Journey to the Homeland: Germany and Ukraine
North Dakota State University Libraries Tours

Sunday, 11 June 2000
Journey to the Homeland Tours
North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo

Hello to all from the Internet Cafe in Odessa, Ukraine. We are experiencing wonderful days with good weather and temperatures in the 70s for our visits to the former Black Sea and Bessarabian German villages. Tour members are in good health and doing well.

On 9-10 June some tour members traveled to the Glueckstal District villages and stay overnight in Glueckstal. Other tour members traveled to the Bessarabian villages for 9-10 June and stayed overnight in Tarutino. Other tour members were on a one way visit either to the Kutschurgan villages or to the Beresan villages.

On 11 June, 6 tour members have gone to the villages of Kassel and Klein Neudorf for one day. On 12 June, tour members travel to the Liebental villages, to Bessarabia and to the Beresan villages.

Tour members arrived on Wednesday, 7 June and leave from Odessa on Austrian Airlines for Vienna, Austria, and Stuttgart, Germany, for 14-19 June 2000.

Below are some memories shared by tour members of their visits to the villages:

Percy and Lorraine Brossart Zeiler
Didsbury, Alberta
[visiting the Kutschurgan villages]

Dear Canadian and American friends,

"In the past two days (8-9 June), we have visited seven villages in the Kutschurgan District. It has been a great experience to walk down these streets and see their homes. It was sad to see how the Catholic churches have been ruined beyond repair.

On Monday, 12 June, we visit Mariental and Kleinliebental (Liebental District). Percy's father lived in these villages until 1927. This has really made us realize how fortunate we are that our ancestors immigrated to Canada. Thank you to Michael Miller for making this trip possible for us."

Auf Wiedersehen!"

--- Percy and Lorraine Zeiler

Louise Messer Hughes
West Covina, California
[visiting the Beresan villages]

"Mission accomplished - Halbstatt still exists! This is a nice little village in the Beresan district and was a daughter colony. In nearby Karlsruhe, a small museum has opening in June, 2000. There are lists of early settlers to Karlsruhe and among them Bernhard Messer of my family tree, plus his children. I was able to get a photocopy of the page from one of the lists. Please share this message with Joe and Carole. I am fine and doing well. Tour members are so very helpful in many ways. On Sunday evening, 11 June, I am going to see a performance with other tour members at the Odessa Opera House"

--- Love, Mom.....Louise Hughes

Christ and Ann Lesmeister Klein
Carrington, North Dakota
[visiting the Kutschurgan villages]

"The feeling we have experienced on the ground where our ancestors walked, worked, lived, and worshiped in the 19th century has been unbelieveable. They worked so hard and accomplished so much. For us looking at the churches in the Kutschurgan villages of Kandel, Mannheim, Selz, Baden, Strassburg, and Elsass, we can hardly believe they could build such large and beautiful churches, schools and homes. They too were able to organize their ways of living so beautifully and proudly. Our ancestors were very talented people of their time.

We are so fortunate that they decided to immigrate to America and settle our land in North Dakota. They gave us the opportunity of a good life which we experience today. Should our ancestors have decided not to come to America, we would have experienced the terrible hardships of the Germans who decided to stay in South Russia. The poverty in which the Ukrainian people have to live with here today is far beyond what we could have imagined. We need to preserve the memories of these people and our forefathers. For us it has been sad to see the destruction of the buildings especially the churches of the faithful work of the Germans."

[Note: The Kleins and the Zeilers visited Louisa Rissling who lives across the street from the church in Selz, Kutschurgan District. We had lunch with Louisa. In 1998, Louisa made application for Mr. and Mrs. Rissling to immigrate to Germany. She continues to wait and see if this will happen. Louisa mentioned that they could not survive if they did not receive help from her brother in Germany. The monthly retirement pension that the Risslings receive is a total of $35 for two persons. This past spring, Mr. Rissling was at the Odessa hospital for 10 days. She has serious financial problems since this had to all be privately paid including $100 for medicine which continues to be required for Mr. Rissling's health. There has been a lack of rain in the German villages which affects the need for more water irrigation to the gardens including the large one of the Risslings.

As we were driving in the van with Mrs. Rissling to show us German homes in Selz including the Brossart home, we saw a funeral procession and music of band instruments walking to the Selz cemetery. Then we saw Lydia, daughter to Antonina Welk Ivanova, walking to the village of Kandel. We picked up Lydia and went to the Selz cemetery where she showed us the new gravestone and fence for her mother, Antonina, who died in October, 1998. We said a special prayer together for Antonina and took some photos. The next day, on 10 June, the Kleins and the Zeilers traveled to Kandel where Lydia lives. They had a very nice visit and lunch with Lydia. Both Lydia and Lousia Rissling extend special regards to all former tour members who have visited Selz and Kandel. Lydia wanted to especially thank those persons who helped to see that her mother could be properly buried with a nice iron cross and fence at the Selz cemetery.

--- Michael M. Miller

If time permits, we will send another message with memories from tour members before we leave Odessa, Ukraine, on 14 June or we may send the message from Stuttgart, Germany, via the Internet Cafe.

With special Ukrainian greetings from Odessa, Ukraine


P.S. Elvira Zaharova, Dr. Sergey Yelizarov, Dr. Pavel Anselm, English translators, Pavel Pratchuk, and Pavel Sigov, and Lilia at the Odessa State Archives, who help us with the tour group, all exend a Ukrainian hello.

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