Fifty Years of Service
Dr. LaVern Rippley, Presenter
St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota
Germans from Russia Heritage Society Convention
Fargo, North Dakota
Transcribed by Jane D. Trygg
Edited by Hope Wald
VR: We were once living in a region where there were Germans, Russians, and Ukrainians. Today everything had been occupied. We had to keep silence for fifty years. Now the time has come, when we can say a few words. We were only permitted to keep silent. I don’t care where we went, where we were put, nothing but silence. Fifty years, everyone said the German was the enemy. The authorities simply hated us, no matter where we were put.
They are always against us. They drag us here, they put us there. We are never permitted to express ourselves or give and opinion. For seventeen years, we had to work in this special employment army, as it was called; in order to one day have a pension. Seventeen years I worked. Then I wrote to Moscow for and explanation of this to get clarification of my pension. They didn’t want to acknowledge those seventeen years of slavery as work contributed to the governmental pension plan.
Many came back from prisoner situations and were not able to find any members of their family left anymore. They scattered us all over Siberia following the August Deportation Order of 1941. Where ever we were, the question always arose “what do we want here? This is our country. This is our territory. You Germans don’t belong here.” They kept saying this piece of earth belongs to us, not to you Germans. So we want our area back on the Volga. That’s where we belong. That’s our homeland, that’s our territory.
That’s where we belong. That’s where we fit in. We want to go back there. The Volga was our mother. It was called the mother of the Russian people as well, but it is certainly our mother. I want to be back there on that German soil along the Volga. It was captain the great who brought the Germans here to live along the Volga to plow and sow the fields that have never been broken. They came from Hessina, Swavia, and other areas of south west Germany to build up a civilization, an agricultural society.
They had their own justice, social, and church systems. From very severe problems, they created a terrific civilization that included all formats of societies, schools, and churches. At the request of Lennor they built them.
-Break in Tape-
The woman is explaining how hard she has campaigned, and how much she loves this.
-Break in Tape-
The woman explains how hard she campaigned and how much she loves this former I homeland. But the puzzle is why they have organized these political action groups to campaign and continuously raise chaos against the I coming back here. In 1941, I was defending my country against the I, with my blood and the blood of all of us. Should we now turn this land over to the I? Not on your death.
We are going to defend it now as we defended it then. We have a right to that. The woman explains that we have a right to our former homeland and that they have promised us everything that we have come here for. My question is: why should we be forced to go back to the Federal Republic, for this is our homeland not the Federal Republic of I. After all I is a gigantic place, surely somewhere on the face of this huge country there should be a place for us, where we could live by our selves together.
Why can’t we just be left to earn our bread in some expectable place in this huge country? (076-077) Its time to deliver. The I are like the Jews. Even though I deported them at one time, here they are once again amongst us. The I are a nation who loves to exercise authority. They love to be in the cabinet. They do not want to do bodily work. They take advantage of the I. The I have nothing. I have no place in our region. I don’t know why they want to live here.
We I lived here until the war, and now they are gone. We don’t want them back here again. Well, I am on the opinion that the I shouldn’t be allowed to come back here again. The I are out to simply migrate back to I where they belong. The I aren’t all the same. A good many of them are spies. The others have only been here to earn a lot of money. We don’t really care to have them anymore. I don’t like them.
The I supposedly say that they are now going to put the I into their place. If they drag us I off somewhere, then what? The I are better educated than us. I guess that is a claim. Well, let me see. They had had more privileges. That isn’t right. It has been hard on the I because they had everything. We don’t intend to directly harm the I, but they have no future here where we live. The I woman is explaining that all the I plans and promises are nothing but words.
There is a real problem here. The stores are empty. The apartment is unavailable. I don’t know what type of future exists here. These political parties are forever organizing demonstrations against us. They publish things in the paper that are not true. They call us Nazi’s. These organizations are official registers. They are permitted and allowed to hold these things against us.
The implication is given that the Germans do not have any rights,
only Russians do. This
type of slogan is perpetuated again and again. Thousands and thousands of Russians get together and protest against the return of Germans to this region. The fact is that the Germans who are here are so small in number that they are not a threat to anybody. Not even in the remote sense. They are continuing to torment and persecute us. Once again, we are in a situation where we are unable to say anything, to do anything, to be anything.
All we want is a few potatoes and bread to eat. The Russians keep hammering the slogan that the Volga is no place for the Germans. So they know they can say that we are at fault for selling them out against us. Should we set up a German autonomy out on the Volga? Well certainly not.
The Germans have their own land, and their own country to live on. This is not the place they should live. This is Russian territory. A lot of people ask: why would you want your own state? Well, I say that I think we have a right to a life with a culture that we choose. Why shouldn’t I have my own nation, my own state, my own country? Isn’t that my right? Don’t I have some rights on this earth as well?
I don’t know what the future holds for us people, for us Germans here in Russia. I am afraid the beautiful land out there in the Volga doesn’t hold much promises. You reporters ask me weather I still have hope. Well, I have to confess, my hope has pretty well dissipated. My kids ask me where we will someday end up. I can only turn to them with tears.
And the film concludes fifty years of silence. Germans in the USSR. Camera by so and so. Editing done by Karl Fuglundt, Robert with the Vocal.
-End of Tape-