The Germans by the Black Sea Between the Bug and Dnjestr Rivers

By John (Johannes) Philipps

Published by the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo, North Dakota, 2000, 202 pages, softcover. Revised and enlarged edition, English or German editions available.

It was the desire of the author, John (Johannes) Philipps, "to portray the former colonies, as for example Landau, historically, geographically and statistically as a German portrait of the southern Ukrainian steppe" ... "I wanted to raise the awareness in the descendants that their fathers and forefathers were not 'unskilled sod busters,' but rather diligent, reverent, well-to-do farmers and that they have reason to be proud of their ancestors."

Philipps presents first a brief, historical overview as well as a description of the geographical location and climatic conditions. Numerous drawings and maps as well as old original photos from the time during the war (WWII) as well as more recent photos (1996) characterize this book. The writer goes into agricultural development as well as political and historical development since the era of expropriation until the escape to the west and the islands of the archipelago gulag. A list of German executed colonists with their date of birth and the day on which they had been executed concludes the book.

Philipps includes historical notes and maps of the mother colonies of the Beresan, Glückstal, Kutschurgan, and Liebental districts, South Russia (today near Odessa, Ukraine). Many of these German-Russian immigrant families homesteaded in the Dakotas and the western Canadian prairie provinces.

The map of "German settlements and land owned by Beresan colonists until 1918" has been greatly improved in detailed color format, such as religious affiliations of villages and detailed explanations which makes it very valuable to anyone researching the Germans from Russia. Place names have been carefully verified.

For example, immigrant families from the Kutschurgan villages setled in Emmons, Logan and Pierce counties of North Dakota and Saskatchewan. Many immigrant families from the Glueckstal villages settled in McIntosh and Logan counties of south central North Dakota, as well as Campbell and McPherson counties in north central South Dakota. Many immigrant families from the Beresan villages settled in the Dickinson, Mandan, and Richardton areas of central and western North Dakota, and near Regina, Saskatchewan.

In addition to the German edition published in 1999, five indices have been added: Map Index, Personal Name Index, Picture Index, Place Name Index, and Subject Index.

As with his earlier publications Speyer im Beresaner Tal der Südukraine (1994) and Die deutschen Bauern am Schwarzen Meer (1994), and Die Deutschen am Schwarzen Meer zwischer Bug und Dnjestr (1999), John Philipps takes his own experiences as foundation for this literary work.

About the author

As German-Russian, John (Johannes) Philipps was born in the Beresan colony of Landau and grew up in a farming family who, however, was already expelled early from their home. He studied agronomy and later worked at the MTS-Waterloo. His youth was overshadowed by poverty and hunger even though he came from a well-to-do farming family. He experienced the deprivation of citizen rights and wrenching deportation of his family, was captured by British troops and finally uprooted without a country, petitioned for emigration to the United States of America. After he had conquered initial difficulties, he arrived finally in New York, in 1952. He moved to California in 1955, where he accepted U.S. citizenship. John Philipps experienced Stalin's destructive politics and after World War II, Philipps came to America where he could build a new home in a new homeland.
Church without tower, 1994. Photo courtesy of Leonard Kopp.
Church interior which is now a repair shop, 1994. Photo courtesy of Leonard Kopp.

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Review of by Roland M. Wagner

The Germans by the Black Sea Between the Bug and Dnjestr Rivers

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