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Three Attempts to Acquire a Doctorate

Drei Versuche zu promivieren

"Three Attempts to Acquire a Doctorate." Volk auf dem Weg, March 2009, 17.

This translation from the original German-language text to American English is provided by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado


Dr. Anton Bosch

Anton Bosch -- a Doctorate after Thirty-four Years

During the doctoral graduation ceremony of the Philosophy Faculty, Special Area: Theology of the Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) on January 30, 2009, in the festive hall of the Erlangen castle, Anton Bosch (74) was not just the only German from Russia, but clearly the oldest among the fifty-three receiving their doctorates. Via his dissertation on the topic "The Downfall of the German-Russians in the Odessa-Nikolayev Settlement Region under the Soviet System until 1939" the passionate historian was finally able to fulfill his life-long dream of receiving the much-longed-for title of "Doctor of Philosophy."

Anton Bosch made his first try at a doctoral title thirty-four years ago, in 1974, at the WSPI (Wsesoyuzniy Politechnitcheskiy Institute). Until then his life stations included Kandel near Odessa, the Warthegau in Poland, Pettstadt near Leipzig, a work camp in Udmurtia (West Urals), and after 1945 a professional career in the field of electric technology. During the end of that stage he was a director of an electric power plant and chief engineer of the energy service organization for KaragandaKazakhstan. Bosch had published articles in branch publications and had already passed a test for candidacy after carefully researching a dissertation topic, [translated title:] "Improving the Performance Coefficient in Urban Electric User Nets," when in 1974 he and his family decided to leave the Soviet Union for good to emigrate to Germany, thus ending his first try at a doctorate.

Bosch undertook a second attempt immediately after arriving in Nuremberg. But he was gently advised to concentrate first on getting a place to live and a job and to try again after successful integration. That process took a while, and in the meantime this father of a family would work twenty-three years in an electric firm.

Also, of course, he involved himself seriously in volunteer work with the Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland. As early as the 1960s, Bosch had become active in the cause of family reunification, and in Germany, too, this cause was a focus of his volunteer work as a spokesman for the Landsmannschaft on social topics. For many years he acted as chair of the local and regional Nuremberg-Fuerth chapters, was a member of the national board, and became chair of the cultural council of the Landsmannschaft. In 1999 he founded the "Historical Research Association of Germans from Russia" and directed it until 2007, always on the theme "Our homeland is history, and history is our task!" In 2004 Bosch was awarded the Golden Pin of Merit of the Landsmannschaft for special achievements in the area of researching the history of our ethnic group and in his work toward preserving the culture and traditions of the Germans from Russia.

Still, he had never lost sight of his plan to attain a doctorate, although twenty-three years passed before his third attempt. After retirement in 1997 he enrolled at the FAU in "Eastern European History and Slavic Studies," attended all basic and required seminars and in 1998 completed a correspondence study in Latin by passing the state exam in Frankfurt. He ended his first phase of further study in 2001 with the title of "Magister Artium [Master of Arts]." The topic of his master's dissertation was "Biography of a Contemporary Eye Witness from the Volga - Aloysius Kapses."

For health reasons, the doctorate was delayed once again. Between 1994 and 2008 Bosch went on six trips to Odessa and from various archives dug up more than 7,500 names of German victims of repression in Russia. These would later become the basis of his doctoral dissertation. He remained true to driving motives, "Writing history is another way of getting rid of problems " and "To think means to compare" (Walther Rothenau) during the course of his work on the dissertation, and he made sure to view critically the history of both countries (Germany and Russia), without ignoring uncomfortable or dark topics.

In the dissertation, which was supervised by Prof. Dr. Altrichter, he looks into the fateful measures of destruction of the Soviets in thirty-one "mother colonies" of the three "German National Rayons" between Odessa and Nikolayev, while comparing the effects of these measures on other ethnic groups. In his work he arrives at the conclusion that there were significant external influences, too, for having the German minority dissolved and, prior to 1939 as well, deported to Siberia -- a plan that would be fully realized under Stalin a bit later.

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

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