Hallo aus Moldawien! Don’t worry, we didn’t decide to write our articles in German. But this one will be about Germans – to be more precise, the Bessarabia Germans. Nowadays, there are parts of the country where you can find relics of houses and objects made by Germans. If you are curious who is „guilty” for it, the answer is „history”!
It seems that between 1814 and 1940, there was an ethnic group of Germans who lived on the territory of Bessarabia. They began emigrating in 1914 from different German areas, such as Baden, Wurttemberg, Bavaria, as well as from Alsace (France) and some Prussian areas of modern-day Poland. They moved in the area bordering on the Black Sea and lived here about 125 years.
The reasons that determined the Germans from South Germany to emigrate were the compulsory military service, the oppressive regime, the high taxes and land shortages, as well as the crop failures that lead to famine. They usually followed the course of the River Danube, which they followed as far as Ulm. They were boarded Ulm boxes, a sort of one-way boat. But on their way, many immigrants fell ill and died. Upon arrival at Ismail, the migrants were quarantined for weeks on an island in the delta which claimed further victims. About 10% of the emigrants are thought not to have survived the voyage.
Emigrants from the northern and eastern German regions, as well as from Poland, travelled by horse and cart. They were the first Germans to arrive in Bessarabia, in 1814, and were known as Warsaw Colonists because of their origins.
Generally, Germans lived in the rural area and until moving to the Greater Germany, their minority consisting of 93,000 people made up about 3% of the population.
The most prominent person of Bessarabian ancestry is the former German President Horst Kohler. Before emigrating in 1940, his parents lived in the German colony Rîșcani in Northern Bessarabia. Köhler was born in Poland, which was by the time occupied by Germany.
Nowadays, if you are curious to discover the rests of a German village in Moldova, you might want to visit Marienfeld. This is one of the 150 spots created by the Germans till 1940. Despite the name (Marienfeld, which would mean “Maria’s fields”), only a few authentic German things can be seen here. There is no German living there, as in 1940 Hitler set in order for all the Germans to come back to their motherland.
This year, the German Embassy organized a range of events, on the occasion of 200 years from the moment that Germans began to establish their first communities in Bessarabia.