The Ethnic German Community in Leova

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It was the Russian Czar, Alexander I., who settled the primarily Swabian Germans in Bessarabia, on the territory that had been reoccupied and deserted by the Turks following the Napoleonic Wars. At the dawn of the 19th century, every immigrant family was given 66 hectares of land, and within five generations they generated a prosperous agriculture from the uncultivated steppe.

In August 1939, in the framework of the not yet offensive contract between Hitler and Stalin, the two Great Powers divided Eastern Europe between themselves. In the secret proviso of the Pact, alongside Eastern Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, Bessarabia, which had been annexed to Romania in 1918, also fell into Soviet hands. As a part of the agreement, the ninety-three thousand Volksdeutsch living in Bessarabia were repatriated to the Third Reich in 1940. Not unfamiliar to the Soviet terror and the minority fate of the Germans of the region, all the Bessarabian Swabians chose emigration.

The Soviet-Nazi commissions appraised their property, and they promised that they would receive compensation of land and property of equivalent value upon their settling in Germany. The Soviets paid the Nazi state with wheat and coal for the property of the Bessarabian Germans. The deportation organized by the SS took place in October-November 1940.

The farmers arrived in a caravan to the ports of Galatz, Reni and Kilja, and they were each allowed to bring luggage of 80-150 kg with themselves for the journey. On the Danube, 27 steamships sailed until Zimony; from there, they travelled by train to the transit camps in Germany.

In 1941-42, the Nazi Reich settled the Bessarabian Germans onto the land of the evicted Polish families in the Western territory of occupied Poland. Shortly afterwards, the men were drafted into the army, and the families left behind fled to the West with the approach of the Soviet troops at the end of the War.

Webmaster's comments: It is possible that some of the ethnic Germans living in Leova were German Jews. In fact, the one ethnic German survivor from Leova that I had the opportunity to interview, Pavel Wolff, claims to be Jewish.

Most of the ethnic Germans in Bessarabia were living either in the capital city, Chisinau, or in German colonies, communities with German names like "Leipzig" and "Strassburg", that were comprised almost entirely of ethnic German residents. It seems curious that a few of these colonists would choose to leave their homogenous German communities to live in a rural, largely Jewish community like Leova without having some connection with this community, be it religion or some other factors.

Leova Village Report: Around September 1940, organizers of the evacuation visited the ethnic German communities and made observations and recommendations concerning resettlement. Leova Village Report - German/English

Koblenz Questionnaires: Completed by the ethnic Germans of Leova shortly after they arrived at the repatriation camps in Germany:

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Compiled by Joel D. Waters
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