A Family Story: The Life Paths of Katharina Huck (79) and her Grand
Nephew, Andreas Pfeifer (24)
Thoenes, Bettinea. "Family Story: The Life Paths of Katharina Huck (79) and her Grand Nephew, Andreas Pfeifer (24)." Kazakhstan News, 8 August 2006.
What follows is the first part of a smaller series aimed at casting
light at how Germans from Kazakhstan have resettled in their ancestral
homeland. A translation of an acticle that appeared in the German
paper Braunschweiger Zeitung portrays the typical Russian-German
There are no Hucks left in that village near
the Volga. The brother-in-law had been there once again. People
weren't too friendly to him.
Everything got torn down or converted, says Katharina Huck about
birthplace in the former autonomous German colony of Saratov. Village
was the name of the place - named after its founding father.
Katharina Huck (79) grew up there, but her grand nephew was born
years later in Kazakhstan - Katharinas third life station after
region and the Urals. Today both grand aunt and nephew live in
Their home? That had never been the village Huck nor Kazakhstan.
My father always said: We are not at home. One day we have to reach
home. The time will come. He gave this feeling to all of us, says
Katharina. He had been a religious man. The family lived with the
consciousness they'd return to their roots one day. That is gods
The most beautiful time of her life, of course, was youth spent
together with her husband - despite aggravating reprisals against
Germans in the Soviet Union, despite Germans being named as the
inner enemy that got deported, banished, and driven into forced
Like Katharina, who had to leave her village head over feet in
1932. She worked in a kolkhoz until she got - thousands of kilometers
away from her village - deported to the Urals for forced labor.
She worked in the trudarmiya, the workers army. Katharina shared
her room with many others. In the Urals, she met her future husband.
Like Katharina, he was from the village Huck. From there, his parents
were deported to Kazakhstan in 1941.
Katharina and her husband could only follow them in 1958. The Germans
had it easier in Kazakhstan, she says. As good laborers, they were
What can Katharina Huck tell about her family history? She shrugs.
One didn't talk about that. The less you know, the better, people
And ones German roots werent showed around too widely. Once letters
arrived of a relative from East Germany, family members were afraid.
downright traitors many Germans were viewed when numerous of them
resettled to their reunified ancestral homeland in 1991. The papers
reported wrote about it - and the articles werent all too positive.
In 1995, Katharina Huck arrives in Germany, too. Her nephew Andreas
with her, as she flew to her new but old home country.
How beautiful, she thought. She was thankful for all that which
might come. Life has taught her to look ahead. I've never really
turned around. Only one thing hurts: She wont be able to visit the
grave of her parents anymore.
The 13-year-old Andreas has his life ahead when he sits on a plane
in 1995, astonished by the motorways further down. That's a traffic
jam, one of the fellow passengers told him. The illuminated streets,
the abundant green, all that was new to him. The first months passed
by like in a dream. It was simply beautiful.
Andreas Pfeifer arrived in a country whose inhabitants would regard
an emigrant (Aussiedler). He left a country in which he was a German.
But the family is there. Relatives haven't lost track during the
tumultous history, 127 of them live in Braunschweig.
Katharina, without children herself, is grandmother to all - for
and nieces, grand nephews and grand grand nephews. There is no birthday
party with less than 60 or 70 guests. Within the family, there was
discussion about the move to Germany - the time had come.
Andreas Pfeifer feels at home in Braunschweig. He took part in
each of his school excursions and after a mere year, he spoke German
fluently enough to master all his school assignments. He speaks
almost without an accent now. And there is the occasional brawl
with grandma Katharina over the correct use of the German language:
People here don't speak proper German anymore, finds the 79-year-old.
Andreass mother is an optician. Her vocational training certificate
Kazakhstan is not recognised in Germany. After the premature death
husband, she had to make ends meet by cleaning other peoples houses.
gave all, says her son. And Andreas, who is 24, had the early goal
earning money and support the mother.
After school, he found a training place to become an industrial
As one out of a few, he got a job by the same firm that trained
Besides his full-time job, he now attends school and wants to become
technician. His brother has just begun studying. We were given a
and used it, says Andreas.
What does grand aunt Katharina wish from life? That it doesn't
get worse. And that there will be work. Then everything is fine.
Reprinted with permission of the Kazakhstan News.