Lower Volga Village Project
Russian Trip ~ May 2001 by Ed Hoak
In May of 2001, Ed Hoak made a trip to Russia to visit Saratov and the ancestral villages of his grandparents in the lower Volga Region. This was a second trip for Ed. The first was in 1997 with wife, Charlotte, also as part of a John Klein arranged tour. Ed's main interest was the birth villages of his grandparents, Holstein and Stephan and other villages within the Galka and Stephan parishes. The group all met at Kennedy Airport in New York City for a Finnair flight to Helsinki.
In Moscow the group was met by Irena of Intourist. She was the same guide as the previous trip. She took the group on a short tour through Moscow from the International Airport to the domestic airport. The domestic terminal in Moscow is under renovation and is being nicely done. It now looks like any other western terminal.
The flight to Saratov was on Saratov Air, Saravia. The flight was much improved from last time with cleaner planes, more friendly flight attendants and a very good meal. The flight arrived about 10:00 PM and everyone went to the hotel where dinner was waiting. It was good, with bierocks, stuffed pork, French fries, a cucumber salad and a hot fish dish. This time the group stayed at the Slovokia Hotel by the Volga River Bridge.
The group toured Saratov, Trinity Cathedral, around town, Lenin (theater) Square, and WWI Monument. It is very meaningful to Saratov residents, many who lost friends and relatives during the war. The bus dropped the group off at the market, and we then walked along German Street. The market is very well stocked and crowded. The produce looked especially good.
The evening included a visit to a resettlement village. Pavel, a farmer who relocated from Kazakhstan, hosted the tour group in his newer brick home. His wife prepared a dinner with an excessive amount of food, which was all good. His daughters and son plus son-in-law who operate a brewery were there. The manager of the resettlement project came to make comments. The house is small but new and well kept. The family has a sizable garden space. Pavel is a farmer and appears to be successful.
On May 19 at 9:00 AM, prearranged cars with drivers and interpreters were waiting for individual trips to the villages. Dick Kraus and Ed were in one car driven by a man named Yura Bartenev and an interpreter, Elena Oginskya. We went southward on highway P-228 toward Kamyshin, which is about 180 kilometers away in the Volgograd Oblast. The road is paved, two lanes, and is rough although the driver maintained a speed of 120 to 140 kilometers per hour for the most part.
Near Kamyshin, the road to Alexandertal leaves the main road and goes to the west about two kilometers. Alexandertal is a daughter colony founded in 1853. Some of the early settlers came from villages of the Galka and Stephan Parishes. Alexandertal sits in a small valley and at present is a small settlement of about twelve, mostly older houses. Some of the houses are of the earliest vintage and are made of wood and remain unpainted. Later houses appear to be made of a material similar to stucco and painted white or white washed. All the roofs are corrugated metal of the type often seen on farm sheds in North America. Most of the houses are about the same size, roughly forty feet by twenty feet, single story. Indoor plumbing is rare.
The main road to the village from the highway is two-lane and paved, but once in the village the streets are dirt. There is only one small street running through the village with small roads, more like paths, apparently running off toward the fields. There is little left to show that the 1912 population was reported to have had 1,000 inhabitants. The village appears smaller than most other villages and does not seem to have been a headquarters for a collective farm. There were no cars in the village and not much of what looked like farm machinery. A horse-drawn, rubber-tired wagon was observed being driven out toward a field. A woman named Anna Etsel was visiting her family in Alexandertal. Anna was very pleasant and helpful. Her family lived in a newer house made of light colored brick. It had the typical corrugated metal roof. She was not German but her husband, Paul, who was born in Schuck, was. Paul was in Siberia in the Labor Camp where he worked on a farm. In 1984 Anna and Paul moved to Germany. Anna is back in Alexandertal for two months to visit her children and grandchildren. She has ten children, eight still alive, and four grandchildren. One son and one daughter live in Alexandertal.
There are no other Germans now living in Alexandertal. There never was a church there, and before 1941 people went to Rosenburg for church services. There is a small cemetery. There are recent German burials of Fedor Horst, father Fedor, born in 1908 and Ekaterina Lauman born November 12, 1924 and died February 2, 1969, buried next to her husband, Florian son of Andrei Lauman, born October 30, 1925 and died May 26, 1984. All of the old grave markers, those before the 1960s, have been removed. Anna Estel says this is due to neglect over time and not necessarily an attempt at malicious destruction.
Rosenberg, also called Umet, is just a few miles south of Alexandertal. It is also just off the main highway to the west. It currently appears to be a more thriving town and much larger with a population of about 2,000. Rosenberg is also a daughter colony having been founded in 1852. In 1912 it had a population estimated to be 3,000. Rosenberg had a collective farm that is now in a state of disrepair and decay. The remnants of the farm buildings are quite large indicating the collective must have been substantial at one time. The housing stock runs from older wooden houses to brick houses and two-story apartments. A few of the streets are paved but most are only dirt. There is a city hall and a post office. There were a few cars in the village but not many. One appeared to be a later model American made car.
John Klein had an envelope to be delivered to Rosa Martin. After driving all over town and asking for Rosa Martin without success it was decided to stop by City Hall to see if anyone there had heard of her. There is a post office in the City Hall and a woman, Marta Tur, was working. She said she knew Rosa Martin and in ten minutes when she got off work she would show the way. But her name was not Rosa Martin but Martinov, which is why no one knew of her. Many of the former residents of the German villages are trying to adopt the Russian ways and become more integrated into Russian society. Rosa Martinov is a nice lady. She listed some of the German families living in Rosenburg. There are Dalingers, although some moved to Germany; Hildermann, born in Rosenberg; Hauser; Schweigert, who moved to Germany; and Weidman.
