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The following information is taken from letters from Gotthard Grauberger b 1927 in Gnadenthau. 

Exhiled to North Kazakhstan, he now lives in Germany.


Gotthard Grauberger is the son of Johannes Grauberger b 1889 in Gnadenthau, the son of Georg Grauberger b in Gnadenthau, the son of Gotthard Grauberger b in Dietel. Gotthard’s mother was Amelia Greb b 1895 in Gnadenthau, the daughter of Heinrich Greb b 1870 in Wiesenmuller and Eva Winter b 1872 in Gnadenthau. Heinrich Greb was raised in Gnadenthau by his mother’s sister. His father had died very young and his mother was unable to care for him. She gave him to her sister to raise.

Gotthard says “… Wiesenmuller I know very well. I went there many times with my parents as a child. It is not far from Gnadenthau - about 30 km. It is from Gnadenthau - across the Jeruslan River, through Gosuska, Friedenberg, then is Wiesenmuller. From Gnadenthau to Kana is about 12 km.

I well remember the village Gnadenthau though I have not seen it since 1941. I remember Gnadenthau’s narrow streets. The church and school were in the center of the village. Weber and Stuckert were teachers in my time. Also Filip Diel. The grandfather of Robert Ebel was a teacher in my mother’s time. Bauer was a merchant before the Revolution. Many were farmers.

My mother has told me that even before the Revolution many people immigrated to America. One Gnadenthauer had courted a woman and wanted to marry her and take her to America. Those who were already in America always wrote to not come without a wife. But she did not want to marry him. My mother told me on of her field hands was among those who went to America. He was an orphan and he went with his sister and her husband. His name was Xerze. When this group left, they were told that all single males should marry before leaving because they would be unable to find good marriageable women in America. … They all took their Bibles and their hymn books with them.

My mother told me Russia was very poor in the 1920’s. America helped then with food and clothing. At that time there was an American Church in Gnadenthau. The poorest went there to eat. … In 1940 we were moved to Sowohos 105 (still in the Volga Region]. In 1941 we were moved to Kazakhstan. In 1942 my brother was taken for the labor army at Tschelybirsk and he is still there. My sister Elsa was also taken for the labor army. [Editors note: She has immigrated to Germany as of 1993; leaving her daughter behind in Alma Ata.] My Grandfather (Heinrich) Greb was taken from Gnadenthau in 1927 to Kutter Niederland and in 1941 was taken to Altai. [Editors note: Heinrich Greb died in Altai 1943.]

Now we have been here in North Kazakhstan for over 50 years. We are both retired and things are relatively good, except Dorothea is often ill. [Editors note: Gotthard’s wife Dorothea was born in Gnadendorf, maiden name Schulz] We have our mild, honey, butter, meat, fruit, and vegetables. We have our house and our farmyard. The first years were very hard. We live in the part of the Steppes known as the Forest Steppes. Small and large wooded areas. Very beautiful. The land is black and good. Temperatures from -40C to [illegible]. This year [1991] we had snow in June which nipped the potatoes. It is the same climate zone as North Canada.

Gotthard and Dorothea (Schulz) Grauberger

July 1993 in North Kazahkstan

Photo taken by Sue Kottwitz, 1993

[Read more about Sue's visit]


This is the living quarters where Gotthardt and his family lived from 1941 until 1956.  The ceiling is approx 5 foot.  They lived here with another family.  It is a very small hut which is partially underground.

In 1956 they were able to build a new house - which they're seated in front on in the previous photograph - which they lived in until 1975.  At that time they built another home - a traditional Volga German cottage.

Photo taken by Sue Kottwitz, 1993

The structure to the left is the dugout hut (1941-1956);  the structure to the rear is the 1956 house.

People:  to the left is Marie Schafer Houser; the others are our driver and translators.

Photo taken by Sue Kottwitz, 1993

Gotthard in his garden.  The green house is theirs, built 1975.

Photo taken by Sue Kottwitz, 1993