Bessarabia: Homeland in Pictures
Bessarabien: Heimat im Bild
Cover Photograph Caption: Bessarabia: Beresina before the Resettlement in 1940 “What will the future bring us?”
Dear Countrymen, Dear friend of the Pictorial Calendars!
The Home museum of the Germans from Bessarabia was founded in our godfather town of Stuttgart in 1952. In the year 1972 – the twentieth year of its existence, I, founder and president, decided to publish and illustrated calendar, “Bessarabia: Homeland in Pictures.”
My intention and purpose was to produce strong evidence to prove that a good picture tells more than a written description of the lifestyles, the landscape, the buildings, workstyles, etc., of people.
I am pleased to say that in 1991, the twentieth issue of the Pictorial Calendars: Homeland in Pictures can be published. I am glad and thankfully state that my decision was good and correct, proven by the fact that the Calendars from year to year are enjoying ever greater popularity.
Permit me to briefly add something about the published pictures. I want, above all, to establish the fact that the individual pictures are never repeated. Each year from time to time thirteen new pictures appear, including the title picture. That amounts to 260 pictures. These are also available as postcards.
During the past three years, beside brief information and descriptions
of the individual pictures, reports have been added describing:
1. Village life in Bessarabia during the course of a year – Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter
2. Christmas customs and practices in the Bessarabian home.
3. Home life of the Germans in Bessarabia from the cradle to the grave.
Therefore, the calendar has not only a documental value through its pictures, but it also gives information in text form about the life and work of the Germans once living in Bessarabia. These reports also appear in illustrated brochures. I wish and hope that the JUBILEE KALENDAR, “Bessarabia: Homeland in Pictures-Year 1991,” will be well received by our countrymen and their descendants, as well as the local friends and sponsors of our Homeland Museum.
I am convinced that you have created the Kalendar can take pleasure in the pictures selected for the Jubilee year, as well as the text contributions. May the BILDKALENDAR of 1991 accompany you throughout a good, healthful year!
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE HOME MUSEUM OF THE GERMANS FROM BESSARBIA
The Home Museum of the Germans from Bessarabia has existed for thirty years. It is located in House of Bessarabian Germans in Stuttgart, where it has domicile rights. It took over the task of the former “Cultural Homeland Museum of the Germans from Bessarabia, founded in Sarata in 1922.
In Bylaws I, p. 3, Purpose and Goal, the following is stated:
“The society serves as exclusive and direct purpose of preserving knowledge of home life and customs of the Germans from Bessarabia by gathering, preserving and exhibiting all material that characterizes life in Bessarabia and Dobrudscha, their former homeland. Gathered are object, document, deeds, pictures, cards, plans, sketches, statistics, etc., as well as relevant literature.”
The function of the Home Museum is not limited to gathering material but also includes the documenting of all the true historical data of this group of people in foreign surroundings.
The cultural values of our forefathers in Germany were melded with the various influences of other nationalities, so that a unique heritage of the Bessarabian Germans evolved.
Today, since we understand the effects of integration in our ancestral homeland, the significance of our museum grows. In place of the dying and the experienced generation, the Home Museum plays a middle role. It serves to build bridges for coming generations to cross.
It is the task of the Home Museum to familiarize the present German-born generation and their children with the history of the Bessarabian Germans, so that they will not distance themselves, but rather, accept the homeland of their parents and ancestors in Bessarabia through word, picture, writing, and object representation.
In the last years, we have established a new awareness in the minds of the upcoming generation of their ancestral history. The past is no longer shaken off with a shrug of the shoulder. Interest is centered not only in the present and the future, but is also directed to the past. An emphasis on origin is taking place. This expresses itself through the value placed in close family and extended family research in our museum.
Visits to our museum increase from year to year. More and more groups are coming as well as entire families and their extended relatives. Among them are many young people. They come also from foreign lands and all parts of the world, especially from America and Canada, wose researchers show much interest.
The Homeland museum is located in the House of Bessarabian Germans in Stuttgart, Florianstrasze 17. The main office is in Muhlacker, Lindestrasze 37. In Stuttgart, 402 volumes are available. Besides the exhibit areas, the museum provides room for a large bibliography with complete records of relevant literature, homeland map archives, and above all, a large picture display as well as family and extended family records in the Register of Germans from Bessarabia.
Maintenance, furnishings and room for expansion naturally cost money. These costs must be covered by internal assessment. Members of the museum carry the financial burden. Yet we are very dependent of friends and sponsors and their contributions to our museum.
To date, the museum society has 556 members. We are very thankful for each new member. The more members who support our work, the more secure is the continuance of our museum.
The Homeland Museum of the Germans from Bessarabia is based on the former territory of Bessarabia and the German population there who lives under the Russian Czarist control for 104 years (1814 to 1918) and under the Rumanian rule for 22 years (1918-1940).
In addition, the museum holds information pertinent to the lives of this earlier group of people after the Resettlement of 1940 and the flight of 1945, as well as the residency solutions of the Bessarabian Germans and their lives to the present time.
We are pleased to know that the significance of the Homeland Museum is so well accepted by the general public and the experts. The following conclusion was arrived at by the Director of National Museums, Herr Professor Doctor C. Zoege of Manteuffel, after he visited our museum. In a letter he writes as follows: “Mainly because I have visited our archives of documented records is it possible for me to confirm the high value and unimaginable scientific importance of your work. The gathered lists of family names, locations, customs, villages, and farming factors is essential to the basis of all future research.”
Our Homeland Museum of Germans from Bessarabia will now and in the future bear witness to our very own history – a piece of German history written in a foreign land. Today it can be linked to a cultural spot representing the Bessarabian Germans’ history to their descendants wherever they may be living in the world.
