Journey to the Homeland Tour Photos 2012

Visit to Johannestal, Beresan District, and Bergdorf and Kassel, Glueckstal District, Odessa Region, 20-21-22 May, 2012

Photographs by John Dvorak

A Friend for LeAnn.

A cow greets visitors at the entry point to Bergdorf. The Russians have changed the names of the old German villages, so the sign doesn't translate into Bergdorf. People don't have a lot of cattle. So they just tie up their cows where grass is available. LeAnn's great-grandfather and great-great grandfather were born here.


Quiet Today.

The town was an active place with lots of economic activity when Germans lived here, we're told. It stretched out along several long roads which parallel a stream valley. Today, it's a quiet place.


Church Again.

In the distance LeAnn ponders the newly-remodeled church. Her Zimmermann relatives (we don't understand the difference in spelling of the last name) would have worshiped here. Then the Russians closed down the church and for years it was a community hall. Today, only a couple of Germans live here, but the church has been rekindled. LeAnn's grandfather was born in this town and immigrated in 1894 on the ship Waisland.


Remains of the Past.

We visited Johannestal. Like LeAnn's other ancestral communities, it's located north of Odessa, about 100 miles from the Black Sea. And like the other communities, the town cemetery was destroyed by Russians after they stopped welcoming Germans. We assume LeAnn has relatives buried here.


We barely reached Kassel. The roads are so bad you can only drive about 10 miles-an-hour. LeAnn's great grandmother, Magdalena Aipperspach, was born here. The church, which she would have attended, was beautiful. In ruins today, it still has a haunting beauty.


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