2011 Memories of Tour Members

Journey to the Homeland: Germany and Ukraine
18-28 May 2011

North Dakota State University Libraries Tours

Elizabeth (Liz) Pfeifle
Marcus, Iowa

I just wanted to say thank you for organizing and leading the Ukraine/Germany trip.

While I did not have as much information as others on the trip, I was privileged and honored to visit Fridenstal the village where my great great grandfather died, where my great grandfather was maried and where my grandfather was born.  this visit helped me devlop an appreciation for the land of my ancestors. It is a heritage to treasure and pass on to future generations.

The book I purchased shows my grandfather Pfeifle leaving for America in 1886. I also found a record of my mother's side-the Langs who lived in the same area but did not come to America until 1905.  I hope to do more research on both sides of the family and maybe some day I'll return to the land of my ancestors.

I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and meeting and visiting with other members of the group.  Thank you for all your work in keeping the heritage of our ancestors alive.

God's blessings.

Richard and Susan Mastio
Carmel, California

We thoroughly enjoyed the Ukraine and Germany tour with you and the other members of the tour group. Michael, you did a fine job of organization and planning and it was obvious you have been to this unique part of the world many times before. Your experience showed every step of the way, in both large and small ways.

Most of all we enjoyed seeing and spending time in the Orphanage and Boarding School of Shirokolanivka, address at: Kirov Str, 3, District of Veselinovo, Region of Nikolayev, 57063 Ukraine (Formerly the village of Landau). Many thanks to Bettsy Williams for telling us about the orphanage, we had the chance to see and meet the darling children who live and study and work at the school. It was a memory and sight we will never forget and will cherish in our hearts. Meeting the Director, Tetyana Mykolayivna Fix, who obviously loves each of the children and works hard with the Assistant Director, Valentyna Anatoliyivna Raksha was an honor and a privilege too. We sincerely hope that you will consider making this orphanage a part of the tour for all of the future tour members. They will never forget, what we had the honor and privilege to see first-hand. My Grandmother trod the steps and sidewalks of this region and we ! are sure she was happy we went to see the children, who were all just beautiful. Michael, What a great idea you had to stay for lunch with them, visit their dormitories, and see how they lived, studied, worked and spent their days. We so appreciate you making this a part of the trip and tour. This was, without a doubt, the highlight of the tour for us, because it gave us a chance to see what sacrifice is all about and perhaps to lend some help to this school who is helping many children, who need it so desperately. Michael, May the Lord reward you for your help to this orphanage over the years, and for all you do to make those of us who are so fortunate to live in this country aware of those children who cannot live here, by no choice of their own. Work, prayer, and help among those of us living in North America and helping those children living in the Ukraine is for us, what life is all about. The entertainmen! t program the children put on for us was lively and worth the trip to the Ukraine all by itself. Thank you for including this orphanage in our tour schedule.

We also enjoyed all of the other villages we visited, Selz (now Veselinovo) and the lunch with the wonderful lady who had survived 19 years in Siberia and returned home to claim her house that had become a dump for trash and take care of her daughter and granddaughter; then on to Mannheim, (now Karn'yanka) was the first village we saw, with the destroyed church (one of 8 we saw) along with the orthodox church; the village of Strasbourg, (now Koochurganih) with yet another church in ruins and the youth center; Selz, (now Pirmanskoya) [with but another church shell in ruins] where my Grandfather Mastio once worshiped and lived and the wonderful lunch, and then our Mass and prayers for all on this tour, with Father Leonard in the museum, along with the stop for ice cream and cherry juice; then the Monday ride on the old German road built in 1808 or so, and then on to Rast! att, and then to Karlsruhe, (now Stepova) (with still another destroyed church), and then on to Landau and the orphanage. Every village, every dirt and pot holed road gave us an appreciation of what sacrifice our ancestors made to come here and how fortunate we all are as Americans and Canadians to live where we now reside in comfort and plenty.

