In Russia

Ancestral Villages in Russia

This page was begun 15 June 2001 -- rak.

All of my father's great-great-great grandparents, great-great grandparents, great grandparents, grandparents and parents either lived in German villages in Russia or were conceived (i.e. his father who was born after the Atlantic crossing in Kansas) there.  In 2001 I was fortunate enough to be able to visit several of these villages.  Reports on those visits will be included below.

But first I want to note that in the fall of 1957 I transferred as a junior to Kansas University.  Before long I, along with several other undergraduates, had made friends with a graduate student named Darwin Sharp.  He was older, married, had kids and was in Russian studies.  I spent a fair amount of time at his home.

Darwin had a record which really bowled me over.  It had been made at a Red Army Chorus engagement somewhere in Russia, I think.  It was the most glorious music I had ever heard.  Hundreds of fantastic mature male voices singing mostly Russian folk songs.  I never tired of listening to it.

In 1957 I had yet to realize -- I probably had been told once or twice, but it had not sunk in -- that my family had come from Russia.  In 1959, now married, I went off to graduate school in Cambridge, Massachusetts and never heard that music again.

In 2001 in Russia it occurred to me that I would like to have such a recording, so I shopped for one.  The people in the record stores seemed to think I was looking for music from another planet.  They were big into rock and some classical -- but the Red Army Chorus -- surely I must be kidding!

Then a week and a half later my wife and I were in Denver, Colorado attending the AHSGR international convention.  At the close of the convention we went shopping downtown and, among other things, visited an enormous Virgin Records store.  On a whim I visited the "World" section and then its "Vocal" section, and then its "Chorus" section.  The first CD I noticed said in big white letters: "Moonlight Over Moscow, A Festival of Russian Folk Song -- RED ARMY CHORUS"!!  -- put out by RCA Victor #74321-32043-2. 

With father's day coming up, my wife purchased it for me.  So as I sit here writing about my people in Russia, I am immersed in these magnificent voices singing a language I do not understand but whose spirit is simply glorious and moves me to my very core.

So what were these all these Germans (32 of dad's ggg grandparents, 16 of his gg grandparents, 8 of this great grandparents, 4 of his grandparents and 2 of his parents) doing in Russia?  Who were they?  And where and under what conditions did they live?

During the next weeks and months, I will develop answers to these questions.  Click on any of the following to see how far along I've gotten.

The Volga Deutsch -- how did they get there?  The villages in which my ancestors lived:

Alexandertal        Balzer        Doenhof        Franzosen        Galka      Huck        Kutter        Laub        Leitsinger       Messer     Neu-Kolonie        Norka        Rosenberg        Schilling     Schwab    Shcherbakovka        Stahl-am-Karaman          

For a modern Russian map showing the location of these villages, click on Saratov Area Map.