Journey to the Homeland 2004
by Florence (Schatz) Barrow
June 1 - Day 1
|Florence Schatz Barrow, Regina, Saskatchewan.
|Florence Schatz Barrow and her daughter,
Alixis, Regina, Saskatchewan
|Eva Schatz Barrow, Florence Schatz
Barrow and Mary Ann Hueser, Eva's daughter, standing by the
highway sign for the Ukrainian village of Kamenka, former German
village of Mannheim, Kutschurgan District, about one hour from
Odessa, Ukraine. They all live in Regina, Saskatchewan.
|Mary Ann Hueser, Florence Barrow and
Eva Hueser enjoying Ukrainian dinner in downtown Odessa cafe.
|Florence Schatz Barrow standing in
the former German villages.
Eva (Schatz) Hueser, her
daughter Mary Ann and I left Regina, Sask. at 6:00 am via Northwest
Airlines (KLM partner) for the first leg of this journey. We had
to be at the Regina airport by 4:00 am, so we knew this would be
a very long day. When we arrived in Minneapolis about 9:00 am, had
about a 6-hour to wait for our next plane, therefore had plenty
of time for breakfast or a snack. In Minneapolis we were met by
other members of the Tour as well as Michael Miller, our Tour Director.
In total there were 10 Americans and 3 Canadians. We left Minneapolis
just after 3:00 pm for Amsterdam, Holland and Budapest, Hungary.
June 2 - Day 2
We arrived in Amsterdam 6:30 am (next day) after flying approximately
11 hours, had a 3 1/2-hour wait then boarded another flight at 10:00
am, arriving in Budapest at noon. I found my large suitcase had
been damaged, the zipper had been broken and the suitcase had been
duct-taped about a dozen times to keep it secure. Before leaving
the Budapest airport, I put in a claim with Northwest Airlines/KLM,
all the while wondering how I was going to manage until I got another
suitcase. Our tour guide was very helpful, she got the hotel reception
people involved to find a luggage store, because I had no idea how
long it would take to settle the claim. Michael Miller, our tour
director, said he would accompany me once a luggage store was located.
In the meantime we each went to our rooms. I had no sooner arrived
to my room when I got a call from the reception desk asking me to
empty my suitcase and bring it down to the front desk because a
KLM representative was coming in an hour to check the suitcase to
see if it was repairable. I left the suitcase with them. Within
a half-hour I received another call from reception asking me to
come there to look at a suitcase the representative brought with
him, to see if it was suitable. I was more than satisfied, it is
a much sturdier suitcase than the one I had. I immediately signed
the receipt, shook hands with the representative and happily took
my new suitcase to my room to repack. From the time I found my damaged
suitcase in the airport until a new one was brought to me at the
hotel, it took only six hours. Amazing!
As a matter of information, the difference in time zones are:
June 2 - 1:30 pm (Regina)
June 2 - 9:30 pm (Budapest)
Budapest is 8 hours ahead of Regina.
It rained when we left Regina, and it had been raining in Amsterdam
and Budapest all week. I am hoping tomorrow will clear up because
we will take in a tour of the City, then visit and spend most of
the day on the bus sight-seeing. Even though it is raining, the
weather here is hot and humid. By the way, the only English-speaking
TV channel is CNN.
June 3 - Day 3
During the City tour of Budapest, we visited a museum, St. Matthews
Church, and their Parliament Buildings. Lots of walking, lots of
stairs, as well as a lot of forgettable history lessons from our
tour leaders. However the architecture is beautiful with many buildings
built like castles with stained glass windows. We were then taken
to a Chocolate-Cafe where we were served coffee/tea and cakes.
The streets are narrow, and confusing. If parking is allowed on
one street there is only room for one car or bus to go through that
street, even though all streets appear to be two-way streets.
We also visited their opera house. Impressive! Inside was horse-shoe
shaped, had three tiers/levels, with theater boxes on both sides
for dignitaries, nobility and moneyed-barons. Each wall and theater
boxes have ornate carvings and gold filigree designs to outline
each box. Very beautiful! When we entered the opera house we were
given elasticized paper shoes to cover our footwear. This was to
keep the opera house free of dirt and muddy waters, as all the hallways
and aisles are carpeted. All the seats are covered in plush velvet.