The Rosenberg Cemetery is on a hill near the collective farm overlooking the village. It is a fairly large cemetery but only more current burial markers were found. Three German graves noticed were: Ignat Lambrecht, father Peter, born February 2, 1909 and died February 20, 1991; Hilda Maier born August 17, 1916 and died March 6, 1998; and Alexander Schneider born 1925. There are undoubtedly more German graves but a thorough survey of the cemetery was not made. After returning to the main road the driver continued southward toward Kamyshin. He turned eastward at the north edge of Kamyshin and picked up the main, two-lane road that was paved northward all the way to Stephan, about forty kilometers to the north. The road passes through the villages of Dreispitz, Holstein, and Scherbatovka to Stephan.
A paved road turns off the main road to the east just north of Dreispitz toward the village of Galka on the Volga. Galka is about ten kilometers off of the main road. About half way the road turns to all dirt, actually more sand than dirt in some places. Luckily it was dry on this day as the road is impassible on rainy days. The road descends the last three kilometers or so as it approaches the Volga. Galka is a small village on a bluff overlooking the Volga River. It is an absolutely beautiful setting with the Volga being about five to ten kilometers wide at this point. It is so wide that it looks more like the edge of the ocean.
The map of this area refers to this part of the Volga as Volgograd Reservoir. It can be speculated that this is part of the Volga where a dam was put in and that part of original Galka is now under water. Further research will be needed to confirm that.
Galka is a headquarters for a collective farm, but it is not doing well. There are older wood houses and stucco houses. The wood houses are similar to those in the other nearby villages. They consist of either wood beams about five inches by seven inches, similar to a log house, or boards about one inch by six inches. The houses are about twenty feet by forty feet, usually as a rectangle but often with a room addition attached or a summer kitchen detached. The wooden houses are almost always left unpainted except for the window shutters that are painted in various shades of blue. Occasionally the shutters and trim above the windows would be elaborate and have raised designs painted in white trim. The stucco houses appear to be newer and may be made of an adobe type of material. They are most often painted white. The newest houses are made of light colored brick. Also there are new, very large, brick, two and three-story houses that were built with help from the German Bank for resettlement from Kazakhstan. They look more like executive houses. It could not be determined why they had been built so large.
There is a group of buildings that look like an old North American motel. They are of fairly recent vintage, built of light colored brick and metal siding with a flat roof. A sign on one in Russian and German says, "German Hotel". The buildings currently are being used as normal residential housing.There appears to be hot water pipes, which are about two inches in diameter, running through the village for central heating. This was unlike other villages. The major cities have a central heating plant, but this is not often found in the villages. All of the village streets were unpaved.
Lena and Karl Maier are the only Germans now living in the village. She was born in Dobrinka with a maiden name, Shirer, and he was born in Kraft. Lena and Karl have a total of eight children. A son went to Germany and daughters, one who pointed the way to the Maier's house, still live in Galka. The Maiers lived in one of the old German houses. They had a summer kitchen that had a small cook stove. Lena was making her own sour cream that was incubating it at the time. They had a large garden and fruit trees. Their back yard and garden was fenced. Lena was picking off potato bugs when we first found her. Dick Kraus told her he helped do that as a boy in Kansas and offered to help, but she declined.They said there used to be German families by the name of Shiller, Shick and Miller living in Galka but they all went to Germany.
Karl and Lena both worked on a farm and mill in the Urals during the deportation
period. This is not in Siberia, but there was not much difference. There were
about 800 people working on the farm. Lena and Karl met and got married while
they were in the labor camp. They said their time there was difficult as they
did not know the Russian language. They are the only German people who appeared
bitter when discussing the experience. The Maiers came to Galka in 1971.
Back to Saratov
It was the intention to continue to Schwab and Shcherbatovka after visiting Galka. The driver, Yura, asked the locals if there was a better route to go to Schwab instead of going back to the main road. He was told about a route along the Volga River that would save many kilometers. The road can more aptly be described as a dirt path. At first things went well and a first ravine was crossed without incident. The second ravine was not successful. There was an earthen build-up of the roadway about twenty feet high across the ravine. About half of it had been washed away on one side with just barely enough room to get a car through. The driver avoided the side that was washed away and as a result favored the soft side of the road that was unstable. The car lost traction and started to slide down into the ravine. Each time the car moved it slid down the side a little bit more. After much conversation and encouragement the driver walked about five kilometers back to Galka to get a tractor to pull the car out. He did find a farmer with a large tractor after much searching in Galka and after returning was able to extract the car. By the time this was all done it started to get dark and it was decided to return to Saratov, which was about 11:00 o'clock. Schwab and Shcherbatovka would wait for another day.
On May 20, Ed left at 8:30 with the interpreter, Anna Dreiyetska, and driver, Galena, in a Zhigulia car made in the Volga Automobile Factory. It was in excellent shape. Galena worked for Intourist but spoke only limited English. She was about forty-five, an excellent driver, and very helpful. Anna was doing a post doctorate project in English studies at the University. She was the project manager. She had been to Germany and Portugal in her previous college work. Her father is an engineer and her mother is now retired. Retirement is fifty-five years for women and sixty for men in Russia. Anna's family, who were ethnic Ukrainian, had lived in Harbin, China before the revolution. As a result, the family was discriminated against by the Soviet government and suffered during the period of Stalin's repressions the same as the German-Russians. One grandfather died in prison. Her father worked in the Trudarmy. The reason they were in Harbin is that the great grandfather worked on the Russian-China railroad during construction and remained there afterward as an executive. It is now called the Trans-Siberian Railroad.
The driver, Galena, turned off the main road just south of the Saratov Oblast and Volgogorod Oblast border and went directly to Stephan. It was about thirty kilometers to Stephan across dirt roads and through farm fields. The road went through another village on the way that may have been Neu Miller.
