Last Revised: 09/25/13 08:55:33 PM
Published in the
German Descendants Newsletter,
No. 11, July 1997.
Posted on the World-Wide Web by the
Bukovina Society of the Americas,
with permission of Irmgard Hein Ellingson and the Galizien German Descendants, February 4, 1998.
Published by Schriftenreihe des Hilfskomitees fuer die evangelischen Umsiedler aus der Bukowina
NOTE: "ae," "oe," and "ue" have been substituted in place of umlauted vowels in the translation.
At the direction of the Hilfskomitee, I have brought together the materials and prepared this manuscript. In my narrative I have written everything that will be of interest about Alexanderdorf and Katharinendorf for the former residents of both communities as well as readers of eastern European church history. I intended not only to document the scattered eastern churches but also to leave this text as a testament of the last settlers of both communities for their descendants. I felt that the responsibility rested upon me and I could not shift it to anyone else
At the age of eighty years, I submitted this material for review. I thank our Bukovina pastor Edgar Mueller for his great assistance up to publication. I extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone who answered my letters and hope that those who did not reply are not angry or upset.
If gaps are revealed in this sketch, I ask that you ascribe it to difficult circumstances. I hope that many readers, above all those who experienced Alexanderdorf and Katharinendorf, will have pleasure in it.
Yours, Konrad Gross
Beaching/Brenz, West Germany
Translator's Note: Konrad Gross was born 27 December 1897. He was the Katharinendorf curator, or parish assistant, beginning in 1933.
The fate of these two Bukovina communities, Alexanderdorf and Katharinendorf has been preserved in this sketch by the eighty-year-old former curator Konrad Gross. It is a special story as traced to their origins and in the further course of their history. As such, they are unique and can hardly be compared with old settlements such as those of the Transylvanian- or Sudetenland Germans.
If it does not contradict the modern spirit to preserve the fate of ethnic Germans in the east, then this study will be of interest not only to the descendants of German expelled from these communities to Poland and then to West Germany. It should also be shown to contemporary Germans so they may see how the diligence, efficiency, and the Lutheran faith enabled the establishment of a community. They were not self-serving but rather sought to act as conciliating mediators in its multi-ethnic and multilingual context. It is especially noteworthy that this land, brought under cultivation by German settlers, had been allowed to lie idle by all other inhabitants.
After two generations of hard work, the blessings of the work become evident. The customs brought by the settlers from their homeland were adapted to their days of celebration and days of mourning. Thereby it is clear that practically every tradition may continue to exist in isolation.
Every historian and folklorist must receive such a study with gratitude.
21 February 1978
"I would like to add that this text presents a valuable documentary and is also interesting as a testimony to the life of the community curator."
Bukovina, sometimes called Buchenland, is a small land of 10,442 square kilometers on the eastern outer curve of the Carpathian mountains. In the south and east it borders on the Romanian province Moldavia. It borders Bessarabia in the north and northwest between the Pruth and Dniester Rivers. In the southwest it borders Transylvania.
Its wealth lies in the forests covering 43 per cent, and in the crop land covering 29.8 per cent, of the land. Minerals found here include Eisenstein, manganese, lead containing silver, and copper.
The northern part of Bukovina belonged to the ancient principality Halicz (Galicia) while the southern part was criss-crossed by Tatar tribes until the fourteenth century. Then the entire region became part of the principality Moldavia.
When the Hapsburgs gained Galicia in 1772, they recognized the strategic significance of Bukovina. Galicia had no natural defenses to the south. Therefore Austria sought to obtain Bukovina. This came to pass in the course of negotiations with the Russians during the Russian-Turkish War. The Turks were forced to acquiesce in a May 7, 1775, settlement.
Next Bukovina was appended to Galicia as an independent county. After the 1848/1849 Revolution, the duchy Bukovina became an independent crown land of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Bukovina was threatened with partition between Ukraine and Romania after World War I but was all ceded to Romania in the Treaty of St. German. At the beginning of World War II, on June 28, 1940, the northern part of Bukovina as well as Bessarabia were annexed by the Soviet Union. Southern Bukovina and its predominately Romanian population remained within Romania since that time.
Bukovina's largest population groups were the Ruthenians and the Romanians. Its borderland character is demonstrated in the fact that it also included Poles, Hungarians, Slovaks, Jews, Germans, Armenians, and Greeks. The Greeks had disappeared at the time of the Austrian occupation but individual Armenians could still be found. Ukrainians from neighboring Poland took the opportunity to escape from serfdom by immigrating to Bukovina. In the same manner Romanians from Moldavia immigrated in anticipation of Bukovina's peaceful development. To these peoples were added the Lipowaner, who for religious reasons immigrated to Bukovina, establishing Fontana-Alba as their center.
Germans had already settled in Neamtz, Sereth, and Baia before the establishment of the Moldavian principality but they were stamped out by the Mongolian invasion in the year 1241. Germans from Transylvania came into the land in 1365. Thanks to its location between the Black Sea and central Europe, Moldavia - which later included Bukovina and Bessarabia - became a protector of undisturbed trade which had been threatened by the Tatars. German merchants and clergy prepared the way for other German settlers. The merchants settled in the larger towns and played a large role in the establishment of the Moldavian cities. The Catholic clergy sought to pursue missionary work. They had little success because they did not encounter heathens but rather Christians of the Greek Orthodox confession who were not receptive to Catholicization. Because of the trade monopoly and the predominant position of Greek merchants in Moldavia, German merchants and artisans were superfluous. The stream of German immigrants diminished and many fled before the invading Turks. The few who remained lost their language and faith and were absorbed by the indigenous population.
The population of a German settlement arose following the annexation of Bukovina by Austria in 1775. Before this, August Poniatowski had invited German linen weavers into the land and they had settled in Zaleszczyki. The Russian tsarina Catherine II had established a mint employing German works for the ready payment of the occupation army during the Russian-Turkish War. The first settlement attempt collapsed due to the nonprofitability of the venture and after a short revival as the town Sadagora, the other regressed after the war. In 1782, twenty families came from the Banat on their own initiative and were settled in the area around Czernowitz and in Mitoka-Dragomirna.
The settlement of Germans by Joseph II contributed to the full development of the land and the integration in the eastern culture. The recruitment of German farmers for Galicia succeed by 1772. The great German emigration impetus made it necessary to direct a branch of Galician immigrants to Bukovina. Therefore German emigrants from the Rhine Palatinate, Baden, Wuerttemberg, Hesse-Nassau, and the Zips district of the Tatra Mountains, most of whom were Lutheran, came to Bukovina. Later they were joined by Catholics from the Bohemian Forest.
German settlements were established in Fratautz (sixteen families), Illischestie (twelve families), Satulmare (eight families), Badeutz-Milleschoutz (eight families), St. Onufry (eight families), Itzkany (eight families), and in Arbora and Tereblestie (seven families). These settlements were adjacent to existing Romanian communities but were allowed to have their own mayors. Later they adopted the names Deutsch-Altfratautz, Deutsch-Satulmare, Deutsch-Tereblestie to distinguish themselves from the neighboring Romanian villages.
The so-called "Swabians," which included the Palatinate, Baden, Wuerttemberg, Hessian, and Banat emigrants, settled in northern and southern Bukovina. The Zipsers settled in the mines located in the south and established Jakobeny in 1784, Pozoritta in 1808, Luisental in 1805, Eisenau in 1808, Freudenthal in 1808, and Kirlibaba in 1797.
The continual immigration contributed to the rapid increase of the German population in Bukovina, especially in the cities of Czernowitz, Radautz, Sereth, and Suczawa. In 1930, Bukovina had 853,524 inhabitants, of whom 76,000 were German. The German Lutherans numbered 22,000 of this figure and the rest were Catholic, according to Edgar Mueller.
We will briefly identify the three large settlement attempts which succeeded during the reign of Joseph II since the homeland of the Bukovina Germans are the same as those of the Galicians: the Rhine Palatinate, Baden-Wuerttemberg, and Hesse. The immigrant stream was directed to Galicia from 1781 until 1783 and since there were too many to be accommodated there, a number were delegated to Bukovina. These were the so-called "Swabians" (see above). In 1796, independent of this movement, Zipsers from the Tatra Mountains were invited upon private initiative to work in the mines owned by Baron Manz of Mariensee and established their own Zipser communities as already described. The later immigration of Germans from the Bohemian Forest led to the establishment of their own villages in southern Bukovina. If one does not consider the gradual migration of Germans from Austria who were employed in the administrative and public sector of Bukovina, then one can identify three major groups of German immigrants: the "Swabians," the Zipsers, and the Bohemian Forest people.
