Bessarabia: Homeland in Pictures
Bessarabien: Heimat im Bild
Bessarabia: Homeland in Pictures
Calendar Cover Photograph Caption: Bessarabia: German farm family in the backyard about 1905.
Dear countrymen, dear friends of the Pictorial Calendars!
The Pictorial Calendar, “Bessarabia: The Homeland in Pictures,” appears for the sixteenth time in 1987. You have it in hand now and we hope it meets with your approval and guides you through a good year. As in previous years, our motive is to share worthwhile observations and information about the former life in Bessarabia.
It is customary now to have the Pictorial Calendar also serve as a report on our Homeland Museum.
The Homeland Museum of the Germans from Bessarabia has endured for sixty-five years since its founding in 1922 in Sarata/Bessarabia as the “Cultural History Homeland Museum of Germans in Bessarabia” –and thirty-five years since its new founding in Stuttgart in 1952. In the year 1987 we can, therefore, celebrate a double jubilee. This affords the occasion to record a few thoughts about the present importance of our Homeland Museum.
From the beginning our museum was, in the usual sense of the word, not only a museum, but also, because of its intrinsic purpose, it came close to being an Institute for Homeland Research Studies. These aims were stipulated in the charter at the founding on May 25, 1952. To illustrate, the following points are cited:
Item 1.3: The purpose and aim: The Society serves, exclusively and directly, for non-profit purposes, particularly those of local history and topography and homeland concerns. These aims are accomplished through gathering, preserving, and exhibiting material to characterize the loves of the Germans of Bessarabia, as well as Dobrudscha, and their previous homeland. Collected are objects, documents, deeds, pictures, cards, plans, sketches, statistics, etc., as well as all relevant literature.
The Homeland Museum shall give a true reflection of the life of Germans in Bessarabia and Dobrudscha and thereby shall take over the function of the previous Homeland Museum of Sarata and continue it.
Item 1.4: The Homeland Museum simultaneously assumes the task of maintaining the official archives of the old homeland.
Item 1.5: The Homeland Museum had as its purpose the stimulating of the production of histories, assembling appropriate materials and contributing to the publication of such materials.
In the first three decades of the existence of the Homeland Museum, the difficult business of gathering museum-worthy items of vital enrichment –documents, deeds, pictures, homeland publications, etc. –was accomplished, which was never easy because the owners parted from these items with a heavy heart. In recent years the preservation and accessibility of collected items valuable to the museum came increasingly to the forefront for meticulous inclusion. For that reason, exhibits acquired new space and furnishings. Among other things, a complete library arrangement was set up, making our valuable and abundant stock of books accessible to the general public.
Meanwhile, work groups (“Arbeitsgruppen”) are largely responsible for the on-going stability of the well-defined divisions of our museum work. For instance, one group in recent years took on the card catalogue and inventory work; another was responsible for the upkeep of family registers of the Germans from Bessarabia. In addition, these groups sorted out and listed the photocopies of the church books rescued from Bessarabia, so that these could be utilized in family research work. This applies also to our meticulous copies of family records, of which we have many thousands.
Understandably, at the time of resettlement the church registers and records were left behind, so that the Homeland Museum has by now accumulated over thirty years of family documents from Bessarabia, as well as photographs of authentic genealogical documents. In answer to inquiries from all over the world, made to the Homeland Museum by the descendants of former Bessarabian Germans who, in part, had immigrated to America before 1900, these documents are without exception of the greatest worth.
A further work group is occupied with the picture archives of the Homeland Museum, where thousands of photographs of our former homeland have been accumulated. Here it is important to have precise accompanying descriptions (so far not extant), so that the convincing evidence will be preserved for those who come after us.
The Handiwork Group of the Homeland Museum has been in existence for only 6 years. They have two goals: One is that we be able to bring together in one homeland circle housewives who, with their crafts, raise funds for the museum’s work; the other is that the housewives generally have the opportunity to meet at specific times. This ideal use of the “Institution of the Handiwork Groups” cannot be rated highly enough. The women may have the opportunity to exchange special handiwork techniques, particularly those practiced in Bessarabia. Since more and more younger wives born in Germany are taking part in our meetings, there is assurance that many old techniques will be passed on to the next generation.