The road approached Stephan from the west and the cemetery was immediately visible. The cemetery was of interest to determine which German surnames returned to Stephan after the deportation period. The cemetery was well maintained and in good condition. German names in the cemetery included Miller, Born, Wassenmiller, Nuss, Guttschmidt, Balser, Weinbender, Huber, Schwindt, Faust, Rachel, Tomme, and Mai. The German graves were easy to see as the headstones faced the rising sun while the orthodox headstones faced the setting sun. On occasion, a German grave would be according to Orthodox tradition. Only the tombstones for burials after the 1970s were there. The tombstones for earlier burials were all destroyed. A Mrs. Ulrich, who was tending graves, said it was done after the deportation out of spite. An effort was made to document the burials in the Stephan Cemetery. The names usually appear as Russian on the headstone but have been written in German as best as can be translated. The father's name is from the Russian patronymic naming convention. Here are the ones that could be identified as German:
Grandfather - Franz Balzer
|David Weinbender||George, from Holstein||May 29, 1916||1990|
|Maria Huber||April 29, 1902||November 22, 1922|
|Lydia Siehwrdt||David||July 18, 1926||October 20, 1989|
|Alexander Tomme Farakezie||October 22, 1958||May 12, 1994|
|Olga Mai||Ivan||October 15, 1914||March 12, 1999|
|Anatoly Miller, from Stephan
||Viktor||November 26, 1926||July 25, 1974|
|Fedor Born||Fedor||October 6, 1927||May 3, 1992|
|Minna Wassenmiller||Peter||May 5, 1927||November 3, 1974|
|Alexander Nuss||Andrei||March 10, 1906||January 7, 1970|
|Amalia Nuss ?||October 6, 1913||October 27, 1998|
|Paulina Gutschmidt||Fedor||January 24, 1916||December 16. 1979|
|Alexander Ulrich||Alexander||November 19, 1924||June 16, 1994|
|Alexander Ulrich||Alexander||November 20, 1949||December 7, 1998|
|Alvis Ekkes||Alvis||January 22, 1915||October 27, 1994|
|Alexander Schultz||David||September 17, 1956||June 5, 1989|
|Karl Hedricks||David||May 1950||June 22, 1989|
Hildermann was living in Stephan but he left and had died later in Germany. There was also a Fritzler family who had moved to Germany. A woman, named Elena Petrovich Ulrich, was tending her husband's grave in the cemetery. She was from Pfifer. Her maiden name was Rodenreich. Her father is buried in Dietel and her mother in Siberia. She had six children. One died, another lives in Germany, and the others are here. She was asked about Shcherbatovka and indicated that the town just to the south was the correct one and said it used to go by the German name Mühlberg.
She mentioned a Weisrobert who was from Stephan originally. Attempts to talk with him were not successful. His wife said he has bad asthma and did not want to talk with anyone. She said a Lutheran minister visited the village last year and gave her a hug when he found out she was Lutheran. Weisrobert's surname is Wassenmiller. His wife is Catherine Mink from Neu Messer; her father was Johannes Mink. Before 1941 there was a brick school on the hill that became an orphanage. They tried to tear it down and found it difficult due to good construction. The village church is no longer there and the site is now the burial tomb of a director of the village (collective) farm from 1944 to 1956. A white obelisk about six feet tall that is enclosed by a lath and a wire fence marks the tomb. A plaque says he died in service.
There is a village hall (council) building, a library, a store, a club, a large school, a post office, and several abandoned collective farm buildings in town. The village hall is a one-story structure of masonry construction with a typical metal roof. The building is about thirty feet by fifty feet with a metal decorative fence along the front and at the entrance. It is on the main village square with the club and library, a two-story flat roof structure made of concrete and brick. There is a large, mostly paved, parking lot. On the other side of the square is a memorial to those who died in the civil war (the Communist Revolution) and the Great Patriotic War (World War II).
The village store is a concrete single story building about sixty feet by thirty feet. There are three independent merchants in the building with separate entrances. One sells clothing, the others groceries, mostly candy, more like a convenience store. The post office is across from the store in a whitewashed concrete building that is about twenty feet by forty feet. In general, the town is in poor condition with a mix of old German houses and newer buildings. The older houses are made of wood and look like those in other villages. They are typically left unpainted except for the shutters. There are two or three two-story apartment buildings with several units each. They are made of brick and appear to be about thirty or so years old. They are not in particularly good condition so it is difficult to determine the exact age. There is an area of town that has new light colored brick houses that appear to only be about five years old. It could not be determined if these were resettlement houses. There is only one paved street other than the main road to the town. Stephan has a fairly modern school building with an adjoining soccer field. The Russian spelling of the name for Stephan has changed and is now Vodno-Buyerachnoye.
Shcherbatovka has the main paved road from Holstein and Stephan running through it. It is mostly an unpaved one street town other than that. It has a small store that appears to have been one of the older wooden houses which has an enclosed entry vestibule added to it. The town sits in a little valley about seven miles from the Volga River. The road to Schwab is at the south edge of the village. The village was founded June 15, 1765 as one of the original Mother colonies. By 1912 it was reported to have had a population of 4,500. An estimate of today's population would be closer to 500 to 1,000.
The spelling and pronunciation is different than Shcherbakovka, a Russian town three kilometers away on the Volga River. Shcherbatovka is pronounced with the emphasis on the "bat". Shcherbakovka is pronounced with the emphasis on the "kov". It was unclear whether or not the original spelling was Shcherbakovka or when it may have been changed. It was verified that the town had at one time been called Mühlberg.
A German woman named Frieda Miromova was found who described the town. Her maiden name was Rowe and she is from Schilling The German people living there are: Rowe, Kelln, Hanshu, and Graf. Berta Kelln had left for Germany with his family. Frieda Miromova's daughter is married to one of Berta Kelln's sons.
All the mills have been torn down. The church was destroyed about sixty-five years ago. It was at the north end of the main street. The Winter family took their old house which was by the mills and had it moved to the village itself. The collective farm buildings look abandoned and the collective no longer exists. At one time the collective had about 1500 animals: cows, sheep, pigs and chickens.
