You Land, of My Forefathers' Choice: History of the Bessarabian Germans

Produced by Dwayne Janke, Calgary, Alberta, copyright Dr. Erwin Ziebart and Dwayne Janke, 2005, DVD

"You Land, of My Forefather's Choice: History of the Bessarabian Germans," a new English film resource for those researching their Bessarabian-German heritage is now available.

The film was produced several years ago by Dr. Erwin Ziebart, who was born and raised in Bessarabia and was a professor at the University of München.

The 70-minute film chronicles the period from the early 1800s, when German colonies were established in southern Bessarabia, through to the resettlement of 90,000 of the colonists to Hitler's Germany. The film tells the story through Erwin's narration, with paintings, maps, and still photos, as well as personal interviews of nearly a dozen former residents and researchers of Bessarabia (including those at the Heimatmuseum der Deutschen aus Bessarabien in Stuttgart). One of the exciting features of the film is the use of archival black-and-white footage, taken in 1937-38 by an amateur filmmaker, Emil Hübner. It shows farming, school and church life typical of that time in the Bessarabian German colonies.

Converting the high-quality amateur film into English was initiated by Dr. Elvire Necker-Eberhardt so it could be understood and enjoyed by a wider audience during a showing at the Medicine Hat Germans from Russia festival, held September 23-25, 2005. Dr. Necker-Eberhardt translated the film's script and on-screen text. Dwayne Janke did further English script editing and audio recording of the film's various voices into English, by using friends, family and work colleagues. 17-year-old, Michael (a Calgary high school film festival finalist), did the digital editing for the English version.

Review of documentary

Dwayne Janke and his compatriots have made an excellent effort to make a video produced in Germany in German available to people in the United States and Canada in the English language. It is a job well done with a some minor editing glitzes.

The DVD uses many old pictures as well as old film to tell the story of the settlement in Bessarabia from the beginning in the 1800s to the resettlement back to Germany in the 1940s. The use of interviews with people who grew up in the villages and are able to explain what they saw and remember is a great way to tell the descendants of the colonists who today live in the United States and Canada how things used to be.

This DVD should help make the history come alive for the English speaking descendants of these German settlers from Bessarabia.

Well done.

Victor Knell
Fargo, North Dakota

You Land, of My Forefathers' Choice: History of the Bessarabian Germans

DVD is $25 plus Shipping & Handling

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