There are three entrances, each walled with paintings of famous
singers and composers.
We had the afternoon free, until 7:30 pm when we were taken to
an authentic Hungarian ‘supper’ feast followed by an
evening city tour of lights. We returned from our 3 1/2 hour sumptuous
supper held on the island of Margaret, which is one of three islands
near Budapest. One other is named Elisabeth, and the third name
was not given. Our authentic supper was delicious with more food
than we could eat. Music and entertainment was provided, also costumed
dancers were on stage throughout the entire meal.
After the supper we took a short city tour of the night lights,
then back to the Hotel Fiesta (4-star) to rest, and pack for our
flight the next day with Hungarian Malev Airlines to Odessa, Ukraine.
Budapest is a combined name for two cities, Buda and Pest, separated
by the Danube. Buda holds the main businesses and government buildings,
palaces and cultural centers, and is on the ‘hilly’
side of the Danube with many trees and parks. Pest is on the flat
land side of the Danube where the hub of businesses are held, such
as construction companies, hotels, stores and where most of the
people reside. Our hotel was in Pest.
Seven bridges cross the Danube, the main one is Chain bridge, so
named because it was built entirely with chains in 1873. Another
is a suspension bridge located at the Danube’s narrowest point
between the two cities.
June 4 - Day 4
The Hungarian airline - Malev - took approximately 1 1/2 hours
from Budapest to Odessa. What a joy to have finally arrived. We
met Elvira Zahavora at the airport. Elvira is from the Odessa Intourist
and extremely organized. She cleared our group through Customs by
providing each of us with a Ukrainian Visa. We had been previously
asked to provide her with 2 passport-type photos for the Visa which
allowed us to enter the Ukraine. Elvira speaks several languages,
and her English is near-perfect with a hint of Russian as she speaks.
She is efficient, friendly and very helpful - an absolute delight
to work with.
We were then driven to the Chornoye More Hotel in central Odessa,
to rest up until 6:20 pm when we once again were gathered to listen
to the agenda she had outlined for us. We then drove to a Welcome
Dinner at a Ukrainian restaurant for another sumptuous authentic
meal. I was told that Lilia Belousova would be joining us.
Lilia Belousova is the Deputy Director and Head of the Department
of Information, Publication and External Relations, State Archives
of Odessa Region. I had contacted her via emails through Elvira
Zahavora because the Odessa Archives computers had had a virus.
I asked Lilia in February, 2004 if she would do some researching
for me, and was advised that she would comply, and would deliver
what she had found when she meets me in Odessa.
As we arrived at the restaurant, I was introduced to Lilia. Lilia
Belousova, who is very beautiful and talented in research and journalism,
but seems quite shy. Elvira mentioned that Lilia appears on televison,
often in commercials and in documentaries in order to supplement
her income in order to support herself and her son.
Lilia brought many pages of documentation about names of people
and ancestors I had asked her to research for me. I had sent her
a list in February. There was a cover page for the documents which
briefly outlined what they were. Much of it was in either German
script, Latin or Russian. When I tried to offer her money for her
work and documents, she refused and said “This is my gift
to you.” What a treasure!
I will be seeing her again on Tuesday, June 9 before we leave Odessa,
when I shall give her photocopies of other documents I have, which
I hope she can authenticate. Lilia will bring with her whatever
she finds on those other documents, when we will again meet in Bismarck,
N.D. GRHS convention July 21-25.
While we ate authentic Russian-Ukrainian food, which included one
of my favorites “Haluptsi” - cabbage rolls with equal
parts meat and rice, we were entertained by a small group of 2 men
and 3 young ladies who sang and danced for us in their lovely costumes.
We all enjoyed this wonderful evening.
There was a 24/7 confectionery store located one block from our
Odessa hotel where we were able to buy water. I was not the only
one that felt dehydrated since we left the USA. Since arriving in
Hungary I had been drinking about 2 litres of water per day. The
water in Odessa cannot be drunk, whereas the water in the hotel
in Budapest was drinkable.
June 5 - Day 5
After breakfast in the hotel we toured the city of Odessa. All
our breakfasts were included in the tour, as well as several suppers,
and the occasional boxed lunches when visiting the villages. The
hotel had taken all our passports for safekeeping, which was probably
a good thing for there were many beggars on the streets, some alone,
and others in groups of 2 and 3. One woman I saw begging was a very
old lady just outside the doorway of the confectionery store.