The German Bank in Saratov built new houses at the south end of the village and gave resettlers from Kazakhstan a house and land. People say the money was wasted and there is jealousy with the old residents. The new houses have everything - running water, electricity, and they have nothing. These new houses are made of light colored brick with red brick trim and two stories, with the second story being in what would be considered the attic. It would appear that there is hot water for heating coming from a central plant. The size of the houses is roughly thirty feet square sitting on about an acre of land. Some of the older residents are trying to survive by raising watermelons for sale. The people raise big gardens.
German names in the cemetery include: Wassenmiller, Winter, File, Faust, Kraft, Kelln, Graf, and Strickker. The following were taken from headstones in the cemetery that could be identified as German.
|David||January 6, 1919||May 20, 1996|
|Robert Wassenmiller||Karl, Robert was a cousin to Weisrobert Wassenmiller in Stephan||January 21, 1916||July 13, 1996|
|David Winter||David||July 13, 1903||July 3, 1995|
|Alexander Winter, grandson to David Winter above||Raymon||November 17, 1951||January 12, 1993|
|David File||David||July 10, 1938||July 9, 1995|
|Reinhold Winter||David||May 28, 1930||August 20, 1989|
|Bogdan Wassenmiller||Bogdan||July 1, 1904||August 28, 1988|
|Berta Winter, wife of David, mother of Reinhold||November 7, 1902||May 26, 1986|
|Maria Faust||Friedrich||June 18, 1909||October 2, 1992|
|Anna Faust, sister to Maria above||Friedrich||August 8, 1902||November 8, 1992|
|Victor Kraft, died on the day he was married from a motorcycle accident||Alexander||March 23, 1963||July 14, 1990|
|? Kraft, grandfather of Victor above|
Wife - Catherine
|April 22, 1903||March 25, 1975|
The village of Holstein sits in a valley of the Kalaninka Brook. The town goes up the hill from the main road until it reaches the cemetery and site of the old church, which has been torn down. From the cemetery you can see the village of Galka and the Volga River to the east.
The driver first stopped at the house of Ida Fritzler and found that she had moved to Volzhskiy, near Volgograd, about three years ago and is living with her daughter. Her maiden name was Maier. Her son is still living in Holstein in a house that is identified as Relke on the Holstein map but is a newer house. A photograph of Ida Fritzler and Allen Schneider taken in 1995 by the Schneider's was given to Ida's son. He said that she was coming for a visit in June and would give it to her.
Since Ida was no longer home, an attempt was made to find David Kelln across the street. His daughter, Natalie Erhart, was working in the yard and she got David. Ed had met David on a previous trip. David was given a map of Holstein. He was very appreciative to get the map, and spent a long time discussing it and the village. It was interesting to note that Natalie called her father "Pop". David had been deported to Siberia with his family in 1941 when he was seven years old. He later worked in the labor camp in the mines. He said the only original Holstein families still in the village are Mai, Kelln, Fritzler and Erhart. There is also a Schmidt family from Upper Dobrinka, Dreispitz.. David's father was Friedrich and his grandfather was Adam. His mother was Susanna Yauck. The maiden name of Natalia's mother-in-law was Wittmann.
The cemetery was destroyed after the deportation in 1941 and the only burials are after about 1960 when the Germans were allowed to return. The cemetery is laid out such as to have the German burials along the west side and the Orthodox graves along another fence line at right angles. Each of the graves has a metal fence surrounding it. The old graves are within the fenced cemetery enclosure, but not marked in any way. It looks more like an open field. David felt the church and cemetery were destroyed out of meanness. David and Natalie visited the cemetery with Ed Hoak as he copied the German names on the tombstones. The names found were Meyer, Steak, Peil, Kyle, Erhardt, Nuss, Fritzler, Krum, Mai, Gritzfeld, Shaf, Schwindt, Leber, Kailman, and Schulte: The inscriptions are written in Russian, and an English, German translation is as follows.
|Alexander Maier||Karl||February 18, 1958||November 11, 1990|
|Adam Steak||Rudolph||November 1952||November 10, 1988|
|George Kyle||Heinrich||November 16, 1902||June 3, 1981|
|Alexander Erhardt||Gottfried||January 24, 1950||November 1, 1979|
|Victor Maier, brother to David above||Gregory|
|Olga Peil, maiden name Hildermann|
|Jacob Fritzler, husband of Ida|
|Friedrich Peil||Adam||March 13, 1912||April 6, 1990|
|Alvina Kelln, wife by civil marriage to Friedrich Peil above||Samuel Usinger||December 25, 1908||January 20, 1975|
|Alexander Krum||Bogdan||February 29, 1928||June 4, 1974|
|David Gritzfeld. Some of his children are now in Germany, some in Volgograd||Alexander||December 25, 1910||May 10, 1971|
|Victor Shaf||David||April 16, 1931||August 24, 1968|
Vladamir Schwindt, son of Jacob above
|Jacob||January 24, 1948||April 17, 1967|
|Anna Martin, mother of Jacob Schwindt above|
|Maria Erhart||Gottfried||April 12, 1902||February 24, 1984|
|Henry Erhart, father of Natalie's husband, Director of Collective before the war||Gottfried||June 7, 1900||May 10, 1937|
|Margareta Meier, mother to Ida Fritzler, Nurse in the hospital before the war||Konrad||June 23, 1897||April 19, 1985|
|Vladimir Leber||Heinrich||January 7, 1955||August 26, 1985|
|Jacob Kailman||November 6, 1932||April 6, 1993|
|Andrei Schulteis||Alexander||December 5, 1989||July 22, 1993|
|Alexander Nuss||September 7, 1929||March 30, 1997|
|Vladimir Nuss||April 8, 1927||April 3, 1998|
|Leroska Nuss||January 19, 1963||February 3, 1999|
David's house had a big garden and in good condition for one of the old original wood houses. It is unpainted except for the shutters and window trim being blue and white. The inside is very neat with a carpet on the floor and stuffed furniture in the living room. The house was very cool inside even though it was a warm day. There were several photos of family on the wall. A solid-wood, horizontal-board fence about five feet tall surrounds his garden area.
