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

20 May 1999
Internet Cafe, Odessa, Ukraine

Best wishes from Odessa, Ukraine! I just wanted to inform you that we arrived safely in Odessa by the Black Sea with a pleasant flight from the JFK Airport, New York City, to Vienna, Austria on 19 May.

I am now e-mailing from the Internet Cafe in Odessa and via Netscape I am able to go to the telnet program for my badlands email account.

Tour members are in good health and so very pleased to be near the homeland of the former German villages by Odessa. On 20 May, they toured the city and visited the Odessa State Archives. Lilia Belousova presented a wonderful talk on the archives relating to the German villages. Many tour members left relating to the German village interests for family research.

Today we also visited The Lighthouse Orphanage and Deacon Alexander. We presented the handmade quilts from the women of English Lutheran Church in Tuttle, North Dakota and Immanuel Lutheran Church in Zap, North Dakota. We presented medical and school supplies as well as books donated by tour members. This was a very emotional and unforgettable experience. Photos of the visit will appear at the GRHC website.

On 21-22 May, tour members will travel to the Glückstal, Beresan, and Bessarabian villages. Tours members going to the Glueckstal villages in Moldova and persons going to the former Bessarabian German villages in Ukraine will stay overnight. I will join the tour members traveling to the Beresan villages, about 4 hours from Odessa, and we'll return the same day.

We will share the memories of the German village visits later this weekend. Tour members Elsie Schauer Prouse of Wichita, Kansas and her sister Violet Schauer Tanner of Olympia, Washington visited Crimea from 16-19 May including their ancestral German village of Kronentel near Simperpol. They also stayed overnight in Yalta.

Today to the Odessa State Archives and to the Odessa Intourist, I presented the GRHC book, "Homeland Books of the Bessarabian Germans, (1998) as well as maps of the villages.

Tonight, 20 May, tour members are attending the Odessa Opera House where they will see "Barber of Saville".

The friends in Odessa extend a warm welcome to former tour members and to many subscribers reading this message. Odessa now has its first McDonald's restaurant. It recently opened in 1999. Changes are very noticeable but the economy is very difficult and high unemployment still exists. Ukrainians are very much aware of the situation in Yugoslavia. Odessa is on the Black Sea, a port city, and not far from Belgrade.

We will write more as we return from the villages on 21 and 22 May.

My warmest regards to friends and colleagues.

With Odessa and Ukrainian regards,

Michael M. Miller

22 May 1999
Internet Cafe, Odessa, Ukraine

Warmest of Odessa regards!

I want to share with you messages from tour members who have been to Crimea and to Beresan villages as well as to Kassel of the former Glueckstal villages.

Elsie Schauer Prouse, Wichita, Kansas, and her sister Violet Schauer Tanner, Olympia, Washington

"The trip to the Crimea region was quite impressive with hedge rows of trees lining the roads on both sides. Most of the trees are painted 2-3 feet from the ground.

All along the way people were cutting grass with a scythe and stuffing it into gunny sacks for their animals. People were sitting out hunched over herding or watching their cows or goats. Every house had a garden on the road side of their homes and animals staked on road right of way.

Going to the village of Kronental, there are a lot of old German homes and the Tarters are the main people living there today. The old Lutheran and Catholic churches are still there near each other.

The cemetery near Kronental is very large and is in disrepair. But it is still being used as a cemetery. The Ukrainians are buried facing one way and the Germans the other way. They planted flowers on top of the graves, and still do today. The lilacs survived all these years and the German graves are under all these lilac bushes which are hard to get to. The head stones have been knocked over on almost all of them. The larger ones remain, and we were told the smaller gravestones were taken and used as building stones. The cemetery is now being watched to prevent more vandalism.

The village of Neustatz and Rosental are close together. The Lutheran church in Neustatz is now being used as a Reformed Orthodox Church. The balcony, altar and belfry are missing. The church was opened for us. Their cemetery was also large and overgrown. There are plans to have it restored.