A part of Bukovina was not affected by this German colonization: the upper Sereth River valley and northwestern Bukovina up to the Czeremosch River. During the decades, and based upon private initiatives, German settlements did arise here. These include Alexanderdorf and Katharinendorf, the subjects of this study. The exact date of their establishment is not known. It is certain that the first settlers came from Galicia and bought land from Ukrainian farmers without any restriction or impediment. The community was called Heckendorf because of the Hecken (hedges) that covered the land. Before the colonization of the village Alexanderdorf, Heinrich Lindenbach and Georg Gross, the author's uncle, bought land from Ukrainians. If the dates in the Evangelical Lutheran Church records in Czernowitz are correct - and there is no doubt of that - the first settlers were in Heckendorf by 1840. This allegation is based upon the following entry in the Czernowitz parish record: "On 15 July 1865 Johann Georg Gross, a son of Georg Gross and his wife Katharine Adam, born in Alexanderdorf, age twenty-two years, single, was united in marriage with Katharina Goeres, daughter of Friedrich Goeres and his wife Katharine Pfeiffer, born in Alexanderdorf, twenty years old, single, by the Roman Catholic priest Adalbert Kubinski of Wiznitz. Witnesses were Peter Jagloski and Heinrich Lindenbach."
A second supporting document is a Lutheran marriage record in Czernowitz. The farmer Karl Kraemer, born in Alexanderdorf, age twenty-one years, married the eighteen-year-old daughter of Friedrich Klein. She had been born in Augustdorf. There must have been other settlers besides Heinrich Lindenbach and Georg Gross in Heckendorf, and they must have become the residents of Alexanderdorf. These include Jakob Kraemer, the father of Karl, as well as Johann Wilhelm Rickerich from Josefsberg, Galicia, and others. Settlements of Heckendorf and Alexanderdorf probably began at about the same time and others joined the first settlers.
Heckendorf was named for the hedges that grew in the muddy swampy soil. It was located about one kilometer from Alexanderdorf and an equal distance from Katharinendorf. From the Kaiserstrasse, or Emperor's Road, a lane led straight to Heckendorf, which actually belonged to the political jurisdiction of the Ukrainian community Czerezenka. For Lutheran church matters, the Czerezenka people belonged to Alexanderdorf and Katharinendorf. The Ukrainians had allowed this land to lie fallow because it would have been too much work to make it fruitful, according to the first settler Georg Gross. He said that others had come from Galicia with him, intending to settle there, but were discouraged by the difficulties presented and moved on elsewhere. Many came and went. Heinrich Lindenbach obtained larger parcels of land, bought 70 Joch (an Austrian land unit) on the mountain and along the Kaminka creek, and prepared the Lindenbach estate which was home for three generations after they left Tereblestie. The first settlers were required to make great sacrifices but they persevered and thereby attracted ever more settlers from Galicia.
Baron Alexander v. Wassilko sent agents to Galicia to recruit German settlers who would cultivate the land. The neighboring Ukrainians were not prepared to rent and till the land. At first Baron v. Wassilko divided his land into parcels located one kilometer off the Kaiserstrasse in the hope that this would attract settlers. This attempt produced in a sluggish manner. Then he parceled the land along the Kaiserstrasse and found willing candidates. In time, the communities that bore the name of the baron and his lady were established: Alexanderdorf in honor of the baron, and Katharinendorf for the baroness Katharine v. Wassilko. Since the land parcels were not too small, they attracted families with large numbers of children who hoped to provide each son with his own farm. The land was rented for ninety-nine years, according to early documents. Because of the constant immigration and emigration, the rental contracts were entered in Czernowitz on 27 August 1892 for twenty-five years, expiring on 1 November 1917, according to the imperial county court decree Zl. 19 615/1892.
The hereditary right to the land was secured by each family for their children and grandchildren. The contract was written so that the proprietor incurred no risk and his rights were completely protected. In it, twenty-one articles set forth the rights and duties of the contractual parties.
The land was divided into parcels of twenty-one, eighteen, and sixteen Joch. Artisans, shoemakers, tailors, and wheelwrights received sixteen Joch. One seldom found land that had been tilled by a Ukrainian wooden plow. Wood for the buildings, barns, granaries, and sheds was provided at no cost from the baron's estate but one had to fell the trees, drag them home, and cut them as needed. Firewood for household needs was also provided without charge until 1918. According to the contract, each settler received one wagonload per week during the summer months and two loads per week during the winter months. One was required to obtain a wood permit from the estate as well as the imperial forest administration, and a gamekeeper directed the holder to places where wood could be cut. Transgressors were severely punished.
Each settler had 1.15 Hectare (one hectare = two and a half acres) of land for his house, outbuildings, and garden. First the Vorflutgraeber, or main drainage canals, were dug and the fields divided. Then the Gewannengraeber, secondary canals, were dug to drain into the main ones. This enabled the water to drain more quickly from the fields. In time, the fields became dryer and adequate drainage was assured.
Planting was a heavy, tedious task. The first rows were plowed with wooden wedges that didn't permit the soil to fall back into place. This went about as fast as a snake coils! According to the old men, two or three people had to hold the first plows to keep the rows straight. Part of the cultivated ground was allowed to lie idle for a year so that frost and sunshine could break down the soil. It took a number of years until oats could be planted. These settlers survived as pioneers with German diligence and hard work. It shows how much tenacity and inner strength was necessary to build a future upon this new land, that hope prevented them from giving up in the face of all setbacks.
It took about twenty-five years until the settlers could organize their church and political (government) affairs. Therefore Alexanderdorf belonged to the Berhometh jurisdiction in 1863 and Katharinendorf in 1869, two decades after the first settlers had arrived. These had migrated from Baginsberg, Landestreu, Josefsberg, Reichenbach, Ugartsthal, Konstantinowka, and Hostov, Galicia, and from Tereblestie, Hliboka, Wama, and other communities in Bukovina.
According to Johann Launhard, who died at age ninety in Berlin after teaching in Katharinendorf (1900-1918) and Alexanderdorf (1929-1940), the following were named as the first settlers in Alexanderdorf: Adam Kitsch, Johann Georg Baumung, Philipp Andres, Heinrich Andres, Georg Weber, Georg Gross, Jakob Fatteicher, Georg Heuchert, Jakob Hardt, Karl Lai, Konrad Adam, Jakob Huber, Friedrich Göres, Michael Kentel, Andreas Mohr, Jakob Kraemer Martin Fatteicher, Heinrich Zorn, and Johann Rickerich.
In Katharinendorf: Heinrich Lindenbach, Christian Adam, Alfred Geib, Wilhelm Gross, Heinrich Papp, N. Blund, Johann Mack, Philipp Brand, M. Zachmann, Georg Zorn, Georg Lindenbach, Georg Kitsch, Wilhelm Niebergall, Valentin Schappert, and Philipp Manz. Some of these names disappeared because these people moved on or immigrated to America and Canada. Their names only appear in the Czernowitz parish records.
Until the end of World War I, Alexanderdorf and Katharinendorf showed population fluctuations but a number of the people steadfastly preserved their customs, traditions, folklore, and faith. Each village was completely German Lutheran, with one exception, which was a great advantage for community life. The exception was Schaerf Maier, a Jewish farmer in Katharinendorf. A Polish Catholic nobleman, Viktor Czinski von Tolendo, lived in Czerezenka which belonged partially to Alexanderdorf and partially to Katharinendorf for parish affairs.
Before 1940, when the Germans were resettled into the Reich, the population in Katharinendorf was 321 and in Alexandorf, 158. Ten families lived in Heckendorf. The family heads included Johann Baumung, Florian Lindenbach, Josef Lindenbach, Heinrich Lindenbach, Karl Gross, Georg Haas and others.
First the fields in Alexanderdorf, where each settler had two Joch for a garden. Die Mihodrastuecke, located to the right of the county road, bordered to the west on the stream called den Mihodrabach. These fields had good soil. They were later used to produce wheat and corn. Flax also grew well there, and naturally clover as well.
Die Birkenwaelder (birch woods), was named for the birch bushes that once stood there.