After lunch at 2:00 pm we had some free time to rest before going
to the opera - Bizet’s Carmen, sung in French which entertained
us from 7:00 pm to 10:30 pm. The performance was equivalent to $6
USA, plus $4 for the taxis.
When we returned from the performance we arrived back at the hotel
for a late supper at 11:00 pm. Few had eaten before attending the
opera, so we were famished by the time we returned, and were thankful
for the good food that was prepared for us.
Elvira, our tour director, said that times have to be arranged
for supper at the hotel. For example, if we wish to eat at 6:00
pm, we must advise them and not arrive earlier because we will not
be permitted to sit down anywhere until our appointed time. At 6:00
pm we would be seated, then promptly served by waiters who will
only serve our tables, and no one else’s until we are finished.
However, if one is late, or if the entire group is late, that is
acceptable. We were assured that the hotel will hold our meal until
we arrive, then commence serving us.
Very little money has been spent, since most our meals are included
in the tour, except for bottles of water. The hustle-bustle of this
city is never-ending. Not only does the city never sleep, it seems
that cars do not require mufflers. The traffic in Odessa is no different
than in any other major city, which means it is constant and very
noisy day and night. This hotel was chosen because of the convenience
to emenities, therefore the traffic is endless.
Most buildings are from 2-4 stories high and reminds one of run-down
seedy buildings that should restored. In between some of these old
buildings a newer one is standing as if it had been restored or
newly built. The Chornoye More Hotel stands between two such tumbling
buildings. However the hotel is clean, the rooms are spacious enough,
similar to a 2nd class hotel at home. All of the staff wear uniforms
and are pleasant toward us visitors, and give the appearance of
being employed by a first-class hotel, which it might very well
be by Ukrainian standards.
While touring the city yesterday, we stopped at a nice resort area
where we could see the Black Sea. Sunbathers crowded the beaches,
but very few were in the water - it was much too cold. The city
of Odessa has a population of approximately 1,000,000, and I am
sure every one of them drives by this hotel each day. They drive
very fast, and if one decides to cross the street they might be
taking their life into their hands, because cars appear to have
June 6 - Day 6
Today is the day we have all been waiting for. We will visit as
many Kutschurgan villages as possible beginning with Mannheim, about
60 kilometers north of Odessa. We three Canadians were provided
with an interpreter and a driver with a van to take us wherever
we wanted to go for the next three days. All six villages’
names have been changed and are now known as follows:
Strassburg - Kutschurgan
Baden - Otscheretovka
Selz - Limnskoye
Kandel - Ribalskoye
Elsass - Cherbanka
Mannheim - Kamenka
Prior to departing Odessa, we gave Michael Miller all the items
we brought along for the Landau orphanage. We brought bars of soap,
pens, pencils, erasers, writing tablets and chocolates for the children.
Michael departed for Landau with some of the other tour members,
and we three left for Mannheim.
We took pictures of the Mannheim (Kamenka) church ruins, inside
and out. Then we met a boy (Vladimir Trofimov) about 13 years of
age on a bicycle with a scythe, and two girls about 8-9 years old,
and took their picture. Through our interpreter Janna Gonchar, we
asked the boy if he knew where any old German houses remained. Without
preamble he told us to follow him as he rode on his bicycle almost
out of town. There we found a crude building probably made from
sandstone, clay and stones that had to have been one of the first
houses constructed in the early 1800’s. Time and the elements
had almost destroyed it. Inside was a dirt floor, two rooms, low
roof and small paneless windows. Nothing could be salvaged. It is
sad to think the first settlers had to build and live in this kind
of rough housing. There were several other such houses, some with
wells, some with cellars still standing, but nothing salvagable.
We also took pictures of the cemetery in Mannheim. We met another
boy about 12-13 years, who asked if we would like to see his mother
make pancakes (crepes). We were met by his Armenian mother and possibly
other relatives, who were rolling, then flattening out dough. This
was in a very small lean-to baking room that was exceedingly hot.
The boy’s mother began to swing the dough similar to stretching
pizza dough, after which she laid the stretched dough over a flat
steel surface where the heat came from beneath a burning wood stove.