Yalta was beautiful even though a hurricane had done a lot of damage to trees and roofs the day we arrived.

The streets are all tree lined, as they are in the other cities in the Ukraine.

The Lutheran Church is in the process of being restored. It, too, no longer has a balcony, altar or belfry. Rev. Emmerich is asking for donations to help with the restoration.

These were just some of our memorable experiences in Crimea for May 15-19, 1999. Going to visit the Crimean villages for those with ancestry to these colonies is truly a rewarding and moving experience."

Additional messages will appear in another message forthcoming. The Internet Cafe connections are not always reliable so we send various e-mail messages on 22 and 23 May 1999.

From Odessa,

Michael M. Miller

22 May, 1999
Internet Cafe, Odessa, Ukraine

Comments from tour members

Dr. Ralph Tarnasky, Bismarck, North Dakota

All is well, a good trip, good opera, great guides, good hotel, nice weather, very interesting translators, but my only wish is that Charles and the rest of you could be here. To visit these villages is difficult to explain in words. I was in Kassel on May 21.

Dennis Walther, Fairfield, California

Traveling to the village of Worms where my great-grandfather was raised and entering the church where he probably attended is an experience of a lifetime.

Driving toward Worms, I thought at one area that I was near Hazelton, Emmons County, North Dakota. The fields are green and the soil looks fertile. We talked to two ladies in Worms that are of the Baptist faith. I told them I would pray for them and wanted them to pray for me. They were so touched, they cried.

The children are wonderful and ached for a touch of our hand.

There are many needs in these villages.

Dean and Olivia Sane, Ontario, Canada

Today we enjoyed our visit to the Beresan village of Worms, Speyer, Landau, and Karlsruhe. What an experience! One could only imagine what our grandparents had gone through. All the villages are beautiful, people are most friendly and helpful. Weather has been sunny and warm. The country side is green, winter wheat looks like a great crop. A number of the fields have rows and rows of vegetables.

The Chorne More Hotel, tour guide services, and assistants are most helpful. The overall tour is very well organized to provide us with as much exposure to the ancestral villages as possible.

We are so pleased to have joined this 1999 homeland tour.

Tom Larscheid, Germany (native of South Dakota with roots to Mott, North Dakota)

Our most exciting find on Friday, 21 May 1999, was the discovery of the "lost cemetery of Karlsruhe" (Beresan Enclave). All the headstones have been knocked down and hauled away, but, with the help of a farmer, we found one in a weed overgrown ditch. As I scrubbed the years of dirt away - here is what I could make out:

"Hier Ruhe im Gott
Thomas Martin
Geboren (?) Feb 1827
Todt (?) April 1903
Katharina Martin Geb Eltz ()
Todt 1828 (?)

I hope someone will recognize the names. Perhaps on a return visit we can haul the headstone out and place it near the church where their folks worshiped. It is the least we can do for these pioneers of the east.

Betty Baron Thatcher, Tigard, Oregon

Yesterday on our visit to Speyer, the mayor personally gave us a tour of the town including an orphanage and the emergency hospital. In Karlsruhe, the church continues to dominate the country side, a view one can never forget. Also a child led us to the cemetery where remnants of stone bases and some metal work remain. Too much needed leisure days are coming up.

Auf Wiedersehen aus Odessa!

Betty is a native of Mandan, North Dakota. She was a member of our first Journey to the Homeland Tour in June, 1996, when Bishop Joseph Werth of Novosibirsk, Siberia, Russia, joined this tour group.

Tour members who traveled from Odessa to an overnight stay for 21-22 May to Bessarabian villages and to the Glueckstal villages return today. They will share with you their memories with their days in Moldova and in southern Ukraine. Watch for these messages coming to you on 24 and 25 May 1999.

