Reports from Journey to the Homeland: Germany and Ukraine, May 2010

23 May 2010

Odessa, Ukraine

Warmest regards from downtown Odessa, Ukraine at a cafe with wi-fi wireless connection. The 16th Journey to the Homeland Tour members and I arrived safely to Odessa on 22 May. On 23-24-25 May, tour members will travel to the Glueckstal District, Beresan District, Kutschurgan District and Bessarabian villages. A number of tour members left today for Glueckstal in Moldova for overnight stay 23-24 May. A tour members travel to Bessarabia with overnight stay in Tarutino hotel.

Today, I traveled with Bob Dambach and Dave Geck of Prairie: Public Television to the Kutschurgan District villages near Odessa - we visited Selz, Mannheim and Kandel. They are doing digital filming near Odessa for 23-24 May for a new PPPTV documentary, "It's All Earth and Sky", to premiere on Wednesday, 21 July at the Heritage Center in Bismarck at 7 pm.

The new St. Paul's Evangelical German Lutheran Church is truly impressive. On 23 May, was a special organ concert and the church was packed. It was a rewarding experience for tour members to stay at the guest rooms of St. Paul's Parish House.

Experiences and memories written by  tour members visiting their ancestral German villages will be shared via email later once I have returned to Fargo and NDSU after 8 June. There will also be photographs of the May 2010 tour added to the GRHC website.

On 26 May, tour members will leave Odessa for Stuttgart where we will be until 30 May. On 27 May, we will visit the Germans from Russia society museums in Stuttgart [Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland and Heimatmuseum der Bessarabiendeutschen]. On 28 May, we will take a bus tour to Alsace, France.

For some tour members and myself, we will attend the Bessarabian Bundestreffen on Sunday, 30 May at the Forum am Schlosspark, Ludwigsburg near Stuttgart.

We will share more with an email from Stuttgart.

With warmest of Ukrainian regards from Odessa from our tour members and myself,


25 May 2010
Odessa, Ukraine

We prepare to leave Odessa, Ukraine via Czech Airlines on 26 May for Prague to Stuttgart, Germany. We will be at the Hotel Astoria, city centre Stuttgart, with tour group for 26-30 May.

Tour members have wonderful memories of their visits to the Bessarabian and Black Sea villages to last a lifetime. For myself, I traveled with some tour members to the former Black Sea German village of Elsass, Kutschurgan District, about one hour from Odessa. We visited the Elsass School where we met with the 9th grade English class of Ukrainian students.

Joureny to the Homeland Tour members will share their thoughts and memories of their village visits once they return to the USA.

All is well with our tour group and all are in good health. The Farewell Dinner this evening was at the Russian/Ukrainian ethnic cafe with folk music.

Our first experience of staying at the guest rooms of St. Paul's German Lutheran Church in Odessa has been well received and appreciated.

With best wishes from Odessa, Ukraine,


28 May 2010
Stuttgart, Germany

Warmest regards from the Hotel Astoria in city centre Stuttgart, Germany. We returned from a wonderful day with a Binder Travel bus tour to Alsace, France including Seltz, Sessenheim and other town visits. Raphael, producer with the Seltz community TV station provided us an excellent tour at the Museum in Seltz and of St. Stephen's Catholic Church. We had a memorable lunch with Flamkuchen at the Heinz family cafe in Sessenheim.

Raphael and a student intern videographer did filming while we were in Seltz for a local news program they produce.

On 29 May, tour members will go their own site-seeing and shopping before their departure from Stuttgart on Sunday morning, 30 May back to USA cities.

For myself and some tour members, we will be attending the annual Bessarabien Bundestrffen at the Forum am Schlosspark, Ludwigsburg near Stuttgart. Delegations from Moldova and Ukraine will attend. I am looking forward to meeting many of our Bessarabian German community.

The weather in Stuttgart and Alsace is cool, some rain and comfortable. Temperatures are below normal for 28 May.

All is well with the tour members and all the best,


30 May 2010
Stuttgart, Germany

Warmest regards from Stuttgart, Germany on a Sunday morning....

Tour members left the Astoria Hotel, city centre Stuttgart, at 6:15 am for the Stuttgart, Germany Airport for the flights home to USA cities.

Some tour members (Vi Bitterman of Iowa City, and daughter, Jodi of Des Moines and Arve & Carol Moser, Sartell MN), James Gessele of Minneapolis and Carol Just of St. Louis Park MN, will travel to Ludwigsburg today to attend the Bessarabien Bundestreffen. This is an annual gathering of ethnic Bessarabian Germans many who once lived in Bessarabia, part of Romania, leaving quickly in 1940 with the German Army to live in Poland until 1945. Then in 1945, they had to flee for Germany with the Russian military overtaking Poland. Today these Bessarabian Germans mostly who are in the late 70s and 80s live in Germany.

Carol Just, James Gessele and I will travel to ICE Deutsche Bahn fast train from Stuttgart to Berlin on 31 May for a meeting on 1 June at Potsdam near Berlin regarding the book Mr. Gessele has translated from German to English. The Germans from Russia Heritage Collections, NDSU Libraries, Fargo, will publish in 2011 or 2012 the book "Bessarabia: German Colonists on the Black Sea" by Dr. Ute Schmidt, Berlin, Germany.

From Berlin, I will travel to Munich from 2-4 June and then on to Stuttgart for my departure home to Fargo on 7 June.

Viele Gruesse aus Stuttgart,


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