Approaching History With Increased Objectivity: Historical Research Association Takes Stock

Geschichte mit Mehr Objektivitaet Entgegentreten: Historischer Forschungsverein zog Bilanz

Paulsen, Nina. "Approaching History With Increased Objectivity: Historical Research Association Takes Stock." Volk auf def Weg, December 2005, 10.

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

The newly elected Board of the HFDR, along with its Chair, Anton Bosch

Building cultural bridges and approaching with increased objectivity the 230-year-old history of the German-Russians -- these are to continue as the main focus of activity, now and in the future, of the Historische Forschungsverein der Deutschen aus Russland (HFDR) [Historical Research Society of Germans from Russia], emphasized the new chairman, Anton Bosch, at the annual general meeting 2005 in the Haus der Heimat (HdH) in Nuremberg.

Members took stock and discussed various topics and perspectives. Via its many publications and groundbreaking projects, the Society has succeeded in attaining recognition and respect. The HFDR has been received into the "Social Archive" of the City of Nuremberg, and for its Project "The Archangelsk Cemetery Memorial" it received a Certificate of Honor from the Robert-Bosch Foundation.

In the preface to his most recent Almanac, "Russland-Deutsche Zeitgeschichte [Contemporary German-Russian History]," with its critique of fatal developments in German-Russian history primarily after World War II, Anton Bosch writes: "Paradoxically, sweeping surface arguments given during twelve years of failed developments have apparently caused even 200 years of German-Russian history to be ignored or even silenced." The Research Society aims to take up with increased vigor those topics that have been treated with silence, been relativized, or have been presented with too many gaps. History must be treated with complete facts, says Bosch.

The Society considers not only the positive presentation of the merits of our ancestors as being of great value, but with its contributions toward successful integration in this country [Germany], it attempts to counteract the negative image the general public seems to have of the Aussiedler and which seems also to have taken hold in research circles.

The foremost activity of the Society continues, as ever, to consist in working on the history of the Germans from Russia and on popularizing it via German-language publications. Within the past six years, several publications have appeared, among them -- [Most or all titles appearing hereafter will be in translation. AH] -- "The German Colonies in South Russia" by Konrad Keller, "The German Colonies on the Volga" by Johannes Kufeld, the "Handbook of Germans from Russia" (including a village index covering former settlement regions) by Ulrich Mertens, as well as "The Germans in Siberia" (2 volumes) by Viktor Bruhl. An important role has been assumed by the Almanacs "Russland-Deustche Geschichte [German-Russian History]," a series of which the fourth volume was published in 2005. Books by the HFDR are available in all libraries and in numerous universities of the Laender Bavaria, Hessen, and Baden-Wuerttemberg.

Ever since 2000, calendars have been published containing highlights on topics concerning the history and culture of the Germans from Russia. The central theme of the calendars, "To discover and build bridges" is to be carried into the future. These calendars enjoy good sales and are acquired not only by Aussiedler, but also even by native Germans and in other countries. The entire supply of the 2006 calendar is practically exhausted.

Additionally, the Society attains recognition via its groundbreaking and boundary-breaking projects and initiatives, especially the international project of 2004 "Archangelsk Cemetery Memorial" (Nuremberg and Archangelsk), which is dedicated to the contributions by Germans in that region between the 16th and 19th centuries, and to the victims of political repression during the 20th century (see this topic represented in the month of May in the 2006 calendar).

Society members Lilli and Reinhardt Uhlmann made the project "Traditional Folk Dress of the Germans from Russia" a reality. Another project is a gallery of portraits of Germans from Russia painted by Johannes Niederhaus of Paderborn. It encompasses around 30 portraits, among them those of Johannes Cornies, Konrad Keller, Boris Rauschenbach, Friedrich Falz-Fein, Victor Klein, Samuel Contenius, Barbara von Kruedener, Elisabeth Kuhlmann, and Alfred Schnittke, to name just a few.

With its work in the public arena, the Society also tries to popularize the history and accomplishments of our ancestors. Under the topic "200 Years of Immigration of Germans to the Black Sea Region," exhibits covering German-Russian personalities were staged in 2003 in Nuremberg-Langwasser and in Herzogenaurach. With its presentation on the role of Baroness Barbara Juliana von Kruegener in the mass resettlements of the Chiliasts into the Black Sea region, the Society participated in a historical-scientific conference held in Odessa. Numerous presentations on the immigration of Germans to the Black Sea region, on the history of German-Russians in Russia/USSR and the Ukraine, on the expulsion of the Germans in Russia during WW II, and on the integration of Germans from Russia within Germany, were given in various forums and at various cultural events.

Durign the coming year the research work on the "Odessa Book of Mourning" will continue. It will contain documentation for German victims of the terror years of 1937/1938, including 9,000 names. Also to be continued, in collaboration with the Haus der Heimat in Nuremberg, is the project "Interviews with Contemporary Witnesses."

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