Paul Krüger – an Obituary
The Board of the County Chapter of Siegen-Wittgenstein. "Paul Krüger – an Obituary." Volk auf dem Weg, November 2011, 46.
Translation from the original German-language text to American English is provided by Alex Herzog, Boulder, CO. Editing by Dr. Nancy A. Herzog.
Paul Krüger, a long-time member of the Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland, died on September 24, 2011.
Many Germans from the former Soviet Union, politicians, and employees of various companies in the County of Siegen-Wittgenstein and of the city of Siegen knew him as a man who was always ready to help others and as a person who assisted countless countrymen in their assimilation process in this, their new homeland. For these efforts he provided for so many years, all on a volunteer basis, we owe him great gratitude.
Paul Krüger was born on October 6, 1923 to a pastor’s and teacher’s family in the German village of Reinfeld/Maryanovka in the Omsk region. The Krüger family had been deported from Volhynia to Siberia during World War I. Early in the 19th Century, ancestor Urban Gottlieb Krüger and his family had emigrated from Baden-Württemberg [a modern name for an analogous region, which in those days likely did not have the prefix Baden – Tr.] to South Russia via South Germany and Poland. [At this point the authors of the article note:] ( Concerning the history of several generations of Krügers, Paul Krüger has written a manuscript that is intended to be published in book form.). At the elementary school in Reinfeld, Paul at first was taught in German, but that language of instruction was suddenly abandoned in 1938 [and changed to Russian – Tr.]. After public school, Paul completed teacher training to become a full-time teacher. Shortly before the outbreak of the German-Soviet war he obtained permission for studying via correspondence with the German department of the Pedagogical Institute in Sverdlovsk.
In March of 1942, his teaching career was interrupted because of inductions ordered by the war commissariat. But instead of going into military service, he was ordered to work, under constant guard, in the construction of a railroad line near Kasan. In reality, these construction battalions served as camps of destruction for German Russians, with extremely hard work, unending hunger, severe cold, illness, and death serving as constant companions. Krüger owed his rescue from certain death to two circumstances: For one thing, as a so-called dochodyaga [one who was weak and near death– Tr.], he was assigned relatively lighter duty as a telephone worker, and for another, his father Bernhard was able to seek him out and managed to get him on his feet again after a while.
In 1946 Paul Krüger was released from forced labor and was able to continue his teaching career, to which he devoted nearly forty years. During his teaching years he completed studies at the Pedagogical Institute in Omsk via correspondence courses. He had earned a good reputation and the respect of his people when he was elected village council president in Piketinsk in 1976.
With his wife Anna (nee Sabelfeld), Krüger raised four sons. He was a true role model, friend and advisor for them and for his eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Even in the most difficult situations, Paul Krüger always found the appropriate words and always was ready with good advice. Between 1992 and 1994, the entire scattered clan emigrated to the country of their forefathers.
From the very first day in Germany, Paul Krüger worked hard to assist his people with their integration efforts in the new homeland, assisting them with filling out requisite official documents, interpreting, translating, explaining pertinent laws, and helping to reunify families. During the 1990s, Krüger was very active in the leadership of the Kreuztal chapter of the Landsmannschaft and, to the end, still on a volunteer basis, took care of those seeking help. He was a member of the committee for refugees and returning Germans of the county Siegen-Wittgenstein and, to the very last day, a member of the social council of the county. For anyone seeking help he was always ready to lend an ear.
Always prepared to help with his friendly manner and warm, sympathetic nature, Paul made many friends among our people, and we shall all miss him. Not surprisingly, messages of condolence arrived not only from Germany, but also from Russia, where many people still remember him with affection and respect. We honor him by preserving a lasting memory of him.
- The Board of the County Chapter of Siegen-Wittgenstein.
I also wish to express my deepest sympathy to the Krüger family. Those of us who knew Paul Krüger take a deep bow in his honor, and we’ll remember with gratitude his volunteer work and his irrepressible sense of humor that, in the face of difficulties and adversity, always accompanied him.
Johann Engbrecht, Duisburg
Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translating and to Dr. Nancy A. Herzog for editing the article.