With special regards from Odessa, Ukraine,

Michael M. Miller and the Journey to the Homeland Tour members

23 May 1999
Internet Cafe, Odessa, Ukraine

I want to share with you the following message from Journey to the Homeland tour members:

Gene and Georgia Kessler Brilz, Chandler, Arizona

Our visit to Glueckstal was a very emotional experience. We stopped at the Glueckstal Lutheran Church where my grandparents attended and where my grandfather was baptized and confirmed. It was sad to see the church now being used as a "cultural" center. We found the street where my grandparents lived and when I looked across town at the hills it reminded me of their farmstead in North Dakota. On Monday, 24 May, we will visit Landau and Speyer where Gene's parents were born.

Louis and Corrine Bollinger Haussler, Gwinner, North Dakota

"God Bless America - Land that I Love" -

Believe me, our group certainly believes that after only being here for several days. How fortunate we are that our ancestors made the move to America when they did and in the process made a better life for us. We had quite an emotional experience at the children's orphanage. To the children, it was Christmas in May. The group presented the children with gifts, quilts, mittens and personal hygiene supplies. Father Alexander and the children prayed with us in Ukrainian and in return asked us to pray the Lord's Prayer and also to sing a song about America. We sang "America the Beautiful."

We were truly proud to be an American.

John Teske, Falls Church, Virginia

We were able to visit Glueckstal, Neudorf, Bergdorf and Kassel. The group stayed one night in Glueckstal with local families. It was a heart warming experience. The villages, in many aspects probably appear as they did when our ancestors lived here. I was able to find where my ancestors from Bergdorf lived, married, went to church and were buried when they died. One elderly resident still remembers the Teske family who left with most of the village for Germany during WW II.

Our schedule has been fast paced but we did manage a city tour, visit to the Lighthouse Orphanage, and the Odessa Regional Archives. Most impressive was the Archive visit where I left requests for information on my grandfather and Bergdorf. Next visits are to Bessarabian villages. Village visits are brief but very productive.

Ken and Jeanette Schroeder Grenz, Spring Hill, Kansas

Ken's villages of Teplitz, Friedenstal and Alt Posttal. At Teplitz the church is replaced by a cultural center, but the cemetery is partially intact. In Friedenstal, the church is also replaced by a cultural center and the cemetery is in disrepair. Alt Posttal has a church intact. A museum with a village plat shows the Scherbenske ancestral home. A local woman helped find the house and we toured it with the woman living there. It has a fabulous root cellar. We stayed overnight in Krasna with local people and were feted with plenty of Borscht, Halupsi, Verinky, sausage, vodka, wine and champagne. Life in the villages is difficult but the people are gracious and generous hosts.

Dr. Kurt-Alexander Zeller, Portland, Oregon

The drive from Odessa to the Bessarabian villages took several hours, in part because of the very poor condition of the roads and in part because we had to wait for the drawbridge over the mouth of the Dniester estuary at Belgorad-Dristrovsky (better know to us as Akkerman) was up.

Our guide\interpreter, Laura, told us that one of the reasons foreigners had not been permitted to visit Bessarabia before Perestroika was that this bridge was considered sensitive military information that foreigners couldn't see. Laura was enormously helpful and interesting throughout the trip, and our driver, Oleg, got our van through conditions you wouldn't think an automotive vehicle would survive.

Our first stop was Teplitz, home to some of Ken Grenz's ancestors. It was laid out in a design we soon would see was typical; a long, very wide central street (either not or poorly paved), which in some cases, including Teplitz, had a central boulevard strip of trees planted.

Teplitz was home to a large German school, in several buildings forming two parallel sides of a large courtyard square. The other two sides were the street and the church. The church, of course, had been razed by the Stalinists and replaced by a modernist "Palace of Culture" that, although much newer, now seems more forlorn and decrepit than the old German school buildings, which the village had continued to use for many years. Up the hill behind the "Palace of Culture" was the old German cemetery, which was very overgrown and the headstones had much damage - but we would eventually find it to be the best preserved of all the cemeteries we visited. I enjoyed copying a poem or two off of the old headstones.

