60th Anniversary of the Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland
Stuttgart, Germany, 15 May 2010
Presented by Father Anton Heinz in the German language.
Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation of this text.
Held on June 6, 1998,
at the Exposition Grounds at the Killesberg in Stuttgart,
during the 26th Bundestreffen of the
Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland
by Hans von Niessen
Translation from German Text into American English provided by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado (Translation of Biblical citations are rendered via The New English Bible)
We the survivors of the major and horrific events of the Second World War are gathered here on the occasion of the 26th Bundestreffen of the Landmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland. For most of the older attendees here there is real validity in the truths expressed in Psalm 66:10-14.
"For Thou God, hast put us to the proof,
And refined us like silver.
Thou hast caught us in a net,
Thou hast bound our bodies fast;
Thou hast let men ride over our heads.
We went through fire and water,
But thou hast brought us out to liberty.
(I will bring sacrifices into thy temple
And fulfill my vows to thee,
Vows which I made with my own lips
And swore with my own mouth when in distress.)"
As survivors we honor and commemorate the dead – our own dead. On this day we commemorate our dead, our brothers and sisters, our brothers and sisters in faith, our ancestors, our comrades, all who were forced to suffer and die under tyranny.
- We remember those who, by the thousands, became victims of hunger in 1921, 1933 and 1947.
- We remember those who at the beginning of collectivization in 1929 were sent to the Forests of the North and perished through hunger, cold and overexertion.
- We remember those who, during the terror years of 1937 and 1938, by the hundreds of thousands, were arrested and shot in prisons and camps.
- We remember those who – in the camps of the Far North, in the mines of the Urals and Siberia, in the forests of the Taiga, and in the sandy deserts of Central Asia – suffered a torturous death from hunger or physical weakness.
- We remember those who, for the sake of their faith, were forced to die as martyrs, simply because they performed their responsibilities as men and women in churches and free churches and for that reason had to give their lives as blood witnesses.
- We remember those who at the start and during the Second World War became hostages and were shot merely because they were German.
- We remember the tens of thousands who in the Trud Army forced labor camps starved or were killed in brutal ways and never returned to their families.
We also commemorate the German women and mothers who during the Second World War were separated from their men, who sacrificed for their children, performed slave labor, and were beaten and mistreated by supervisors until death relieved them from their sufferings.
- We remember those who in 1945 died while trying to escape from German-controlled Eastern regions.
- We remember those who found death in 1945 and 1946 while en route from Germany to Siberia and Central Asia.
We commemorate those who died at some time since 1917 due cruelty inflicted by humans and political machinery and without anyone even knowing it. For these there were no gravestones, no inscriptions, no flowers, and no tears at the time of their death.
We, the survivors, remember them in the knowledge that the Lord God knows of them and does not forgive any of them.
Before the face of God we remember all these human beings, and we remind ourselves, who have experienced God’s goodness, of this admonishment in the New Testament:
“Do you not [recognize] that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to a change of heart?”