The Hildermann, schoolmaster, house is no longer there, nor is the "Soldat"
Kelln house or Ruf house. Fortunate for Ed that he had made a first trip four
years earlier. The house of his great-grandmother's family, the Gritzfelds,
had been destroyed in the meantime and now only the foundation remained. Ed
had taken several photos of this house on the previous visit. There is a Village
Club that shares the schoolhouse and a hospital in which the doctor has a flat.
The club is for social activities, meetings, and children's arts and crafts.
Even though the town streets were unpaved and the town appears rustic, the people
all dress nicely. The children, especially the girls, dress like they are going
to church even on a weekday.
Natalie Erhart insisted that we see her house before we left town. It is just off the main road near the highway. The house is a newer white brick one with red brick trim that looks very nice. The original part is about thirty years old and has been expanded recently. She is very proud of the fact that her home is the only one in the village with indoor plumbing and running water that comes from the brook. She has a very nice garden with vegetables and fruit trees that she had to show off and chickens and two dogs. They seem to be doing well. David and Natalie said that the Monnenger family was their best friends when they lived in Holstein. They have since gone to Germany. The older Hildermann lady, the Monnenger mother, has since died. We gave Allen Schneider's Monnenger family photos to Natalie and David. Natalie says she loves living in Holstein and has absolutely no interest in going to Germany. Natalie explained that the Russian name for Holstein is now Kulaninka and is no longer Kulalinka. It is not known when the change was made. The main road sign at the edge of the village confirms the new spelling. The sign looks to be several years old. Across the road from Holstein is a settlement of new houses, which have been financed by the German Bank for resettlement returnees from Kazakhstan. These houses are not considered to be part of Holstein.
The group had dinner at the hotel in Saratov. It had rained very hard in Saratov that afternoon but none of it fell in the lower villages. On May 21, The driver again used the Dobrinka Farm Road cut off which was paved two-thirds of the way then not much more than loose sand for the remainder. It joined the paved road just south of Dreispitz.
Dreispitz appears to be a thriving village. It is just off the main road with the street to the center of town paved. All the other streets are dirt. The town in called Upper Dobrinka in Russian to separate it from Dobrinka, which is called Lower Dobrinka in Russian, and is on the Volga River. The town is in a small valley and appears to have been a headquarters for a collective farm. The collective buildings are at the western edge of the village and are in a very bad state of repair and appear abandoned. There is a large modern brick school. The village store is a small masonry structure with bars on the windows. The library is a small red single-story brick building about the size of one of the houses. It looks fairly modern. The church is no longer there. [Visitors to Dreispitz in 1993 showed the church without its steeple was a community building.]
A woman who was walking along the street said she knew a German couple by the name of Klein who were originally from Dreispitz who came back to Dreispitz after the deportation. She took us to meet them. The Kleins were about eighty years old. They said though we should meet with Martin Kaufmann who had never left Dreispitz. This was curious as to why a German would remain there. Only German women who had married Russian men were allowed to remain in the village and not be deported to Siberia and elsewhere. Martin Kaufmann, who was now about eighty years old, was in fact taken to Siberia during the deportation to work in the Labor Camp. After five years there, he just up and left and returned to Dreispitz where he has continued to live since. It is unclear why nobody reported him. Both Mister Klein and Martin Kaufmann were nice people. Mister Klein has his papers to go to Germany and Martin Kaufmann wants to stay in Dreispitz. They had a friendly argument as to which is best. Kaufmann said Klein would be sorry and he would be back. He said there was an old woman in Dreispitz who talked too much and if she went to Germany, then they would all stay.
The church has long since been gone. However, there is a minister in the village who holds Sunday services in his home. The parishioners apparently don't sing as they don't want to disturb the neighbors. It is hard to imagine a German church service without singing.
They indicated other German families now in Dreispitz include: Schneider, Klein, Fritzler, Schultz, Steinle, Kaufmann, Kwindt, and Schmees. The Dreispitz Cemetery was quite large and about half of the burials were German. There are no older markers noted. German names in the cemetery include: Kwindt, Vil, Svedsish, Wolfe, Doos, Weigand, Kozel, Teder, Retzlov, Ruf, File, Haak, Bekker, Kopp, Schwabbauer, Bauman, Dawer, Schmidt, Born, Berg, Schultz, Helwer, Lundgrün, Hammermaster, Neb, Dahlinger, Schneider, Miller, Hoffan, Eichmann, Klein, Hinter, Weiberg, Greb, Schweitzer, Sokolovski, Steinle, Wunder, Telwa, Sabelfelt, Keller, Eckhart, Shira, Naam, Walter, Galohardt, Stein, Will, Beitz, Heidt, Riffel, Beihsel, Bellentier, Meyer, Schwemmer, Bauer, Wollert, Rayt, Minor, Sabelfelt, Stol, Heffel, Geg, Breg, Ekk, Herbel, Bei, Müller, Hamermeifoer, Ginter, Winer, Kaufmann, Reilke, Reingard, Batz, Hendredz, Neubauer, Maks, Hertz, Berngardt, Klester, and Wensrich. The Wensrich name was interesting as it is not known that they were ever in the Volga area. The grave was of a child who died at birth. The family has since left for Germany.