Our next stops were Friedenstal and Kloestitz, where we found less extant. A very new marker (September - 1998) had been installed commemorating the German colony at Friedenstal, but we found little else that we were looking for. At Kloestitz, the rather impressive memorial stands to their kinfolk who died in World War. This memorial that the German villagers erected now sits ironically across the street from a military installation that has obliterated the northern half of the original German village. The villagers, however, were very welcoming and tried to point out other German houses.

We spent the night with villagers in Krasnoe (formerly Krasna village, Bessarabian Catholic village). Although none of us had ancestral connection to Krasna, this was one of the high points of the visit. We were more than warmly welcomed into their homes and treated much like visiting royalty as their limited economic circumstances would allow.

We left the next morning to continue our visits to Alt Posttal and Katzbach. These, especially the former, were very interesting, but more of that another time. Feeling that we had a wonderful opportunity to experience something closer to the lives our ancestors might have led in Bessarabia in the past, and also to make new friends in the present. Staying overnight also saved us much time, we definitely would recommend it to others visiting the Bessarabian villages."

(Written by Dr. Kurt-Alexander Zeller traveling with his father, Dr. Norman Zeller, Ken and Jeanette Grenz)

Tour members on 24 May 1999, travel to the Bessarabian and Liebental villages in southern Ukraine near Odessa. We will share their memories and stories on 25 May 1999.

From Odessa, Ukraine, with warmest regards,

Michael M. Miller

25 May 1999
Internet Cafe, Odessa, Ukraine

I want to share with you messages prepared by tour members of their visits to the former German village and life in Odessa:

Betty Baron Thatcher, Tigard, Oregon

Our visit to Landau (Beresan Enclave) included the orphanage. The building, built by our German ancestors, and grounds are well maintained. The interior walls were decorated with the children's art work as are the classrooms.

In Speyer, the school and text books were in poor condition but the children were happy and smiling. I bid farewell to Karlsruhe with a walk, as my father did 88 years ago, along the street of my grandparents home with the magnificent structure of St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church always in view.

Goodbye from Odessa.

Ken Grenz, Spring Hill, Kansas

On Sunday, 23 May, we visited a Lutheran Congregation. They used German and Ukrainian languages. On this day, Pentecost, two person were baptized. The congregation meets in a second floor theater auditorium. They have not had a building since the Stalinist years. Some hymns were familiar.

On Monday, 25, May, we visited my grandpa's village of Gueldendorf. It is near Odessa and near an estuary. Houses were of limestone. Caves under the village led to the estuary. We were told that the caves were used as wine cellars. The stone from the caves used for houses and headstones are fragile, so the headstones in the German cemetery were nearly all illegible.

John Teske, Fall Church, Virginia

Bessarabian Village Visits

On 24 May, I was able to visit the Bessarabian village of Sarata, Paris and Leipzig. In Sarata, we found the church and school in excellent condition after full restoration. The adjacent Alexander Asylum was in a state of disrepair, but still being used for what purpose could not be determined. The cemetery is no longer identifiable as such. Remaining markers are of recent vintage. The Hobbacher-Layer farm equipment factory was found as was the flour mill. Home sites of Hobbacher, Heer, Brenner, and Fiess families were also found. The Werner School is in a total state of disrepair with doors and windows missing. It had apparently been used as a military facility.

In Paris, home of the Friske family, we found the church which was undergoing restoration. Original columns were still there, as well as remnants of murals on the walls. The church yard was covered with a blanket of chamomile tea - one of the German Russian favorites. Location of the cemetery is not known and we did not search for it. Paris to this day is a farming community with an abundance of poultry and livestock to be seen.

The visit to Leipzig was the shortest. The church no longer exists, and a community center now stands on the site. Across the street, the original German school still is in use as a school. The location of the cemetery is unknown, and we did not look for it. Like Paris, Leipzig continues as a farming village.

