At the southwestern exit from town, on the left
side of the Blankenrath-Walhausen Street, there stands a towering
wooden cross. It tells of the suffering and life of a family that
had repeatedly been transformed from resettlers to refugees.
The depiction presented by this cross departs from what we are
familiar with hereabouts.
A concrete pedestal in the shape of a six-sided, cut-off pyramid,
about a meter [ca. 39 inches] in height and with an average diameter
of 1.3 meters [ ca. 52 inches] forms the base. From this, a cross
rises that is 2.75 meters [ca. 9 feet] high, with a cross beam
that is 1.5 meters [less than 5 feet] wide. It is a brown-colored
4-sided cross that measures (13x13 cm [4x4 inches]). Round, bullet-shaped
decorations decorate three ends.
Mounted in addition to the bronzed Christ corpse with the inscription
INRI are tools used in martyrdom, such as hammer and pliers (each
about 1.5 feet long), a spear penetrating a sponge and a lance
(each about 3.5 feet long), and even a small ladder made of wood.
On the front side of the concrete base there is a plaque with
Rest, oh wayfarer,
And contemplate your soul!
Donated by the Josef Seifert Family
The Seifert family, whose ancestors had lived in Krasna/Bessarabia
since 1815, were resettled from there in 1940. After ten years
of meandering they discovered their new home here in Blankenrath.
Grateful for finally being delivered from the stressed life and
the dire needs of refugees, the family head, Josef Seifert in
1952 commissioned a cross to be fashioned, and it had to be exactly
like several crosses in Krasna, a large village of Bessarabian-Germans.
Soon after the cross was finished, it was dedicated during a
The following is a newspaper story published by a reporter from
Lower Saxony subsequent to an interview with Josef Seifert
and his family.
From Bessarabia to the Moselle
Josef, you are carrying a heavy cross to Calvary!”
On a street with a thousand potholes that reaches from Hamelspringe
via Bad Münder to the county seat, a truck laden with household
things is trailed by a team of horses pulling a box wagon filled
with straw. During previous days, rain showers had whistled across
Süntel and Deister and had filled the potholes, but today
the sun briefly sent its rays through the clouds, at least for
a brief time. A new feeling of hope has entered the heart of
the man driving the wagon and encouraging his two horses, Hans
and Orlik, to hurry on, for Josef Seifert, a Bessarabian-German,
is one of those who these days are wandering further westward
in order to discover a new home. For ten years Josef Seifert
has been searching for a home and for a home town! This morning
his memory recalls that day of October 10 of 1940 when he was
forced to leave Krasna in Bessarabia, the village of his forefathers,
a village, just like the neighboring villages of Leipzig, Teplitz
and Paris, that had existed for 125 years. Grandfather had been
able to relate how his parents had once come there from the Black
Forest, had dug out holes from the earth to live in until the
time when German farming houses arose out of the ground. At that
early time, when one was able to acquire 40 hectares of land
for a liter of schnaps. 125 years, through four generations,
they had resided on their ground, had worked hard and preserved,
and never forgotten their mother tongue, their South German dialect.
They had remained Germans until this very day.
However, October 10, 1940 marked the start of the Great Trek.
Evacuees were: Grandfather Leopold Seifert; Grandmother Ludwina
nee Weber, father Josef Seifert, mother Katharina nee Söhn,
children Annemarie (the eldest, b. 3/1/1933), Lydia (b. 3/24/1935),
and Radegunde (b. 8/29/1938). The first leg reached Galatz, the
next one on the Danube to Belgrade, and from there to Pirna.
In 1941 they were resettled in Wulfsidel (Polish name: Vilkovo)
near Bromberg, were Josef Seifert would work 84 morgen [ca. 40
acres] of land. Son Josef was born here in January, 1942, but
he died only two years later of chronic whopping cough. On 7/04/1947
Eduard was born.
After three years of work the hour of departure had come once
again. On January 26, 1945 Josef Seifert harnessed Hans and Orlik
to a wagon that would harbor his aged parents, his wife and the
children, and westward he went. Further westward they proceeded
through Germany, for weeks on end, with many a cold night spent
on the snowed-in path. Frequently the wagon had to be shoveled
free of snow drifts.
Twins were born and died, but son Stephanus, born on 04/13/1945,
survived. The grandparents could no longer leave the wagon by
themselves, so that Josef would carry them on his back to quarters
and back. He will never forget Holy Week of 1945, when he was
carrying his mother, who said, with a long cough: “Josef,
you are carrying a heavy cross to Calvary. Leave us old ones
by the wayside and continue on.”
The grandparents had grown weary. Grandmother died on Easter
Sunday, and grandfather two days later. Accompanied by strafing
fire from low-flying airplanes Josef buried both in Schneverdingen …
In the Lüneburger Heather area, the front finally passed
over them. Then they proceeded via Hannover to Hamelspringe,
the village in the Süntel river valley that for 4 years
was to become the third home of the Seifert family. Another son
was born, and he was also named Josef, but he too died of whooping
cough within two years. Josef Seifert worked in agriculture,
and his horses were housed in a padlock. It was summer, and workers
were in demand. But then the winter came, and during the first
days of December, when the paddock was snowed in, as Josef inquired
where he could house his horses, he was told, “Slaughter
them or sell them!” “Never!’ replied Josef.
Subsequently Josef had to go far into the Süntel valley
to find fodder for Hans and Orlik. The potato cellar of his leased
place became the horse barn, and during those days the German
farmer from Bessarabia would use Hans and Orkel to haul wood
in the Süntal and Deister valleys.
Here again he had not really found his home, and so, a few weeks
ago he presented himself before the resettlement commission of
Rhineland/Palatinate to ask for a new home for himself and for
his horses. Although only small animals were allowed to be taken
along during resettlement, he was given special exception --
Hans and Orlik were permitted to come along after the authorities
had listened to the history of the two horses.
It is these and many other things Josef Seifert remembers at
this hour of departure. At the railroad station of Springe he
thinks first about his horses, then of his loved ones. County
Zell on the Moselle will be the fourth home for these refugees.
There, ships dock that need to be unloaded. Perhaps one could
start a small hauling business there with Hans and Orlik.
But Josef Seifert was wrong – nothing came of the hauling
business. Already at the debarking place in Bullay he experienced
misfortune. Despite all preparations, his beloved horse Hans
shied, panicked and broke a leg. Hans had to be put to death.
The refuges found quarters, at first, and for a brief time,
in Löffelscheid, then in Blankenrath . After a while, Josef
Seifert actually was able to acquire the “Hassiersch House” at
Wallhausener Straße 16, from a gentleman by the name of
Hackenbruch from the Eifel region. There was no work for Orlik,
so he had to be sold and eventually landed in Gödenroth.
After Oma and Opa had died following their evacuation of October
10, 1940, the family now consisted of the parents, three girls
and two boys.
To feed his family, Josef then worked as in various construction
jobs. He died suddenly on July 30, 1960. His wife followed him
in death on March 24, 1989. Both were buried in Blankenroth.
Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation
of this article.