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:

Andrei Balzer Friedrich
Grandfather - Franz Balzer
1917 1988
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
Susanna Faust   1878 1963
Maria Rachel David 1880 1959
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
George Gutschmidt George 1914 199?
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.


Amalia Hanschu
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
Bogdan Kelln      
? Kraft, grandfather of Victor above      
Victor Graf   1904 1975
George Strickker
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
? Peil      
David Meier      
George Kyle Heinrich November 16, 1902 June 3, 1981
Alexander Erhardt Gottfried January 24, 1950 November 1, 1979
David Maier Gregory    
Victor Maier, brother to David above Gregory    
Alexander Nuss Lederna 1931 1976
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
Adam Mai   1914 1973
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
Jacob Schwindt   1924  

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 translation follows.
[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
? Wolfe      
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

Paulina Born
Gottfried September 7, 1913 November 18, 1993

Reingold Berg
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
Reinhold Hammermaster      
Elizabeth Leirichl Samue April 19, 1918 January 21, 1995
Amalia Neb Adam 1919 1995
Alexander Schmidt Friedrich 1907 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
Maria Schultz Gottfried 1925 1993
Amalia Eichman   1910 1992
Adolph Klein Reinhard 1925 1992
Alexander Schmidt Karl January 9, 1918 August 8, 1992

Victor Will
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
Peter Greb Andrew 1911 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
Anna Spahn Joseph 1910 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
Maria Sabelfelt   1907 1987
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

Lydia Will
Constantine April 22, 1963 December 17, 1986

Amalia Stein
Gottfried September 27, 1910 November 1, 1987
Catharina Eichmann   1904 1987

Amalia Schultz
Johann November 17, 1918 February 23, 1988

Victor Galihardt
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
? Popfenhein      
Maria Riffe l David July 3, 1903 April 7, 1990
Gottfried Klein      
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 Schwemmer
David August 15, 1927 July 20, 1982

Amalia Bauer
David January 31, 1906 August 2, 1982
Victor Wollert Reingard 1941 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
Maria Minor Peter 1893 1983
Gustan Sabelfelt   1896 1983
Vera Schneider Alexander October 15, 1931 May 21, 1988

Vladimir Schneider
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

Maria Kvindt
David 1894 1981

B. E. Heffel
  1929 c. 1980 unreadable
Anna Hamermeifoer   1909 1980
Lydia Schmidt Reingard November 25, 1907 December 27, 1980
Rosa Ginter Gottfried February 23, 1917 January 25, 1984
Maria Weimer David   1985
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
Anna Schwemmer   1875 1968
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
Anna Steinle Reinhardt 1905 1969
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
Victor Ginter George 1905 1971
Amalia Ginter, same marker as Victor Ginter above Andrei 1901 1973

Amalia Schmidt
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

Karl Batz
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

Oxana Hendredz
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
Alexander Miller   1987 1987
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
Rosalia Klester Gottfried 1918 1965
Friedrich Schultz Gottfried 1900 1947
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
Anna Müller   1877 1935
Andreas Miller   1900 1932
Lydia Miller, same marker as Andreas Miller above   1898 1989

Emma Schultz
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

David Bei
Gottfired March 19, 1911 May 2, 1987
Alexander Kwindt Alexander 1919 1964
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.

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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