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Edmund Imherr is Dead

Edmund Imherr Verstorben

"Edmund Imherr is Dead." Volk auf dem Weg, October 2001, 18.

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


Edmund Imherrr, the very active senior member of our Landsmannschaft in Saxony, died on August 28, 2001, at the age of 84 years. Our ethnic group thereby loses one of it most important pillars in the new Federal States. Our federal leadership as well as the federal administrative office of our Lansdsmannschaft wish to express their sincere condolences to the family.

Edmund Imherr was born on December 12, 1916 in Koehler in the Saratov District on the Volga. He attended elementary school in Koehler and, subsequently, the so-called School for Farmer Juveniles in Stephan on the Volga, to which he devoted a considerable portion of his book "Verschollene Heimat an der Wolga" ["Long-lost Home on the Volga"], which was published by our Landsmannschaft during the previous year. He continued his studies at the "Workers School" of the Pedagogical Institute at Engels, and finally, in the German language, at its linguistic department.

Before the war he taught German at the middle school in Doebel on the Volga, and by the time the war broke out in 1941 he had become director of the school.

The ukase of August 28, 1941 of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR ordering the deportation of all German-Russians brought about a sudden about-turn in his career. Edmund Imherr was taken to the Tyumen region of West Siberia, where he first worked on a collective farm, but he was soon forced to serve in the infamous Trud Army (1942 - 1946).

Following the period of "the great silence" for Germans in the USSR he made contact with important German-Russian writers such as Johannes Becker, Reinhold Koeln and Johannes Hermann and combined with them in working toward the reestablishment of autonomy for Volga-Germans. Today we know that those attempts were unsuccessful. There followed the push for emigration to Germany. However, for Edmund Imherr success did not come until September of 1989, and as he explained later to the editors of Volk auf dem Weg, it was all "thanks to friends in Dresden and to Foreign Minister Sheverdnadze."

An entirely new phase of life ensued for [Imherr], by now retired and in his mid-seventies. He is probably best known for his volunteer activities within the Landsmannschaft of Germans from Russia. By 1990 he had been elected chair of the Dresden chapter, where he dedicated himself completely to working toward social welfare, according to his motto "Unity provides strength."

He dedicated himself with equal passion to his writing. Especially worthy of mention -- in addition to his opus "Verschollene Heimat an der Wolga" cited above -- is his valued collection entitled "Grabinschriften der Jahrhunderte, gesammelt zwischen Wolga und Rhein" ["Epitaphs of Centuries, Collected between Volga and Rhine"]. This collection includes over 800 familiar gravestone inscriptions from the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.

Which epitaph will be inscribed on his gravestone? We do not know. For the kind of life that Edmund Imherr lived, the following saying from his book just mentioned (p. 45) may be appropriate:

You did not live merely for yourself.
For you, life was to be lived wholly,
And down here you never strove
For worldly reward.

Editors of Volk auf dem Weg

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Published in "Volk auf dem Weg" with Edmund Imherr's obituary is printed the following excerpt from Edmund Imherr's book, "Verschollene Heimat an der Wolga", published by the Historischer Forschungsverein (www.hfdr.de):

The village of Koehler is gone. Its former residents, along with their descendants, are scattered across the whole world. Many started a new life in their ancestral home country, in Germany, others settled in the USA, in Argentina, Paraguay, Canada and even Australia. Even in Russia and Kazakhstan, Germans from Koehler are still eking out an existence. Most of them are waiting to emigrate.

Because the German name Koehler cannot be transliterated accurately into the Russian language alphabet, Russian officials simply changed it to "Keller." However, this place "Keller" should not be mistaken for the actual colony of Keller, which was also established in the 18th century, but was destroyed by the Kirgis even during its founding phase. Those who survived settled elsewhere, and the colony of Keller was never revived.

And now Koehler has found its end ... During my eightieth year of life I was finally able to complete the recording of the history of my birth place. Even though for decades I had busily collected notes and data, I did not begin the work on the collected materials until the reunification of Germany.

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

From Edmund Herr's book "Verschollene Heimat an der Wolga"

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