Guardian in the Haus der Heimat
Hueterin im Haus der Heimat Wiesbaden
Friebus, Svetlana. "Guardian in the Haus der Heimat in Wiesbaden." Volk auf dem Weg, June 2006.
Translation from the original German-language text
to American English by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado
It is on the roof of "her" Haus der Heimat where Vera
Maier (50) really likes to be. She is the volunteer cultural consultant
of the Wiesbaden chapter of the Landsmannschaft and caretaker in
the "Haus der Heimat" -- a shelter for numerous refugee
associations and other clubs. Her own occupation and the volunteer
position are so closely related that her service in both goes on
nearly around the clock. Vera Maier is not only responsible for
order in the Haus der Heimat, but she must also see to it that there
is always something going on there. And she barely arrives at home
when the phone begins to ring.
"That's the way it always is around here. People either call
or come to the
door," says her husband Alexander. For 18 years now Vera Maier
volunteering for the Landsmannschaft and the BdV [Association for
since last year she has been a member of the CDU [the Christian
Union, a major German political party].
"It has always been like this. She always has to help everybody
everywhere," is how daughter Eugenia tries to justify her mother's
[and she adds that] Vera Maier has never regretted emigrating to
me there is no bridge back," she says [and adds:] Today it
difficult for Aussiedler to gain a foothold in Germany than, say,
15 years ago.
There are hardly any jobs, and it is very difficult to find a place
"When we were starting out, everyone who wanted to work found
Alexander. Their entire family is working, and that means a large
Maiers have around 70 relatives, scattered all over Germany.
When Vera and Alexander are at home by themselves, they speak Russian.
Vera, whose German is excellent, smiles and says, "it's faster
that way." But their two daughters prefer to speak German,
and four-year-old granddaughter Alexandra understands only a few
words of Russian and cannot speak it. When they arrived in Germany
18 years back, the Maiers' command of German was meager. "Before
emigration, my parents spoke German at home, but not we children.
Making one's German name known brought with it the fear of being
called a fascist, of being mistreated and even beaten," recounts
Vera Maier. Her parents' ancestors were from Hessen and had emigrated
to the Volga region. In 1941 they were deported to Kazakhstan. Vera
Maier was born in Semipalatinsk, attended school in Kirgistan, and
then completed training in sales.
In a cupboard Vera keeps a bible printed in the old German script.
this family treasure in their luggage and with two daughters --
nine and twelve
years old at the time -- they arrived in 1988 in Germany from Karaganda
were temporarily settled in a transition apartment complex at Idstein.
1989 the family moved to Wiesbaden, where Alexander first worked
as a custodian,
and for the last 15 years the trained carpenter worked as a driver,
which Vera took over later on. After finishing school, daughter
completed training as a dental assistant and is finishing further
studies toward a
position in dental-medical administration. Daughter number two,
lives with her husband in Munich and works as a florist.
Advice and support was given to the family mainly through the BdV
and the Landsmannschaft. Today Vera herself assists late-comer Aussiedler
families. She is the chair of the Wiesbaden chapter and its volunteer
cultural consultant. With her talent for organization she gets a
lot done there. She is a woman who provides important impulses concurrently
for several areas.
Her main job is trying to lure her countrymen out of their natural
As many as 300 attend the events and celebrations staged by the
chapter of the Landsmannschaft. The traditional carnival-time ball
at the Haus
der Heimat attracts as many as 200 guests in costume. New Year's
celebrated in full style by over a hundred invited guests, and numerous
for children and families are also becoming legendary.
"Many of the later Aussiedler are still too shy. Some hide
at home because
they fear being spoken to on the streets -- their German is not
says the cultural consultant with some regret. German-language instruction
offered for adults by the local chapter does encourage some toward
Other regular offerings include scheduled advising and informational
evenings on the legal situation affecting the late Aussiedler. In
there are also evenings for dancing, competitive sports for children
adults, computer and drawing classes for children, plus regular
chapter also organizes art exhibitions and other art events that
politicians as well.
The Aussiedler of Wiesbaden, however, do not just stay among themselves:
"Local, native Germans also attend our events, and our sports
attract some Chinese folks," recounts Vera Maier. She has her
number of local friends as well as good contacts with other nationalities
former Soviet Union.
The local chapter places a lot of emphasis on public relations
Maier does not shy away from contacting the local press to invite
events, and thus she builds the basis for positive reporting. For
a year now,
the Wiesbdaen chapter has had an Internet presence, by which chair
Uselmann and Vera Maier intend to address not only the 6,000 Wiesbaden
Germans from Russia, but also attorneys and social pedagogues, to
people opportunities and to attract more and more young Aussiedler.
Together with Margit Neumann of the Wiesbaden Media Center, she
dramatized the fate of the Wiesbaden area late-arriving Aussiedler
via the film
"Heimat," in which Germans from Russia report on their
life stories. A jury
nominated the film "Heimat" for the Federal Festival for
Film, Video and
Multimedia 2004 in Dresden, where it was awarded a Thrid Prize.
Today, whenever Vera Maier walks through Wiesbaden, it is nearly
for her to imagine calling any other place home.
For more on the activities of this local chapter, see the website,
Svetlana Friebus / Wiesaden-Hochheim
Our appreciation is extented to Alex Herzog for translation
of this article.