The headstone inscriptions are for the most part written in Russian. The rough
[Bracketed names are possible alternate spellings.]
|Alexander Kvindt [Quindt]||Victor||March 3, 1949||September 2, 2000|
|Emelyan Vil (Will?)||Ivan||May 21, 1929||August 20, 2000|
Nina Svedsish [Zwetzig]
|Vacili||August 21, 1945||May 22, 2000|
|Alvina Wolfe||David||December 2, 1926||April 19, 2000|
|Amalia Doos [Foos]||Johann||April 30, 1913||March 6, 2000|
|Ivan Weigand||George||August 24, 1936||November 8, 1999|
|Maria Weigant||Alexander||December 30, 1935||? 29, 1997|
|David Wolfe||David||January 6, 1924||January 7, 1998|
|Victor Kozel||Heinrich||April 1, 1938||January 21, 1998|
|Paulina Teder||Konstantine||March 8, 1911||April 15, 1998|
|Vladimir Retzlov||Nicholai||December 24, 1961||May 28, 1998|
|R. A. Walter||October 5, 1939||June 4, 1998|
|Friedrich Ruf||Heinrich||July 1, 1912||July 3, 1998|
|Alexander File [Feil]||Alexander||January 26, 1939||August 2, 1998|
|Friedrich Kaufann||Martin||July 13, 1923||December 16, 1998|
|Ivan Haak||Joseph||September 1, 1925||June 6, 1997|
|Heinrich Bekker||Heinrich||June 22, 1914||May 28, 1997|
|Aphanacie Kopp||Anthony||August 12, 1927||October 21, 1996|
|Andrei Retzlov||October 3, 1984||June 21, 1996|
|Alexander Schwabbauer||Jacob||April 15, 1916||January 14, 1996|
|Olga Bauman||Jacob||July 7, 1922||October 4, 1994|
|Andrei Dawer||Andrei||February 3, 1956||October 19, 1993|
|David Schmidt||Andrew||February 13, 1924||January 30, 1993|
|Gottfried||September 7, 1913||November 18, 1993|
|Peter||July 15, 1937||December 5, 1993|
|Maria Schultz||Gottfried||December 12, 1929||December 20, 1993|
|Alexander Schultz||Alexander||July 7, 1923||February 27, 1994|
|David Schultz||Gottfried||June 9, 1930||March 19, 1994|
|Victor Galihardt||Gottfried||August 6, 1958||April 5, 1994|
|Olga Helwer||Reingalt||November 10, 1915||October 9, 1994|
|Leopond Lundgrün||George||April 2, 1939||November 10, 1994|
|Elizabeth Leirichl||Samue||April 19, 1918||January 21, 1995|
|Karl Dahlinger||Friedrich||January 18, 1913||January 1, 1996|
|Adam Schneider||Alexander||January 23, 1942||February 24, 1996|
|David Miller||Heinrich||October 2, 1923||June 21, 1996|
|Valentine Miller||Eminoil||October 20, 1949||August 19, 1996|
|Amalia Hoffan||Ivan||April 26, 1908||September 10, 1996|
|Alexander Schmidt||Karl||January 9, 1918||August 8, 1992|
|Ivan||June 11, 1932||August 3, 1992|
|Eugene Ginter||Victor||September 6, 1926||April 20, 1992|
|Alexander Herbel||David||April 23, 1906||October 22, 1991|
|Maria Weiberg||Andrei||May 29, 1928||September 5, 1991|
|Victor Schweitzer||Adam||September 25, 1953||May 19, 1991|
|Johannes Sokolowski||Fedor||January 23, 1902||July 4, 1990|
|Amalia Miller||Gottfried||May 9, 1927||February 26, 1990|
|Alexander Steinle||Alexander||April 17, 1923||December 29, 1982|
|Miena Schweitzer||Adolph||December 20, 1956||September 15, 1989|
|Amalia Ruf||David||August 22, 1913||August 6, 1989|
|Catharina Wunder||Ivan||August 24, 1911||April 5, 1989|
|Catharina Telwa||Vicilie||November 4, 1949||January 25, 1988|
|Anna Keller||Philip||April 11, 1898||July 14, 1987|
|David Sokolovski||Andrew||April 13, 1908||November 29, 1984|
|Marie Eckhart||Friedrich||December 28, 1919||January 28, 1985|
|Alexander Shira||Friedrich||October 7, 1910||September 22, 1985|
|Alexander Naam||Michael||August 12, 1927||January 1, 1986|
|Lydia Schultz, maiden name Beisel||Reingart||May 27, 1895||March 9, 1986|
|Vladimir Walter||Alexander||March 31, 1936||March 11, 1986|
|Peter Bekker||Peter||May 2, 1926||May 16, 1986|
|Anna Galahardt||George||May 30, 1930||August 9, 1986|
|Lydia Maier||Alexander||December 2, 1931||October 31, 1986|
|Alexander Schultz||Reingardt||September 16, 1906||February 9, 1989|
|Maria Schultz, same marker as Alexander Schultz above||Martin||March 10, 1907||November 3, 1987|
|David Klein||Peter||April 18, 1923||December 6, 1986|
|Constantine||April 22, 1963||December 17, 1986|
|Gottfried||September 27, 1910||November 1, 1987|
|Johann||November 17, 1918||February 23, 1988|
|David||March 11, 1955||April 12, 1988|
George Bill (Will?)
