Life in Holstein 1956-1990

     Maria, a descendent of the Hildermann, Kuxhaus, and Keil families, lived in Holstein from 1956 to 1990. She was five years old when her family left Siberia and arrived by ship at Galka, and rode horses to Holstein. Maria states, "As we drove down the street toward the church (at that time the church appeared as a dilapidated old house), some Russians were standing on the street, watching the Germans. They had evidently never seen a German. It was as a ghost town. All the houses that were still standing were ruined. There was nothing left of many of the houses (except the houses in which the Russians lived). There were no windows in the houses. The wind whistled through the houses. There was a deathly stillness among us on the wagon. My grandmother (Susanna Kuxhaus) and my great aunt (Anna Peil nee Kuxhaus), they could not say a word because of the pain they felt. They gazed in silence. They were looking forward to seeing the village as it was when they left it. We were the first family of the Holstein Germans who returned. Families who arrived later were Gritzfeld, Maier, Martin Schwendich, Hildermann, Mai, Erhardt, Kelln, Grauberger, and Winik.

The Keil home in Holstein in 1994.
     This house was built in 1919 by the Konrad Jauck family. They lived here until September 1941 when they had to go to Siberia. The house has a big room, a small one, a kitchen, a utility room and two hallways. On the right side of the picture is a smaller house made of clay where we used to cook, wash, eat, etc., during the summer. We only slept in the main house. On this picture the clay house looks worn down. We always took care of it, and it was always painted white.
     From 1941 to 1963 a Russian family lived in the house. When this family moved away, the house was given to us by local authorities. We lived here from 1963 until 1989. Behind the house was fruit and a vegetable garden. We had cherries, apples, pears, raspberries, plums, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and garlic. On the court the Jauck family built a beautiful cellar where we preserved our food. In September 1941 all the cellars in the village were full of fruit and vegetables. The Germans had to go to Siberia and starve and die of cold while the Russians that escaped from the Hitler's army survived in those villages.

     When my parents came back in 1956, half the houses were gone altogether. The other half were not fit to live in, unless they were restored and made livable again. There were no windows, no roofs, not even floors in some of the houses. Those who had inhabited the houses tore away the wood from the houses to use for firewood. When all of that was gone, they proceeded to the cemetery for the wooden crosses, although the forest was within a distance of two or three kilometers. The crosses were used for kindling wood by the people living in Holstein. My great aunt's house was still standing but Russians were living in it. Even today it still stands near the cemetery. It is made of wood. My grandmother and my mother's house was standing and it was vacant. Naturally, they would have liked to move in, but they were not allowed to do so.

     Everything belonged to the State now and we had no claim to our former property. There was no reimbursement. My parents were given a mud-brick house to live in. It was located four houses from my mother's house, on the same street. The house consisted of three rooms. The one room with doors had piles of manure and rubbish on the floor. It was necessary to use a shovel to throw it out the window. The replacement windows and the wood were furnished by the government, the rest was the responsibility of the individual. And, so, one would make bricks of mud and straw, including stones (which were strewn everywhere during the vandalism of the houses) and then would build the walls of the house. When it was completed it was painted inside and out. At harvest time we moved in. I don't exactly remember if the barn was also ready that summer. I do remember that the Gritzfeld family came back that summer. It was a large family. Until they were able to prepare a house for themselves, our family's barn served as their bedroom. There were no doors on the barn at this time.

     Food was furnished by our family. By this time, we were able to plant a garden for food. The summer kitchen was also rebuilt, it was made of mud and stone. In the summer it was cool in there. During the whole summer, meals were prepared and served in the summer kitchen. All the housework was done here. The house was just for sleeping. It was really wonderful. The temperature was an average of 25-30 degrees plus in the summer. There was a lot of snow in the winter. A lot of snow was good for the earth and also for the kids. Every family had a summer kitchen.

     After awhile, more families returned to the area: Schwendich, Martin, Kelln, Maier, Grauberger, Hildermann, Peil, Erhardt. So there was more life in the Colony. The people were happy in their Holstein. It was too bad that so few of them returned. Many of them were detained in one of the work camps as enemies of the State. The first years we were back we often had festivals. Heinrich Erhardt was very good on the violin and on the dulcimer, and the Maier family was good on the harmonica and sang beautifully. Everyone danced. Later, weddings were celebrated. All the Germans were invited to the weddings. Our "dorf" belonged to the Sowchose Bujeratschnig. To this Sowchose, Schwab, Mueller, Muhlberg and Scherbakowka also belonged. The Administration Authority was in Stephan (Bujeratschij). Until 1975 there was a gardening plantation, cattle and cow farm, poultry farm and hog farm in Holstein. On the farming ground we had grain and watermelon, melons, pumpkins and red beets. We had meat, milk, cheese, grain and watermelons to sell. People were employed. After 1975 the Sowchose Specialization of Grain was discontinued - the cattle, the poultry, the hogs and the gardens were no more. There was less employment. The young people left to go to the cities (Kamyschin and others), and only came to visit in the dorf. And the older people were not able to get away.