The thin dough remained stretched as she slowly pulled it off the
stove top. Then she laid it onto a pile of others similar in size.
The Armenian lady was such a friendly person, seemed pleased to
show us how she worked to earn a living.
Next we visited Elsass (Cherbanka) where we were told by Elvira
Zahavora and our day guide Janna Gonchar to contact one Karl Lorenz.
We located the house of his daughter Hilda Drobenko, who told us
her father died two years earlier. I took her picture because she
appeared somewhat older than her 61 years, wore an apron over her
dress, had on woolen stockings as well as socks in well-worn shoes.
On her head she wore a ‘babushka’ which seemed the norm
with the older women of the villages. We continued to drive around
looking for more old German houses.
Our next stop was Selz (Limonskoye) where we met another contact,
Ludmila ‘Lousa’ Riesling, age 67, who spoke German and
for whom we had brought tea bags from Canada. Louisa lives in a
house with her daughter Helena and granddaughter, and is trying
to immigrate to Germany to live with her brother Walter Riesling.
Louisa uses her maiden name so that she can keep the house she was
given by the government after her father was accused of a crime
then shot. The house was compensation after her father was found
innocent of the charges. After her father was killed Louisa had
been sent to Siberia, Kazakstan then to Latvia, and when it was
safe to do so she returned to Selz where she was given her house.
She has since restored the building and the summer kitchen where
she does most of her cooking.
She welcomed us with both arms and was eager to please. I gave
her the tea bags I’d brought, Mary Ann gave her a huge bag
of items which she put together for Louisa. She then showed us her
home and proceeded to prepare lunch. We brought our own boxed lunches
with enough food for twice the people. However, we had to taste
her delicious crepes filled with cottage cheese, browned lightly
in a buttered skillet. They reminded me of the ‘blinza’
desserts my grandmother used to make. Louisa also brought out her
homemade peach jam, and tea was served. Whatever food was left over
remained with Louisa and her small family.
Later we walked to see the ruins of the Selz village church that
was in as bad shape as the others we’d seen. I took photographs
of the church inside and out. Then we walked around awhile, saw
more ruins, then decided it was time to leave for Odessa.
Louisa is an eager-to-please person and certainly enjoys visitors.
I asked for her address through our interpreter Janna Gonchor, to
which Louisa replied that she would give it to us ‘tomorrow’
because she wants us to come back for another visit, and that is
the only way we will get her address. She kissed each of us in turn
as we made our way back to the van.
After leaving Selz, we went to Baden (Otscheretovka), and simply
drove through it because it looked like a town that was dying. We
then drove to Strassburg (Kutschurgan), checked out the ruins of
their church, but could not locate the cemetery which was supposed
to be directly behind the church. We found a goat tethered to the
church ruins, and as I wanted to take it’s picture two girls
about 9 years old wheeled by on their bicycles. I asked them to
stand next to the goat as I took their picture.
From there we returned to Odessa.
June 7 - Day 7
Another day travelling to the Kutschurgan villages. First to Baden
where we saw more ruins of the church. We found our contact Stefan
Kolesnikov who was referred to us by Michael Miller. Stefan had
visitors from Germany who we spoke with through our interpreter
Janna, until Stefan returned from his errand. The lady from Germany
told us her husband’s mother was a Waljor/Walyer which was
one of the names we were hoping to find. (Eva’s father Anton
Schatz and my father Benedict were brothers, and their mother was
Marzelena Waljor). We waited for Stefan and the woman’s husband’s
return and were invited into Stefan’s house where we tried
to determine how the German couple were related to Eva and myself.
Our interpreter had to work overtime to translate what was said
because it often happened that two spoke at the same time in Russian.
During the discussion and translating, Stefan’s son brought
fresh food to the table, cherries, strawberries, cookies and tea.
The couple from Germany were Johannes and Katharina Derzap. Stefan
gave me the address and the email address of their son Dr. John
Derzap who is an orthopaedic surgeon currently living in Munich,
Germany. Johannes was excited and talked non-stop, so it was not
actually determined how we were related.
As a souvenier Stefan gave us a copy of a written history of the
region, written in Russian which will require translation, and he
also gave each of us an old Ukrainian note worth 50 Kapbobahis(?)
used in 1917. Before we left we took pictures of them all.