|Peter||January 7, 1908||July 14, 1988|
|Pauline Bill, same marker as George Bill above||Johann||April 18, 1914||September 2, 1990|
|David Beitz||David||December 24, 1953||July 25, 1989|
|Gottfried Heidt||Gottfried||December 25, 1929||October 6, 1989|
|Maria Riffe||l David||July 3, 1903||April 7, 1990|
|Erne Will||Jacob||January 19, 1933||January 18, 1993|
|Emma Sokolowskai||Martin||June 8, 1908||September 20, 1997|
|Maria Klein||Reingard||July 15, 1939||November 14, 1996|
|David Steinle||Alexander||January 12, 1938||July 23, 1993|
|Maria Schultz||Andrei||February 30, 1908||May 2, 1988|
|Alexander Beihsel||George||February 10, 1957||May 26, 1988|
|Amalia Bellentier||Friedrich||May 29, 1906||April 22, 1987|
|Reinhard Lundgrün||Reingard||June 14, 1905||March 22, 1987|
|Maria Maier||Andrei||July 27, 1904||December 28, 1986|
|Vladimir Schneider||Albert||July 11, 1960||February 5, 1981|
|Ella Schultz||Alexander||September 3, 1931||July 8, 1981|
|Vladimir Schultz, same headstone as Ella Schultz above||David||May 3, 1961||May 3, 1986|
|Albert Schmidt||Karl||February 14, ????||September 18, 1981|
|David Lundgrün||George||October 25, 1910||January 15, 1985|
|Anna Schmeer, same marker as David Lundgrün above||Christopher||June 25, 1918||October 10, 1981|
|Anna Klein, maiden name Busch||March 18, 1910||March 29, 1991|
|Fedor Schneider Andrei||1912||1982|
|David||August 15, 1927||July 20, 1982|
|David||January 31, 1906||August 2, 1982|
|Anastasia Rayt||Vacilli||October 9, 1908||July 30, 1978|
|David Wolfe||Adam||October 20, 1901||February 25, 1983|
Julianna Wolfe, same marker as David Wolfe above
|Fedor||September 29, 1901||July 21, 1987|
|Vera Schneider||Alexander||October 15, 1931||May 21, 1988|
|Jacob||October 11, 1957||December 2, 1983|
|Maria Catrina Stol, maiden name Haas||December 26, 1904||November 25, 1983|
|David Heffel||David||January 31, 1932||December 5, 1983|
|Andrei Schmidt||Andrei||December 19, 1893||February 4, 1979|
|Mari Schmidt, same headstone as Andrei Schmidt above||Raymond||August 1, 1896||October 27, 1984|
|Gottfried Galliard||January 24, 1900||December 21, 1980|
|Mina Galliard, same headstone as Gottfried Galliard above - maiden name Heinze||January 2, 1902||October 11, 1878|
|Maria Greb||Andri||April 12, 1914||January 16, 1978|
|Amalia Steinle||Jagor||June 11, 1903||October 20, 1977|
|Klara Ekk||Andrei||February 10, 1951||September 26, 1977|
|Lydia Shira||Gottfried||May 23, 1904||January 14, 1978|
|Lydia Herbel, maiden name Lundgrün||November 9, 1909||February 10, 1978|
|Reinharad Herbel, same marker as Lydia Herbel above||June 12, 1909||February 1, 1990|
|Maria Bei [Bay]||May 19, 1888||February 2, 1978|
|Alexander Bei||Bogadan||July 10, 1887||January 5, 1933|
|Gottfried Galliardt||May 18, 1923||January 11, 1985|
Alexander Galliardt, son of Gottfried Galliardt above
|Gottfried||October 17, 1954||July 24, 1979|
|Amalia Vollert [Wollert]||Reingard||June 14, 1880||October 14, 1979|
|Anna Müller||Reingard||March 24, 1897||December 13, 1979|
B. E. Heffel
|1929||c. 1980 unreadable|
|Lydia Schmidt||Reingard||November 25, 1907||December 27, 1980|
|Rosa Ginter||Gottfried||February 23, 1917||January 25, 1984|
|Maria Bei||David||August 25, 1902||September 12, 1985|
|Alexander Walter||Johann||January 17, 1908||September 4, 1975|
|Eva Walter||Bogadan||June 12, 1909||April 27, 1983|
|Amalia Heidt||Fedor||September 11, 1903||September 30, 1974|
|David Schultz||David||April 24, 1936||January 31, 1973|
|David Miller||David||November 2, 1934||November 20, 1972|
|Karl Kaufmann||Konrad||July 3, 1906||May 26, 1972|
|Paulina Kaufmann, same marker as Karl Kaufman above||Martin||May 30, 1905||April 26, 1981|
|Lieda Müller||Reinhard||April 27, 1911||February 7, 1970|
|Heinrich Galliardt||August 2, 1902||September 26, 1969|
|Marie Galliardt, same marker as Heinrich Galliardt above||Friedrich||December 1, 1902||July 16, 1994|
|Emma Klein||Johann||September 17, 1926||July 14, 1969|
|Gottfried Rul [Ruhl]||Gottfried||February 5, 1904||March 18, 1968|
|Catherine Rul, same marker as Gottfried Rul above||David||April 10, 1902||March 16, 1980|
|Andrei Ekk||David||October 18, 1930||January 8, 1968|
|Alexander Schneider||Heinrich||June 26, 1914||May 3, 1981|
|Olga Schneider, same marker as Alexander Schneider above||Bogadan||February 19, 1915||July 6, 1970|
|Victor Heffel||George||February 12, 1929||August 2, 1971|
|Amalia Ginter, same marker as Victor Ginter above||Andrei||1901||1973|
|Bogadan||October 6, 1902||March 31, 1978|
|David Schmidt, same marker as Amalia Schmidt above||Bogadan||December 31, 1900||August 23, 1976|
|Arthur Reibke||Gustav||March 3, 1936||January 25, 1979|
|David Heffel||Bogadan||May 15, 1924||September 4, 1983|
|Vladimir Reingard||Dameon||June 25, 1935||May 27, 1979|
|David Schultz||Fedor||May 16, 1934||August 18, 1976|
|Andrei||December 24, 1923||June 19, 1976|
|Alvina Bekker||Alexander||July 19, 1988||October 25, 1988|
|Albert Doos [Foos]||Vladimir||August 3, 1996||October 18, 1996|
Konstantine Reffel [Riffel]
|Robert||October 31, 1987||February 25, 1995|
|Victor Kvindt||Fedor||February 5, 1936||January 31, 1973|
|Anatoly||June 16, 1988||February 27, 1993|
|Friedrich Neubauer||August 6, 1992||August 31, 1996|
|Vladimir Maks||Vladimir||August 2, 1983||September 15, 1989|
|Irena Hertz, twin||Jacob||April 9, 1995||April 9, 1995|
|Christina Hertz, twin||Jacob||April 9, 1995||April 9, 1995|
|Victor Wensrich||Andrei||February 14, 1987||February 14, 1987|
|Eugene Graf||January 14, 1976||July 25, 1980|
|Victor Ekkardt||Vladimir||August 18, 1976||August 11, 1978|
|Anna File||Peter||June 7, 1897||December 30, 1967|
|David Meyer||Andrei||June 19, 1940||November 16, 1967|
|Maria Ekkardt||Gottfried||1891||September 27, 1966|
|Friedrich Berngardt||Heinrich||August 24, 1889||April 3, 1965|
|Maria Bergardt||Gottfried||1880||October 20, 1968|
|Maria Schultz, same marker as Friedrich Schultz above||David||1900||1967|
|Frieda Schultz, same marker as Friedrich Schultz above||Friedrich||1926||1966|
|Catharine Vollert||Andrei||January 8, 1902||March 15, 1968|
Alexander Vollert, same marker as Catharine Vollert above
|Alexander||May 29, 1903||February 19, 1987|
|Andrei Walter George||1891||1957|
|Ivanovica Walter||Johann||January 20, 1917||December 26, 1987|
|Lydia Miller, same marker as Andreas Miller above||1898||1989|
|Alexander||April 1, 1911||May 2, 1961|
|Alexander Schultz||David||August 25, 1910||July 7, 1972|
|Gottfried Galliardt||Gottfried||June 5, 1914||June 8, 1988|