The welcome dinner and farewell dinners in Odessa were lovely, We especially enjoyed the Odessa Opera and would encourage everyone to attend a performance there. It was the cultural highlight of our time in Odessa. We have been to many opera houses and this one is truly the best we have ever seen, anywhere. The Archaeology Museum was a real find, with it Scytheian Gold collection and other ancient items, and it is right down the street from the Opera House and is well worth an hour or two browsing the cases and cases of antiquities.

Stuttgart was a wonderful surprise, especially the Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland Museum and book store and most importantly the Bessarabien Museum, with the wonderful lunch hosted by your friends there. The evening dinner with the Bessarabien Society and the survivors of Siberia, Uzbekistan and Kazakstan camps was for us the highlight of Stuttgart tour for us, hearing the choir, and the musicians, but most assuredly the stories of survival of these wonderful people was very moving. We could not help but notice the happiness on the faces of those who served us dinner and wine and dessert, how glad they were to meet and see us, and share their stories with us, and make us feel welcome and special. What a treat for our group to meet these lovely people who we could tell, having lived in Siberia and other places like Uzbekistan and Kazakstan were just happy to be alive and in a free country enjoying life.

The day is Alsace was very nice too. The Flamkuchen was a treat and so was the stop at the pottery village of Soufflenheim. The visit to the Seltz museum, church in the village, and the school with the children singing some songs was a nice touch too. We hope everyone saw the nesting stork on the chimney near the church too.

Thanks, Michael for the tour, for your outstanding organization skills, and for shepherding us through the maze of airports, tour buses, vans, and roads both smooth (in Germany) and rough, leaving lots to be desired with pot holes as big and hot tubs and refrigerators (in rural Ukraine), but most of all, THANK YOU MICHAEL, FOR BEING YOU.

Richard & Susan Mastio

Delvin Dale Dieterle
Seattle, Washington

JUNE 20, 2011

The Sunday before my mother passed away she made me promise that someday I would go to the "OLD COUNRTY" and see how my grandparents, Fandrich's and Dieterle's, lived. That promise was fulfilled this past May, 2011.

The one question I always had was - why when they came to America they took up homesteads in North Dakota and became farmers. That question now has been answered.

As we drove from Odessa, Ukraine through Moldavia, to Bessarabia and the ancestral villages I began to understand why. With the flat open land with slightly rolling hills, lakes and streams, I could make the parallel with the land they homestead in North Dakota. I am sure that they felt a kinship with this new land because it was so much similar to the land they had left in Bessarabia.

The Museum in Friedenstal, where my grandmother Margaretha "Ruff" Dietterle was born, give me an insight as to the type of buildings that the Germans had built, houses and barns, to sustain a farm with livestock and store grains. The cook house reminded me of the cold cellar that we had on our farm in North Dakota. The horse drawn machinery that they used I am sure was of the same type that they used when they started farming in North Dakota. The lady that oversees the Museum was kind enough to let me into her home, which was formally a German occupied home, was a special highlight of my tour there. It gave me a chance to see what the interior was like and experience just how they lived. Many thanks to her for that privilege. The land, where the Church once stood, in Friedenstal now has a school built on it. The German cemetery is covered in brush and unrecognizable.

Upon my arrival in Tarutino, the ancestral home of my mother parents the Fandrich's, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much it resembled what my grandfather Ferdinand had told me about it. He told me that it was cattle and horse country, with rolling hills, streams, and open land. Grandfather Fandrich was a blacksmith and farmer. I remember one time grandmother washed his coffee pot he had on the coals of his blacksmith shop. I heard some German I never heard before. I remember my mother saying, she will never do that again.

The Hotel in Tarutino was a pleasant stay. The food was plentiful, exceptional delicious and lodging was every comfortable. Svetlana Kruk, the Hotel Hostess, was so kind as to take me to where they Lutheran Church once stood. There is a pillar that was erected, next to a stream that as the locals story goes was the burial ground of the last minister of the church. I was able to take many pictures of the area and compare them with pictures of the church and found many similarities in the layout of the land. I feel comfortable with the locals’ recollection of the church's location. Svetlana then took me up to the German Cemetery. I found it to be fairly much in tack. I would say that it is about 50 yards square. A lady that passed away in 2009, had worked with Svetlana in restoring and mapping the cemetery. Getting as many names off of the headstones, righting the stones, cleaning up the area and hoping someday to erect a maker as to the location of the German Cemetery. I made a contract with her and funded an amount of money directly with her to start work and complete her project. I will, as time goes by, keep funding this project. I feel that I may have some Fandrich's buried there.

