Oral History Audio Clips—Helen Krumm (HK)
Conducted by Bob Dambach (BD) with Michael M. Miller
7 October 2001, Hague, North Dakota
Audio Clips Selected by Beverly Wigley
Prairie Public Collection
Strassburg Craftsmen (297-308)—page 6
BD: When you were growing up in Strassburg, were your family farmers or shopkeepers?
HK: No, my dad was a Handwerker, a craftsman. They made wagon wheels and they made wagons. They made coffins. They put wooden floors in and the roofs. There were so many who brought [the skills] back from Germany. They were all craftsmen, they could do anything. Schuhmacher, you know, made shoes. At that time you couldn't buy your shoes. You had to go to the shoemaker and he measured them on [your feet] and he made your shoes. The Schneider (tailor) did your coat – measured you for your coat and your dresses. I cannot really say, but there was a lot, a lot of craftsmen.
BD: Was he a carpenter then?
HK: Yah, yah.
BD: What's the German word for carpenter?
Germans or German-Russians? (348.5-376)—page 6
BD: How big a family did you have when you were growing up?
HK: Just one brother and my sister and me. See, when the Russians started the war in '41/'42, they took all those young men from 17 on, so my brother had to go.
BD: And your husband had to go too?
HK: That happened later on. Then later on when the Germans came in, they took the other ones when there was no [one else] - well, older men and little boys, I think. My brother didn't make it home, and my husband didn't make it home, none of them – got no contact with them – nothing. That's like here when they say somebody dies 'over there' (from the soldiers) [and] they're coming home. There was nothing like that, nothing like that.
BD: So you never really found out what happened?
HK: They know where it happened in Budapest. That's where the Germans had to give up, you know. But the Russians surrounded them so they let nothing in and nothing out. So that was the end.
BD: So did your husband fight for the Germans or the Russians?
HK: For the Germans, but my brother fought for the Russians. Then he sneaked away and sneaked over to the Germans. But then he got killed too.
BD: When you were saying that the Germans had taken over the Odessa area and they were withdrawing - When they were there, did they consider you Germans or Russians?
HK: They called us Germans, yah, they called us Germans. But just when we came to Germany, the Germans called us German-Russians. See, they said we're not citizens. We didn't belong to nobody. We left Russia for Germany, and Germany didn't make us their minds if they wanted us or not. See, so we were not citizens. What did they call us? Displaced people or something like that.
Houses in Strassburg (89-105)—page 10
BD: Now my memory is that the houses were long and narrow.
HK: Yah, narrow. And you know, when the war was (I forgot to mention this) - Before the Germans came, Russia made us all paint our houses black with ash, the whole houses, so the Germans couldn't see where the village are. That's what they told us. We had to take wood ash and mix it with water and then you took the brush. They had the spray there. And the houses - you know, we always schmeared our house with Lehm (clay) and then we painted it white, but it took forever to get it off – that [black ash]. It looked terrible. When you got out at night you could see nothing. But the Germans were in town already, and so why? Yah, but that's the way they did - the Communists, you know.
BD: When we visited over there – actually, the houses right now are pretty colorful.
HK: Oh, yah.
BD: Were they colorful when you were growing up?
HK: Oh yah, oh yah! We had flowers around und like
in Germany they have the geraniums on the window. That's what
we had too. A lot of flower gardens - raised our own flowers.
The vegetables and the fruit, like the apples and pears - The
Jews came out from Odessa in spring and they contracted your garden,
whatever you had. And there was so much you'd get. All you had
to do was deliver it to them in time, and that's the way we got
rid of our [vegetables and fruit]. But they were good to us, and
there was no problem with them, you know.