In the charter, the Home Community Work Circle of our Museum Society is dedicated to the following:
“Par. 1.8: In order to better document the former homeland communities of the Germans from Russia in our museum work, Home Community Circles groups were established. They work under the guidelines of the director.”
In recent years more and more new work circles have been formed. Their purpose is to gather all documentary material of the respective homeland communities, beginning with the village and field plan up to the preservation of all family and kinfolk documentation in word and picture. To preserve all appropriate reports and references that have appeared in the homeland newspapers or the calendars of Bessarabia, as well as made public in our current homeland presses and calendars, all such material is to be recorded in the homeland section of the archives. In addition, records of and accounts by leading personalities of the present community also appertain.
All these pieces of evidence of the past make it possible, even after many years, to reconstruct the happenings on the one-time communities of Bessarabia. In addition, the contribute to the execution of our pictorial calendar “Bessarabia: Homeland in Pictures” (Bildkalendar “Bessarabien: Heimut im Bild”). Its constantly growing popularity gives us great pleasure. We know that many customers in the Alps collect the published illustrations and thus have in hand a far-reaching documentation of pictures of the former homeland of the Bessarabian Germans.
It should not be left unmentioned that in the archives of the individual communities this collected material, serving as source material for the publications of the Homeland Museum, is placed at the disposal of authors. We are very thankful to our members and all sponsors and promoters of our museum work for their financial support and active participation. The benefits derived from purposeful museum work are of the greatest importance to the successful work of the museum, without their help, the museum would not be possible in its present form. We, therefore, heartily thank our godfather city of Stuttgart, land of Baden Würtemburg, and the Federal Minister of the Interior for the benefits bestowed on our Homeland Museum.
The Bessarabian German Endowment Fund was established in 1975. Through more than 100 endowments it has grown to about 130,000 German marks, and today the proceeds from the endowments are a decide help in our museum work.
Hope for the Homeland Museum and its future existence is tied to these endowments, and for the present is assured.
Today, since we Bessarabian Germans understand that through integration our ancestral homeland will vanish, the Homeland Museum has the special obligation to build bridges between the past and future of coming generations. The Homeland Museum of the Germans from Bessarabia is a cultural center that today and in the future can provide information pertaining to the former existence of our people in Bessarabia.
Chancellor in Residence
President of Heimatmuseum
Reference: The Heimatmuseum of Germans from Bessarabia is located in the House of Bessarabian Germans inStuttgart, Florianstraße 17 (from the main train station by bus line 42 to Ostendplatz). The hours are Mondays through Friday from 9:00 to 6:00 o’clock. On Saturdays and Sundays the museum is open to visiting groups by prior reservation.
Contact: Christian Fiess, First Chairman
Pictorial Calendar 1987
Bessarabia: Homeland in Pictures
January Bessarabia Winter pleasure-sleigh ride in the little woods (“Wälde”) of Tarutino
February Bessarabia The corn kernels are removed from the cobs with a corn sheller (“Maisrebbler”)
March Bessarabia German farmyard in Beresina
April Bessarabia Church in New Postal
May Bessarabia Gymnastic display at Boys Gymnasium in Tarutino
June Bessarabia Dairy in Gnadental –community dairy (interior view)
July Bessarabia Special exhibit at the Homeland museum in Wernau in the year 1981
August Bessarabia Raking up (“Abrechen”) on the threshing floor
September Bessarabia Katzbach –farm wife at the spinning wheel
October Bessarabia Street view of the daughter colony of Friedrichsdorf
November Bessarabia Partial view of the Cultural History Homeland Museum of Germans in Bessarabia in Sarata, 1923
December Bessarabia Wishful dream of every boy at Christmas – a rocking horse (“Reitpferd”)
Brief Descriptions of Photos
Title Page Our picture shows a farm family in Sunday finery in their backyard. In Bessarabia the family was held in high esteem. Every child was a rich blessing, embraced with loving gratitude. The children grew up in the shelter of their parental home and the family gave them support in later years.