Back to Mannheim (Kamenka) we met up with the Pastor of the Lutheran
Seminary, Most Rev. Alan Visser who had just returned from Prince
George, B.C.. He took us through the nearby ruins of the Catholic
Church, built in 1870, explained that he was an American who lived
in Canada, and was in Mannheim teaching new seminarians for a six-week
term through an interpreter. He mentioned there had been three Catholic
priests buried near the church, although it was impossible to find
their graves because of the high overgrowth of weeds. He also said
one other priest had been buried inside the church, but was removed
later on. This last priest was thought to be near beatification
after his death. No names of the priests were known.
Rev. Alan Visser told us that the gravestones of the original Catholic
Germans were bulldozed into a pit and covered, are now under lilac
trees, and are not locateable. The church was burned 1991 when a
die-hard Communist thought the people might rebuild the church.
The roof was burned with that fire.
Off to Kandel (Ribalskoye) where we located the ruins of their
church. This was a much larger church than others we’d seen,
built on a hill with steps leading up to the entrance. Again I took
pictures, also one of Janna Gonchar our interpreter and our driver
Yvon. As it was nearing lunchtime, we found a suitable table with
benches where we ate our boxed lunches. We also shared our lunch
with a stray dog who stayed close to us.
We returned to Louisa Riesling’s home in Selz (Limonskoye)
where she again insisted on feeding us. We had a lovely visit, met
her brother who had arrived from Germany while we were there. On
this visit, Louisa gave me her mailing address.
On our way back to Odessa, we passed Mannheim (Kamenka). The church
stood out in the distance, so we stopped to take one last picture
from the road. As we neared Odessa we approached the “Odessa
Hero City” monument with a huge star and the word Odessa in
Russian. The Hero City is in memory of the Ukrainian soldiers who
fought and died defending their country in 1941 against the Nazis.
Generally the villages are poor and live on what they can grow.
It appears that many have large gardens with vegetables of every
kind, as well as fruit trees. Some homes have cellars below their
houses, which can be entered from both inside and outside the house.
Others have cellars next to the house with one entrance facing either
front or back. We saw a good number of flowers such as rose bushes
and delphiniums in front of houses. But what is most noticeable
is the many trees in the front and back yards, almost to the point
of hiding the house itself.
The roads in the villages are full of pot holes, and none have sidewalks
along the streets. Everywhere people walk, older women wearing ‘babushkas’,
aprons, woolen stockings and socks. Their ‘babushkas’
are very colorful, while the rest of the clothing are generally
on the dark side.
There are cars in the villages, however they are rare. Children
ride bicycles. There do not seem to be any traffic laws, except
that they drive on the right side of the street, and give cows and
other animals the right-of-way. The entrances into their yards are
well packed-down dirt. No drainage was visible, which causes problems
with heavy rains. The roads in the villages must have once been
paved with asphalt, but they are now in ill-repair.
The people are like any other people in small villages; they sit
on benches outside the front of their homes, playing cards, dominoes,
or simply watching other people driving or walking by. We were often
stared at. When our driver stopped to ask directions, it was the
13-15 year-old boys who were most helpful. Many of the houses are
in poor shape, in desperate need of new siding, paint and repair.
Some were white-washed, but over time have become blotchy and streaked.
Rubble and sandstone debris seems to be everywhere, and is left
where it fell or was dumped. A few houses we saw were tidy and had
clean yards with fences. Goats, cows, geese and countless dogs and
cats roam free on the roads. Many homes have dogs, most of them
quite small, very thin and scraggy, some with ticks.
After we left a village and got onto the highway, it was smoother.
The highways are well kept, and are not much different from ours.
Traffic is heavy with cars and trucks. Often one will find a fruitstand
along the highway, or someone selling goat’s milk, vegetables
and other produce. People hitchhike and can be seen walking along
the highways with their arm extended - just like at home in Saskatchewan.
I have not seen any negros, nor East Indians here in the Ukraine.
There are Orientals, but very few. People here speak very loud,
and noticeably it is the German-speaking people who talk and laugh
the loudest. Russian is spoken by everyone, but some can speak or
understand English, such as the receptionists at hotels. One cannot
drink their water, and must be purchased. The food, however, is
exceptionally good, perhaps a little too good! So far, every meal
has been included in our tour. The money we have spent has mainly
been for bottled water, some postcards and for compensation to the
villagers who fed us and made us feel welcome in their homes.
