Meetings with Two Groups of American Tourists
On August 10-30, 2016, two groups of American tourists, the descendants of Volga Germans, visited the Volga region to acquire a knowledge of the former German colonies. The organizers of these tours were Brent Mai (USA) and Mila Koretnikov (Germany). In Russia, the travel agency from Volzhsky, a city in the Volgograd region, provided the services to "The Volga Germans Tour".
I had known about the upcoming tours of our American colleagues at the end of July. I received an invitation from Brent May and Mila Koretnikov to meet with the groups during their stays in Volgograd. Without hesitation, I agreed. We discussed the theme of my speech, and I, in my turn, offered to show an improvised museum exhibition, which would be the documents of my personal collection.
Later, I was able to get familiar with the programs of the tours. They were packed with so many activities that I envied the American tourists. During the tour, the groups had visited a few dozen former German colonies. I can't tell about the tours, but, based on their programs, I'd like to list the villages visited by the descendants of Volga Germans from the United States.
The first group, which had the guided tour on August 10-20, visited the following former German colonies: the villages Dobrinka (Lower Dobrinka), Galka, Holstein (Upper Kulalinka), Kraft (Upper Gryaznukha), Schwab (Butkovka), Mühlberg (Shcherbatovka), Müller (no longer exists), Frank (Medvediza), Walter (Grechikhino), Kolb (Peskovka), Hussenbach (Linevo), Huck (Splavnukha), Norka (Nekrasovo), Dönhof (Visokoe), Kutter (Karamysh), Moor (Klyuchi), Balzer (Krasnoarmeysk), Dittel (Aleshniki), Kratzke (Podchinnii), Merkel (Makarovka), Bauer (Karamyshevka), Kauz (no longer exists), Grimm (Kamenskiy), Messer (Ust-Zoliha), Beideck (Luganskoe), Schilling (Sosnovka).
The first group traveled mainly on the Hill Side of the Volga German region (Bergseite, the right bank of the Volga River), but the second group, traveled on August 20-30, was scheduled to visit the colonies, located on the Side Of The Meadow (Wiesenseite, the left bank of the Volga River). Since both groups arrived in Volgograd, the tour route to the Volga German region had run along the Hill Side. Therefore, on the road, the second group visited the former German villages, located on the right bank of the Volga River. So, I will not list again the villages, which I had already mentioned above. Thus, the second group visited the following former German colonies: villages Stahl am Karaman (Zvonarevka), Reinwald (Staritskoe), Schwed (Leninskoe), Rosenheim (Podstepnoe), Enders (Ust-Karaman), Mariental (Sovietskoe), Rohleder ( Raskatovo), Dehler (Berezovka), Bangerdt (Zaumorie), Lauwe (Yablonovka), Laub (Chkalovskoye), Dinkel (Tarlykovka), Seelmann (Rovnoe), Brunnental (Krivoyar), Streckerau (Novokamenka), Hölzel (Kochetnoe), Warenburg (Privolnoe), Straub (Skatovka).
In addition, both groups visited the city Marx - the former colony Ekaterinenshtadt (Katharinenstadt). And, of course, they visited "the jewel of the crown" – recently restored Lutheran church in Zurich/ Zorkino.
My meetings with the American tourists were scheduled on August 18 and August 28 in the city of Volgograd in the evening at the hotel "Volgograd". At the meetings, my wife Natalia accompanied me and took the pictures, and it's her credit that there are the pictures, which illustrated this report. Arriving at the hotel for the first meeting, I was pleasantly surprised to see among the tourists American colleague whom I met at AHSGR convention in Concord (CA) in July this year. We greeted each other like old friends by warm handshake.
Each meeting began with a dinner. Then, all participants went to the conference hall, where the further discussion took place. Since I do not speak English, Mila Koretnikov helped me communicate with an audience by translating my presentation, visitors' questions, and my answers to the questions.
A brochure, telling about the website "Geschichte der Wolgadeutschen", was translated to English and printed. In addition to this, for the second meeting, a collage dedicated to the deportation of the Volga Germans in 1941 was printed. Also, for the meetings, I prepared a 30-minute report about the first years of development of the website "Geschichte der Wolgadeutschen". For all displayed museum exhibits, the brief comments in English were prepared.
I have little experience in public speaking. At the first meeting, being in the conference hall and speaking to the American tourists, I immediately realized that I needed to make some changes in my prepared speech. I had to improvise. It was a good idea to show them an exhibition of old newspapers, books, and documents. For the second meeting, I completely rewrote my speech and believed that it was more successful and interesting than for the first meeting.
At the meetings, I told the American colleagues how the idea was developed to create a website dedicated to the history of the Volga Germans, how it works and what kind of information it is possible to find on this website. Then I told the story about each museum exhibit which we presented. For the second meeting, we brought a selection of maps, and I explained about the maps of the Volga German region. Every time after my speech, the audience asked a lot of questions. At the end of our meetings, the participants could come to the table, see everything close, take pictures, feel and touch everything, and turn the pages of old newspapers, books, and original documents. The museum exhibition caused genuine interest of the American visitors.
