... That you Have to Prove Yourself now; Memories From German-Russian Lives

Walth, Richard H. "…That you Have to Prove Yourself now; Memories From German-Russian Lives." Volk auf dem Weg, July 2006, 38.

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

A publication from the Projektbereich Ostdeutsche Landesgeschichte [Project Area for Eastern German History] of the University of Bonn, vol. 21, concurrently published by Historische Kulturstiftung [Historical Cultural Foundation], edited by the Kulturstiftung der deutschen Vertriebenen [Cultural Foundation of German Refugees]. 448 pages, hardbound. 36 illustrations, 4 maps, Bonn 2005, ISBN 3-99557-214-1, 23.50 Euros.

"Glueckstal," "Hoffnungstal," Freudental," "Gnadenfeld" - these names of locales in the Odessa and Nikolayev areas reflect the great expectations which German settlers during the second half of the 18th and the first half of the 19th Centuries placed in life in their new home country. However, at the very latest by the time of the Revolution of 1917, the era of suppression of the German ethnic group had begun, and its climax occurred during the deportations of 1941.

How differently and, at the same time, how interwoven the lives of German-Russian personalities developed is shown in this book, in which Prof. Dr. Richard H. Walth compiled and provided commentary for memories of several lives. In addition to those of the editor himself, there are the life stories of secondary school teacher Rudolf Pfeiffer, school principal Friedrich Eisemann, kindergarten teacher Amalie Wittmann, and farmer Arthur Schlecht -- all born between 1906 and 1924 in proximity of the Black Sea.

To all former students who finished 10th grade at School # 32 in Karaganda: nearly 40 years have passed since then - are you interested in a reunion? If so, call Ida Jobe at 0751-552840 or Johannes Pfund at 0751-43054 or Paul Baumstark at 08231-918261.
These vivid reports from lives that were marked with great deprivation and suppression under the Communist system in the Soviet Union, on perilous and meandering paths back to Germany. In each case, on the difficult assimilation into Federal German society mirror in exemplary manner the varied and, for the most part, tragic lives of the entire ethnic group during the 20th Century.

The editor precedes the reports with a taut overview of the history of German-Russians - from their settlement in the Russian Empire during the 18th and 19th Centuries to the deportations of 1941, and life in the new settlements, and he illustrates it all with a number of photos, documents, and statistics.

The text appears both in German and in English.

In his introduction, State Secretary Dr. Christoph Bergner, the federal government's Representative for Aussiedler Matters and for National Minorities, describes the value of the book as "an impressive contribution to the process of integration ... It serves not only as a view into the past, but also makes that history very transparent and tears down prejudices, for it is in the transmission of knowledge of the past and of the fates of many that acceptance on the part of the indigenous population in Germany can be improved."

The book is available from:

Kulturstiftung der deutschen Vertriebenen: Kaiserstr. 113, 53113 Bonn Tel.: [from the US:] 011-49-228-91512-0, [from Germany:] 0228-91512-0

The book may also be ordered online via:

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