Throughout Bessarabia, stand memorials to the 1941-1945 war period as well as the communist era. Some are on church or school property. It was a worthwhile but challenging trip due to the poor roads.

Phyllis Ryan Pearce, California

On the map, Kassel (Glueckstal Enclave) appears to be a fairly short drive from Odessa. Because of the road, the last 20 kilometers we had to creep along in deference to the van's suspension.

Horse drawn vehicles were everywhere. A few old people on bicycles and people walking from field to field with hoes over their shoulders. Many people were hoeing weeds in the fields. There were acres and acres of vines waiting for people with the hoes.

Near Kassel, there were a number of ponds and fields of grazing cattle. The town is larger and on higher elevation than I had expected.

The 1830s map of Kassel was of some use. However, what had been cross streets, with one exception, no longer existed. We visited with one family who had only owned their property for a few months, that they had bought from a German family who had gone back to Germany.

Tamara, our guide and interpreter, and I took the map, walked through the field in front of the ruined church and were directed to the only German house still existent in the village. From the location it should be my great-grandfather, Johann Rosin's house.

It had been in ruin and was rebuilt by the current owner. Thus was not rebuilt to the size it had been. The original German well was still in use and so was the German root cellar.

The old German part of the cemetery is overgrown with lilacs and weeds. There are no headstones standing just a few remnants broken off at the base. The newer Ukrainian part of the cemetery is in good condition. Near the cemetery was the remains of a German house - very large and bright paint still visible on that part of the foundation still standing.

I was impressed with the gates in the fences surrounding each home. They are stamped metal with various designs. Tulips were very popular. All are painted in bright colors and appear to offer a warm welcome to any visitor.

Dr. Ralph Tarnasky, Bismarck, North Dakota

Today, 24 May 1999, I had a most extraordinary day meeting a 73 year old Russian-German lady, Cecilia Samoylenko, of Tarutino, Bessarabia. This was in Grandpa Tarnaskys hometown of Tarutino. Cecilia knew many Tarnasky's as a young girl pointing out bridges which were built by one family member. However, she is in correspondence with a Tarnasky lady who left Tarutino two years ago and now lives near Hamburg, Germany. Cecilia also wishes to immigrate to Germany and has been waiting for four years in Tarutino. She knows much of the village history and is well read.

Cecilia had a serious illness 11 years ago. She was not given a good prognosis when she came to a clinic in Odessa. She believes that her devout Christian father today as a Baptist has kept her in good health. To meet this woman who knew some of my distant relatives and now a possible contact for me in Germany was truly a rewarding day - one I shall never forget.

Hello to my dear wife, Phyllis, in Bismarck and children. I am doing well and in good health.

On 25 May, some tour members travel to the Liebental villages of Peterstal, Karstal, and Freudenal; to Mannheim in the Kutschurgan; Liebental and Hoffnungstal (Black Sea villages).

Other tour members are visiting and shopping in Odessa. On 26 May before leaving Odessa others will go to the Odessa State Archives for a second visit.

This may be our last message from Odessa for our days of 19-26 May. Let us see if we have time to send a message on 26 May from the Odessa Internet Cafe. We leave late afternoon on 26 May via Austrian Airlines for Vienna, Austria. We will stay overnight in Vienna and fly on Tyrolean Airlines to Stuttgart, Germany. We stay in Stuttgart for 27-31 May including a day trip on 28 May to Alsace, France. On Sunday, 30 May, we will be at the Haus der Heim in Stuttgart for a reception and concert of the Homeland Choir of Stuttgart who visited North Dakota for concerts in July, 1997. Tour members fly from Stuttgart to USA on 31 May.

We hope that you have enjoyed the messages from the Internet Cafe in Odessa. Let us see if we have time for one final message on 26 May. I will appreciate if you can share a message about your reactions to receiving these messages from Odessa.

We will not be sending email messages when we are in Stuttgart for 27-31 May 1999.

