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From Wiesenmuller to Krasnoyarsk to Germany

The following was taken from a letter from Wilhelmina Greb Stoll written to Betty Ashley in March 1993. Translated          from the German by Bill Wiest.  It previously appeared in our newsletter Jeruslan Nachrichten Vol I No 1 1994


ďÖ Until 1920 our forefathers in the Volga region didnít live too badly. Our village, Wiesenmuller, did not lie directly on the Volga; it was nearer to the Kazakh Steppe, 35 km from the Volga. Every family had their own house, land, cattle, and garden. Everyone worked diligently. Then came the civil war. First the Reds came through the village, then the Whites. Both armies plundered and robbed the villagers until nothing was left. And still, 1921 was an even worse tragedy. There was a great famine along the Volga, as well as in the whole country. Many died from hunger and want. Many thanks, America, for your help in providing food and clothing.

In 1929 came collectivization. All farmers, whether they wanted to or not, hand to join a Collective. Whoever were the wealthiest people in the village were called Kulaks. They were taken to Siberia where almost all of them died from hunger and cold. In families of 10 or more there was sometimes only one person who did not have to be forever banished. In 1933 there was again a huge famine; whole families in the Volga region died of hunger. From 1934 until 1937 there was an improvement in the living conditions along the Volga. For the first time people began to believe they could live well again. But then the Fall of 1937 brought Stalinism. All but 10 men including the strongest and best males of the village were taken and shot. Then in 1941 came the war with Germany. On September 5, 1941 all Germans in the Soviet Union were abducted and sent into exile in Siberia [and Kazakhstan].

Our family was brought to Krasnoyarsk in the forest. Nothing to eat, no supplies no clothing. Already in the winter many were starving. In January, 1942 they took our father away to the Workfront (Gulag) where he died in the fall of 1942 of hard work, hunger and cold. Of every 100 men taken to the Gulag, only 9 survived. In the fall of 1942 they took me, as a 16 year old girl, and my sister Irma, 17 years old, to a work camp. We had to endure much - heavy work, hunger, cold, no clothing, and no place to sleep. We had to suffer that way until 1946. After that we came under the control of a Commandant and we were not allowed to live more than 15 km away.

In 1956 we were freed from control by the Commandant, but we were still not allowed to return to our former homes. But they did permit us to move to inferior land in the region of Kamischin. We always wanted to immigrate to Germany, but for that one needed to have relatives in Germany, and that we didnít have. My youngest son, Waldemar, married a German girl whose grandparents lived in Germany. The grandparents sent a Wysum (official letter of invitation] and in 1987 our son, Waldemar, and our daughter-in-law left for Germany. In 1988 we received a Wysum from them and in May 1988 we came to Hamburg. In 1990 our daughter Svetlana, and her two children came. In September 1992 my twin sons, Oleg and Slava also came here.

Yes, we had to again leave everything behind in Russia and come with empty hands to Germany. When we came to Germany in 1988, it was still much better here, but now for our children, it is very difficult. They came empty handed, without a penny. They receive very little support from the German Government. They still are not able to get jobs until they complete their language study courses. The beginning for us in Germany in very difficult. The Germans here also donít want us to be here. If the war with Germany hadnít happened, we would never have wanted to come to Germany. Until now, we have not yet found a place to liveÖ.Ē