Reports from Journey to the Homeland: Germany and Ukraine, May 2007

18 May 2007
Internet Cafe
Odessa, Ukraine

Just a short note to let you know that we arrived safely in Odessa, Ukraine this Friday late afternoon, 18 May. When we arrived on United Airline flight from Chicago to Frankfurt, Germany, at 5:30 am on 18 May there was very heavy fog.

Thus the Czech Airlines flight was delayed from Prague so we had to re-book and take a Malev Hungarian Airlines flight from Frankufurt to Budapest to Odessa.

On Friday evening, we had a festive Ukrainian ethnic dinner and folk music.

The tour members are well and ready to travel to their ancestral German villages on Saturday morning, 19 May. There will be nine tour members travel to the Glueckstal villages in Moldova for overnight stay 19-20 May.

Four of the tour members will travel to the Bessarabian villages today in Ukraine and stay overnight in Tarutino for 19-20 May. Other tour members will be traveling to Crimea and to the Beresan villages.

On Saturday and Sunday, I will be traveling with tour member MaryAnne Keller of Des Moines, WA, a tour member and school classmate at Strasburg, ND, to the Kutschurgan villages about one hour from Odessa.

Michael M. Miller

20 May 2007
Internet Cafe
Odessa, Ukraine

Warmest regards from the city by the Black Sea - Odessa.

The tour members have all arrived safely back to Odessa from their villages. The nine tour members who went to the Glueckstal villages in Moldova with overnight stay and the four tour members who went to Bessarabian villages with overnight stay have memorable stories to share.
Other tour members visited Hoffungstal and the Kutschurgan district villages on 20 May.

Rev. Ed and Louise Zuern of Bismarck and their son, John of Hononulu, Hawaii, travel on 21 May to visit Tarutino and Borodino, Bessarabian villages, today in Ukraine.

Tour members will prepare and share their memories with text in messages when they return home to the USA and Canada. We will share these messages later in June with the listserv and mail list subscribers.

On Tuesday, 22 May, we fly via Czech Airlines from Odessa - Prague - Stuttgart, Germany where we stay until 25 May. Then we travel to Wiesbaden, Germany for the Russlanddeutschen Bundestreffen weekend of 25-28 May. Most of the tour members will fly on Monday, 28 May from Frankfurt Airport to Chicago and back home.

On Saturday, 26 May is the large gathering of Germans from Russia - Russlanddeutschen Bundestreffen - at Main-Rhein-Halle, Wiesbaden. We will have the Amerika Haus information tables at this event.

I will be sharing with you an email following the Bundestreffen from Germany.

Warmest regards from Odessa,

Michael M. Miller

25 May 2007
Crown Plaza Hotel
Wiesbaden, Germany

The Journey to the Homeland Tour group has arrived safely in Wiesbaden, Germany. Other Americans join the group for the bus ride from Stuttgart to Wiesbaden. We meet a delegation from the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia who arrived in Wiesbaden from Sarata, Russia.

The tour group had a city tour of Wiesbaden today. I went to the Main Rhein Halle to prepare the Amerika Haus information tables. There will also be a table for the Glueckstal Colonies Research Association.

The Russlanddeutschen Bundestreffen begins at 9 am on Saturday, 26 May, with religious services. There will be many activities throughout the day. We look with much anticipation of the events on Saturday. There will be many musical groups performing, art exhibitions, author readings, and family reunions. As part of the Bundestreffen on Sunday morning, there will be a conference regarding possibilities for international cooperation with Germans from Russia organizations in Russia, USA, South America and Germany.

Tour members will go on a Rhine River cruise on Sunday before departing Wiesbaden early Monday morning, 28 May to the Frankfurt Airport and departure back to Chicago.

With best wishes from Wiesbaden,

Michael M. Miller

28 May 2007
Crown Plaza Hotel
Wiesbaden, Germany

The Journey to the Homeland Tour has departed the hotel at 5 am from Wiesbaden for the Frankfurt International Airport for their departure to Chicago.

I write this message from Wiesbaden, Germany following the Russlanddeutschen Bundestreffen (large German-Russian gathering) on May 26. We were overwhelmed with interest at the Amerika Haus tables of persons searching for their ancestors in USA and Canada. Persons shared difficult and emotional experiences leaving their German villages near Odessa, Ukraine in 1944 with the German military to Poland. Then in 1945, they were gathered in Germany and sent on trains to Siberia to work in the forests and slave labor camps. Later they were re-settled in the 1950s in Kazakhstan and other Soviet states. Since the late 1980s, more than three million of these ethnic Germans have immigrated back to Germany with many challenges of acceptance, assimiliation, employment, and language skills.

Attending this event, which is held every three years, is a lifetime experience. The next gathering will be in 2010. The Journey to the Homeland Tour group attended this gathering following their return from Odessa, Ukraine and visiting the former German villages.

Today I travel with train to Koblenz, Germany to meet my Mueller German relatives for family history information. I then travel this week to Hanover, Augsburg and Stuttgart. On 4 June, I return from Frankfurt to Chicago and Fargo.

Michael M. Miller

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