the German colonists had dug five wells on a hill, from which they had fed the water via wooden pipes down to a large cistern, and from there further into the village. For the pipes they had used hollowed-out tree trunks and buried them a meter underground. Trees were not lacking in the North, which was not far from tree-rich Bukovina. Today the village has an unfortunate water problem. The groundwater level has sunk from a depth of 150 meters [ca. 520 feet] to 250 meters [ca. 820 feet], the tree trunks have rotted away, and the government is not providing funds to replace the system.
An additional note about the German Bessarabian men Vogel, Kormann and Tersemann is in order. They distinguished themselves from the other men by punctuality, demanding a great deal of themselves, and always keeping their word. All three died in Glückstal and were buried in the Glückstal cemetery. Vogel had worked in the local trade school for a while.
Possibly of the former work camp, or perhaps of the trade school or orphanage.
Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation and to Dr. Nancy Herzog for editing the article.