Review by Janice Huber Stangl
Kern, Pastor Albert. Homeland Book of Bessarabian Germans. North Dakota State University Libraries, Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, Fargo, North Dakota, 1998.
Homeland Book of the Bessarabian Germans by Albert Kern, now translated into English, is a must read for anyone whose ancestors were born or lived in Bessarabia. Those Germans from Russia whose direct line does not stem from Bessarabia will also benefit from the insight written by many people of the area. The descriptive writings about the history, immigration, and then the resettlement during World War II, grips you with the smell of the earth, the blue of the sky, and the wrenching sadness, when they must leave their land, home, animals and all they possess. The narratives often remind me of our experiences during our June, 1998 visit to the villages of Arzis, Alt Elft, Neu Elft and Schabo.
The articles on more than 100 colonies and estates, are written by the people who lived and served in various capacities in the area. The voices of experience and daily living provide reading of such interest, one can hardly put the book down. Hours can be spent studying pictures of homes, churches, and colony life. The format of each parish, and its colonies and estates, makes the material easily accessible. It includes one of the best lists of site locations of German Parishes in Bessarabia, that I have seen. The complete list of sources, index of pictures, place name index, and subject index, all provide specific information at your fingertips in a matter of seconds.
The Honor List of Missing in Action and Deaths in WWI and WWII lists hundreds and hundreds of names of sons and fathers of all the various colonies. The names seem to read like almost any telephone book in the Dakotas, or any community with a large Germans from Russia contingent. This newly translated and published book by the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo, will become a valuable addition to your library.