|Gottfired||March 19, 1911||May 2, 1987|
|Bogadan Galliardt||David||July 25, 1887||March 6, 1916|
|Amalia Galliardt||Andrei||November 17, 1888||December 8, 1976|
|David Galliardt||Bogadan||June 8, 1929||November 7, 1966|
Graves in the Dreispitz Cemetery seemed to be arranged in rows by the date of the burial. There were several where husband and wife were together and on occasion a child. As a rule children seemed to be together in a separate part of the cemetery. The Russian Orthodox graves were interspersed with the German graves with no apparent pattern. The headstones were missing from the older part of the cemetery although the older portion was enclosed within the main cemetery perimeter fence and seemed to be treated in a respectful fashion. The dates on the headstones prior to the 1970s seem to be later additions and more of a memorial nature. The person may be buried elsewhere or in the older portion of the cemetery. The interpreter, Anna Dreiyetska, was very helpful in identifying the German burials. She spoke German and was able to distinguish the German names and pronounce them properly. In many cases the Russian transliteration of a German name was difficult. There is no Russian letter for "H" for example. A name such as Ginter written in Russian could be Ginter or Hinter. Reingard is likely Reinhard. Rul is probably Ruhl. Anna said the name Andrei is probably Heinrich. Extreme care should be taken with spelling variations. If it sounds right, it is probably the correct name regardless of spelling. You will undoubtedly note that over time Russian influence has changed the German names and naming conventions.
There is a paved, two-lane road that runs from Dreispitz about five kilometers down to Dobrinka that is on the banks of the Volga River. Dobrinka was the first of the colonies to be established, June 29, 1767. In 1912 it had grown to a population of 5,400 people. The old church is still there but it is badly decayed and in major disrepair. Ruins would be a more appropriate term. The ruins indicate the church must have been a grand structure at one time. The ruins still stand a large two stories tall with very large columns. No windows remain and the roof appears to be gone. It looks like it was a brick structure painted white. The church site overlooks the Volga River in the center of Dobrinka. There is a school building nearby and a small wooden structure that belongs to the school. The school is a large white two-story masonry structure that appears to be modern, guessing about twenty-five years old or so. The smaller wooden structure along side the school in outward appearance is similar to the wood houses so common in the villages. It may have been the original schoolhouse for Dobrinka. Dobrinka has a small store, which is a small white brick structure that seems to have been built as a store. It looks like a commercial building. It also has a large mental hospital, made of white brick. It has one and two-story wings around a courtyard. There is a building near the main downtown that looks like one of the old, unpainted, wooden houses that houses the German Museum. It appeared to be closed for the day but is very well maintained, indicating it is probably being actively used.The village club is in the downtown area. It is a two-story, white brick structure with an attached structure that is white brick on the first level and unpainted wood on the second level.
The village like most others has a mixture of older wooden houses and stucco
houses. The new resettlement houses being built by the German Bank in many other
villages were not evident here. A new eight-inch water main is being installed
through the main part of town. There is evidence of a collective farm but its
status could not be determined. There are what appear to be maintenance buildings
for farm equipment as you enter the village and these seem to be in service.
The streets other than the main one remain unpaved. It seems to be a thriving,
clean, little town. The current population is estimated to be 2,000 - 3,000.
While in Dobrinka near the school and store, a loud speaker on a pole was playing music from a radio station for the whole town to hear. It would appear this was a carryover from an earlier time.
Time was short so there was no attempt to find German families in the village or to visit the cemetery.
The road to Schwab goes to the east off the main road about a half-kilometer south of Shcherbatovka. A road may not be the proper term; dirt path would be more appropriate. At times the road was little more than a trail through farm fields. It was about eleven kilometers to Schwab, which is nestled in a ravine along the banks of the Volga River.
In total there appear to be about two dozen houses with little evidence the town was ever much more than that even though Koch says the 1912 population of the village was 2,300. Schwab, which was founded July 8, 1767, was one of the original Mother colonies. There does not seem to have been a collective, although the road to the village passed through expansive farm fields. Very few of the fields were planted into crops. There does not seem to be a store or any other community buildings. There is a small cemetery at the edge of the village. Schwab is so far off the beaten path it is difficult to tell what is keeping it going. It is a pleasant setting along the edge of the Volga though.
Time did not permit stopping to talk to the local residents or visit the cemetery. It was late and it was necessary to return to Saratov for dinner.
AN OVERALL IMPRESSION
Throughout the villages, one gets the impression that people have a rough life. The economy doesn't seem in good shape, but the attitude of the people is surprisingly upbeat. The houses and gardens of the German people are clean and well maintained. Everyone dresses nicely. With all these people have gone through in the last century, they still have a great sense of humor and remain upbeat. Everyone was helpful, outgoing and friendly without being forceful. They usually mentioned family members they heard about who had gone to America but had since lost contact. Even when discussing the deportation, with one exception, they tell the story in a matter of fact fashion without bitterness, as it was a life event they lived through and they have moved on. If only we all could approach life with such a positive attitude.
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