June 8 - Day 8
Today we made another romp around the Kutschurgan villages. In
Baden we met Stephan Kolesnikov’s 17 year-old step-daughter
Yana, who had just graduated from Grade XII and who spoke English
Some of these villages are so close together that they share the
same post office, which is on one villager’s front steps,
usually one who works for the Mayor. Strassburg and Baden are connected,
and one can address an envelope to either village. Selz and Kandel
share the same front steps as their post office, and Mannheim and
Elsass also share the same post office.
Stephan and his step-daughter Yana came with us for the ride when
we went to Selz to meet with Louisa Riesling for the last time and
share our lunch with her, along with sampling her Schnapps. We met
her brother Walter Riesling, visiting from Germany who drives to
Odessa about twice a year. We also met Louisa’s daughter Helena
and granddaughter who live with Louisa. Helena works as a cook in
Kandel and has lived with her mother since Louisa’s husband
died two years ago. Louisa took back her maiden name after his death.
The Mayor of Selz, Margaret Alexiovna (?) came to see us. She is
a former history teacher, about 35 years old, very pretty young
woman. When I gave her one each of every lapel pin I had, she told
us she plans to open a museum in Selz, perhaps in the school, and
that these pins will go into her museum. After lunch we all walked
to the Kandel church ruins and were told it was originally built
in 1893 and completed in 1908, named Sts. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic
Church. We walked up a nearby hill toward the old cemetery and took
another picture of the church in the distance.
Finally, after a few tears and many hugs, we said good-bye to our
new found friends in the Ukraine. I left a little bit of my heart
with those warm and friendly people and promised to write to each
who had provided me with their address. There are many people whom
I must thank for their kindness and hospitality.
After we returned to Odessa, we began to pack our suitcases once
again for we were leaving this remarkable country the next day for
Stuttgart, Germany. About 10:15 pm I received a telephone call from
someone called Serge Yelizarov who said he has a friend Alexander
Pantchenko who is married to Svetlana Schatz who is a descendent
of Dr. Ignatz Schatz - my g-g-g-grandfather. Serge said they wanted
to meet with us at the State Archives tomorrow after I was finished
with my meeting with Lilia Belousova. It was through Lilia that
Serge found out about my quest, and as luck would have it he contacted
Svetlana and Alexander, then called me. I explained we were leaving
the hotel with our tour by 1:00 pm, to which he replied that he
and Alexander would pick us up after 8:00 am and bring us back to
the hotel by noon.
June 9 - Day 9
This was an exceptional day. We met with Lilia Belousova at the
Odessa State Archives before 9 am. She gave us the Font 628 Mannheim
Marriages of/at St. Peter’s R.C. Church in Odessa. As she
asked, I gave her a list of page numbers so she can produce the
file for each.
Serge Yelizarov arrived, told us the car was here so we can meet
with Svetlana (Schatz) and Alexander Pantchenko where we will have
an opportunity to view their family tree. Before we left I took
a couple of pictures of Lilia, Serge in her office. Serge introduced
Eva, Mary Ann, and I to Alexander who was waiting by his car. He
drove us to his apartment, showed us their rooms, very nice and
spacious. The building they live in contain only professional people.
Once inside his apartment he offered us water then brought out his
family tree, the size of which covered the coffee table and more.
Mary Ann asked Serge, who was our interpreter, if he could photocopy
the tree and bring it to Bismarck. He said he’d try.
Alexander kept asking questions about our families. I showed him
on his ‘tree’ where we belonged. Svetlana is a descendent
of Karl Ludwig, oldest son of Dr. Ignatz Schatz, whereas we are
descendents of Gabriel Sr. his youngest son. We noticed on his tree
that our grandfather Johannes Schatz was not listed, so I told Alexander
that I would send him a list of the descendents from Gabriel Jr.
down to present day. We met Svetlana and Serge’s wife Eugenia,
although the meeting was brief as they had to return to work.
Close to noon it was time to leave. Alexander gave each of us a
tall beer glass as a souvenier to take back with us. When we returned
to the hotel it took a long time saying ‘Good Bye’ with
a lot of hand-shaking and a few hugs. During our visit, Alexander
kept saying, “Next time you come, you will stay with us -
it will cost you nothing while you are here.” It was kind
of him to offer the invitation.