With warmest Odessa regards,

Michael M. Miller

26 May 1999
Internet, Cafe, Odessa, Ukraine

Let me share with you some of the messages from tour members before leaving today from Odessa for Vienna, Austria, and Stuttgart, Germany for 26-31 May 1999:

Tom Larscheid, Germany

Our last day in Odessa is in name only. We have made many new friends and will always cherish the memories. Our roots remain strong in this land of our ancestors.

Auf Wiedershen bis?

Violet Schauer Tanner, Olympia, Washington

My trip to the Crimea and Glueckstal region has been something I'd dreamed of all my life. The region has not changed since our ancestors left or very little if any. It was wonderful meeting the folks that lived in the villages and the love they showed us.

It is my hope that my grandchildren will be able to come here and visit in the future. Also the many cousins, experiences and feelings we all experienced.

Elsie Schauer Prouse, Wichita, Kansas

The trip has been the experience of a lifetime. My memories of all the wonderful people we met will always be with me. I am grateful to them for their help.

John Teske, Falls Church, Virginia

Looking at the villages and farms reminds us of the Dakota plains. We all take home memories and thoughts of what life was like for our ancestors, and we are thankful for the opportunity for the visit.

Phyllis Pearce, Alta Loma, California

My fondest memory of Odessa is meeting all the members of the tour group.

The city is lively, full of bustling people. The markets have all the necessities of life and some of the luxuries. It is a great city to visit.

Dr. Lee Keck, Bethany, Connecticut

I leave Odessa and Ukraine with much to ponder and deep gratitude for the opportunity to have walked the streets my forefathers walked and to have seen the fields they had worked. Though I found neither their graves nor their houses, I saw those of others, which were surely similar enough for me to imagine the rest. This has been the experience of a lifetime.

Ken and Jeanette Schroeder Grenz, Spring Hills, Kansas

With a deep sense of appreciation for our forefathers, with gratitude to our guides and the cheerful helpful people in the villages, and with a concern for their struggles, it is on to Stuttgart, Germany. Auf Wiedersehen!.

Jan Neuharth Gruhn, Anchorage, Alaska

The Journey to the Homeland tour has been the trip of a lifetime for me. I am thankful for the opportunity I have had to see the villages of my ancestors.

Dean and Olivia Sane, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Farewell to Odessa!

It has been a very moving but enjoyable experience to visit the village of my grandparents, particularly the daughter colony of Krasna, named Karamurat in Romania.

This homeland tour we can highly recommend to all Germans from Russia.

Bye for now!

Louis and Corinne Bollinger Haussler, Gwinner, North Dakota

It doesn't seem like it should be time to leave Odessa and the people we have learned to love.

On 25 May, on the road to Hoffnungstal it looked more like the North Dakota prairies and landscape. Going further into the village it appeared more like the other villages we had visited.

What a wonderful experience this has been. We have established new friendships with our fellow Americans through a common bond of kinship.

Gene and Georgia Kessler Brilz, Chandler, Arizona

Our visits to the villages will always be a memorable experience. It changed our perspective of this area forever. It must have been heart-rendering for our ancestors to leave for America, while we are looking forward to going home to the USA.

Dr. Ralph Tarnasky, Bismarck, North Dakota

Dear old and new friends.

Odessa and Bessarabia were great especially to walk the streets of Paris and Tarutino where grandma and grandpa Fercho walked and the streets of Grandpa Mike Tarnasky walked. Also to meet a lady who knows family members. But North Dakota will be good to see in a few days.

Betty Baron Thatcher, Tigard, Oregon

And so I leave Odessa again with new memories. I felt my father beside me as I walked away from his home in Karlsruhe, (Beresan Enclave), and will forever be grateful for his courage and strength to leave his family behind.

