A Visit With the Germans From Bessarabia
Ein Besuch bei den Bessarabien-Deutschen
"A Visit With the Germans From Bessarabia." Volk auf dem Weg, March 2003, 10.
Translation from German to English by Alex Herzog, Boulder,
Note to the Reader: please see the Translator's notes
(numbered, in order, within the translation of the article itself)
I have inserted following the translated article, but preceding the
translation of the sidebar. A.H.
A project called "Museum der Russlanddeutschen [Museum
for Germans from Russia]," begun years ago, but put on ice
due to urgent problems requiring more urgent attention, has been
revisited by colleagues in the Landsmannschaft.
Hoping to try to look into what might be possible, a small delegation
from the Landsmnnschaft der Deutschen aus Russland earlier this
year made its way to the Haus der Bessarabiendeutschen [House of
the Germans from Bessarabia], which happens to be located at Florianstrasse
17 in Stuttgart, only a few meters from the national headquarters
[of the (G-R) Landsmannschaft]. They found success and experienced
great astonishment -- hardly able to believe what they had found.
The extent to which that small Landsmannschaft (Note 1) for Germans
from Bessarabia has been able to collect and catalog specific items
for its archive and its museum is more than astonishing. Even more
remarkable is the fact that its chair, Edwin Kelm, depends solely
(Note 3) on volunteers to get the work done.
The immediate result of the talks between representatives of both
Societies was the establishment of a plan for cooperation, which
eventually will culminate in the creation of a Museum for Germans
from Russia. We shall continue to report on this matter.
A typical display case containing everyday useful items, in the
Museum der Landsmannschaft der Bessarabiendeutschen (see Notes 1
The "delegations" of the Germans from Bessarabia and of
the Germans from Russia (from left to right, each row) -- front
row: Leontine Wacker (a vice chair, LM for Germans from Russia),
Edwin Kelm (national chair, LM for Germans from Bessarabia -- see
Note 1), Waldemar Neumann (also a vice chair, LM for Germans from
Russia); -- back row: Hugo Adolf (responsible for Bessarabian Aid),
Prof. Sigmund Ziebart (managing national director of the LM for
Germans from Bessarabia -- see Note 1), Ingo Isert (Curator of the
Heimatmuseum [for Germans from Bessarabia] -- see Note 3), Adolf
Fetsch (a vice chair the LM for Germans from Russia), Waldemar Axt
(volunteer managing director, LM for Germans from Russia).
In an email to Michael M. Miller, Ingo Isert, Curator of the Heimatmuseumder
Deutschen aus Bessarabien, made specific corrections to what he
citesas some erroneous terminology used by the author(s) of the
Note 1: While it is correct to use the term Landsmannschaft for
the corresponding organization for Germans from Russia, the Germans
from Bessarabia do not call their organization Landsmannschaft.
Instead, they use the term Volksgruppe [Ethnic Group].
Note 2: In the caption, the correct name for the museum should
be "Heimatmuseum der Deutschen aus Bessarabien [Heimat-Museum
for Germans from Bessarabia]," which also should not contain
the word Landsmannschaft. [I have found the word Heimat to be fairly
Note 3: Ingo Isert notes that the word "solely" should
be replaced with "primarily."
The history of Bessarabia, an area between the rivers Dnyestr,
Danube and Pruth and the Black Sea, is filled with significant historical
changes and events. In 1934, according to Knaur's Konversationslexikon
[Knaur's Conversational Lexicon], Bessarabia, at that time part
of Romania, measured 44.422 suqare kilometers and had 2.865 million
residents. 83,000 of those
were Germans, who [at least their ancestors ... AH] between 1814
and 1842 had followed the call of Alexander I, had settled in Bessarabia,
and had founded 24 colonies in the administrative district of Ackermann
alone. The names of these colonies, Borodino, Tarutino, Leipzig,
Kalm, etc. were given in memory of various battles against Napoleon
The Republic of Moldavia, which in 1991 became the successor state
to the Moldavian SSR, today takes up the largest part of the former
The Scythians inhabited Bessarabia during antiquity. For centuries
to come, it would be an object of desire for various nations, so
it was variously controlled by Romans, Goths, and Ottomans (Turks).
Those who were involved in fighting over it were Eastern Teutons,
Western Goths, Huns, Bulgarians, Avarians, Hungarians, Petchengens,
Kiev Russians, and the Ottoman Empire. It was given the name Bessarabia
during the 14th Century, after it had been conquered by a ruler-prince
Toward the end of the 15th Century, it was conquered by the Ottomans,
and in 1812 it was ceded to Russia, as part of the Peace of Bucharest.
As of 1856 Bessarabia belonged to the Principality of Moldavia,
but in 1878 it was partially reconquered by Russia. In 1918 it was
occupied by Romania and in 1940, as a consequence of the German-Russian
pact of August 23, 1939, it was occupied by the Red Army. In 1941
the German Wehrmacht placed it once again under Romanian power,
only to be reconquered by the Soviet Union in 1944.
Today's Republic of Moldavia measures 33.8 square kilometers, with
4,264,000 inhabitants (cf. Fischer Weltalmanach 2003 [World Alamanac
2003]). Nearly two-thirds of them are Moldavians; Ukrainians, Russians,
Gagaus and Bulgarians bring up the rear. The capital is Kishinyev.
Other cities familiar to our readers are Tirsapol and Bendery.
Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation of