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In the Valley of the Kutchergan

By Ida Katherina Bohn Senger

Overland Press Ltd, Alberta, 1990, 346 pages, includes map and genealogy charts, softcover.

At the beginning of the book at the Reflections section, the author writes: "As young children we could sit at the feet of our parents listening spellbound, to vivid accounts of the life and times of their two families, as experienced by them during their years in the Alsatian German villages of the Kutchergan Colony in South Russia....Tell us again, Dad, what happened to you when you were in the Red Army. We would say. Or, Mom, would you tell us what it was like for you during the Russian Revolution. Tell us once more about the time you had to flee from Strassburg, with the bullets flying all around you."

"In the Valley of the Kutchergan" also known as the "Kutschurgan" is the saga of two families who survived the tragedies of the French Revolution which began in 1789, and all the horrors of the Ten Year Reign of Terror that followed."

"All the written account of my parents were painstakingly organized in chronological order so that the facts of their lives could be accurately woven into the events of the time. I hope I captured the wonder of it all."

"By the sweat of their brows they tamed the virgin steppes of South Russia, prospered, and filled the coffers of the Czars with the proceeds of their enterprise. In return, they earned the title of "Khulak" by hate mongering Russian Bolsheviks during a revolution that surpased all imagination in atrocites perpetrated upon its own people."

"Shortly after their escape to Canada, the surviving family experienced the full brunt of the Great Depression which brought with it unemployment, financial losses, hunger and general misery. These people were, above all, survivors."

The book includes these chapters: 1) The French Revolution (1789-1799); 2) The Great Ancestral Migration (1808-1809); 3) The Promised Land (1808-1818); 4) Conquering the Pontic Steppes (18185-1858); 5) Prospering on the Pontic Steppes (1865-1915) 6) The Beginning of the End (1915-1928); 7) A Paradise Lost; 8) Canada - New Hope - New Life; 9) The Homestead; 10) And Then There Were Eight; 11) The Final Blow.

Book Review by Mary Lynn Axtman, Fargo, North Dakota:

Beginning with questions to their parents about life in Russia, Ida has written an easy to read and documented history of her Bohn - later became Boone and Senger family ancestors. From their life in Alsace, France and across the Rhine in Germany, their difficult leaving for the unknown in
South Russia, and their life and farming beginnings in untamed and uncultivated South Russia.

As life and practicing their Catholic faith became easier as the years passed, the political and governmental changes become worrisome, then threatening for their later generations. Those families who immigrated to North and South America along with those to Canada escaped the terrible and tragic events under Lenin and Stalin.

Ida Senger clearly details the daily life work and chores of both males and females while at the same time describes the world history events that will affect their lives along the way.

A good and easy to understand history and family publication for readers of all ages.


Electronic mail message from Mervin Weiss, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, January, 2007

"I just finished reading the book, In the Valley of the Kutchergan, and both Michael Miller and Mary Ann Axtman have given you a good description of the book. I just want to add that it may possibly be the BEST book I have read about the Kutschurgan history and the specific sub-group of Germans who settled there -- the Alsatian Germans."

"Further, the style of writing is such that it would be easy to understand for teen-age readers who might be interested, and others new to the study of their Kutschurgan genealogy."

Another good book I have recently read is Pete Goldade's book, Our Relatives, The Persecuted. The individual case files of KGB (NKVD) arrest reports are riveting reading. Do not be surprised to find reference to your own relatives, as they are called to witness against Peter's relatives, or being accused of being cohorts of Pete's relatives. Of specific interest to me was the large number of Selz residents who did NOT make the trek back to Poland. A large number of Pete's relatives remained in Selz for several reasons, and were arrested in 1944 after the German Wehrmacht retreated out of South Russia. The case files reveal Soviet tactics of intimidation, the constant use of terror, and their obsession with squelching all perceived counter-revolutionary activities."

In the Valley of the Kutchergan

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North Dakota State University Libraries
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
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