Die Langen Stuecke (the long pieces), so-called because it had three Gewannengraeber, or canals.
Die Hutweidenstuecke (the pasture pieces), adjacent to the county road, bordered Katharinendorf. These lands were initially not cultivated because they were used for pasture. After the agriculture reform, (discussed below), they were tilled and after they were drained, proved to be good fields. Naturally oats were sown first, then rye and clover. On the west side of the garden portion flowed a stream called der Mihodraarm, which provided a generous supply of water for livestock.
Here each settler also had two Joch for a garden. Die Erlenstuecke was named for an alder wood that once stood there. I recall that in the 1920s, when I worked the field, I would find alder roots and stumps.
Die Reschkasstuecke. Reschka is a Ukrainian word which means Buchweizen (buckwheat). This piece had a length of three canals. Buckwheat grew well here.
Die Lipowanerstuecke - at one time, the Lipowaners reportedly lived here. After several attempts, farmers learned that wheat, corn, and clover grew well here. This piece had two canals for every three Joch. In the middle flowed der Schulbach, or school creek, a good watering source.
Die Jeremie-Pole-Stuecke once belonged to a renter named Jeremie. It wasn't the best land but was adequate for oats and rye.
Die Teichstuecke included plots of about two Joch each. Some laid quite low. At one time there had been a little lake here, which had been drained by a canal. This was good land. It was located in the middle of the Ukrainian fields and was a constant source of controversy between the Germans and the Ukrainians. When we, the Germans, worked there, the neighboring Ukrainians would come and attempt to chase us off the land. They said that the land belonged to them and wir sollen zum Wilhelm gehen (in dialect, A we Schwabe do Wilhelma).
In the course of the 1924-1925 land reform, an exchange was negotiated by a judicial commission chaired by the Ukrainian Gretzki. We, the Germans, received land adjacent to the county road according to a compromise that involved and satisfied all parties to the dispute. This land was somewhat large than the Teichstuecke.
Die Hutweide east of the village and adjacent to the county road, was long used as a pasture for which it was appropriate. Above it along the beech forest was a spring called der Waldbrunnen, which always provided fresh water. It flowed into a canal through die Hutweide, giving enough water for humans and livestock. Later this pasture was divided into one to four Joch plots due to constant quarrels, and peace and quiet were restored to the village. This land was not cultivated for a long time because it was sloping and wet.
There was also the Mihodrastuecke but not everyone had land there. It was once private property and belonged to the neighboring community Czereszenka. It was drained between 1910 and 1913 by the county contractor Alois Winter. Corn and wheat grew well here. In the west, der Kaminkabach (the Kaminka Creek) crossed the meadows and then met den Mihodrabach in the north. On the east side, der Baetschwabach, also known as Baetschiwka, crossed the meadows and joined die Mihodra at der Lipowanerbruecke (Lipowaner Bridge).
In the first years, harvests were scanty and meals necessarily small. The two-row simple rye was cultivated but rarely yielded enough grain for the entire year. Later the four-row Petkuser rye was sown and it proved productive. The potatoes, a small variety no larger than walnuts, were later replaced by a more productive one. To the best of my recollection, they were obtained from the Ispaser estate about twenty kilometers away, which also provided seed for rye, wheat, and corn. This is how daily bread was produced after World War I.
To the best of my recollection, Simmenthal cattle were preferred. Practically every farmer had this breed. The breeding of horses was promoted so that, from time to time, the military commission would come and buy good stock from us. A stud farm was located within the village during the time of Austrian administration.
The reader may be interested to learn about a hot spring and a petroleum spring in our area. As one goes from the city Wiznitz across the Nimczesch mountain through the Huzulen villages Rostocki and Putilla to Dichtenitz, one passes a rock wall. In it, at about the height of a man, a thirty-centimeter-wide stream of hot water pours as though from a pipe. There is a little canal with a wooden bridge under which the hot water flows into a mountain meadow, where it cools.
When we hauled down logs in the winter, it was a wonderful sight to observe the water evaporate into fog. The horses would run from a distance to the canal so that they could drink the lukewarm water. We often washed our hands there too, but not right at the source of the spring, because the water was too hot. No one thought about opening a spa here, although it would have been beneficial for our individual and community health. About one kilometer along the way, there were three petroleum springs within a radius of about thirty meters and dimensions of three by three meters. It silently gushed up from a source of undetermined depth. These could be dangerous for pedestrians since they were not fenced in. On the surface, a thick, stiff layer of mud accumulated. Nearby residents used this mud to grease their harnesses and other leather items. No one was concerned about the possible development of this spring.
Further up, near Dichtenitz, was a large unexploited vein of limestone. Other mineral riches were probably unmined there in the Carpathian Mountains.
These were the same in Alexanderdorf and Katharinendorf. Each community helped the other when possible. Festival events in Alexanderdorf - called Oberdorf - were attended by residents of Katharinendorf - known as Unterdorf - and most especially by the young people. On the weekends there were many visits made between the villages. Music was played and sung; there was dancing. There was always a good time to be enjoyed together. Frequently an Unterdorf resident found a bride in Oberdorf, or an Oberdorf man found his in Unterdorf.
The longtime mayor in Alexanderdorf was Vetter Kitsch, a joker who could accomplish a lot in spite of it. He wasn't always taken seriously in the village but he could always command respect. Vetter Eilmes, a peaceable man who was the last curator of the Alexanderdorf, often came to me or to the deacon Valentin Doern for advice about school or church matters. He was always inclined to cooperate in community affairs called. When we built the new fence around the church, he showed up before dawn with his axe and saw.
When one reads such things, one could readily believe there was always peace in the village. To preserve the truth of the matter, I must also speak of a critical time in which the community spirit was in danger of breaking. There were those among us who unwillingly paid their church taxes but they could always be called to order by disciplinary measures of the presbytery. Quarrels between residents could almost always be mediated with our own circles and rarely went to court. Judge Faustman, a Lutheran, always found the way to peace and reconciliation.
But once it seemed that everything would collapse and thereby the survival of the Lutheran school was endangered. After World War I, the teachers used to more frequently change positions between schools. Right at the beginning, a young teacher came from Gurahumora and with the acquiescence of the community, took up service in the church and school.
One day a scandal came to light. The teacher was charged with an obscene relationship with older school girls. There was no more peace in the village, which divided into two camps. One sent their children to school in Alexanderdorf and did not want to pay their subscription fees as long as that teacher remained. The other camp said that the girls were to blame, since they had not reported the matter as soon as it happened. The conflict intensified. Wherever people met, in the fields, on the streets, they insulted and abused one another. In spite of great effort, a compromise or arbitration attempt by Pastor Mueller failed. Some wanted to turn the school over to the state so that the teacher would have to leave the village. Certain men employed propaganda-like tactics, saying that only in this way would there be peace. I always said that was a clever trick. If the school became a public institution, the teacher would have left the private one and remained as teacher in the Romanian school.
Herr Dechant Fischer came to the community to investigate the matter. He asked me if I believed that the teacher would leave the town as soon as the school was turned over to the state. I said no, I didn't believe it. He said he didn't either. We agreed: this teacher must leave.
He was suspended from his duties. The teacher Launhardt then increased his work, teaching afternoons in Katharinendorf as well as in Alexanderdorf, until a new teacher arrived. With much effort from Pastor Mueller, peace finally returned. The school was saved, thank God!
It would have been too pleasant if the economic advances would have been smooth and unimpeded. We had to take various severe economic setbacks in our stride. There was occasionally a year in which not enough was harvested for families or their livestock. Over the winter, one would have to find work elsewhere. We went logging in the forested areas of the Carpathians, which was heavy work, and didn't receive the wages for which we had hoped, because the lumbering business was controlled by Jewish people, so that a larger gain did not come to us.
World War I and its unfortunate consequences brought a major setback. Most men and boys were called to duty in the Austrian infantry. The other residents fled across the Carpathians and Hungary to Neumarkt-Kalham, Taufkirchen, Wallern, Grieskirchen, and other villages in Oberösterreich, or Upper Austria. The livestock taken on the refugee trek died enroute, or one was forced to sell them for little money to the Hungarians. I was managed to visit Neumarkt-Kalham once when I was on leave military from service on the Italian front. The worship services for the refugees in that area were conducted by Dr. Viktor Glondys, the pastor of the Czernowitz city church at the time.
