Our Roots Grew Deep in the Russen Soil
By Alfred Opp
Glueckstal Colonies Research Association, Redondo Beach, California, 2009, 229 pages, softcover.
In this, his third book, Alfred Opp continues to reveal the culture of his ancestors, from the peoneer years of Teplitz, Bessarabia to the deportation of 1940.
Life did not stop when they left their beloved village and the way of life so carefully nurtured by the German colonists in south Russia. Their path led through the horrors of World War II. Mr. Opp brings to light why he is passionately opposed to war - so much is lost, so many lives are destroyed.
"Life at times made us think there could be no peace or love between people. During the war our educational values and the basic goodwill taught us by our parents was pushed aside - the values of our people were put to a severe test. But in the end, seeing misery at its depths, people stood up and began helping others. That was a great victory for mankind. When people stood up to be counted, they began to feel better about themselves and the world around them. While it was heartwarming for those in need to receive help with material possessions, it was even more important to again feel understood and loved. Then healing could begin - we took the first steps on the path toward a normal, peaceful life. The lessons we learned from that experience we have passed on to our children. Those of us who learned these lessons are better people than we might otherwise have been."
"Although cultures may vary, all have values. If you have no roots from which to draw strength, your life is in jeopardy. We survived because our values are strong. Our values gave our families their back-bone not only to survive but to succeed in life."
Our Roots Grew Deep in the Russen Soil is a tender remembrance of the nurturing family life Alfred Opp knew as a young child growing up in Teplitz, Bessarabia, and a frank recounting of the effects of WWII on the lives of everyday people caught in the war. It is a story of fortitude, courage and triumph.
The Table of Contents shares these sections for the book: 1) Prologue; 2) Pioneer Days in Teplitz; 3) Childhood Memories; 4) Church Life in Teplitz; 5) Village Life; 6) Myth of a Dark Night; 7) Uprooted - 1940; 8) Welcome Home; 9) Growing New Roots In a New Land; 10) The Language of Bessarabia.
Simon and Regina Zacher with daughter Pauline. Teplitz, Bessarabia, 1940.
Der Verein - Teplitz Social Club
About the Author
Remembering a way of life that was snatched away from his family, surviving the horrors of World War II as a child among strangers, pulling through to achieve a life won by hard work and perseverance - these are the stories Alfred Opp serves up in his second book.
Born west of the Black Sea to descendants of German pioneers, Mr. Opp lovingly recalls the life and culture he enjoyed as a child. Cookstoves were fired by corn stalks, Mischt and wood scraps. Wagon axles were hammered out by blacksmiths who knew how to work an anvil. All work was done without the benefit of labor-saving devices, yet the people lived their lives with dignity and community spirit.
But when the Iron Curtain descended in 1940, the villagers of Teplitz, Bessarabia, packed up their household goods and began the Trek back to the Fatherland. They had no idea what awaited them! Housed in a former mental institution, they were indoctrinated in the philosophy of the Reich. Transported to occupy Poland, they were deposited among wary neighbors ready to rise up against the occupiers.
What do civilians do when the front lines of a war push through the center of their town? How does one survive when all community infrastructure disappears? What do children do when their parents are arrested in the middle of post-war turmoil?
Long after the battles had ended, the effects of the war continued to impact the lives of the people. Little by little they had to rebuild their lives and move on. Scars remained that had to be lived with.
This is an epic story of a journey that began halfway around the world from its conclusion. Travel along with storyteller Alfred Opp, and expect some surprises along the way!
The front cover of the book is a painting by Sammie Ramsay, a granddaughter of Alfred Opp. Alfred Opp lives with his family in Canada.