GER-VOLGA-L ArchivesArchiver > GER-VOLGA > 2005-04 > 1113928168
From: "Carla Wills-Brandon Ph.D." <>
Subject: GR - Jewish intermarriage
Date: Tue, 19 Apr 2005 11:29:28 -0500
With regard to the Jewish question, I will tell you I married straight into a Russian Jewish family of holocaust survivors - first generation. The food was similar, the culture was familiar, the family dynamics were incredibly similar and this took place 20 years BEFORE I knew the details of my family of origin GR roots. When my father-in-law was alive he actually smuggled individuals out of Russia, the then Soviet Union. This was in the 70s. His sister's husband and my GR grandfather hit it off as if they were the best friends. This aunt and uncle visited my husband and I in Fresno, where my grandparents lived, when we were in graduate school. My grandfather's parents were from Warenburg and my husband's uncle was from a village very near Warenburg. They went off into a corner as if it was old home week and spoke the same dialect of German.
Finally, in May of 2003 I went to the western part of Russia, Poland and Bellarussia with an aunt of my husband's who had survived the concentration camps. While in Poland, Warsaw, at dinner one night, my husband's aunt was talking to a Polish camp survivor in Polish/Russian. She speaks Polish, Russian and a bit of German. Long story short, she was introducing us (the family - there were 15 of us) to this woman. As she introduced her granddaughter she used the term "Mamuchka". I'm sure I've spelled this wrong, but this is what my grandmother, who's parents were from Jost, use to call me. It was her pet name for me. This was the first time I had ever heard this term used anywhere and I had been looking for it in German/Russian dictionaries for years. My father-in-law knew a little about the Volga Germans in Russia, but never knew the term. He was raised in Vilna. I asked this aunt, who was raised on the Russian/Polish boarder, then Russia, then Poland, then Germany!
, then Russia part of Eastern Europe, (the lines of demarkation changed a zillion times) what this word meant and she said it was a term of endearment. I think its curious that my husband's aunt, a Russian/Polish Jewish holocaust survivor from what is now known as Bellarussia, would use a term my GR grandmother had used with me all throughout her life.
Also, a note; When in Bellarussia, I tried to talk to Russians on the street about GRs and received a luke warm reception. None of them would talk to me. One woman nodded yes and said, "The Volga Germans" but that was it. Also, the country continues to slowly recover from the devastation of communism with statues of Lenin in town squares. In a very rustic village outside Volkovysky, I did find a woman, who may have been GR, who had suffered under Stalin's labor camps. She and my husband's aunt talked for sometime. A true babushka in every sense of the word who had suffered incredibly.
So, it looks as though the Jews and the GRs did do some intermingling. I suspect intermarriage was rare (knowing how inclusive both cultural groups were religiously) but I do suspect there was a great deal of contact between the two socially or because of business. I know my grandmother was a house keeper for Jews when she was young and felt very comfortable about this. So did her GR parents.
That's my two cents. Take what you like and leave the rest.
Carla Wills-Brandon, Ph.D.
"LIFE IS NOT A JOURNEY TO THE GRAVE WITH THE INTENTION OF ARRIVING SAFELY IN A PRETTY AND WELL PRESERVED BODY, BUT RATHER TO SKID IN SIDEWAYS, THOROUGHLY USED UP, TOTALLY WORN OUT, AND LOUDLY PROCLAIMING: WOW.... WHAT A RIDE!!!" AUTHOR UNKNOWN
|GR - Jewish intermarriage by "Carla Wills-Brandon Ph.D." <>|