Our Holstein cousins, Irene and Rosalie, visited Holstein in 1994. Thank you for sharing your pictures and impressions of Holstein.
My sister and I joined a Volga tour organized by John Klein of Lincoln, Neb. We spent a week in Saratov and from there went to see various villages. Our objective was a visit to Holstein.
Holstein is the village where my paternal grandparents were born and raised - Gottfried Yauck (1879-1950) and Katherina Erhardt (1884-1991). My grandparents, their siblings, and their parents immigrated to Canada except a daughter of my grandfather's brother. During WWII, she and her family were deported to Siberia; therefore, we weren't expecting to find any relatives.
The countryside is rolling land and sandy soil. There are some trees but I saw no large ones like our majestic elms. Holstein was similar to the other villages we visited - no paved streets and generally an unkept appearance. Their houses are right at the street, state property, and yards are not kept beautiful for the benefit of passers-by.
The grayish-blue weeds which grew everywhere are like those which grew on my grandfather's pasture in Saskatchewan. They even have the same horrible odor.
Our interpreter tried to locate some German-speaking residents and found a 72 year-old gentleman. His new house was the only one of its kind in the village. The bricks were in straight rows and the windows evenly spaced. We discovered it was built under an aid program of the German government to encourage Germans to remain in Russia instead of assisting them to immigrate to Germany. The contrast to other homes was quite stricking.
Grandma told us about the excellent gardens they grew along the Kulalinka. Today, the stream provides irrigation but we saw no signs of gardens. Rosalie crossed the stream safely and took some pictures on the other side. These were homes where Germans may have lived and a commune could be seen in the distance.
The cemetary was a large area. In one part there was an enclosure with a star-topped memorial. We thought those were probably Russian graves and did not investigate. Along one side were recent graves with markers. Our tour guide was able to find the names Erhardt and Meyer from the German names. My great great grandparents were probably buried there. If wooden markers were used they would have disappeared long ago. I photographed the wooden markers because they reminded me of some I had seen in a cemetery north of Duval, Saskatchewan. The upper part of the cross was joined by two slanting boards to give it that triangle shape.
The church was destroyed years ago. Mr. Ehrhardt told us that as a young man he had been forced at gunpoint by the authorities to help chop up the steeple.
Some houses of the village appear to be old and could have been inhabited by Germans but we had no way to know for certain. Other buildings we saw were the small post office, open only one hour a day from 8 to 9 a.m. and a small sparcely-stocked store run by a young lady with a square-shaped, very German face. She had not been allowed to learn German. Also, a Soviet project, a community hall type building, had been started but never finished.
What appeared to be the town well brought the water in under pressure, no pump handle. People came with their pails to get water.
We met an Erhardt but she could not speak German. Her father who was working in the field, could. We left in our bus and a few miles down the road a car came racing after us. They had gone to the field and brought him to speak to us. He has relatives who have left Russia and live in Germany. He is attempting to locate descendants who came to North America.
We were able to spend only a portion of an afternoon at Holstein but we achieved our objective of having a glimpse of the village our grandmother had told us about.