04 June 2024

New Video: German Settlers of the Black Sea Region (Thickets)

In my inbox this morning was a link to this new video by Thickets (Huschi) titled “German Settlers in the Black Sea Region.” Many thanks to Dmytro Yesypenko, Research Assistant at the Kule Folklore Centre and PhD candidate at the University of Alberta, for making me and several of my colleagues aware of it.

The video is well done. Honest and raw about the historical narrative of those who lived in the Odesa area, what it was like, what’s left there now, who among those who occupy the old German houses even knows about the history.

The question of “founding” or “renaming” Odesa struck a bit of a chord with me. In my own research, I've found German colonies on old maps that were there under another name before they were “founded” per Karl Stumpp. Where did the original residents go before the Germans were moved in? Who were they? There are many historical narratives competing in Ukraine. The Russian narrative is just of them, albeit the most destructive one at the moment. Stumpp, the “father of Russian-German” research was, among other things, an German ethnographer with an agenda. His is another narrative to confront.

All that aside, it is always nice to see recent video of our ancestral colonies since visiting there is not an option. Those mentioned in the video include the following: Grossliebental, Kleinliebental, Alexanderhilf, Neuburg, Josefstal, Mariental, Peterstal, Freudental, Liebental, Lustdorf, Blumenfeld, Alt-Annental, Selz, Kandel. If you have visited the Odesa area, you will undoubtedly recognize some of the architecture seen in the video. And even if you haven't been there, you will recognize the churches. Notably, and I had never thought about this, the Catholic church in Selz was truly a cathedral. As the narrator says, “Now we are actually in Salz [Selz]. This is the village that today is called Lymanske. And here is the largest Catholic church, or the ruins of the largest Catholic church, in the entire South. This is not in Kherson, not in Mykolaiv, not in Odesa, or in any other large cities of southern Ukraine. Even though the Catholic community there was much larger,  the largest Catholic church in the entire south of Ukraine was built here.”

One story toward the end made me laugh and that was about how the Germans produced so much wine that they filled their wells with it to keep it cold and drank wine instead of water. I laughed because that was not the first time I had heard that story. 

The video is in Ukrainian, but you can turn on captioning and have the captions translated into English or German. Here is a short video on how to do that. You may also want to scroll down and click on “show transcript” and follow along that way, too. I have included a full transcript here for anyone wanting to read it.

This video project is one to watch. They’ve produced several others, too. Check out those on their YouTube channel.

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