Review of Visit to the Glückstal Villages, 23-24 May 2002

By Dr. Harley Roth, San Jose, California, Member of the Journey to the Homeland Tour, May, 2002

I wish to express my appreciation to all of you who made this trip a life-long memory to cherish. Your new-found friendships are priceless.

This was sent to my direct descendant Glückstal family members and friends.

This is the first report on our trip to Ukraine and to Moldova (home of Grandma Rose's parental villages). The trip was wonderful, though challenging, educational, and emotional.

We first visited Bergdorf, the Straub village (unconfirmed). The Lutheran church still stands and is used as a community center. There is a big statue to Lenin on the church grounds. The assistant mayor, a young fellow, sure looks a lot like (cousin) Jackie Weber. We visited the town well, the former German cemetery and the village milking place. They milk their cows three times a day in the summer--AM and PM at home, and in the pasture in the afternoon!

Glückstal is the village of the Wolfs. Mathias Wolf being one of the early settlers (founders). They came from Sessenheim and Rountzenheim in Alsace (now France). Later, I visited the Lutheran church (built in the 1700s) there too.

The mayor of Glückstal greeted us with a very elegant luncheon. After, we visited the museum created in the school by the teachers and students. At the Monument Dedication Ceremony the next morning, at the school, the whole village turned out - all the school children, parents; two TV stations, two radio stations and two newspapers covered the event. I gave a small talk saying that I was a direct descendent and that the students' work on the museum and that their research findings brought tears to my eyes. And I said that the villagers were such fine people (and they were). I was later interviewed by a "Tom Brokaw" of a local TV station. We were the #1 news story at the 6:00 pm news on the Tiraspol, Moldova station, and relegated President Bush's visit with Putin in Moscow to 5th place!

We stayed overnight in the homes of local people, some were very poor and facilities were very primitive, but the people were very friendly and very generous.

Both villages are located in what is now Moldova. in a region called Trans Dnestr. It is a long strip of land bordering the Dnestr River, the boundary of Moldova and Ukraine. It is seeking independence and is still (protected!) occupied by Russian troops. My host family were well off (I suspect party officials) with indoor plumbing and hot and cold running water, a flush toilet, a tub, and shower. Others' quarters did not even have an outhouse!

All in all, it was a life long impression trip! I made many fine friends along the way. I have samples of soil from each village which will be included in a special report to you when my research is completed and confirmed.

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