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Time to Dig Around – A Look at Karl Heinz Rust’s Private Photo Collection

Photos Document the Agricultural School in Würzburg (1940 – 1942)

Hilpert-Kuch, C. "Time to Dig Around – A Look at Karl Heinz Rust’s Private Photo Collection." Mitteilungsblatt, July 2012, 18.

Translation from the original German-language text to American English is provided by Alex Herzog, Boulder, CO.


The photo documentation of Karl Heinz Rust stirred up a great deal of interest among the editors of the Mitteilungsblatt. Especially for those who were born after the end of the war, these photographs will provide insight into their ancestors’ reality. That special history of the Germans in Bessarabia, Dobrudja and Bulgaria is among the most moving and most interesting in all of Europe.

During the course of millennia, for longer and shorter stretches of time dozens of peoples and ethnic tribes sojourned through our Bessarabian living areas. A multiplicity of ethnic groups understood how to live side-by-side in the same area, largely without conflict and with mutual respect.

Via photo documentation we wish our “unforgettable Bessarabia” to be relived again and again. So please dig around in your own private photo albums and find the photos that develop a common theme from pictured historical events, anecdotes and stories of Bessarabia.

We would be very happy to receive your photo collections in digital form and with captions. You may send them via e-mail to redaction@bessarabien.de.

Karl Heinz Rust’s history is self-explanatory through the set of photos below, beginning at left, top.
(Unfortunately, for this set of photos the editors lack any captions.)

A Look at Karl Heinz Rust’s Private Photo Collection

Certain families from the northern Dobrudja area were quartered in the [Nazi-designated] Gau [District] of Mainfranken. Some families from Atmagea were placed in the Agricultural School of Würzburg. Others were assigned to the Oberzell Cloister or the Himmelpforten Cloister.

Commentary [a la captions] for the Photo Collection of Karl Heinz Rust [these cryptic notes appear to be difficult to follow – Tr.]:

Those proud, free farmers. Between 1916 and 1918 they were still fighting for their land against Bulgarians and Germans.  

Women and children in front of the Agricultural School, wearing typical hats.

Dour looking men, who were gradually realizing the false games being played on them. They believed if they adapted here and there, they might receive their promised land sooner.

The group living spaces left no possibility for privacy.

A group meal.

A family photo of 1940, when they were still together.

A variety of unfamiliar work made camp life more bearable.

People gradually integrated with the firm and were allowed to participate in group excursions.

After completing his schooling, my father found employment in the university book store. For the grown-ups this time of uncertainty was a terrible thing.

The younger men, my father among them, who had been too young for military service, enjoyed life in the city. Finally, no hard field work from dawn to dusk.

A family photo show the Stehrs. Reinhold Stehr was married to an older sister of my grandmother.
Grandmother was buried in Würzburg, alone, far from the home she had grown up in and had spent most of her life in. At least [she was buried] in German soil. Was this her dream? So far away from her husband, with whom she lived for so many years? Sometimes bad things also bring some good.
On October 12, 1941, Gustav Martin and Amalie (daughter of Matthias Rust) and Samuel Hintz and Karoline (nee Stiller) celebrated a double wedding. Since the men’s families lived in the Oberzell Cloister, after the church ceremony the bridal party went to Oberzell on foot.

While Johann and his father Jakob Rust were working in a hardware store, the oldest, Friedrich (born 1919) volunteered for military service. Presumably he had problems with camp life. On the other hand, men like him who were able to serve were so strongly pressured that they came to believe they would be fighting for a good cause (their new homeland).

Why [dig through your photo collections]?
I believe for succeeding generations, so that they might understand their ancestors better! Even belatedly, as in my case!

Karl Heinz Rust, b. 1956.

Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation and to Dr. Nancy Herzog for proofreading the article.

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