Memories of Dr. Karl Stumpp

Erinnerungen an Dr. Karl Stumpp (1896 - 1982)

Kampen, Johann. "Memories of Dr. Karl Stumpp." Volk auf dem Weg, June 2006, 61.

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

Dr. Karl Stumpp

May 15 of this year [2006] was the 110th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Karl Stumpp, one of the most important men of the founding years of our Landsmannschaft. With Pastor Heinrich Roemmich he was among those Germans from Russia who, during the great silence surrounding our ethnic group during the 1950s, decided to step out of the shadows of anonymity.

Karl Stumpp's special matters of personal dedication were the research into the immigration of German people to Russia, and their fate under the Tsars and Communism. Without Dr. Stumpp's works, acknowledged equally in the East and in the West, research into [this] neglected ethnic group would be a good deal poorer.

His books Die Auswanderung aus Deutschland nach Russland in den Jahren 1763 bis 1862 [Emigration from Germany to Russia during the Years 1763 until 1862] as well as the bibliographical book Das Schrifttum ueber das Deutschtum in Russland [The Extent Literature on Germans in Russia] became the most important reference works for our countrymen and, at the same time, enjoyed strong attention in libraries and from officialdom in the search for the roots of German-Russian refugees, returnees and Aussiedler.

For the Landsmannschaft, the Roemmich/Stumpp era started with its very founding in 1950. While Pastor Roemmich dedicated himself mostly to social concerns, Dr. Stumpp's interests lay much more in the areas of the culture and history of our ethnic group. He repeatedly made it very clear that he did not see himself as a politician, rather as a worker on behalf of the Germans from Russia, a virtue that he personally recommended to his successors in the Landsmannschaft's national leadership and to editors of "Volk auf dem Weg."

Until his death, Dr. Stumpp was among the most significant contemporary witnesses to German-Russian history -- contemporary witness and academic combined in one personality. He gathered and published everything he had learned and experienced during decades of dealings with democracies and dictatorships alike.

Dr. Stumpp was born on May 12, 1896 [sic -- see also date mentioned in the initial paragraph -- Tr.] to a colonist family in Alexanderhilf near Odessa. He completed village school in his hometown, central school in Grossliebental, and a boys gymnasium in Dorpat, today's Tartu, in Estonia. The great "break" that elder German-Russians would experience during the course of World War II, Stumpp lived through as early as 1918. With some of his fellow students, he was able to leave the country of "World Revolution" [Russia] and make a risky new beginning in Württemberg [Germany]. During his studies in geography and history at the University of Tuebingen he earned a little money with occasional work on the side, then gained his doctorate with a topic that was very close to him, "The German Colonies in the Black Sea Region, formerly New-Russia."

Soon the seriousness of life in that period of history also sought out Karl Stumpp. During the Weimar Republic, unemployment, economic crises, and inflation were daily and ongoing occurrences, and the Soviet Union remained for this young man too dangerous for a long time to come. Given these circumstances, Bessarabia, not far from his birth place, seemed a good alternative for him. By 1922, he was able to start an Institute for Pest Control in Tarutino.

The year 1933 brought a very important decision for Dr. Stumpp: would he be a Romanian or German citizen? He decided in favor of Germany, where as early as 1881 there had already been a "General German School Association for the Preservation of Germanness Abroad" [later the so-called VDA], which called on him to become its State Managing Director in Stuttgart. In 1938 Stumpp moved to Berlin and, during the brief time of the Hitler-Stalin Pact (August 23, 1939 until June 22, 1941), saw himself back in his "third home," Bessarabia.

From the Landsmannschaft's point of view, Dr. Stumpp's most productive time came between 1950 and 1981. During those years, he was not only chief editor of Volk auf dem Weg (1951 - 1963), but also editor of the Heimatbücher between 1954 and 1966, then acted as cultural consultant from 1957 to 1968, national vice chair between 1957 and 1963, and from 1963 to 1975 national president of and speaker for our Landsmannschaft.

Even in the matter of honors received, Dr. Stumpp takes no back-seat to any Germans from Russia. His most important honors include: Honorary President of the Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland and of the two [analogous] German-Russian associations in the United States; the Federal Cross of Merit, Second Class; the Order of Merit from the German Red Cross; a Medal of Merit from the Institute for Foreign Relations; golden and other honorary pins from our Landsmannschaft, from the Bund der Vertriebenen [Association for Refugees], from the Landsmannschaft of Bessarabia-Germans, etc.

Dr. Stumpp's publications are a true treasure trove for all who are interested in preserving the heritage of Germans from Russia. Next to our Heimatbücher of recent years, his publications enjoy the strongest demand from the offerings of the Landsmannschaft.

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