After lunch, we brought down our luggage. Elvira Zahavora was there
checking to see that everything was running smoothly. Several days
ago I gave Elvira a Thank-You card which included $50 USA. The tips
were prepaid, but I felt she had done such a good job, was so patient
with a good sense of humor that created a great atmosphere. Just
before the bus came to take us all to the airport, Elvira handed
me a bag containing a small tablecloth and some dried poppy pods
full of seeds. I had been so impressed with all the wild poppies
growing along side the roads, had mentioned that I would have liked
to harvest some of the seeds. What a generous person she is.
We got to the airport, no problems arose as all our papers were
in order. We had a few hours in Budapest again on our way to Stuttgart,
although none of us left the airport building because it was extremely
hot outside. We finally arrived at the Ketterer Best Western Hotel
in Stuttgart, and when I got to my room I immediately cranked up
the air conditioner. Tomorrow is a Catholic holiday in Germany;
most stores will be closed.
June 10 - Day 10
This morning our city tour guide, Renatta Block, took us on a tour
of this beautiful city. Stuttgart appears to be at the foothills
of some of the Alps, and the view from the top of those ‘hills’
is spectacular. Population about one-million, narrow streets outside
of the main street, otherwise the streets are up to six lanes wide.
This city is the centre of Mercedes-Benz cars, built and manufactured
here. I took a picture of an ancient bronze statue of a soldier
named Aberley riding his horse. Aberley is said to have been quite
a ‘womanizer’ in his day.
In order to avoid confusion of birth surnames, which is how some
of us were registered at the hotel, Eva was able to use her married
surname Hueser, however I was referred to as ‘Frau Schatz.’
June 11 - Day 11
Today we travelled to Seltz, Weissembourg, Alsace, France, where
our ancestors lived before they immigrated to Russia in 1808. We
passed such towns/villages as Landau, Hagenau, Geitershof, Crofttswiller,
Niederroiden to Karlsruhe, then Roesstog, Rastadt and Sessenheim
where we stopped to have lunch on the way to Seltz. (Wir essen in
Sessenheim) Lunch consisted of a crepe crust-like pizza with tiny
bits of meat covered with a wonderul cream cheese. Dessert was also
on a crepe crust with finely chopped fruit - very tasty.
In Seltz we passed a business called Wallier Motos (Motors), took
a picture of Eva Hueser standing in front. We wanted to go inside
but it was locked. We walked around, admiring the scenery, spotted
a lady watering her magnificant flowers and plants, whose picture
I took. There were no tourist traps anywhere. I have not found any
place that sells lapel pins as souveniers.
On the return trip we took another route, on the Autobahn, passed
Baden-Baden and Pforzheim on our left, and the famous Black Forest
on our right. I am impressed with what I have seen of Germany so
far. I would have no problem living in and around Stuttgart, except
that I would have to bone up on my German. One could not help but
enjoy the beautifully decorated houses, flower boxes in the windows
and well-kept yards. It is evident the people take pride in their
homes and property. Shoes come off when entering each house.
When we returned to Stuttgart we were told by Michael Miller that
Dr. John Derzap will meet us at tomorrow’s Bundestreffen (in
Karlsruhe) with his parents Johannes Derzap and Katharine (Wangler)
who were visiting Stefan Kolesnikov in Baden, Ukraine a few days
ago, where we had learned that Johannes’ mother Martha had
been born Waljor-Walyer-Wallior-Wallier, a possible relative of
my grandmother’s family.
June 12 - Day 12
We left early on the bus for the two-hour trip to Bundestreffen
held in Karlsruhe, Germany. Bundestreffen means “a gathering/meeting
of specific groups of people” - in our case Germans from Russia.
It was held in the Messe, which means ‘exhibition’ building,
a marvel in architecture. This was a building of 99% glass with
3 large halls, approximately two blocks square in size. Michael
Miller put up his colorful and informative displays in one of the
large halls, and we were pleased to find that he put up the Canadian
Flag on the wall next to the American flag.
