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

24 May 2003
Odessa, Ukraine

2003 Memories of Tour Members

Katherine Ann Kary (Kitty) Murphy
Sutherlin, Oregon

My thoughts of coming to the fatherland: I had panic attack before I left my home in Sutherlin. I had no idea what to expect. Would the residents of Landau, Bersean District, accept me? Or would they think that I was invading their territory? The director Tatyana and her assistant director Valentina of the Landau Orphanage greeted us with open arms, which was a great surprise and made me feel special.

Our lovely guide, Emma, told them that we, Evelyn Fleck Simpson and I, were trying to find our ancestors birth houses. They asked if we might have a map of Landau, so they could orient themselves to where these houses may be. As it was, I had my map that Michael Miller sent to me for them to review. They asked if they could make a copy of the map of their village. I said yes and so we set out to locate the house. We did find the houses. Evelyn's house is not far fromthe orphanage in Landau. My ancestral house is farther away from the ophanage. There was only the land my father's house was destroyed and a new house was built about 6 years ago.

The orphanage appeared to be well maintained. It was nice and clean with the children being polite and cheerful.

Marilynn Senger Hannesson
West Fargo, ND

Frank M. Senger
Devils Lake, ND

Our trip to the "Homeland" took us to all of the six Kutschurgan District villages: Selz, Baden, Mannheim, Elsass, Kandel, and Strassburg. Each village was unique and yet the same. The churches were the focal point of the village for us.

It was an emotional experience to stand in the midst of such ruin and think of the hardships of our ancestors....and thank God that they had the perservance to make the journey to America.

The local people who escorted us around treated us with such love and kindness. I felt a connection to them and therefore to my ancestors. What a moving "Journey" to have taken.

I was also very glad to have the chance on Sunday, 25 May, to visit the Landau Orphanage. I was pleasantly surprised to see how very clean everything was. This is a good sign that the children are well taken care of. The staff was wonderful to us and genuinely loving and caring to the children.

The program the children performed for us brought tears to my eyes. What a moving experience to know how hard it was for them to learn some songs in English.

I wanted to take the children home with me. The many pictures I took will fill my memory book but I will sent copies to the children. They so love it and so did I! A very moving experience.

Ron L. Scherbenski
St. Louis Park, Minnesota

The villages of my destination were Alt Posttal and Hoffnungstal in the former Bessarabia, today in Ukraine. I had a chance to speak with the local school teacher in the German language and see the place where Johann Scherbenski lived. The church is there as a community club and the cemetery has many German markers. Most are not legible and some have tipped over.

One day I went to Hoffnungstal accompanied by our host from our overnight village stay in Bessarabia. He was very knowledgeable on the town site even though the town no longer exists. He did have a photo of the church as it was in 1940 and showed us where the cemetery was. There had been a Soviet military base there until 1991. That is also in ruins. The trip has been very worthwhile!

The trip on Sunday, 25 May, to the Landau Orphanage was a life changing experience. The children seem to be doing so well that it is hard to believe they are the product of an orphanage that is so remote and in such great need. The great results are surely from the love and care showered upon them by the staff. The visit with two old women speaking in the German language is something I will cherish the rest of my life.

Roy and Dianne Green Mienk
Gladwin, Michigan

In the village of Teplitz, Bessarabia, we found the old German cemetery. There are about 150-200 grave markers - few are readable. A few years ago from residents of Teplitz now living in Germany returned to Teplitz and erected a granite monument at the cemetery in memory of the Germans.

In the village of Borodino, Bessarabia, we found the old German school house where a monument has been erected. It is dedicated to all the Germans who left there in 1940 for Poland and Germany. I believe it was dedicated in 1989. There is no longer a German cemetery at Borodino.

Evelyn Fleck Simpson
Seattle, Washington

On 23 May, I visited the former German village of Landau, Beresan District. I was thrilled to be in my grandfather, Adam Fleck's house. It was still intact, with a family living in it. They are a young couple with small children. It appears to be the original structure with a beautifully designed concrete fence and original grape arbor. This tour of the "Homeland" was something I hope to repeat, as it really made me want to delve more deeply into my roots.

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