When we were allowed to return home after the war, we encountered a terrible sight. Most businesses and farm yards had been burned to the ground by the Russians. No livestock, no money, no farm implements, no axes, and no saws. The old louse-filled uniforms of the soldiers were soon worn out. There was no bread, no seed. But where could one receive anything without stealing?
Many immigrated to Canada and the United States in North America. Some went to Romania to look for work. One needed money to emigrate so many sold their land to raise the funds. Those who could not sell their land had to remain in Romania, Galatz, and Braila, struggling for years to gather the money for immigration. Some were faced with induction in the Romanian infantry right away. They took off without a word and years later, some contacted us to say that they had settled in Salzburg, Austria.
Not everyone could emigrate and these persons had to start over with nothing. In their need, they went to the nobleman Wassilko in Berhometh and begged for lumber, which they received as full or partial gifts due to his generosity. But they had to fell the trees in the woods themselves, thereby learning the laborious, heavy work of loggers and carpenters.
If there had only been enough bread to eat! But there was only a thin, watery potato soup and to have that, one had to go to the Ukrainians, begging or working for the potatoes. One person helped another, however, and thereby the businesses and residences were rebuilt with community effort. Fortunately the school still stood, although the Russians had taken the big clock. The church still stood as well but the fence was gone and the sanctuary interior was in a sad state. But all these matters, with the re-construction of roads and bridges, were resolved with cooperative work.
I want to report an inglorious, troubling experience brought about by need and deprivation in this time. As already stated, we returned home at the end of the war without adequate funds. Many had only their last paychecks. After a time, a Romanian commission in Ispas-Maidan sold off retired cavalry horses. Other men and I purchased a horse which we would need. Now need can break iron. What won't a person do, when there is no bread in the house! So we became smugglers. We bought corn in Senoutz near the Romanian border and drove through the night to Czeremosz on the Polish-Romanian border. The Poles came there and bought it at twice the price we had paid for it.
The pitcher will go into the well until it breaks. One night we were trapped by the Romanian border patrol. They took our eight to ten hundredweights of corn from us and locked us in the jail in Wiznitz for four days. Georg Heuchert, Jr., Christian Kentel, and I were in a room together and in front of it marched a guard both day and night. We received nothing to eat.
One day the guard unlocked the door, put some Romanian money in my hand, and told me to buy bread for him. Apparently he was hungry too. I took the money, went into the city, and bought a long loaf. Since I was hungry, I broke off one piece after another until it was all gone. Of course I couldn't go back to the jail, so I ran to the Bilgrei estate and hid beneath the manger in the stable. I was so tired that I fell fast asleep. All of a sudden, a soldier bumped me with his foot: skolotie, which means "get up, where is my bread?" I had eaten it! He couldn't do anything to me because he wasn't supposed to send a prisoner out to buy bread. He could only be satisfied that he had recaptured me. On the fourth day, we three were released. The corn and the money had gone to the devil! After that we didn't smuggle any more.
Our worst experience during the post-war reconstruction was the big fire catastrophe in June 1938. The fire broke out in the middle of the village and fed by the wind, soon enveloped six farm yards in bright flames. The only help could come from the villagers, who proved themselves as they met the challenge. The livestock which was saved was taken away to be fed; feed and groceries were provided. Since Pastor Mueller was on vacation, I wrote to him and to Bishop Glondys in Hermannstadt in Transylvania, asking for help. After some days, I was called to the post office in Berhometh and received 30,000 lei (the Romanian currency).
At that time a report came from the bishop in which he expressed his concern and said that he had sent the 30,000 lei as initial aid. Katharinendorf's need attracted the attention of the German community in Bukovina.
Der Deutsche Volksrat (the German People's Council) sent clothing, dishes, and money; the newspaper Die Deutsche Tagespost called for cash donations. The results didn't fail to appear.
However, more funds and goods could have been committed for reconstruction. A plea to the county forest administration met with great success: the forest administrator Otto Matthias donated virtually all the lumber needed to rebuild the burned buildings. A small number were supposed to pay 50% of the cost, but the forest staff looked the other way. Therefore, the fire victims received practically all the wood at no cost. Everyone got busy and soon all the farmsteads and homes had been rebuilt.
Difficult economic struggles weren't the only things that moved the hearts of the settlers and filled them with worries. Many came from organized German communities with churches and schools. In this new settlement area, there were only Greek Orthodox parishes. The closest Lutheran parish, Czernowitz, was seventy kilometers away. Something had to happen so that the settlers could master their isolation and preserve their faith and culture. This intention was the foundation of the lease terms, which charged every settler with the duty to support the village school. The school taxes had to be paid as punctually as one paid the rent.
Therefore it was possible to build the first school in Alexanderdorf in 1863, and in Katharinendorf in 1869. The first teacher was not fully trained. For his services, he was later reimbursed with produce from the settlers.
Together Katharinendorf and Alexanderdorf built a parish. They maintained only separate schools which were open to the public after 1910. This was only achieved after the communities met all requirements for this status. Of course this was not achieved solely by local means. Church and ethnic organizations helped a great deal. The Gustav-Adolf-Verein had already donated over 1000 Marks (the German currency unit) to the school in 1895. With exemplary joy and zeal in giving, the members fulfilled their obligations. In addition to monetary offerings came interior furnishings, instructional materials, a library, wood for heating the school, a fence, and more. In spite of strict restrictions by government officials, both schools were maintained until the 1940 resettlement. When one realizes that of the 21 Lutheran schools in existence in Bukovina in 1913, only 5 remained - and two were in Alexanderdorf and Katharinendorf - then one can understand how much the villagers sacrificed for these schools. Without the assistance of the Gustav-Adolf-Verein, both would have collapsed in the initial efforts.
The German schools in Romania were a thorn in the eyes of the government school officials. Especially the Romanian Instruction Minister Angelescu, who Romanized all German schools in the country, could not alter the religious schools because they were supported by the churches. With the help of the church administration, the German People's Council, and the steadfast people in the parishes, we kept our German Lutheran School until the 1940 resettlement. There were those who didn't want to pay the school taxes because they had no children in the school. By strict disciplinary measures unanimously instituted by the Presbytery, these persons were informed that they would be held to their responsibilities. The church taxes could also be collected by the government but that happened only in rare instances.
One could get along with the government's junior school officials. I remember one inspection that went so well that the entry in the record book made a positive influence upon future inspections. This is how it happened: I was in my yard when someone told me that a commission had come to inspect the school. I went up to those men, greeted them and invited them into my home for refreshments. I had previously prepared a stock of beverages and my homemade Swabian bratwursts pleased them a great deal. In the meantime, I sent a message to the teacher, Mr. Wernick, at school, saying that I would soon be there with the inspectors. Mr. Wernick opened the school windows and as we walked to school, we heard Romanian songs ringing out to our ears. As we entered, the inspectors were heartily greeted in the Romanian language. The children spoke Romanian well. The examination was short and good. They asked only a few older students about the growth of plants and then they made their entry in our record book: forte bine, which means very good. Whenever an inspector came, he read that entry, thereby receiving a positive first impression for his visit.
Our first teachers came from Galicia. After World War I, when the borders were closed and the teacher seminary in Bielitz given up, we managed to find teachers in Bessarabia, a region west of us in Ukraine. More about this time has been printed the book Die Geschichte der evangelischen Gemeinden in der Bukowina, written by Pastor Edgar Mueller and then published in 1973.
It was expected as a matter of course that worship services would be held on every Sunday and holiday. Katharinendorf-Alexanderdorf became preaching stations in the Czernowitz Lutheran parish circuit after 1865. The pastor came five or six times a year to conduct the services. If no pastor was present, the teacher would lead the service. And if no teacher was present at Christmas or some other holiday, the parish curator would read the service. There was never a Sunday without a public worship service.
Parishioners worshipped God in a church for the first time when the facility was built in 1908. This changed with the establishment of the Storozynetz parish in 1923, when a call was extended to Pastor Edgar Mueller, who was to become its first and last pastor. Then the villages were visited nine or ten times a year by the pastor.
The worship services were well attended. Eighty to ninety percent of the members were in church every Sunday. If no teacher was present on Christmas Eve and the service was conducted by the curator, there was still a great festival celebration. The traditional Christmas hymns were sung with the children, the Christmas tree was beautifully lit, and worshippers were greatly moved - always an exalted impression from the Christmas scene. When Holy Communion was announced, or confirmation took place, all fellow believers came from Berhometh, Wiznitz, and the surrounding area.