January In winter, when work in house and yard slackened, the farmer occasionally had the time to take a pleasant sleigh ride. The cold and snowy winter afforded the prime opportunity. Sleigh rides were a very special pleasure for young and old, as well as for the horses who needed exercise.
February While field work was on hold for sunny February days, the ears of corn were “unkernelled” with a stripper (maisrebbler). This device was developed and manufactured by agricultural mechanical engineers in Bessarabia. The corn “rebbler” afforded a big step forward, for it was labor-saving, time-saving, and made extensive corn cultivation altogether possible.
March The Bessarabian farmyards were laid out on a large scale. In rows along the house were stable, tool sheds and barns. Sheep, cows, horses and poultry populated the yards. From spring until fall, the cows, calves, sheep and horses which were not needed for field work were out in the pastures. In winter they were kept in the barns but had free run of the corral (“harman”), an enclosure extended out from the stable.
April Landmarks in the Bessarabian colonial communities were the churches. Neu- Postal was a daughter colony founded in 1864. At the time of resettlement it had 483 inhabitants. A beautiful, majestic church was built there in 1904-1905.
May In the high schools in Bessarabia many sports were practiced. Special sports teacher, Hecht, at the Boys High School in Tarutino was a pioneer in the field of youth sports. He was called “Our Gymnastics Father John.” The Gymnastics Exhibition of the Boys High School in Tarutino was a special event each year and was attended by many fellow countrymen from all the Bessarabian communities. At the same time these gymnastic exhibitions were an incentive to the young to participate in sports.
June Until the First World War, the milk industry in Bessarabia was perceived as an individually-run, rural operation. No household was without a cream separator or a butter churn. Private and community dairies came into being in the 20’s, and the farmers delivered their milk to the dairies. The whey was fed to the swine.
July The Homeland Museum maintaining permanent exhibitions in the Hall of the Bessarabian Germans at Stuttgart, where 400 qm is at their disposal. At the federal meetings special exhibits are shown. Besides that, touring exhibits that coincide with the holidays are on display in villages and cities.
August Although threshing machines had come into use before WWI, the threshing stone was kept in use until the resettlement in 1940. It was a threshing method suitable to that climate. Appropriate equipment was essential and was developed and produced in trade and agricultural manufacturing plants in Bessarabia. An example is the large iron rake. It was about 2 m. wide and had bent iron prongs. It was used to rake up the threshed out straw from the threshing floor.
September In the first years after the settlement, until about 1870, the women produced all items of clothing at home. It was spun, woven, knitted and sewn. This changed when fabric manufacturing plants were developed in Bessarabia and material could be purchased. Yet, in the last decade before resettlement weaving at home was resumed and the spinning wheel was never out of use.
October Firedrichsdorf was a daughter colony founded in 1911. It was an aspiring community with rural characteristics. Friedrichsdorf was a row of house village, with a broad street, the first German community in the county of Ismail near the Donau and the Black Sea.
November The Cultural History Homeland Museum of Germans in Bessarabia was founded in Sarata in 1922. During the first decade of its existence it was located in the house of its founder, Immanuel Wagner (photo). In the last years before the resettlement it was housed in the vacant official residence of the Werner School.
December In Bessarabia Christmas was also a time of celebration
for the children. Although the offerings of toys was not as great
and as general as in our time, there were many things to delight
the heart of a child –dolls, animals of porcelain or cloth,
cradles, toy furniture and much more. For little boys from 5 to
6 years the rocking horse (“Reitpferd”) was the most
wished-for dream. With great perseverance and love, such a horse
was made of wood, either by the father alone or with the help of
a talented craftsman. It was covered with calfskin or sometimes
with the skin of a foal. The hair of the main was also genuine.
How the eyes of the children sparkled when such a little horse stood
under the Christmas tree.
Translation by Alma M. Herman June 1991