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Research Links

Recommended Books

Kern, Albert
Homeland Book of the Bessarabian German
(available in German and English

Schmidt, Ute
Bessarabia: German Colonists on the Black Sea (available in German and English)

Many books have been published on individual Bessarabian villages.

Other useful books:

Becker, Jakob
Bessarabien und sein Deutschtum

Fiechtner, Dr. Helmut
Über die Namen der Bessarabischen Wohnsiedlung


Zur Geschichte der Deutschen in Bessarabien

Some of these books may be available at your local library.

Websites, Pub. & Presentations:
Bessarabia: Before, During and After the German Settlements Presentation by Allen Konrad (Narrative for presentation)

Bessarabian Newsletter Index

Bessarabien Verein
Mitteilungsblatt (monthly)
or Jahrbuch der Deutschen aus Bessarabien (annually since 1949)

These publications are available from the Bessarabien Verein, from the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, and the library of the Germans from Russia Heritage Society.

Deutscher Volkskalender für Bessarabien from 1920-1939

Researching Bessarabia

Ethnic Germans began settling in Bessarabia in 1813, coming from Poland/Prussia, Germany, and German villages in the Odessa area. Beginning in the 1870s, many Bessarabian Germans immigrated to North and South America. In 1940, all ethnic Germans were forced to leave Bessarabia, resettling first in Nazi-occupied Poland, then later fleeing to Germany.

Bessarabia is bounded by the Prut River on the west, the Dniester River on the east, and the Black Sea to the southeast. Currently, Bessarabia is partly in Ukraine and partly in Moldova. During most of the 1800s, it was part of Russia. Between WWI and 1940, it was part of Romania.

Neu Elft, Bessarabia Church Church Records
Lutheran Parishes - there were 16 Lutheran parishes in Bessarabia as of 1940. These were: Albota, Alt Elft, Alt Posttal, Andrejewka, Arzis, Benkendorf/Posttal, Eigenfeld, Gnadental, Kischinev, Klöstitz, Kulm, Leipzig, Mathildendorf, Neu Sarata, Sarata, Tarutino.

Reform Parish - The colonists of Schabo were primarily of the Reformed faith. 

Lutheran and Reform Church Records - During the 1940 resettlement, many village pastors brought their churches' records to Germany. These include births, marriages, deaths, and family registers.

In addition, each Lutheran church was required to send copies of their records to the Lutheran Consistory in St. Petersburg. These records  include births, marriages, and deaths. The earlier records were recorded in German and later records in Russian.

Cath0lic Parishes - The Kischinev Diocese of Jassy included the Bessarabian villages of Krasna, Balmas, Emmental, and Larga, as of 1940. (Previously, these villages were under the jurisdiction of the Kamenetz, Tiraspol, or Bender dioceses.) There were also German Catholic communities in Akkerman, Bender, and Kischinev.

Catholic Church Records - Catholic priests kept one copy of the church records at the local church and sent one copy to the diocese headquarters. The Tiraspol Catholic church  records can be accessed through the Russian State Archives in Saratov.  The Catholic church records, up to the later 1840s, were recorded in Latin. Subsequent records were recorded in Russian. Read more...

Finding Church Records - The available original church records are on microfilm at the Family History Library (FHL). The St. Petersburg copies are available online and on microfilm at the FHL.  Many have been translated and are availabel here.  Also, check out the Black Sea German Database as many of the St. Petersburg records have been included in village family data files.

Some of the early Catholic records (through 1837) are available on microfilm from the FHL. Indexes of some later records appear to be in the Krasna Library (see Catholics in Bessarabia).

Census sample page
Census Records
Census records (also known as revison lists) are available for 1835, 1850, and 1859 for Bessarabia. These were published as the Black Sea German-Russian Census Volume II by the Germans from Russia Heritage Society. A handful of other (mostly earlier) censuses are also available. Check the Black Sea German Database because much of this data is included in the village family data files.

The original records (in handwritten Cyrillic) for the 1835, 1850, and 1859 Bessarabian censuses are available online at FamilySearch. This guide  will help you locate them in the Moldova Poll Tax Census List collection. For more information on navigating this collection, see this blog post.

The information for Bessarabian villages in The Emigration from Germany to Russia in the Years 1763-1862 by Karl Stumpp is based on originial settler lists rather than actual censuses. The information on some villages is good, but is very weak for others.

Resettlement Records
When the Bessarabian Germans were forced to leave in 1940, they had to document their German ethnicity back several generations. This makes these records valuable for research, even if your family line left Bessarabia prior to 1940.

EWZ Records - EWZ stands for Einwanderungszentralstelle or Central Immigration Control department. The EWZ 51 series is most important for Bessarabia research. Make sure you read theEWZ Q&Aand check out the Black Sea German Database as many EWZ-51 indexes are included.

Koblenz sampleKoblenz Records - These questionnaires were completed prior to the EWZ records and come from the German Bundersarchiv. For more information on Koblenz records read the Koblenz FAQ.  

Christian Fiess Records - Christian Fiess (born in Sarata) was a schoolteacher and archivist of Bessarabian German documents. His records are available from the FHL (microfilm 1476492 thru 1476497) and from the Germans from Russia Heritage Society.