Dr. Donald Becker, Naperville, Illinois

Ten tour members spent two memorable days at Glueckstal. John Teske and I spent the night with Anton (80) and Rosina (76) Wort. They are lacking in material things but were very gracious with their hospitality. Anton's specialty is Erdbeern Wein, and I think it helps keep him alive. Wein (wine) for dinner, wein for snack, wein for breakfast. Anton said, "Schoen ist schoen, schlecht is schlecht, so ist das Leben. Gesundheit (down the hatch)."

Grandparents Becker and Frey came from Kassel, a village on a plateau. I believe it once was a very nice village with long, straight Hauptstrasse. The Evangelical Church is in ruins, but one can easily visualize its original beauty.

Annental, another ancestral village, could not be located.

Dr. Kurt-Alexander Zeller, Portland, Oregon

Visiting the villages of our ancestors is, of course, the point of this trip and a wonderful experience, but Odessa itself is an attractive city and well worth some time set aside to explore. I particularly have enjoyed the musical offerings. Odessa's opera house is a beautiful structure in the 19th century eclectic style reminiscent of the great opera houses in Vienna and Paris and is famous throughout the former Soviet Union. We had box seats at a performance of Barber of Saville (heavily cut, in Russian) for a mere $6 US; although not at the level of the best international houses, the performance was engaging and the soprano (not a mezzo) singing Rosina was very fine. The acoustics in the house are excellent. Two days later, my father and I got tickets (about $3 US each) for the Odessa Philharmonic. No one at the box office spoke English, but my very limited Russian was sufficient. I learned in conversation in both English and Russian with the lady seated next to me that the Odessa public is very pleased with their American conductor, Hobart Earle, who has raised the level of the ensemble. I believed her; although there was a guest conductor for the all-Tchaikovski program that evening, the orchestra gave a thrilling rendering of "Manfred" Symphony - the wind sound was particularly beautiful - and also a good performance of the First Concerto.

[Dr. Zeller is Assistant Professor of Music at Willamette University in Oregon]

This has been a wonderful group of Americans and Canadians with our fifth Journey to the Homeland Tour group. This evening we fly via Austrian Airlines on to Vienna for an overnight stay. Then on 27 May we fly to Stuttgart, Germany. On Friday, 28 May, we will take a Binder Travel bus tour to Alsace, France. Tour members leave Stuttgart for USA and Canada on Monday, 31 May 1999. On 31 May, I will leave for Vienna Airport to meet the Roth family for a private tour to Odessa and the former Catholic Kutschurgan villages. We will also do extensive videotape filming in these villages for future documentary work.

We will be in Odessa and the villages until 4 June, and we then return to Stuttgart, Germany.

So good-bye from Odessa, Ukraine, and from the homeland of our ancestors.

Michael M. Miller

Internet Cafe
Stuttgart, Germany 29 May 1999

Just a short note of greetings to let you know that all is well with the Journey to the Homeland Tour members. They will return from Stuttgart via Brussels and to Chicago, USA on 31 May. I will be in Germany for work until 17 June. On 31 May, I will say farewell to the tour members at Stuttgart Airport, and then fly on to Vienna and Odessa, Ukraine, for 31 May to 4 June. Perhaps we will have a message via email from Internet Cafe in Odessa once again.

On 30 May, we will go to the Haus der Heimat for a concert with the Heimatklaenge Choir of Stuttgart followed by a reception. The choir performed concerts in North Dakota communities in July, 1997 including the Germans from Russia Heritage Society Convention at Jamestown Civic Center.

On 28 May, we traveled via Binder Travel bus to Alsace, France, to Seltz, Weissenbach, and other villages.

The Hotel Royal is in an ideal location for the tour group right near churches and the main plazas for shopping and cafes. This will be our hotel for the 2000 tour and for the Bundestreffen weekend for 16-18 June 2000. There are many art galleries and museums within easy walking distance.

On 27 May, we visited the Heimatmuseum der Deutschen aus Bessarabien with a fine presentation by Ingo Isert, president of the museum.