I ask the readers to accept my provocative thoughts with both discernment and good will. I am thankful to God and glad that in my advanced years He is giving me the will power and joy to serve in promoting the beneficial work accomplished at our Home Museum.
President Homeland Museum
Germans from Russia
Title Page Bessarabia Beresina before the Resettlement in 1940
January 1991 Bessarabia Alt Postall – Merry sleigh riding and sledding
February 1991 Bessarabia Basyrjamka – Windmill on the estate of a German farmer
March 1991 Bessarabia Neu-Sarata – Prayer house with Golckenstuhl (bell cage) built 1892
April 1991 Bessarabia Tree in bloom in Kischinew (about 1938)
May 1991 Bessarabia Lichtental – Blacksmith shop (about 1900)
June 1991 Bessarabia Sarata River – Happy bathing and riding in the Lodka (rowboat)
July 1991 Bessarabia Alt Elft – Farmer’s estate. Foreground (right) foundation of Lederdrehe (leather lathe)
August 1991 Bessarabia Sarata – Cows in meadow
September 1991 Bessarabia Sheep in the meadow (very old photo)
October 1991 Bessarabia After the hard harvest and threshing work – enjoying the fruits in a happy circle
November 1991 Bessarabia Alley street – Acacia trees in Andrejewka
December 1991 Bessarabia Hoffnungstal – Ready to go visiting at Christmas time.
Brief Description of the Pictures
Title Page On June 28, 1940, Bessarabia was occupied by the Red Army. The uncertainty of life for the Germans occupied their troubled minds. In September when the Resettlement Commission arrived, the situation eased, but strong concerns existed and were discussed. “What will the future bring on us?” Registration began in Beresina.
January While horse-drawn sleigh riding was the main winter sport activity, Radeln (tobogganing) was added in Alt Postal and Tarutino. Our picture: Alt Postal 1936.
February Bessarabia was a very productive land. Wheat was the main crop. Therefore an outstanding flour-milling trade developed in the hands of the German colonists. During immigration time water and windmill power were predominant. During the last decade before Resettlement (about 1870) steam-powered mills were introduced and in the last decade motor driven mills were predominant. But the windmill did not totally give way although it was used only for grinding grain. Our picture shows a windmill kept in use until the Resettlement. It is shown at an estate near Basyrjamka.
March New Sarata was a daughter colony founded in 1890. During the settlement time, space was reserved for a church and a school. As early as 1892, the stately prayer house with bell cage was built and served as church and school until Resettlement.
April Bessarabia is a beautiful region. In spring it greens and blooms in the gardens and the far-flung fields. While in the southern part adjoining the Black Sea only gentle knolls rise from the plains and one can see from horizon to horizon, central Bessarabia is hilly with abundant tree growths. Our picture shows the area of Kischinew in about 1938.
May At the time of settlement in Bessarabia, each colonist farmer as well as craftsman endeavored to take over a farm. Yet only those who practiced their trade in the community were permitted to occupy Kleinhaüsler – Hof plätze (little farm places). Later, about 1870, crafts were practiced on the farming estates. Our picture shows a well-equipped blacksmith shop (1898) photographed in about 1900)
June In spring the Sarata River overflowed its banks. Held by dams, the water supply was more than sufficient for livestock the entire year. Especially for the youth, bathing was a great pleasure and one did not deny himself a roundtrip by “Lodka” (rowboat). Our picture was taken in about 1923 on the Sarata River.
July This typical farmyard scene of the Germans and Bessarabia proves that the farmer enjoyed his sideline as a craftsman. In the foreground (far right) we see the foundation of a lathe for treating leather – a sideline of the farmer’s occupation that he practiced in the winter months. Out of the rawhides of cows and horses, as well as foals and pig skins. The farmer conditions the leather for various uses. Mainly it was used for attractive harnesses for horses, but also for durable work shoes. The process originated in Alt-Elft.
August The Bessarabian Germans placed much value on raising livestock, especially in the first decades after their arrival, when it was the main source of farm income and there were wide expanses of meadowland. After more and more land was plowed, livestock raising declined. Yet one was interested in introducing a good cow. In 1880, the red German colonists cow from the Molotschna area was introduced and in the last two decades before Resettlement the Angler-Rasse breed was popular for its higher milk production.
September Raising sheep was a special and considerable branch of the Bessarabian German farmer’s occupation. Upon arrival, our ancestors found large herds of sheep grazing on the rented federal lands. Acquiring sheep then was no problem. The sheep was the most welcome domestic animal in settlement time. Besides wool, meat and sheep cheese that it provided, it was also noted for requiring less feed and care. The sheep in all the years never lost its importance in the farming industry in spite of the change from the simple Steppe sheep to the purebred Merino or Karakal.
October “Golden October” was welcomed by the German farmers after the hard work of harvesting, threshing and all the related work was completed. Who could not rejoice in the harvest thank fests where one could enjoy the harvested fruits? The grain granaries were full and the grape harvest was at the door. Bringing in the corn was a joy. It always offered much fun and amusement.
November The month of November in Bessarabia was the beginning of winter. The leaves on the trees and shrubs thinned out. The evenings became longer. At the cemetery the graves became winterized and the dead were remembered with an inner silence. The bare Bessarabian Acacia alley streets gave notice of nature’s fading. Our picture originated in Andrejewka.
December A true Bessarabian winter brought the first snow in early December. It usually lasted stubbornly into spring. This was beneficial for the farmers and the winter grains.
Who didn’t rejoice on the most beautiful holiday of the year? Christmas with all its joys and the glorious message: “Christ is born, rejoice all ye Christians!”
At Christmas time one enjoyed a trip in the horse drawn sleigh
to visit from house to house. Our picture was taken in Hoffnungstal.
Translation by Alma M. Herman June 1991