When I arrived at Kulm, the birthplace of my grandmother Magdalena 'Mueller" Fandrich, I found that the Lutheran Church was still standing. The steeple was gone, the inside was stripped of pews, etc. I was able to get to an upper room where you could still see how the inside had been decorated with bible images, etc.

A side building had been added to the church, which I was told was used as some kind of night club and was now abandoned. All the window glass had been removed and filled in with stone and mortar. There is a monument in front of the church commemorating the founding Kulm. The land there was fairly flat and open for farming with a river running just below the church grounds. The cemetery behind the church, I was told had been moved because of the high water table. Where it is now I do not know at this time, but I will make it a point to find out.

Klostitz, I found had two villages. One was across the river from the other. The church was on the Klostitz side where the monuments are. Where it once stood is a memorial pillar dedicated to those Germans that died fighting, with the Russians, against the Germans in the First World War. There were several Dietterle's listed on the pillar. Next to this pillar was a memorial dedicated to those who had died in the Second World War. At the entrance, to what once was a school, is a monument commemorating the founding of Klostitz. The German Cemetery is overgrown with brush and unrecognizable. The land there was somewhat hilly with some open flat land for farming. There was an area on a hillside that had a fairly large grape vineyard started on it. There were many cattle on the open range land and the always present geese that seen to be a German signature.

Upon my return to Odessa I had the privilege of going to the Opera House and seeing two ballets. Since my lady friend Sally and I enjoy ballet, and who's granddaughter Kylena is an accomplished Ballerina, this was the highlight of my trip, other than seeing my grandparents’ ancestral homes. I just wish, that Sally and Kylena could have been there. I know they would have enjoyed being there. The motor and walking tour of Odessa was very informative.

The tour of the Germans from Russia Museum, in Stuttgart, was very informative and a good presentation of what the German settlements were. The lunching was very enjoyable and well done. The bus and walking tour of Stuttgart was very informative.

I want to give a special thanks to the driver and interrupter that I had on the tour of the ancestral villages. They were the best! He took me to all that I wanted to see. The interrupter was very well informed as to the villages, the history of Bessarabia, while the German settlers lived there, about the wars, and the past and present Ukraine. If I should ever go back I surly want them to be my escorts again. My lodging throughout the tour was comfortable and spacious.

Over all I am very pleased with the trip. I accomplished what I wanted. It answered many questions I had about my ancestors’ villages, how they lived and why they left there to come to America. I feel that anyone who is interested in their "German from Russian Ancestry" should make this trip at least once in their lifetime.

Charles Eckroth
St. Cloud, Minnesota

My father was less than three years old when his parents immigrated to the United States with four children (the oldest child, just married, stayed in Ukraine until 1905) . I wasn't able to get much information of the time spent in the Ukraine from them, and none at all about about the origins in Germany. Instead I was dependent on the books by Joseph Height and other scattered sources. Though these books were very useful, words alone are not as good as personal experience. Now I have the personal experiences I lacked before the recent homeland tour.

I saw present day villagers gathering hay as my ancestors did. I saw villagers walking out to milk their cows as my grandparents, great grandparents and great-great grandparents did. I saw homes very similar to those my ancestors lived in as well. Lastly I was able to walk through the remains of the very church where they worshipped and in which my father was baptized in 1889!

Although I wasn't able to visit the German village (Walsheim in the Pfalz region) from which my ancestors had emigrated in 1808, I left information with a great-nephew who will be working and living in Stuttgart with his family for three years. He showed interest in seeing Walsheim himself, so I have hope of learning more about it.

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