18 June 2022

Christina Through Time

In search of locating the earliest map of the Beresan Catholic daughter colony Christina (today Novosafronivka, Mykolaiv Oblast, Ukraine) by its coordinates, I noticed something: the name “Christina” did not appear on maps until the 1940s.

Reportedly founded in 1874-75 or 1878-79 (German Captured Documents) or 1891 (Mertens and Ortslexikon), the oldest appearance of the village by its name Sofronowka that I found initially was on an 1860 map.

A quick search of the Black Sea German Research database confirms people were born in Christina in between 1860 and 1943, not only in pedigrees but also in EWZ records. Earliest death in the same database was 1875. Another search for Sofronowka shows even more between roughly the same years, most of which called the place Nowo-Sofronowka. 

I began to look for Sofronowka/Christina on older maps and found it on ones from 1805 and 1796, before Germans were settling in the Black Sea area. Certainly before there were any daughter colonies. 

I searched the Ukrainian language version of Wikipedia for its current name, Новосафронівка. It said the village was established in 1796, matching the publication date of the oldest map, and the sign on the way into town

Further into the German Captured Documents is a page about the history of Sofronowka:


     Some of the German inhabitants come from the Rhine Palatinate and Alsace. Some of the old landlords emigrated to Germany, Serbia and Bulgaria in 1918. S[ofronowka] used to be a rich village; the least landlord in the village owned 15 ha [hectares, ~37 acres] of land, the second least 25 ha [61.78 acres]. The richest landlord, Jakob Loron, had 300 ha [741.32 acres]. The village had to endure several waves of persecution because of its wealth. In 1918, the villagers often left their belongings in a bundle and fled. At the bridge of Vossnessensk, some Germans were murdered in a cruel way by the Bolsheviks (sawing off hands, cutting out eyes etc.). Some Germans had stayed behind to protect the goods of the fled landlords. They took care of the cattle, etc. Franz Reisenau and Alexander Schüler from S[ofronowka], about 30-32 years old, were shot as spies by the Reds while protecting the estate. At the mill in S[ofronowka] a Hertner and others from Felsenburg who had been taken to S[ofronowka] were shot. 

     The second persecution started in 1930. A number of ethnic Germans were forcibly resettled to Arkhangelsk. The third wave of persecution began in 1937. A number of ethnic Germans were arrested and sent away. It is not known where they were sent. This was the worst year.

     In 1941 some men were arrested and taken to Nikolaev. It is said that they were shot there by the NKVD. 

     It was founded in 1874-75 by immigrant landlords from Karlsruhe. The land was bought by the widow of a nobleman with the first name Christina. The newly founded village was originally called Neu-Sofronowka. (After the nearby Ukrainian colony of Old Sofronovka). However, a few years later a German pastor changed the name of the village, and it was called “Christina” after the widow of the nobleman. This name has been preserved in the folklore until today. The later change of the name by the Soviets to New Sofronovka did not change it.

     In 1906-07, a beautiful Gothic church was built for the Catholic community. It is said that it was the most beautiful one in the whole region. The building costs were 15000 rubles, which were raised by the community. Today the church is destroyed, but it is still possible to see from the ruins and from the whole complex that the church, situated on a dominant hill in the village, was extraordinarily magnificent. In the village there was a family who had their estates (chutors) outside and lived in the village. One of them was called Tomas Anton and he had an estate of about 1000 hectares [2471 acres].

     In the village still lives an old teacher named Johann Bär, 69 years old, who knows a little about the history of the village.

     The village today makes a desolate impression because a large number of the farms have been destroyed. The ruins still stand above all. The valley, crossed by the Elanez River, is now a wasteland. In the past there were orchards everywhere. Today the village is inhabited by 48 German families, 15 of which are of mixed marriages. There are also 11 Ukrainian families living in the village. The inhabitants are well aware of their Germanness, but they are extremely poor. The most necessary repairs have been made to the houses, and some of them have been painted and repaired. However, due to the fact that the old dilapidated place and farm buildings are still standing, the village has a desolate appearance. The planned resettlement of the inhabitants to Dobroje is postponed until the morning. There is a German school in the village, run by 2 teachers and attended by about 30 students. The mayor is Rochus Müller.

Sources and Further Reading:

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