When a child was born, he or she was usually baptized within the next four weeks. The baptism was usually conducted by the school teacher in the parental home. In attendance besides the parents were the baptismal sponsors, the closest family members, and the nearest neighbors. Then followed a family celebration with food and drink into the latest evening hours.
Confirmation was usually conducted when students had completed the seventh school year, when their formal schooling ended. Confirmation instruction was given by the school teacher. The celebration almost always took place on Pentecost because the pastor would be in attendance then. The confirmation examination took place in church but the children did not know what questions the pastor would ask. Naturally they were very anxious about it since they could be very embarrassed. An address by the pastor followed, and then came the confirmation service. It concluded with the celebration of Holy Communion, in which the confirmands could also partake. After this, confirmands were required to attend another year of Sunday school.
The Sacrament of Holy Communion was celebrated three or four times per year. The meal is a holy matter that was also celebrated with great respect and awe. In the distribution, it was evident that our church in Bukovina was either A.B.(Augsburg Confession, i.e. Lutheran) or H.B. (Helvetic Confession, i.e. Reformed). At the distribution of the sacrament, the two or three Reformed families would take a piece of white bread instead of the communion wafer and they shared the chalice with the pastor.
A custom had evolved which was of great importance for community. If two people had something against each other or were angry with one another, they could not go to Holy Communion unless they had previously reconciled in the presence of the church curator, joined their right hands and asked for forgiveness. In this little village, where everyone knew everyone else, no one would to try to receive the sacrament without reconciliation (see Matthew 5:24-25: "[Jesus said], Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.").
Communion preparations were taken quite seriously. When confirmands prepared to receive it for the first time, they asked their parents for forgiveness if they had caused them concern or had refused to listen to them. Fellow believers came from Berhometh, Wiznitz, and the surrounding area for the celebration of Holy Communion. The Ukrainians would also come to church to see the festivities. The candles in the chandeliers were lit and the entire sanctuary was filled will a holy atmosphere.
When two years had passed since their confirmation, boys could "buy into" the youth league. Before that, they could not be out on the streets in the evening hours without the danger of getting a few licks from a stick. The boy did not dare tell about this at home since he would be punished again. The oldest boy was president of the league. When a confirmand wished to buy into the league, he had to contact the president, who would tell him when he could attend the next session of dance instruction, usually at the time of Pentecost, or sometimes at Kirchweih, the church dedication festival. Usually two or three joined together.
At the induction, a potential member had to sit quietly and wait until an older boy brought him a girl as a dance partner. During the dance, the two partners were seized and tossed to the ceiling several times. This was called Stutzen. Then the new inductee was cheered three times. After the dance, the young man had to give out gifts. A keg of beer would be set in the middle of the room and old and young, boys and girls, drank from it. The oldest boy would give a speech in which he made the new members aware of their calling or vocation. They should not denounce anyone, should be decorous and gentlemanlike, greet every older person whom they met, and be friendly and helpful to everyone. After this, the cheer was repeated and the ceremony ended. This is how it took place in Alexanderdorf and in the other villages in the Sereth River valley, Nikolausdorf and Neu-Zadowa. After World War I, this custom faded. The confirmands just had to buy a round of drinks for the other boys and the girls had to donate cake.
When two lovers found one another, the Brautwerbung, or courtship, soon followed. After reaching an agreement with his future bride, the groom went to the bride's parents with his parents and two or three relatives. In this meeting, called the Freierei, the dowry was discussed. The groom would usually receive land, a horse, and a wagon and the bride would receive the trousseau which her mother had been preparing for years. This would usually include one or two cows and an amount of money. If a new house needed to be built for the couple, the parents usually supplied or purchased the building lot. Then the wedding date was agreed upon. The invitations were personally delivered by the bridal couple, or delivered in written form.
Preparations began eight days prior to the ceremony. Neighbors, relatives, and friends prepared pastries and cake, the guests brought butter, chickens, and ducks. Usually a hog would be butchered. A wedding was rarely attended by less than one hundred guests and the celebration always took place at home. In order to accommodate everyone, the big living room was cleared, furniture moved, and chairs and tables pushed together. Naturally a generous supply of beverages was also made ready. An instrumental group played after the wedding dinner and at midnight, the bride's dance took place. Every guest danced one round with the bride and then placed a gift, usually of money, on the table where the bride's mother sat. Then the bride was seated upon a chair in the middle of the room. The young women took the veil from her and sang an appropriate song, relating that the she was no longer a girl or a bride, but rather a wife.
After 1923, weddings were always conducted by the pastor in the village church. The bridal procession made its way to church accompanied by music. Outside the church, the music stopped until the newlyweds exited the church, then it accompanied them back home again. There was an established order for the procession. The bridal couple was in the middle, next to their baptismal sponsors, then die Brautfuehrer (best men), the clergyman, teacher, curator, and the other guests. Everyone took his or her place. Boys and girls came in the evenings with their gifts and good wishes. Then folk songs were sung and there was more singing and dancing until the early morning hours or even later. There was no fighting or quarrelling; jokes and lighthearted bantering supported the happy atmosphere.
Die Totenglocke, or death toll, sounded when someone died. It rang three times for an older person, twice for a younger individual, and once for a child. The deceased was placed upon a bier in a large living room and der Totenbeschauer, or coroner - usually a man from the village - came to prepare the death certificate. When a child died, young girls and boys came in the evening to make a wreath. They stayed until midnight. Only two boys, who had the duty to dig the grave, would remain until dawn. The child would be buried in the cemetery with songs and prayers under the direction of the school teacher. When an adult died, older boys and girls attended the wake. More wreaths were prepared and four men were selected as the grave diggers. Beverages were served and guests remained until dawn, when the grave was dug.
Funeral hymns were sung as the coffin was carried in procession from the home of the deceased to the cemetery. The pastor came if his presence was requested; usually the teacher conducted the service. The grave was closed with more singing and the grave diggers prayed in silence. Then relatives and guests were invited to dem Leichenschmaus, or funeral luncheon, a custom which has been retained. It was intended to facilitate the transition to daily life for the bereaved.
Confirmation was usually celebrated at Pentecost. This was a day in which the entire community participated and many guests came from outside the community. The school room was cleared and decorated with green branches for a dance. Permission for this had to be obtained from the political officials and the church council. The boys were in charge of hiring a band, the church council was responsible for beverages and took over the retail sale of alcoholic beverages so that the profits would go to the church for the upkeep of the school. A tavern keeper was permitted no earnings at this event.
Now this wasn't an easy task for the church council. They had to be the first ones to arrive and the last ones to leave the room. But no one refused to help because the school needed the income of about 3000 lei. There was always order and discipline at these functions so that quiet and peace were preserved. Rarely did anyone disturb the peace and if anyone did, he was unceremoniously evicted.
At Kirchweih, usually November 8, the church's dedication was celebrated. November 8 was also the date upon which we were resettled, the date of our departure from our homeland. The youth league and the church council sponsored Kirchweih. It was our longest celebration.
Once upon a time there had been die Vorkerb, die Kerb, und die Nachkerb in the Galician villages. For that reason, the Bukovina villages settled by the Pfaelzers (i.e. emigrants from the Rhine Palatinate) observed Kirchweih for three days.
In Katharinendorf and Alexanderdorf, dancing only continued until the next afternoon. According to old custom, men who left early were fetched from their homes in wheelbarrows as a practical joke and forced to join in festivities. Afterwards a hot tea was prepared to refresh them.
The church festival was the high point but the harvest fest was a folk festival involving the farmers. The church altar would be decorated with various fruits of the field and garden. The worship service was a joint event for the residents of Alexanderdorf and Katharinendorf. Usually the teacher led the service since the pastor had obligations elsewhere. The church was always full and even adherents of other faiths attended. On this day there were no public dances. If the weather was nice, the young people gathered in a large farm yard. There was no band, just an accordion to accompany the singing of German folk songs and dancing in the open air.
This was also an event that residents of Alexanderdorf and Katharinendorf celebrated together. It always took place by the forest well on a hill in der Hutweide. Folk songs were sung, accompanied by an accordion. A large heap of sticks had been prepared and was lit when evening fell. Whoever wished to do so could jump through the fire but naturally not everyone had the ability to do so. This contributed to great merriment. If anyone got hurt, he also got teased.
