NDSU Libraries publishes book on WWII chronicle of a Bessarabian German

May 1, 2001

The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection is pleased to publish this historically significant book, "Escape by Troika: The World War II Chronicle of a Bessarabian German". There are excellent descriptive maps, many photographs, genealogy chart, and selected bibliography.

The Preface is written by Dr. Worth L. Nicholl, History Teacher, Social Science Department, Century High School, Santa Ana, California. Dr. Nicholl writes: "Based on Oskar Zimmermann's diary, which he kept from January 17, 1945, through the end of the war, and his personal recollections, this book tells the story of his forced exile from the vanished but beloved homeland of Bessarabia. Oskar wandered first to the Third Reich, then to occupied Poland, to West Germany, to Canada, and finally to California. But like Homer's Odysseus, whose heart was always in Ithaca, Oskar always had his heart in Kaschpalat, his little farming village in Bessarabia that he left in 1940, when he was but twelve. Using his diary as the beginning point, Oskar recorded his story in German for Dr. Nicholl, who then translated it and researched the historical background from the sources listed in the Selected Bibliography."

The author writes in the Dedication: "This book is dedicated to the millions of German civilian refugees who fled from the Eastern Front in early 1945. It is especially dedicated to the ones who never made their escape, who died and were unable to share their stories, such as Aunt Else Franz and Uncle Friedrich Zimmermann, my father's siblings, who were captured during the flight and lost their lives in Soviet captivity. To my parents, my mother Olga and my father George, for taking care of our family, especially during the war and at the end when fleeing towards the West. To my wife Waltraud, who was only seventeen when she escaped the communists. She left behind her parents and relatives in East Germany, and escaped along through West Berlin before the Berlin Wall was erected."

Chapters in the book include: 1) Bessarabia, Beloved Homeland; 2) Kaschpalat, My Little Village; 3) Events of 1937 - Out Last Normal Year; 4) The Final Years of Our Homeland; 5) The Russians Come - And We Prepare to Leave; 6) Resettlement in Hitler's Germany; 7) We Are Colonists in Occupied Poland; 8) Boy Soldier of the Third Reich; 9) Our Flight Out of Poland; 10) We Cross Eastern Germany; 11) Escape by Troika; and 12) Gronau - Home: Waiting for the Americans. The Conclusion is: After the War: I Immigrate - to Canada, then to California.

To order "Escape by Troika: The World War II Chronicle of a Bessarabian German", send $35 plus $4 for postage and handling payable to NDSU Library. Mail to: Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, Escape by Troika Book, NDSU Libraries, PO Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599. Website address to order is: library.ndsu.edu/grhc/order/general/escape.html.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller