Krasna, a German Village on the Road between Odessa and Nikolayev in Ukraine

Herzog, Johannes. "Krasna, a German Village on the Road between Odessa and Nikolayev in Ukraine." Historicher Forschungsverein der Deutschen aus Russland, April 2016.


A Personal Note by the Translator: The author of this article, Johannes Herzog, is my second cousin who lives near Bonn, Germany. Johannes was not born in Krasna, but before the 1944 evacuation he lived in Landau in the Beresan. My father was born and raised in this Krasna village.

The village of Krasna lies approximately 25 kilometers [15 miles] northwest of Ochakov, a Black Sea harbor city, and 6 kilometers [nearly 4 miles] north of the Beresan liman. It stretches along the right banks of the Salik [River] Valley and is situated on a flat, but irregular hilltop arising at the widest spot of the long valley. The area is a charming region just north of the Black Sea shores. Most of the valleys there stretch north to south, but in this case the valley stretches west to east, and it separates the village into an upper and lower one. The colonists called the lower part futer, a garbled version of the Russian word chutor (hamlet). Because the valley is rather deep at that point, the colonists built a bridge across the natural separator.

The Krasna community was founded in 1870 by settlers from the very first German colonies in Ukraine (Kleinliebental, Josefstal, Mariental and Franzfeld), situated west of Odessa. The founders of this daughter colony were Catholics, their parish in Blumenfeld. One of the founders was Josef Herzog, my [and the translator’s] great-grandfather. The founders may have known that the Russian word krasny means rot in German [red in English], but can also mean beautiful. Their knowledge of Russian likely did not go much further, hence the somewhat mangled village name “Krasna.”

Following the land reform of 1906 (also known as the Stolypin Reform), the community received a distribution of 2,090 hectares [ca. 5,600 acres] of land. Passing by the southern end of the village was a connecting road between Odessa and Nikolayev. The Krasnaers took commercial advantage of this favorable location directly on a main road (E58 today) 95 kilometers [57 miles] east of Odessa and 50 kilometers [30 miles] west of Nikolayev, and they soon were among the most prosperous farmers in their district, the Tiligulo-Beresan-Rayon. The Krasna farmers took surplus wine (primarily red wine), grains, vegetables, fruit and poultry to the weekend markets in Odessa and Nikolayev and sold them as fresh products.

In 1928 a so-called Machine-Tractor Station was established in Krasna. It employed more than 100 German technical and agricultural experts.

The church was in the upper village, but not far from the bridge, thus approximately in the center of the village. During the 1920s Peter Eisenkrein was the pastor. On Sundays he served Krasna and the villages of Blumenfeld (his main parish) and Sebastiansfeld one after the other. Father Eisenkrein was arrested in 1936 and banished to Siberia.

The Krasnaers suffered considerably in Soviet times, particularly during collectivization of the farms, with frequent denunciations, and under the ban on practicing their religion. Despite the ban, by 1938 devotions were still being held in the church of Krasna, when in other communities the churches had been closed for some time.

The church had an elementary school with four grades. It was in the upper village and therefore not located centrally.

During World War II [under Romanian/German occupation], the residents of Krasna fared relatively well. The collectives had mostly been abolished, and the farmers produced enough grain to satisfy delivery quotas [to the occupation] as well as for their own needs. By 1944 Krasna had 849 residents.  

On March 15, 1944 the history of the German colony Krasna ended abruptly. By order of the German occupation authorities, all residents were evacuated, traveling for months in long treks through Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Hungary. The Krasnaers were given German citizenship, and the men and their sons were inducted into the Wehrmacht. Soon they were forced to escape the onslaught of the Red Army and attempted to move further West under treacherous conditions. After the war they found themselves in Germany, Poland, Tadzhikistan, Kazakhstan and Siberia. Per an agreement with the Western Allies the Soviet military missions had the right to search out former Soviet citizens even in the Western states and to “repatriate” them. However, these people, although they were promised they would return to their villages, were in fact sent “somewhat farther East” as “special settlers in perpetuity.” Thanks to the solidarity of the native population of Germany, a few were able to “repatriate” themselves and thereby to avoid deportation. They would see their relatives again much later, if at all. Those who returned [to the Soviet Union] voluntarily with the idea of being reunited with their families despite the circumstances, were bitterly disappointed. Often the Soviets did not allow them to join their relatives, forcing them instead to toil behind barbed wire in so-called “work training camps” before, in some cases, they might eventually be reunited with their families.

Today Krasna has been partially restored. The front portion of the church [ruin] has been converted to an Orthodox prayer house. [Translator’s note: meanwhile, with the help of donations, the entire church is being restored for use by the Orthodox community.]

If one is to believe visitors from the West, the streets provide a clean and attractive impression, but are mostly occupied by geese and chickens. [I can attest to that, having visited the village in 2010. – Tr.]
There are no Germans living in Krasna today.

Johannes Herzog, Königswinter, Germany, using as partial sources publications by Johannes Phillips and Leo Oks: Krasna (Krasnoye), Til-Beresan, Geschichte, Hannover 1985.  
           
 [Caption and Quote:]

Text page photo caption: A former resident of Krasna praying in the now Russian-Orthodox church of Krasne (Ukr.) or Krasnoye (Russ.).

Photos of the church: Former village residents and relatives in front of the church entrance in Krasna (today, Krasne), now a Russian-Orthodox church. Inset: The original Catholic church.

“It is a good principle
not to dismiss something entirely
 and not to believe in anything blindly.”
Michael Yuryevich Lermontov,
(b. in 1814 – died in a duel in 1841),
Russian officer, writer, and poet.

Notable April Events:

April 1216

800 years ago: The Esths conclude a pact with Prince Vladimir of Polozk to fight together against the German crusading knights. 

April 1846

170 years ago: The “Unterhaltungsblatt [Entertainmen Paper]” for German settlers in southern Russia is published.

4/8/1716

300 years ago: On the occasion of the marriage between Duke Karl Leopold of Mecklenburg and the niece of Peter I, Katharina Ivanovna, in Danzig, an alliance is concluded that assures a military presence of Russia in North Germany.

4/9/1891

125 years ago: Founding of the “Allgemeiner Deutscher Verband [General German Association],” working on behalf of German-speaking minorities beyond the borders of the German Reich.  

4/24/1991

25 years ago: Per the law “Regarding the Rehabilitation of Repressed Peoples,” the Soviet Union declares as illegal and criminal all past repressions against German Russians and other peoples.   

4/25/1916

100 years ago: Gottlieb Schulz, large estate owner and cattle breeder, dies in Seimeny/Bessarabia.

4/26/1986

30 years ago: Catastrophe involving the reactor in the atomic power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine.

4/28/1766

250 years ago: In Saratov, a Welfare Office for Foreign Settlers in the Volga Region is established.

Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation and to Dr. Nancy Herzog for editing of this article.


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