Die Spinnstuben, or the spinning rooms, were not continued in the same manner after World War I. The boys still gathered in the evenings in a large room, to which they had been invited by one of the girls. The girls knitted or crocheted, embroidered samplers, or did other handwork. The boys, especially those who had been away to war, recounted their experiences and thereby made a big impression upon their audience. There were also games, especially Hart und Schlag! Of course there was singing, such as "Schoen ist die Jugend," "O Strassburg, o Strassburg, du wunderschöne Stadt," "Gold und Silber lieb ich sehr," and more. There was no quarrelling and no fighting. In the summer evenings, the girls would walk arm-in-arm through the streets after their work was done. The boys would follow. They sang until late in the evening and also played some practical jokes. The older people rejoiced in the young ones and could watch them for hours. On weeknights people also met in various farmyards and there younger girls and boys could join in the fun. People danced in the grass or in the yard to the music of an accordion.
When you walked through the village on a murky night after the rye harvest, you would hear the two, three, or four Vierertakt threshing the rye. One person helped another. The straw was used to bind the oat shocks. During breaks in the work, the threshing floor was used as a dance floor. Here the young boys learned to dance. Exaggerated stories were told, so blown out of proportion that one said, "Just look at the rafters bending!" Some even claimed to know how far the moon or the sun were located from the earth!
The corn cobs were broken from their stalks in the fall, brought home, and dumped on one side of the barn's threshing floor. One evening the boys would be summoned to the Klaka, or husking bee. One sat on the cobs and then tossed the husked ones to the other side of the room. If you got a cob with red kernels, they said you would get a red-haired spouse. This work lasted for eleven or twelve hours, then bread, cheese, sausage, bacon, and schnaps were served. There was a lot of singing with the work and at the end a little dance was always held. At these events, a future bride and groom often found one another.
After both communities were established between 1863 and 1869, the mother church in Czernowitz cared for the congregations. At first the pastor came to Katharinendorf from Czernowitz only once or twice a year. After Pastor Fronius assumed his duties, the pastor came five or six times a year. On the other Sundays, worship services were conducted by the teacher or the curator. There was never a Sunday without a worship service. The pastors of the congregation were Johann Jenkner (1865-1872), Josef Fronius (1872-1915), Dr. Viktor Glondys (1915-1922), Dr. Wilhelm Arz (1922-1923). In November 1923, the first pastor of the united Lutheran parish in Storozynetz, Pastor Edgar Mueller, was ordained and installed. This was made possible after the Siebenbuergische Kirchenordnung, or Transylvanian Church Order, was inaugurated in Bukovina. After this change, there were Filialgemeinden, or circuit churches, in addition to the mother congregations and the united parishes with the same rank or order. The Storozynetz, Neu-Zadowa and Nikolausdorf, Katharinendorf, and Alexanderdorf congregations were united in one parish with the pastor's office and parsonage in Storozynetz. This new arrangement contributed to a more animated church life. Now the pastor came to Katharinendorf nine times per year, which greatly blessed the congregational life. Pastor Mueller was very beloved and respected during his eighteen years of service in the Storozynetz parish.
The church was the center, the carrier, and the umbrella for community life. It was concerned for religious schools in both communities, the prompt recruitment of teaching staff, and the preservation of order in the communities. The day-to-day parish management was in the hands of the curator as was the preservation of the library, the condition of the church cemetery, the fence and condition of the school yard, assistance to those in need, and the observance of various festivals. At the celebration of Pentecost, Confirmation, and Holy Communion, the yards and roads were swept, everything put in careful order, and the church decorated with fresh greens. The preaching was very good and moving, the sanctuary filled with reverence, and one rejoiced to hear the words of the Holy Scriptures and their teachings. After the service, a meeting of the church council was held since the pastor chaired the meetings and gave advice and support in all matters of village life.
The teachers Ludwig Jethon (1875-1895), Wilhem Bretz )1895-1898), and Johann Launhardt (1900-1918) all came from Galicia. Next came Bukovina residents Hugo Buchler (1918-1923) and Ernst Welden (1924). Theobald followed. After him came the Bessarabians: Kehrer, Wernick, and Stuhlmueller. In Alexanderdorf, the teachers were Klein, Walitza, Manz, Laufersweiler, Adolf Heuchert, and finally, from 1929-1940, Johann Launhardt.
Although the relationships with the neighboring Ukrainians were strained after World War I because of the question regarding land ownership (see above), the former good relations were soon restored. This was especially evident in church events, weddings, and funerals.
I often took part in Ukrainian weddings. I always had beautiful horses and since the Ukrainians had the custom of driving to weddings in decorated wagons, bridal couples often came to me and asked if I would drive them to church. This was a great honor and one could not refuse. The horses were decorated with multicolored ribbons. The bride sat in front in the wagon, which was ornamented with a brightly decorated evergreen, accompanied by two Brautfuehrern, or best men, called Droschbe in Ukrainian. Two girls accompanied the groom. The procession went slowly to church but returned at a gallop with so much uproar that one watch out that the horses weren't frightened and cause an accident.
In the bridal home there was music from the balalaika, cymbal, and violin, and if the weather was good, there was dancing outdoors. There was food, but not as much in the poorer homes. In addition to various meat dishes, Mamaliga (corn mush) and holubce (cabbage rolls) were served.
Good relations also extended to funerals. When the coffin of a Ukrainian came to the intersection where the Lutheran church stood, the Orthodox clergyman stopped the procession, read the Gospel lesson, and blessed the corpse. At the arrival and departure of the procession, we rang our church bell. This pleased their pastor and the family and friends of the deceased so much that the pastor always thanked us for the courtesy. Their pastor Boris Arijczuk fled ahead of the advancing Russian army and immigrated to Argentina. We still maintain a correspondence with this friendly gentleman.
There is a great deal to be told about the conduction of the main road through Katharinendorf. On page 518 in the book Die österr.-ungarische Monarchie in Wort und Bild (Vienna, 1899), one reads that the first Landsstraße, or highway, to cross Bukovina from north to south was the 113.4 kilometer Wikow-Militaerstraße (Wikow Military Road), started in the year 1786 and completed in 1809. It leads from the Galician border through Storozynetz to Widow and on to the vicinity of the Romanian border.
The Bezirksstraße, or county road, became popularly known as die Kaiser-Josefs-Straße, or Emperor Joseph Road, which indicates the age and importance of the road. Rows of houses stood on both sides of it in Katharinendorf. It was of great significance for the economic development for both communities. The traffic from Berhometh to Wiznitz had to travel upon it.
After the train line from Berhometh to Hliboka was established in December 1886, it made it possible for the lumber industry to use the railroad in addition to the Czeremosz and Pruth River waterways. Profits were made by the trip to the Berhometh deport, from which at least two daily lumber trains departed to Hliboka, where they made connections to the main Czernowitz-Jassy line. Carrying lumber by horse and wagon was not a light, but rather a dangerous, task without adequate earnings for the hauler.
Of those who built the roads and canals, only one remained alive in my time. This was an old man named Ignathi Klappi whose wife Natasia reached the age of 105 years. As a boy of eleven or twelve years, I herded the cattle on the pasture and would see him sitting on a bench with his old pipe. Often I sat with him and he told me that his people, die Lipowaner, had built the road. He would point in the direction where they had lived on der Lipowanerstuecke. He also told that he had been in the war and fought near Belgrade. On his sardak, or wool coat, he wore a silver medal with a red band. He said that none of the Lipowaner remained, that he was the only one left but he saw his end approaching. The light had gone out of his eyes; his cottage was an old log cabin. His father, he said, had still been a barbok, a boy, when it was built. The cottage was covered with old straw thatch overgrown by moss. The raw timbers were unfinished and worm-eaten. It had sunk into the ground up to its little windows. One had to stoop in order to enter. In one corner stood an old schorna, or handmill. On the wall was an icon, scarcely recognizable through broken glass. There was a bitsch, which was a combined cooking stove and sleeping place. A mighty old pipe hung in a corner.
My father had purchased the remaining land from him but I don't remember the price. Every other day I had to take a pail of milk, a loaf of bread, and corn meal to Ignathi.
When he died, my father escorted him to the Ukrainian cemetery. His wife Natasia died shortly thereafter. Then the old cabin was burned. He was the last Lipowaner in Katharinendorf. I can still picture him sitting on the old bench, a blind man with a full red beard.
