2006 Memories of Tour Members, Part II

28 May 2006
Internet Cafe
Odessa, Ukraine

Marie C. Tandeski Delizonna
San Jose, California
Visiting the Kutschurgan villages

"Everyday we live, we are a part of history and we walk thru these villages of our ancestors, we are walking thru their history.

Soon some of the churches of these Kutschurgan villages will be part of history as they are being vandalized and burned. For instance, the church of Kandel has been burned inside and now one can only look thru the screened off doors.

At the Selz church, the choir ceiling has fallen. The impressive beams and arches still remain.

Nearby at the vocational school, a room has developed as the new community Museum. We were invited for the Grand Opening Ceremony. Louisa Riesling and Michael Miller had the honor of cutting the red ribbon to open the Museum. Michael presented CDs, cassettes, books and an American flag. These donations are just a start for this Museum, which has many needs for books, photographs, and financial donations.

It was exiting to learn that the history of our unique people is been preserved in the Kutschurgan District village of Selz.

In Baden, the only remains of the church is a pile of rubble. The prairie house has been kept but with a new purpose - a chicken and turkey hatchery.

Well tomorrow will be another page of history."

Darlene Brown Robertson
Hayward, California
Arlene Wagner Lundgren
Sartell, Minnesota
Visiting Hoffnungstal, daughter colony of the Glueckstal Villages

We left at 8:30 am with our guide and driver. On the way to Hoffnungstal, we stopped at the outdoor market near Kutschurgan. There were many vegetables, clotheing, appliances and more. We purchased sandals for our grandchildren.

When we arrived in Hoffnungstal where our ancestors lived from 1818 to 1902, we were pleased to see how much remained.

First we drove to the school. The original portion was 140 years old. The addition was added in the 1850s. As luck would have it, we met the Head of Studies. Her name is Oxanna who let us into the school. We visited the computer lab and faculty room. In the hallway, we were able to see the children's artwork, which is on display in the new school section. Our grandparents likely went to this school before immigrating to North Dakota and the Mercer area.

Oxanna gave each of us a copy of the book published to celebrate Hoffnungstal 1804-2004. What a thrill!

We gave Oxanna pencils, pens, notebooks, candy and gum for the children.
Then we said good-bye. "Remember who you are", Oxanna said as she waved.

Next we visited with Rosa, a wonderful lady who lives in the village. She came to Hoffnungstal in 1928 and attended the German School. She told of the damage to the Jewish and German cemeteries. She remembered her school days and her German friends many of whom she is in touch with today. She is expecting many visitors for her 85th birthday. She described the damage to the tombstones with tears in her eyes. She was very witty, very kind and very generous with her times. Rosa is a Jewish woman born in Ukraine.

Rosa gave us a jar of homemade jam. We have Rosa flower and vegetable seeds and a brooch.

We drove by the cemetery and filled a bag with soil to be placed on our grandparents and parents graves back home.

We then drove by the German houses. There are no Germans living there today.

Then we drove to Neuburg and saw more German houses traveling on to Berlin on our way back to Odessa. Our driver found the cemetery near Berlin. He helped us dig through the lilac bushes to find tombstones. We were not able to read any names.

We wish to compliment our guide, Lydia, and our driver, Alex. We had a wonderful experience!

Lavern Weber & Patricia Lewis
South Beach Oregon
Visiting the village of Kassel, Glueckstal District village

"On May 27, we visited our main objective traveling to Kassel. Kassel is about 2.5 hours driving from Odessa through beautiful agricultural land and very green. It was a wonderful day. Kassel was much as expected. It was Saturday and it seemed much of the population of 400 was not to be seen. The only person we talked to was the postmistress. She named a few families of German heritage who have immigrated back to Germany. She did sell us some stamps to send a few cards.

We got a good look at the former German Lutheran Church today in ruins but still impressive.

The countryside feels more like Tanzania than a developed country. Driving to Kassel, the number of people walking, working in years and filed was impressive. We counted over 30 people in one field alone who were hoeing or cutting hay using sickles. People were using horsepower with wagons and carts having auto tires. There are farm animals everywhere - chickens, ducks, geese, turkey, cows, goats and horses.

There are long houses that are German in origin with red tiles on the roofs. The German houses in some cases were torn down for building materials.

We searched the graveyard but it was impossible to identify gravestones. There are thick patches of lilac bushes, which have grown over the German gravesites. Our efforts revealed no stones or other markers such as German iron crosses.

Our guide, Tamara, said we could identify cemetery sites by the clumps of iris nicely in bloom, which we found a number in the old and new areas of the cemetery.

We did see a number of old motorcycles with sidecar. Sometime the sidecar carried a person but more often, they acted as a trailer carrying many items including hay.

We left Kassel just as it started to rain. We did manage to stop at the outdoor market near Kutschurgan and purchased some strawberries - not that we needed to eat after a great lunch of quantity and quality."

Natalie Weber Hansen
Marysville, Washington

It definitely was a thrill to visit the village where my dad was born, Kassel. There was no interaction with the people there. The only person we talked to was the post mistress. She was anxious and wanted to know what we were doing there. Most of the other people seemed suspicious of us and didn't want to get close enough to talk. The village is isolated and took 2.5 hours to get there over terrible dirt roads. The countryside is pretty and green. We saw horse and buggy use and almost no motor vehicles. Chickens, geese, dogs, sheep, goats, and cattle. All freely roaming except the cows. We couldn't find the graves of our grandparents because the grave markers were taken, but there were lilac bushes at the sites of the Germans. We did see the shell of the Lutheran church my father attended.


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