The second meeting, as I wrote, took place on August 28th.
This day is considered for the Russian Germans as the day of national tragedy. 75 years ago, on August 28, 1941, the Soviet government issued the Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet (legislature), "On the Resettlement of Germans Residing in the Volga Region," and the deportation of the German population began by sending it to Siberia and Kazakhstan, and thus, it was the elimination of the Volga German Republic. The Volga Germans were interned in the Stalin's labor camps, where hundreds of thousands of people died.
I began with those words my speech to the audience in the conference hall at the hotel "Volgograd". At that time, a collage dedicated to the deportation of the Volga Germans in 1941 was shown on the screen. A minute's of silence was held to honor the memory of people who suffered from the horrible actions of the communist state. Then the evening continued in the same order as I had described above.
Alexander Spack, Mila Koretnikov and Brent Mai
The 1st Group of American Tourists, the Descendants of Volga Germans
Alexander Spack spoke to the 1st group of American tourists
During the Museum Exhibition
Alexander Spack and Brent Mai were before the beginning of the 2nd meeting
A Few Minutes before the 2nd Meeting
The 2nd Group of American Tourists
Alexander Spack spoke to the 2nd group of American tourists
Brent Mai was in charge of visual presentation
Alexander Spack answered visitors' questions
Written by Alexander Spack (Volgograd, Russia)
Translated by Elena Edelson (Seattle, USA)
Pictures taken by Natalia Spack (Volgograd, Russia)
The museum exhibition
Translated by Mila Koretnikov (Germany)
Klaus A. Our Colonies. Experiences and Materials on the History and Statistics of Foreign Colonization in Russia. Issue I. - St. Petersburg: Nusvalt Publishing House, 1869.
The author Alexander Klaus (1829-1887), the son of a sacristan and an organist. Born in the German colony Norka, Kamyshin uyezd, Saratov province. Serving in the Ministry of State Property in St. Petersburg Klaus wrote a solid socio-economic study "Our Colonies. Experiences and Materials on the History and Statistics of Foreign Colonization in Russia ", which became the first generalizing work on the German colonists in Russia in Russian historiography. The book was supposed to be published in two editions, with a circulation of 3,000 copies. Only the first part was published. In chapter 9 of the book "The Clergy and Schools," the author condemned the activities of the Volga German clergy that caused an uproar and complaints on the part of pastors. As a result, Klaus was dismissed from the ministry.
Newspaper "Volkszeitung" - social-political newspaper in German published in Saratov in 1906-1916. This copy of the newspaper belonged to the famous Volga-German writer August Lonzinger (1881-1953): the personal stamp of the writer can be seen.
The newspaper "Deutsche Zentral-Zeitung" (DZZ) - socio-political newspaper in the German language, published in 1926-1939 in Moscow by the German section of the Comintern.
Newspaper "Nachrichten" - a central newspaper of ASSR of the Volga Germans in German, was published in 1918-1941. First was published in Saratov, then in the years 1919-1922 it was published in Marxstadt (former Ekaterinenstadt), from 1922 to 1941 was published in the city of Engels, the capital of the Republic of the Volga Germans. In the Saturday issue of “Nachrichten" (№ 204) on August 30, 1941 a decree of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR from 28 August 1941 "On resettlement of Germans living in the Volga region" was published.
The newspaper "Rote Jugend" was published by the communist socio-political organization of the Youth (Komsomol) of the Republic of the Volga Germans (1921-1941).
Student’s record of credits book H.P. Geringer, a student of physics and mathematics of the German State Pedagogical Institute. Issued on December 20, 1938.
Heinrich P. Geringer was born in 1916 in the village of Neu-Warenburg, Novouzensk uyezd, Samara province. In 1938 he entered the German State Pedagogical Institute in the city of Engels majoring in Physics and Mathematics. He finished his third year when the war began. In September 1941 he was deported to Siberia. Since February 1942 he was in the labor army. From 1944 to 1965 he worked as a teacher of mathematics and physics in a school in the Tomsk region. He retired in 1971.
Edwin Fritzler’s employment record book. Edwin Fritzler was born in 1909. He was a senior teacher of the basics of Marxism-Leninism of the German State Pedagogical Institute. Issued January 23, 1939.
The last entry in the employment record book: September 01, 1941 - Dismissed due to relocation.
Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 1st ed., Moscow, 1939, Volume 41.
1st edition of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia was published before the war. Volume 41 was published in 1939, when the Republic of the Volga Germans still existed. A long article with illustrations and maps is devoted to the Republic of the Volga Germans.
Atlas of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. USSR Central Executive Edition. Moscow, 1928.
Maps of the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of the Volga Germans. The administrative-territorial division of the republic is shown as of 1927, when the territory of the republic was divided into 14 cantons. By 1941, at the time of the liquidation of the Volga German republic, the number grew to 22 cantons.
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