2005 Memories of Tour Members, Part II
30 May 2005
On 31 May, we leave Odessa for Budapest, Hungary and Stuttgart, Germany. Tour members return from Stuttgart to USA on 4 June. While in Stuttgart, we will visit the Heimatmuseum der Deutschen aus Bessarabien and the Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland. We will also take a one-day trip to Alsace, France. All tour members are well and healthy. Tonight we have our Farewell Dinner in Odessa at a downtown ethnic Ukrainian cafe.
The following are additional memories of tour members visiting their ancestral German villages on 28 and 29 May 2005:
Mabel Junkert Fischer, San Antonio, New Mexico Visiting the Glueckstal District villages of Kassel, Bergdorf, Glueckstal and Neudorf
Much of the past is lost in these villages . New people are living there. The Germans are all but gone.
But as I was in each village, I look at the things that do not change - the hills, the files of grains, the sun, and the wind.
I stood there and thought, one day long ago my ancestors stood here and looked at the land, the hills, the fields, the same sun shon on them, the same wind blew in through their hair, they walked these streets, and attended services in these old churches. I felt close to them, and imagined them beside me.
Charles and Edna Stuhmiller Watters, Shoreline, Washington Visting the Bessarabian German villages of Sarata, Teplitz, and Hoffnungstal
We came to find the homeland of our ancestors. Instead we found a very quiet closure to an era of German history.
The Lutheran Church in Sarata has been lovingly restored by a group from Germany, but now is a Baptist Church. The most gracious deacon and his wife showed us the inside of the church and the outer area. The Scoial Hall includes a display on the wall of the founders of Sarata.
The Deacon's son who is now a teacher in Sarata, took us on a search of the German homes. There were still numbered in what we think were like the old maps.
The Sarata Cemetery is a sloping greenfield with all evidence removed of German tombstones or markers with no hint of what is below. The Ukrainian Cemetery had been expanded and some of the German Cemetery had been used.
The Teplitz Cemetery area is neglected and weedy. There are many tombstones both upright and fallen. The inscriptions are not legible and few names or dates could be read.
The final closure was the Werner School in Sarata. It has been deserted and vandalized for many years. Now a movement is underway to restore the school to become a university for agriculture.
We had really a gret driver, translator, and hosts. We visitied many villages and were able to see the farmlands. It was obvious to us that our ancestors were perfectly at home in central and eastern Washington State because the lands were almost a perfect match.
As we returned to Odessa, our guide took us on a route that showed the beautiful Dnjester River flowing into the Black Sea. It was an awesome site!
Carole Helyn Schauer, Hyattsville, Maryland Visting the Glueckstal District villages of Bergdorf, Glueckstal, Kassel and Neudorf
I was surprised to find that Glueckstal, Bergdorf and Neudorf located in the Trans-Djnester Region of Moldova, are under Communist control. Kassel is today in Ukraine.
Each family owns their own home and garden, but the farms belong to the government. The land is lush with grain crops and some corn and soybeans. There were no fences around the farms so the cattle are herded from place to place. Each family appears to have one or two cows or heifers and each morning they take them to a grassy area chaining them to a stake for the day.
There are also goats, ducks, geese, lambs, chicken and rabbits which provide food for each family along with huge gradens as well as many fruit trees. Village people are very friendly and invite us into their homes for food and drink.
Frances Cooperrider, Crystal River, Florida Visiting the Bessarabian German villages of Sarata, Teplitz, Hoffnungstal and others
We departed on Saturday, 28 May for our visit to the German villages. The first stop was in Sarata, the village where my grandparents and great-grandparents once lived.
We visited the Lutheran Church which has been restored by descendents from Germany. The deacon and his wife opened the church for us. As I walked into the church, I was in awe. The church was large and on a front wall was the inscription in German, My God Be Blessed.
There is a memory wall in the back of the church ans also in the Fellowship Hall. The church in Sarata is Baptist today.
I had a very special feeling as I stood in the church were my grandparents were baptized and saw in those pews for worship. I am so grateful for the restoration and the memory walls with the photographs and history of our Bessarabian German ancestors who lived here more than 100 years ago.