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Professor Dr. H.C. Richard Walth Turns 80; a Tribute by his Sons, Arno and Klaus-Uwe Walth

Professor Dr. H.C. Richard Walth Wurde 80; Widmung von Seinen Soehnen

Walth, Arno, and Klaus-Uwe Walth. "Professor Dr. H.C. Richard Walth Turns 80; a Tribute by his Sons." Volk auf dem Weg, March 2004, 55.

Translation from German to English by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado


Prof. Richard Walth

(Translator's Note: "Dr. h. c." means "doctor honoris causa," i.e., an honoray doctorate. With my brother, Prof. Dr. Michael Herzog, I am the co-translator of his Flotsam book and, from working with Richard Walth, I know that he owns a Ph.D. in what we could call Political Science, plus an honorary degree from a university in the former Soviet Union. A.H.)

Paying special note to this event seems to us to be of special significance, for one because the person celebrating this birthday was born in Russia and is thus an important contemporary witness, having worked for the Landsmannschaft for many years, and for another, also of course because we are his sons.

Prof. Dr. h. c. Richard Walth was born on January 24, 1924 in the German settlement of Neu-Glueckstal near Odessa. After attending the pedagogical institutes in Selz/Odessa and in Lutbrandau/Wartheland [Poland], he, as were all male LBA students [Lehrerbildungsanstalt = Teacher's Training, or Pedagogical, Institute], was inducted into [German] military service. After receiving a very serious injury he was taken to a Soviet POW hospital in Bratislava/Slovakia. Since this hospital was under the supervision of the Red Cross, only those who were healed of their injuries and capable of working were allowed to be deported to the Soviet Union. Those with major injuries and unable to work were released to the German border.

The celebrant was thus able to join his parents in Bitterfeld, where after only three evenings, his father, in his Christian-Pietist manner, reminded him of his life's purpose and responsibilities: "You have been saved by the Good Lord, so you must certainly realize that you now need to prove yourself. Always remember that any work performed with enjoyment will always bring double rewards." That was one clear piece of instruction that the celebrant would never forget.

He was also driven by his desire to demonstrate that even someone with serious injury could still accomplish a great deal. And so it came about that -- at the time he was in the former Eastern Zone -- he dedicated himself to matters of Germans from Russia. Together with this work, and due to the fact that he was able to return to his chosen profession [teaching], his feeling of self-esteem and even his physical condition improved, prompting him to attend the University at Leipzig to study for the formal examination as Interpreter for German-Russian. Not long after that, the University called to offer him a special teaching contract. The special aspect meant on the one hand that, in addition to performing his teaching duties, he explained and demonstrated at various conferences the textbook for the Russian language, a newly introduced compulsory subject; and on the other hand, that he and two other instructors were obligated to provide evening instruction in the German language to high-ranking Soviet military officers. He enjoyed this work, but in time things became dangerous enough for him to persuade himself to cross over to the West.

There the celebrant once again engaged himself in work for his countrymen, serving for many years as local and county chair for the Cologne chapters and as chair of the Landsmannschaft's North Rhein-Westfalia State organization,as well as interim chair of the Society's Cultural Council. His conferences, on behalf of the University of Bonn, toward improving the integration of his countrymen, as well as his books "Auf der Suche nach Heimat - Die Russlanddeutschen [In Search of a Homeland -the Germans from Russia]," "Neu-Glueckstal im Gebiet Odessa - Eine typische Siedlung der Russlanddeutschen [Neu-Gleuckstal near Odessa - a Typical German-Russian Settlement]" and "Strandgut der Weltgeschichte - Die Russlanddeutschen zwischen Stalin und Hitler [Flotsam of World History - the Germans from Russia between Stalin and Hitler]" enjoyed great approval here, in the US, and in the Confederation of Russian States. For that reason these books are available in the original German and in Russian and English translation.

The celebrant has especially enjoyed the recognition he has received from the Landsmannschaft via its Golden Pin of Merit as well as from the Federal Government, which granted him its Cross of Special Merit on November 19, 1998. Today, in retirement, he is once again active for his Germans from Russia -- he plans, organizes and oversees an exchange program for students in universities in the West and in the East.

On behalf of his entire family, we wish him good health and continued joy in his work,

Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation of this article.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller
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