We were there about a half-hour when Michael Miller introduced
us to Dr. John Derzap, a famous orthopaedic surgeon. We found out
later that he is indeed famous, especially throughout the eastern
hemisphere. Dr. John Derzap is about 40+, unmarried because he said
he never had time for a relationship, spending most of his time
taking up-grading courses. He told us he enjoyed practicing his
English on us. He arranged to meet with us about 8 pm at our hotel
in Stuttgart, the city where his parents live.
During the Bundestreffen Eva and I spent our time looking at the
exhibits. Every booth of exhibits was in the Russian language, books,
tapes, CD’s, literature, etc. but no lapel pins. People spoke
to us in Russian wanting to sell us their merchandise - no translation
was needed. We watched some performances, dancing in beautiful costumes,
singing and playing various instruments until it was time to leave
at 6 pm.
The traffic in Germany is just as insane as in Hungary, Ukraine
and North America. Speed on the Autobahn is 120 km/hr. or more.
Parking in the city is a premium; cars are parked on sidewalks and
close to buildings where people walk. Stuttgart has a population
of about 800,000. Prior to going to the Bundestreffen, we had packed
a light lunch, which we ate on our way back to the hotel because
it would have been too late for supper by the time we got back.
Dr. John had left a message saying he would pick us up about 8:30
pm. We were ready and waiting for him when he arrived. He drove
us to his parents ‘flat’ near the airport. Their flat
was lovely, although a little dark in colors. We were greeted by
his parents, Johannes and Katharine, who were very hospitable. Katharine
had laid out a table with her best china and silverware, with enough
food to feed a dozen people. With Dr. John as our interpreter, she
apologized saying she hadn’t had enough time to prepare a
dinner - they also had a two-hour drive from Karlsruhe to Stuttgart.
Since none of us were hungry we did our best to sample the food
on the table. We were also served Russian wine, Vodka and water.
One small glass of the wine was about all I could drink, it was
very potent. Then we got to talking about the Walyer family and
after much exchanging of information we found that our great-grandfather
Raphael Walyer (my grandmother’s father) was a brother to
Dr. John’s great-grandfather Ferdinand. Dr. John brought out
all his genealogy information with documents from the Odessa Archives
working closely with Lilia Belousova for the past few years. He
has a lot of information, and I hope we can exchange what we have
via email. When I return home I will forward all the Walyer information
I currently have.
Dr. John showed us photos of the orthopaedic surgery results on
patients who had been considered candidates for amputations. Dr.
John has perfected a method of surgery that in some cases do not
require anesthetic. He was the first doctor to use/test this method.
He showed us pictures of surgeries where he was able to lengthen
legs and arms where necessary, straighten bowed legs, and to correct
and fuse bone tissue that did not heal properly. He told us he has
corrected feet that had been turned inward, and others that needed
to be lifted up at the toes so that the patient can learn to walk
on the whole foot instead of just the toes.
He has been called to perform surgeries in Russia, Germany, all
of Europe, Egypt and other Eastern countries, and the United States.
He has been invited to speak of his methods at various medical conventions,
and showed us certificate upon certificate that he has earned. He
has also done surgery in Kazaghstan. He goes where he is called
upon to speak and do surgeries.
He told us he was driving to Munich, Germany the next day where
he lives, then the day following will be going to Rome to the Vatican
for meditation and prayer because he is going to take in a long
and difficult up-grade course after his visit to Rome.
As we were leaving, Katharine and Johannes plied us with gifts,
a beautiful crocheted doily about 2-feet in diameter, one each of
hand-painted paddles for hot pots on the table, a box of chocolates,
and of course a bottle of their Russian wine and a bottle of Vodka.
After many hugs and kisses we arrived back at the hotel about midnight.
June 13 - Day 13
We were too tired to attend church, which would have been entirely
in German, and difficult to understand. On another city tour we
visited Ludwigburg Castle in Stuttgart where I finally located some
lapel pins. I bought nearly a dozen, which sold for $3.90 Euro dollars
(about $7 Canadian dollars each). Renatta Block was our city tour
guide again. After the seeing only the courtyard of the impressive
castle we visited the Mercedes Benz Daimler car museum. When we
returned to the hotel, it was time to start packing for our 11-hour
flight home the next day - Stuttgart, Budapest, Amsterdam, Minneapolis
June 14 - Day 14
Home at last!