of Alberta

Dorfbericht Village Reports


This is the beginning of a collection of translations of Dorfbericht or Village Reports that were prepared in the early 1940s for the Minister of Occupied Eastern Territories. Adam Giesinger has written that Dr. Karl Stumpp headed up the organization “which was set up by the ministry to gather information on the ethnic Germans in the Ukraine” and which “had its headquarters at Dnepropetrovsk on the Dnieper. From this base, men working under Dr. Stumpp’s direction went out to the German villages in the areas accessible to them and, with the aid of local people, particularly teachers and village officials, filled out the prescribed questionnaires”.

Because of the instability of the times, only a some (about 80) reports were completed, mostly from the area between the Bug and the Dnieper rivers (none for the Odessa area nor for the Molotschna area). These reports were apparently lost for many years, and then were brought to the United States and housed in the Library of Congress.

I became aware of these reports at the time of the American Historical Society for Germans from Russia‘s annual conference which was held in Calgary, 1995 when microfilmed copies of some of the villages were available for review. A full list would be available from the AFHS, as well as photocopies of the individual reports. The introduction provided by Adam Giesinger identified that part or complete reports were available for the following and other villages on microfilm (I do not have the complete list):

A recently released book by Richard H. Walth, Flotsam of World History: The Germans from Russia between Stalin and Hitlerreviews these materials extensively, providing statistical and descriptive summaries of the material they contain. One of the reports (for Kronau) is duplicated in the book (available from Michael Miller for $26 (US) plus ship/handling).

Associated with this site are translations for several villages; Additional translations will become available as time permits, and focussing on the Mennonite villages. If others would like to provide electronic copies of translations, I would be prepared to provide the coding necessary to put them onto the internet.

Substantial credit has to be given to Ann G. Rempel and Dora Epp of Calgary, Alberta who spent many Sundays reviewing the microfilm copies under magnifying glasses, poring through dictionaries, puzzling over gothic script, and reliving some of their own experiences as they read the words recorded by the village officials. Helen Friesen of Calgary and Erna Goerzen of Didsbury also assisted significantly in the translation work.

This started out for me as a simple exercise in obtaining genealogical data and ended up being an opportunity to learn to know these two amazing women and hear from them how common and horrific the experiences of World War II were. They have contributed significantly to my perception of Europe in the 1940s. We share these translations in the hopes that they contribute to genealogy and historical understandings for you too. — Judith Rempel

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Prepared by Judith Rempel
Last updated 1 Jul 2008