Major events cast out their shadows. As the first Russian tanks rolled out from Czernowitz through Storozynetz to the Sereth River, one knew that this was it, the time about which there had been whispers and murmurs: the Russians occupied Bukovina up to the Sereth and the Germans were resettled to Germany. Arbitrariness and confusion prevailed until the Umsiedlungskommission, or the German resettlement commission. The Romanians were conducting military maneuvers when the Russians surprised them and gave them three days of free passage in which to depart. Business and traffic stopped. One couldn't buy anything. One heard about arrests, mostly based upon denunciations, all of men who held some kind of office.
We Germans had the protection of the German Consulat from the first day of the Russian entry. To prepare for any exigency, in spite of a prohibition against it, we butchered livestock and prepared supplies for ourselves. We knew that we were supposed to be resettled but the month-long wait seemed to last a year. Hard times came. We all went; we all had to go. Who would have wanted to remain in the chaos?
On November 8, 1908, our church had been dedicated by Pastor Fronius. On November 8, 1940, we left our homeland, the home ground, the inheritance we had received from our ancestors, the community life, the security, the fields, forests, and silent valley, everything we had loved and valued from earliest childhood. The sense and spirit of community was ripped apart. Goodbye, my homeland! One doesn't feel the connection with the homeland as strongly as when one is amongst strangers.
I was the last to leave. At 11:00 in the night of November 8, 1940, I left with a final look at the church, the tower with its cross pointing to heaven like a raised finger.
In Berhometh on the Sereth, we were loaded into cattle cars and the trip began in the dark night. At the next depot, Lukawetz, we were joined by the Nikolausdorf residents.
A number of Ukrainians and Jews stood upon the depot platforms and could not understand how one could leave the homeland, the birthplace. Our Jewish boy Schloime Schaerf bit his fingers til they bled, threw himself on the ground, cried and screamed in a terrible manner. Our trip took us through Czernowitz, Stanislau, and Przemysl, where we changed trains.
After two days we arrived in Bielitz in Upper Silesia at about 12:00. The Catholic nuns and the camp administration awaited us at the depot. They divided us between three camps: Hildegartkloster, Notre Dame, and Bursa. Upon arrival, we received a piece of bread and some tea, then were directed to our rooms. Two or three families were generally assigned to one room. We laid down upon the plank beds and had one blanket to lay upon, and another for a cover.
Exhausted from our journey, we soon slept. At 6:00 we had a wakeup call. Aha, we said, we're in Germany.
Much has already been written about the fate of those resettled, their expulsion, and their flight. I want to report a little about this time because different things happened everywhere.
The camp leaders were SS men who were very stern at the beginning. No one was allowed to go into town. Guards were posted as though we were prisoners. These conditions prevailed until we created a riot. After four weeks, the situation eased somewhat but we had to be back in camp by a certain time.
In the evenings, we had to go to a room and learn German songs. First we learned "Auf der Heide blueht ein kleines Bluemelein." We looked at one another from the corners of our eyes and laughed; apparently these people thought that we didn't know any German songs.
We, the young men and boys, arranged to get into the room faster next time so that we could sing our songs from back home before the leaders could present something else to us. We stood together and sang "Am Brunnen vor dem Tore," "Wie lieblich schallt," "Gold und Silber lieb ich sehr," and more. The entire camp administration and all the nuns appeared all of a sudden and listened to us. They opened their eyes wide as they listened, obviously amazed that we knew so many German songs. From then on, they were seemed to be more friendly to us.
On Christmas Eve we gathered in the room and sang our traditional Christmas songs from back home. In the presence of the camp administration, I gave a little meditation regarding the significance of the festival and emphasized that only through our church and school had we been able to preserve our German language and our German ethnicity.
After six months of camp life, the day of settlement finally came. Apparently the evacuation of the Poles from the farm we were to occupy had not proceeded according to schedule. These Polish farmers often had to watch as German settlers took possession of their farms.
This wasn't a happy time for the Germans. Many didn't want to enter the neglected houses and the barns were unspeakable since the manure stood about one meter high (supposedly so that the livestock wouldn't be quite as cold in the winter).
We were placed in three villages: Wilkowitz, Opatow, and Valenzow. In spite of tears in view of the sorry situation, we went to work right away in the attempt to make our new property habitable. We were allowed to use 50% of the funds we had deposited with the Umsiedlungskommission to obtain farm machinery and buy seed, and to repair homes and buildings. This was heavy work. Sometimes one received the assistance of a work troop composed of Jews and prisoners of war. Construction took place everywhere.
The soil wasn't bad; it was sandy and easy to till. There were good crops, especially of rye, potatoes, barley, and Lupinen. We tried to raise corn and in spite of warnings from the Poles who said, "to nie bedze," or "it won't amount to anything," we received a good harvest. After three years of rebuilding in which we invested our energy and abilities as well as our money, the farmsteads were completely transformed. If one talks about the destruction caused by war which devastated the Poles, one should also consider this reconstruction of agriculture and industry.
We cannot disregard the psychological effects upon the evacuated Poles who were permitted to remain in the village or in the area, taking up residence with other Poles. One could not be happy in this "new world" while the vexed faces of the Poles were always before us. Envy and the desire for revenge had been awakened in them although neither we nor they were to blame for what had taken place. This dangerous situation produced its victims. On November 8, 1942, our countryman Georg Heuchert, who was born in 1900 and had operated a grocery store in Wilkowitz, was shot by Polish partisans before the eyes of his own children. The murder took place while his wife was at a neighbor's house. A year later, our lively countryman Josef Lindenbach, born in 1904, was shot in the yard of the farm which had been assigned to him near Klobuck. Others murdered by the Poles included the settlers Johann Dressler (born in 1913 to Georg Dressler), Edmund Gross (born in 1924 to Wilhelm Gross), and Maria Gross (daughter of Johann Wilhelm Gross). All were killed in 1945.
No one thought that we would have to leave these places so soon. On January 14, 1945, in the midst of a cold winter, we had to flee before the Russian invasion. We went west with horse drawn wagons. On February 16, 1945, we reached the city Eibenstock in the Erz Mountains. Shortly before the front collapsed, the Wehrmacht took our horses and wagons, conscripted the men in the Volkssturm or in the Wehrmacht. Many lost their lives in these final hours; others landed in prison camps. After the collapse, the refugees moved to the Saxon plain, mostly in the area of Meissen, since there was little food in the Erz Mountains. Most risked the flight to the west and it was good that they did so. One was compelled to take refuge with farmers in order to obtain food for one's family.
And now came a tragic chapter in our history: the manner in which we were treated upon our refugee flight. It was a matter of bare survival. One sought a roof over one's head, even if it was a poor one, just so that the pangs of hunger might be stilled. This could be found with farmers. They treated us like workers from the east although our work in agriculture was very much in demand. The humiliating conduct of the occupying forces was demonstrated, for example, when the refugee workers consumed their meager food in a corner, while before our eyes, the farmers' tables were spread with all kinds of delicious things. We were told that there had been a war and that Germany was starving. But that wasn't true. We refugee farmers knew that the barns were filled with cows and pigs, that the granaries were full, but that they didn't want to give anything from their supply.
Many of our people moved further west where they settled in Darmstadt, Augsburg, Stuttgart, and other cities. But what was a farmer supposed to do? There was a general food shortage but one couldn't obtain a farm even though they were desperately needed. At this time, there were no opportunities for retraining so one could only work as an unskilled laborer in industry. Later one could buy a farm, but by then our young men were trained artisans and didn't want to farm. The farmer was an alien being in the city. He became even more stupid, the stupid farmer. I write these lines because I myself was a farmer and had to undergo these things. I could write a lot about what our Germans learned and experienced. There was no place of glory as had been described to us.
Today our people live mostly in West Germany, East Germany, and across the ocean in the U.S.A. and Canada.