All the tour members are doing well with health and enjoying Stuttgart and area. Today some tour members went to Tuttlingen, some are going on a city tour, and some will visit the Mercedes Benz Museum and the Zeiss Museum. There is a large International Cultural Festival with tents in the Konig Platz in central Stuttgart with much music, food and even some good German beer and sausage.

All the best from Stuttgart until once again in Odessa,

Michael M. Miller

31 May 1999
Internet Cafe, Odessa, Ukraine

Hello again from Odessa, Ukraine, where I have arrived today from Vienna, Austria, with the Roth family and Bob Dambach of Prairie Public Television, Fargo. We will travel together on 1 and 2 June to the former Catholic German villages of the Kutschurgan Enclave near Odessa. These villages include Baden, Elsass, Selz, Kandel, Mannheim and Strassburg. Bob will do extensive filming in these villages for future video documentary work.

We leave from Odessa for Vienna and Stuttgart, Germany, on 4 June.

The Journey to the Homeland Tour group left from the Stuttgart Airport on 31 May to their homes in Canada and USA. We had wonderful days in Stuttgart and Alsace, France, between 27-31 May. On Sunday, 30 May, we were entertained with a wonderful concert by the Russlanddeutschen Heimatklaenge Chor of Stuttgart.

My best wishes to all from Odessa, Ukraine.

Michael M. Miller

3 June 1999
Internet Cafe, Odessa, Ukraine

These have been busy days for me since returning from Stuttgart, Germany, to Odessa, Ukraine, on 31 May with the Roth Family and Bob Dambach. On Friday, 4 June, we fly to Vienna and Stuttgart.

On 1-2 June, we visited the mother colonies of the Catholic Kutschurgan villages. Louisa Riesling in Selz sends greetings to all persons who have visited her home.

Louisa and her husband have made application to immigrate to Germany. It may take 1-3 years for final permission to immigrate. Their very nice Riesling home near the Selz church will be given to her daughter who plans to stay in Ukraine. She hopes that it will be a memorial for all the German families that lived in homes in Selz and the nearby villages.

Bob Dambach of Prairie Public TV in Fargo and I spent much time in Elsass, Strassburg, and Baden as well as the daughter colonies of Georgental and Josephtal near Mannheim. We did extensive filming for future documentary work. On 1 June, we had visited the other villages of the Kutschurgan District with the Roth family.

In Baden, we were invited into a home near the former Catholic church. It was very interesting to learn that families now in reconstruction of homes, etc. are finding items that were dug in the ground by Germans before they left Baden in 1944 thinking that they would later return to their homes. These are extremely valuable historical artifacts which we saw. I presented to the family, the maps of the Kutschurgan villages.

In Elsass, we presented to the school library a set of the American Family Album 10-volume set of books from Oxford University Press. They have much need and desire for more English books for the children. We also presented maps to the village school as we did earlier in Selz.

Edward and Florence Burgad Roth of Des Moines, Iowa, share these comments

The last two days of 1-2 June, we toured the Kutschurgan village which include Strassburg, Mannheim, Selz, Kandel, Baden and Elsass. The temperature has been ideal 75 to 80 in the daytime and 55 at night. Food has been quite good. Crops look great but could use rain. Wild poppies are growing along the road and make it quite colorful. Our visits with people in the village are limited since Germans either have moved to Germany or were deported to Siberia during the Stalin period after World War II. This has been a very interesting trip.

The Roth family including Toby and Barbara Fischer Roth and daughter, Suzanne, of Washington, D.C., and Edward and Florence Burgad Roth and son, Mark, of Des Moines, Iowa, are visiting Odessa and the villages for the first time. The Roths have roots to Aberdeen, South Dakota, and Strasburg, North Dakota.

They will visit the villages in Alsace, France on 6 June before returning to USA on Monday, 7 June. Toby Roth is a former U.S. Congressman from Appleton, WI, serving in the U.S. House from 1978-1996. He was a speaker at the 1996 Bundestreffen in Stuttgart.

With warm June regards from Odessa, Ukraine.

Michael M. Miller

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