     Henry Steinfeld wrote: "It was a splendid land". It is still so, sadly there is no one to work the land. The dorf is surrounded with gardens, but in 1941 to 1956 no one worked the land. In spite of that, when we returned, we still gathered fruit from the trees - apples, cherries, plums, and pears. A brook flowed through the garden. Before the war there was also an irrigation canal. The trees were planted near the brook and irrigation canal. The farm land was located between the brook and the irrigation canal. During the fifteen years, everything was overgrown with weeds. In the garden there was also a spring - for me, there was no better water to be had. So we cleaned up the garden and returned it to its former condition. Everyone was allowed land to plant grain and potatoes. The old watering hole was rebuilt for irrigation again. On the fields were planted watermelons, melons and pumpkins. My father worked for the Sowchose, grandmother, great-aunt and mother did all the housework and tended the garden. And it was so in each family. All was well with us.

     We also had a school in Holstein, but only four grades. For the fifth school year, we had to go to Dobrinka (Nischnjaja Dobrinka). We also had a junior high school degree. Each weekend we were brought home and on Sunday taken back. The instruction was in the Russian language. There was also a class for foreign language. We studied German. We learned to both read and write the language. We could all speak German. Before 1941, there was also a school. My mother (born in 1924) attended seven grades at that time. Instruction was in German, but she also learned Russian. She spoke, read and wrote Russian well. The older people, at that time, spoke little Russian. When they were relocated to Siberia in 1941, they had no property, no money and did not speak Russian, and it was hard for them to learn it and speak it correctly. We children often laughed when they tried to speak Russian. Among ourselves we always spoke German. Intermarriage between Germans and Russians was not allowed until 1950.

     Holstein was given a new name, Kulaninike, and it no longer belonged to the Saratov District. It now belonged to the Volgograd District. Because so many families returned to Holstein in 1956, the Administration was concerned and would not allow others to return. This is most likely the reason more did not return. There is only one family, Kelln, who came back about the year 1965. Even at that time there were problems. In that case, my parents were required to sign a petition for the returnees.

     I telephoned a schoolmate of my mother, Alexander Jauk (father, Konrad Jauk), born in Holstein in 1923, and I asked him to describe life during the Expulsion in 1941 and of the arrival in Siberia. His mother was born Borger, her father Heinrich Borger. Alexander Jauk confirmed that all the Holsteiners in the District of Tjumen, Rayon Novosaimka (now named Sawodoukowsk), Aramaschewo, Golyschmanowa, and other villages who did not return to Russia, still live in that area. He, himself, lived 5 km from Tjumen until he emigrated."

Maria's mother: Amalia Kuxhausen, b. May 10, 1924, in Holstein.
Amalia Kuxhausen's mother: Susanna Hildermann, b. 1898. Susanna's father was David Hildermann.
Susanna Hildermann had two cousins: (1) David Winik; (2) David Hildermann (1908-1965) m. Katharine Mai (1909-1965). Their three children are buried in the church cemetery. David Hildermann's father's name was Friedrich Hildermann.

Maria's father, Heinrich Keil (b. Sep 26, 1926) was from Mueller. Heinrich's mother was Amalia Jeckel/Jegel (b. 1900). Heinrich's father was Georg Keil (b. Feb 16, 1902). George married Anna Elisabeth Leimann. Anna had a brother George Leimann. Heinrich Keil was a schoolmaster before 1941. After returning from Siberia, he had a big orchard and a market where he sold his produce.

      Maria Leimann's Uncle David Kuxhausen, born 1922, died at Iwdel. Since no official notice of death was ever sent by the government, David's mother always hoped her son was still alive. Adam and David Peil died at this camp. They were from 35-40 years of age.

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This certificate was issued August 30, 1941 for the David Kuxhausen family. This was Maria's great-grandfather. The certificate is in Russian. This certificate contains the following information:
1. Name: Kuxhausen
2. First name, family name: David v. Friedrich
3. Birth year: 1871
4. Place of birth: Dorf Holstein, Kanton Dobrinka
5. Nationality: German
6. Residence (near to): Dorf Holstein, Kanton Dobrinka, Volga-German Republic
7. Occupation: Agricultural Worker
8. Place: Transport Nr. 707, Wagon (mode of travel) 10.09.1941

(1) Heinrich, son of David, born 1911;
(2) Anna, born 1910, daughter-in-law;
(3) Elvira, born 1914, granddaughter.
Certification date: 30.08.1941

With Transport Nr. 707 all Holsteiners from Kamyschin were taken to Siberia. Also families from Dorf Mueller. Each family had a record of certification.

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