Between the Pruth and Dnjester Rivers

In Chisinau [Moldova], on May 3, 2009, Dr. Ute Schmidt presesented her book, Bessarabien: Deutsche Kolonisten am Schwarzen Meer [Bessarabia: Germans Colonies in the Black Sea Area] (reprinted with permission from
Asfari, Ariane. "Between the Pruth and Dnjester Rivers." Mitteilungsblatt, May 2009, 16.
This translation from the original German-language text to American English is provided by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado

The event, which had been organized in cooperation with Dr. Eugen Sava, Director of the National Museum for Archeology and History of the Moldovan Republic, and with the German Society for Foreign Policy, consisted of three parts: Introductory Welcome, a Presentation, and a Film. Dr. Save expressed his pleasure that the historical book by Dr. Ute Schmidt was finally being presented in the city where (also in some of his museums) the author had spent a great deal of time doing her research. Having observed from afar its presentations in Berlin and Leipzig in 2008 held soon after the appearance of the book, he deemed it important that the Moldovan people were now being made aware of the topic covered by the book, in addition of the German public.
The introductory welcome was given by Graf Nikolaus Lamsdorff, the Ambassador of the German Republic in Chisinau, who did not hesitate to make some pointed remarks. He expressed his gratitude for the fact that this kind of event was being held in the capital city, an event that would impart its residents with excerpts of an important chapter of their history, for it is an unfortunate fact that there exists neither an updated recent history, nor does there exist an unbiased discussion of the older history that is not tainted with excessive National Socialism.     
Despite these cautionary words from the ambassador, the response throughout the event was overwhelmingly positive. The approximately 110 visitors first followed attentively the presentation by Ute Schmidt, which was concurrently being translated into Romanian by Tatiana Sava, then they viewed the film EXODUS AUF DER DONAU [Exodus on the Danube] by Peter Forgacs, whom the author had introduced earlier. In one portion, the film depicts an attempt by Jewish refugees from Slovakia to reach Palestine on the ship QUEEN ELISABETH. In the other portion, it demonstrates how the ship QUEEN ELISABTEH was chartered again in 1940, in this case for transporting Germans from Bessarabia, up the Danube, "heim ins Reich [homeward, to the Reich]." 
On the side, there were interviews and intensive conversations. During a later reception in the residence of the ambassador for a project group of the DGAP [acronym is not spelled out- Tr.], who had also attended the presentation, the book by Dr. Ute Schmidt continued to be a central topic of discussion, and it now occupies a prominent place there.

Dr. Ute Schmidt: Bessarabien. Deutsche Kolonisten am Schwarzen Meer [Bessarabia. German Colonists in the Black Sea Area] This book describes the origins and settlement methods of the Germans in Bessarabia; their agrarian culture, which was strongly marked by their Protestant ethic; and their life alongside other nationalities -- 127 years of settlement history that began with the invitation by Tsar Alexander I in 1913 and lasted until their being resettled in 1940 as a result of a pact between Hitler and Stalin. The book also includes numerous color and black-and-white images, a section with maps, a time table, a location concordance, an extensive extensive [of names? - Tr.], and an overview map accompanying the book. 420 pages, bound.

Detailed Impressions from the Event:

Around 110 Visitors had answered the invitation from the German Cultural Forum for Eastern Europe and from the National Museum for Archeology and History of the Moldovan Republic.


The film EXODUS AUF DER DONAU (NL 1998) consists of two parts: In 1939, Jewish refugees chartered the ship QUEEN ELISABETH (sailing under the Hungarian flag) in attempting to travel from Bratislava on the Danube in order to reach the Black Sea and Palestine. The Hungarian captain and amateur filmmaker Nandor Andrasovits used his own camera to capture daily life on board. In 1940, the QUEEN ELISABETH was chartered once again, this time to transport Germans from Bessarabia up the Danube "home to the Reich." The historical amateur images of both journeys had been preserved and in 1998 were transformed into a film by the Hungarian filmmaker Peter Forgacs.

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