I Look Forward to new Surprises

Ich Freue Mich auf Neue Ueberraschungen

Riss, Hilda. "I Look Forward to new Surprises." Volk auf dem Weg, March 2007, 11.

This translation from the original German text to American English is provided by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado

NOTE: This article also deals with the Russlanddeutschen Bundestreffen in Wiesbaden, Germany for May 26, 2007!
- Translator

On May 26 of this year the 29th Bundestreffen of Germans from Russia will take place in Hesse's Wiesbaden. During the more than eleven years I have been living in Germany, this will be my fifth Bundestreffen. The previous four (1986, 1998, 2001, and 2004) in Stuttgart and Karlsruhe were also fulfilling highlights of my life, and with regard to the convention in Wiesbaden, I look forward to ever new surprises.

I came to Germany when I was already at retirement age, too late for getting into a new career, even as an experienced scientist in the field of biology. So I looked for an area of activity that today fulfills my life and makes it worthwhile, namely, historical research and, with special fascination, with the history of Crimea-Germans - I was born there in 1935. I wrote the book "Die Krim ist unsere Heimat [Crimea is our Home]" (in Russian), which deals with the history of the Crimea-Germans, beginning with settlements in Crimea to documents on the deportation to reports by contemporary witnesses. Furthermore, also part of the content is a list of 1,150 families who in 1941 were deported to 440 locales in the then Soviet Union.

Numerous Crimea-Germans already know me fairly well by now. Since I've been working, over ten years now, on a book of memories of Crimea-Germans, many have helped me with putting together an address list with around 1,000 names. During the past few years I have visited Crimea eleven times and have undertaken research in archives and libraries. I have visited former German colonies - some no longer exist, were renamed, or have altogether disappeared from the face of the earth. In 2004 I participated in the scientific conference "History of the German Colonists in Crimea" and was presented with a medal for special contributions to the development of the German Diaspora in Crimea. In 2005 I attended the grand celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Zuerichtal colony (today called "Solotoye pole").

Particularly after the most recent book [appeared], many readers called me to ask for help in looking for their roots. In conversation I often find that many are not aware that since 1950 they have had a Landsmannschaft of Germans from Russia, which represents their interests and is a conversational partner for the entire ethnic group, also that there are the periodical "Volk auf dem Weg" and the "Heimatbuch" [series], all of which contain a plethora of cultural-historical information.

For me, too, the first Bundestreffen was a surprising discovery. For tens of years I have been active in science, in which German-Russians, for well-known reasons, were represented rather rarely, especially in my generation. Then, experiencing my first Bundestreffen, I was overwhelmed by the tremendous mass (about 20,000) of Germans from the former Soviet Union.

At that time I had a feeling that is difficult to describe: in many ways, and often, attempts had been made to extinguish our ethnic group, but we survived, are still around, and remain a powerful group. During the meeting of Crimea-Germans there were also guests from the United States, and I met an American woman by the name of Riss. Her ancestors had emigrated to America in 1898. She did not speak German, but she had a lively interest in her roots in the faraway home of her ancestors.

Every Bundestreffen is full of surprises: unexpected meetings, seeing old schoolmates, acquaintances or former village neighbors - and all that during a single day!

For this May 26 I invite all Crimea-Germans, now for the second time, for a "round table" where we can exchange information, memories and opinions. We can get acquainted and keep up contacts. And it may happen that together we will write the history of Crimea-Germans, which still contains a lot of unknowns. That can be done only in united fashion, and we owe that to our ancestors. The history of Crimea-Germans, and those who helped shape it and characterize it, must not be forgotten. We owe that also to our future generations.

Personally, I would love to converse with like-minded folks about my plans and projects. And certainly, photo opportunities will not be lacking. Once scattered in all directions, in a few months we will be able to get together again. Anyone with interesting suggestions for the Bundestreffen should please contact me by telephone or by mail:

Hilda Riss
Gibitzerstar. 122
90443 Nuremberg

Tel. fax: 0911-422454 [from the US; replace the leading zero with 011-49]

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