Bessarabia: German Colonists on the Black Sea

By Ute Schmidt

Translated from the German by James T. Gessele

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Dr. Ute Schmidt autographing her book at the Author’s Event, Hilton Garden Court Hotel, Bloomington, MN, 14 July 2012, sponsored by the North Star Chapter of Germans from Russia.
State Senator Robert Erberle sharing his book with Dr. Ute Schmidt at the Lehr Tabernacle, Lehr, ND, on 17 July 2012. Robert’s ancestral village is Teplitz, Bessarabia.

Prairie Public Broadcasting radio interview on the Here it Now program, 16 July 2012, with guest host, Bob Dambach interviewing Dr. Ute Schmidt and Michael Miller.

Allyn Brosz of Washington, D.C., writes that it is the best of its kind in 40 years:

“When I read the book in German, I knew instantly that this book should be in the personal library of all who are interested in the long and fateful history of the Bessarabian Germans. It is, without question, the authoritative history of the Germans in Bessarabia. Now this powerful translation by James Gessele will make the book widely available to North American readers.”

“With Ute Schmidt’s Bessarabia: German Colonists on the Black Sea we have been given an immense source of information, a reference book for any historical, economic, cultural, spiritual and social question of this group of Germans from Russia. The author follows the Bessarabian Germans from their origin, the beginning and development in Bessarabia, to their tragic scattering in 1940 and beyond. The different points are not only reported and documented but also aptly illustrated with many unique pictures, maps and graphs. It is a delight to read. An extensive bibliography and list of people and places complete this most studious work. This book is well written and of great benefit to anybody interested in Bessarabian Germans.”

Dr. Elvire Necker-Eberhardt, Calgary, Alberta

Bessarabia: German Colonists on the Black Sea is the book of the decade. In one volume, carefully and beautifully translated into English, it opens new windows to life in South Russia from early settlement to the present day. This is a book that will put the history and contributions of the Germans from Russia on the global map.

In this volume there is new information about agricultural practices, animal husbandry, vine culture, social structures, inter-ethnic communications with many other nationalities, textile and farm equipment manufacturing, early establishment of orphan funds - that eventually evolved into the colonists’ own banking system - and much more. Also included is poignant detail about the flight to short-lived freedom, supplemented with never-before-seen color photos from the Nazi archives. While Bessarabia: German Colonists on the Black Sea is regional in title, anyone with roots to Russia will benefit from this well researched volume containing sources rarely used in books currently available in English.”

Carol Just, St. Louis Park, MN

“Through bountiful illustrations, well-grounded historical scholarship and clear writing, Ute Schmidt tells the sometimes heroic, sometimes tragic story of German people who came to live in a part of the Russian Empire known as Bessarabia. This book is remarkable for the detail it provides on a wide range of topics including village life, trade, cities, schools, religion, politics, diverse ethnic neighbors and the vicissitudes of dealing with changing borders and governments. English-language readers will find James Gessele’s expert translation of Ute Schmidt’s German text a pleasure to read.”

Dr. Nancy Herzog, Boulder, CO

“The Germans in what was once known as Bessarabia (and for the most part is today known as Moldova) constitute an important contingent of Germans in the Black Sea region. This book by Ute Schmidt is a masterful and comprehensive record of the history of the Bessarabian Germans, and this excellent translation by James Gessele now brings this history to English speakers.

As a translator of a variety of books and articles on the history and status of Germans from Russia, I consider this book among the very best – a beautifully illustrated and a comprehensive record on the Bessarabian Germans in particular, and Black Sea Germans in general. For the few survivors of the 1940 evacuation and the numerous descendants now living in Germany and the Americas this is an invaluable and readable record, and it is bound to serve as a useful reference.“

Alex Herzog, Boulder, CO

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Review by Horst Gutsche

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