I. When we were resettled in 1940, we arrived in the camp at Bielitz-Biala. One day I went into the town and across the entry to a bakery, saw a sign: Karl Glondys. I was curious and thought that since we were short of bread in camp, I should go inside and under the pretext of making inquiries regarding the name, manage to obtain some bread. So I entered and behind the counter stood a man of average size. He asked what I wanted. I told him that I recognized the name Glondys since we had a bishop with that name in Romania. He asked me various things about the bishop: if he was popular with the Lutherans, how did he preach. I thought that there must be a relationship between him and the bishop. The man took me into his living room, asked more questions and then, when I was ready to leave, gave me a loaf of bread and said that I was not to tell anyone about it since he was not to give out bread unless presented with a ration card. Of course we didn't have ration cards. If I was in need again, he said, I should return and he would give me more. I still didn't know if there was a relationship between him and the bishop. Before I resettled in Upper Silesia, I went to him to say goodbye. He gave me two loaves and wished me good luck.
Only later did I learn that he was a brother of our bishop. The family of Karl Glondys was Roman Catholic.
II. In 1916, Bukovina was occupied by the Russians. We had been detached from the first line of battle at Asiero-Asiago to the reservation since our battalion had been destroyed. In the reserves, I received a postcard from an acquaintance in my village. He wrote that my family had fled and that my wife and children were in Neumarkt-Kalham in Upper Austria. I could hardly believe it but went to my company commander Herrmann, showed him the card, and requested leave. Sure, he said, take fourteen days.
I left right away and early the next day I arrived in Neumarkt-Kalham. I met the teacher Launhardt enroute to the sport hall, where he taught in the school for the refugee children. He asked me for tobacco - I didn't smoke in those days - and I gave him an entire packet. He said that Dr. Glondys held worship services for the refugees on Sundays. So I went to the service, one soldier among the many residents of Katharinendorf and Alexanderdorf. Afterwards Dr. Glondys came up to me and talked with me for an hour about the conditions on the war front. I was a corporal then and could tell a lot about the dangers and the perils on the front, where one would be in action for three or four days without provisions because the mess kitchen couldn't get to all the units.
III. When I returned from my leave in Upper Austria, my regiment was on the Rocheta by Riva on the Gardasee. In the rocky outposts, my train joined a company of the Tyrolean Kaiserjaeger, or imperial hunters, who were under the command of Luis Trenker, then a first lieutenant. He was born on October 4, 1892 in St. Ulrich in the Groednertal and now resides in Gries neaer Bozen. Once I wrote to him on his birthday and in return, received a beautiful large picture as a reminder of our comradeship during the war in Italy. Pastor Mueller read the letter from him and saw the picture that he sent to me.
Sanctioned by the German-Soviet Pact of August 1939, the Soviet Union issued an ultimatum to the Romanian government on June 26, 1940, regarding the transfer of northern Bukovina and Bessarabia. A few days after this, the Russians crossed the border at various locations. My father, Dipl.-Forsting. Otto Mathias, had already learned from reliable sources that the cessation of northern Bukovina and the Russian occupation were imminent.
On June 27 or 28, 1940, my parents agreed to avoid the dark future prospects by fleeing to Siebenbuergen (Transylvania). We loaded our car with foodstuffs and other important things and started our journey. My parents and I - their youngest, age seventeen - went to Storozynetz in our overloaded vehicle and from there intended to escape to the south. At this time, my older brother Paul was in Transylvania to complete his year of military duty.
We stopped in Storozynetz to say goodbye to our relatives, especially the family of Pastor Mueller. The optimistic reports and signs from Czernowitz - for example, the German and Soviet flags flew side by side on the city hall there - prompted us to prolong our stay in Storozynetz while we awaited developments.
We took up lodging in the parsonage. The company of family members in one location calmed us in these uneasy days; hope grew. Therefore our father decided to drive alone back to Berhometh with our wagon on June 30. He wanted to survey the situation there and also obtain supplies such as fat, sausage, and flour, from the generous provisions of the forest administration. He would transport these things to Storozynetz to improve the dietary conditions in the parsonage.
The trip and its planned intentions took their desired course but during his return to Storozynetz, my father was stopped by the Russians, who searched the car and confiscated everything.
Dusty, sweaty, tired, he arrived in Storozynetz the next day. He was wiser in experience but poorer in the loss of the car. We were just happy to have him back with us.
At that time many did not realize the full range of potential consequences, that the next few years would produce unavoidable causalities of ideals and materials. After about eight days, we decided to return to Berhometh. The return to our own place seemed to be an obvious choice. The resettlement from our familiar home would follow.
We rented a car and had an uneventful journey, which appeared to be peaceful and safe. Soon we realized we had been deluded. In the next night, my uncle Erich Mathias, the older brother of my father, was arrested by Soviet troops when he returned from a visit to an acquaintance. He was imprisoned in a warehouse of in the residence of Duke Wassilko in Berhometh.
Apparently he had been taken in place of my father, who a short time later was led out of our home in his pajamas and slippers and incarcerated in the warehouse. I was the third shoved into the same warehouse at the point of Soviet bayonets. A hearing took place in the early dawn hours. It could not be proven that we had attempted to flee from the new regime. Our trip seemed to be more in the nature of a visit to relatives, and the return to Berhometh supported that. The significance of my father's tenure as the Berhometh mayor in the arrest is uncertain. We were all released in the course of the morning but this proved to be only a limited respite.
Another internment followed on the next day. The entire upper floor of our house was requisitioned and occupied by a Russian colonel and his staff. Their motorized vehicles were placed in our garage, barn, and outbuildings. Many vehicles were enclosed, with darkened glass. They appeared sinister, intended for use in arrests and deportations.
My father became careworn and suspicious in this new situation. He told me to take the bicycle and inconspicuously make my way to Unter-Lukawetz and there await news from him in the Wassilko estate office and distillery during the next day.
In the opinion of the estate manager Jakob Landwehr, my presence could not remain a secret there so I was moved to Nikolausdorf, where I was hidden in the home of the teacher Josef Hargesheimer.
The next day I received a message from the estate manager, saying that my uncle Erich was very upset and had taken off in a hurry. Also, he reported that my parents had apparently managed to flee during the previous night. I rode my bicycle to Czernowitz in a great hurry so that I could clarify my position in the consulate. They would certainly have obtained information about events in the meantime.
My parents had left at midnight with a small backpack filled with only the basic necessities. Unnoticed, they had entered a corn field through the rear of the orchard. Earlier a board had been loosened in the thick fence so that they could slip through it.
In the night and during part of the next day, they passed through the Slavez and Bahna woods to the home of the Ukrainian woodcutter Stefan Berneck, who also belonged to the Wassilko forest administration. His family took in my parents. With their help and that of Ukrainians and Germans, my parents reached Nikolausdorf in the next days.
Next they wanted to go to Seletin via Szipot and Szurdin, and thereby reach Romania.
After extensive inquiries, they learned that to cross the border in a southerly direction with a guide who was familiar with the area would entail considerable risks. The Russians had put up barbed wire obstacles at the marked borders as well as at possible crossing points. The entire border region was patrolled by military police with guard dogs.
For that reason, my parents gave up their plan and instead decided to try to reach the area of jurisdiction controlled by the German Consulate in Czernowitz.
With a horse drawn team, they returned unnoticed to Storozynetz and took up residence in an attic of the Zimmer family home. They had to assume that the parsonage was under surveillance so they stayed away from it. After eight days with the Zimmers, my parents managed to relocate to the Catholic orphanage "Josefinium" in Czernowitz with the assistance of its principal, Father Goebel. There they were well-protected.
After my arrival in Czernowitz, I lived with relatives in various parts of the city. No one could allay my concerns about the well-being of my parents but one day I finally learned that they were safe and had arrived in Czernowitz.
Now they were cornered: their whereabouts had to remain a secret at all costs. My cousin Joachim Strohal was my guide and using a well-planned secret route, we managed to reach the hiding place of my parents in the Josefinium. After all the anxious days apart, we were finally able to hold one another in our arms. It had gone well!
My father took on a disguise as a custodian in the event that Russian officials would happen to come to the house. In the seclusion of the Josefinium and with its quiet and restful atmosphere, my parents recovered from their experiences. Furthermore, the physical and nervous stresses had visibly affected my mother.
This hiding place was known only to a few trusted relatives and friends until shortly before we were resettled at the beginning of September 1940. We wished to avoid any further danger.
Note: + indicates that the person died after leaving Katharinendorf
On November 8, 1940, 324 persons in 77 families were resettled:
Two Ukrainian boys, Kordiak Lazar and Galenetsch Kosma, were also resettled but both died in the war.
Note: + indicates that the person died after leaving Alexanderdorf
On November 8, 1940, 163 persons in 31 families were resettled:
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