by Troika: The World War II Chronicle of a Bessarabian German
By Oskar Zimmermann, as told to Worth Lawrence Nicholl,
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University
Libraries, Fargo, North Dakota, 2003, 242 pages, softcover.
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
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 - Our 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
by Edna Boardman
Review by Marie Zettler