A Digital History and Photo Archive for the Beresan District, Odessa, Russia


Emma & Adolf Sept. 23,1939

L-R Svetlana & mother Emma, Natalya & father Adolf

Emma and Adolf  1939

Svetlana, Emma, Natalya and Adolf

The lives of our Ukrainian family changed forever in January, 2003 when they received the phone call from Valentina Fromm with the news that they had family in the USA that were searching for them. 
On the morning of January 22, 2003 the biggest (and happiest!) shock of MY LIFE occurred as I was going through my email and found this:

Wednesday, January 22, 2003 7:02 PM
the letter from Ukraine

Hello, dear Valerie!

         I donít work now, so I could spend much time for your search. It took me 2 weeks to look for necessary information in two Nikolaev archives in police and in a Palace of Registration of Civil Status.

         Village Felsenburg is called Villidarovka now and the village Cristina is called Nowosafronovka.

         All information about you Iíve sent to German Society in Nikolaev Region. Then my daughter Carolina and I looked through all information about your family. I asked God to help you and my prayer was heard.

         I have found your brother and sister!

Today I spoke with Adolf Renner and his wife Anna. All they live in Kramatorsk (Ukraine) but I was looking for them in Voznesensk. They live in another Region- Donezk Region.

         They were very glad!




The simple phone call that Valentina Fromm made to the ONLY Renner family she could find in the city of Kramatorsk turned their world upside-down!  This is how they described to us how they felt:


Hello Valerie, Alex, Angela, Paul, Christian, Michael and our whole big family!!!

Valentina's phone call, which told us, that relatives are looking for us, put all from the "foots of the head".  It was an miraculous, unimaginable event in our lives.  It was such a shake!  We thought always, that Adolf and I, the only two in the entire world.  This was an indescribable feeling!  The head threatened to "burst" from these surprise family news.  A lot of childhood memories came high.  The chest was pressed by feelings and I had to gasp for breath.  We were so overjoyed by that news, that we couldn't nothing do at our home, we could only cry.  Sveta and I just repaired our apartment, as Anna came with photographs and repeated all what was told in phone call.  We stopped the work, fetched the photo albums and cried the rest of the day, it was so unexpected.  What should we do now with these news?  We are overwhelmed ...

Next day all looks like a dream. We thought there must be a mistake and confusion in the documents.  We had a lot of questions.  I said: " THIS CAN NOT BE, BECAUSE IT CAN NOT BE!!! IF MY FATHER WAS ALIVE, THEN HE DID TAKE ME AWAY FROM THIS PLACE A LONG TIME AGO!!!  Why he didn't come? Why they looked for us?  We didn't change our address!  We stayed all these years on the same place, where our father left us, my mother Ljuba, Adolf and I lived our entire live in the same town of Kramatorsk, in the same street, in the same small home.  We did never move from there.  We were never lost.  THIS MUST BE A MISTAKE!"  We began to wait on Valentina's call.  We were sure, the photograph will not confirm it.  And suddenly such a miracle!  Photograph confirmed it.  Childhood photograph was identical with one that was in far America, beyond the ocean.  The photograph of grandfather Christian and grandmother Barbara was the same, too.  We got also the package with fathers documents.  We cried again and we had again " porridge in our heads" - (it is a not translationable Russian proverb, that means a lot of jumbled info came at once.)  Tears flowed from our eyes and we can't stop them.  It's a pity that it happened so late.  Now father and I can't embrace each other and kiss...

After we opened family website, all screamed: " Yes, he is that!  He survived!  He survived!!!"  It was hard to read and translate the text because we had tears in the eyes. I wished to see father as he was alive!

Did he feel, that we had a hard live without him?  Did he remember us?  We had a lot of questions.  Yet we have more questions as it was in the past.  It was joyful and painful. And the tears flowed because we cried all that time.  We had a hard life without father. Why he didn't search for us?  He loved us, he could left us!  If he was alive and hid himself, why he didn't send us a message through a third person?  Why his children looking for us and why he didn't look for us?  Our tears of joy mixed with tears of desperation.  We could not find rest because of all these questions without answers.  Now we know the answers to many of these questions.  But a lot of  things still unclear-especially the time period 1943-1946. Should we write it, or it's better we told about it, when we meet?

THANK YOU VALERIE VERY MUCH, for your long, hard work.  Now we can see the profit of that work and Valentina had confirm it!  If father had told you, that we lived in the town of Kramatorsk, then you had find us very fast, despite this town is not marked on your maps.  I didn't live in Kramatorsk for 20 years, but mother and Adi lived there all that time.  We are very grateful to our brothers and sisters, and especially to Valerie's mother for keeping our photograph.  It is pity that we can't embrace and kiss this wonderful lady.  If she had torn up the photo - that had been the end.  But she didn't do it.

My mother Ljuba passed away as she was 87 years old in 1997.  It is mothers owing, that we are well and alive.  I feel very, very sorry for my mother.  During the war and later we had a very hard life.  We were little, but to our mother other folks said insolently: "Because your husband is a German, your place is on the street.  You must do the most dirty work"  Mother had always tears in the eyes when she came from the work.  She worked fair and conscientious.  But they didn't pay her much.  She worked more as others but she didn't got additional wages and cards for bread.  After her main work, at evening, she went to work for people. S he helped other folks in the garden, in the cowshed, in the wash.  They paid her cents or gave her farm produce.   Finally, with much efforts, she became a pensioner.  The hard work and abasement made her ill.  Each time they heard that her husband was a German, they sacked her.  Because of her low wages, she got only 32 rubles pension.  After her retirement mother did breed rabbits. From the wool she did spin threads, knitted socks and woolly hats.  All these things she sold on the market place.  She taught me also to do all that.  Our mother was a big master.  She could crochet covers, carpets, sews clothes.

I have the best memories of my father Michael Renner.  He was not a drinker, he didn't smoke, was an excellent family father and he very loved us.  We also loved our father and were proud of him.  And not only we.  Neighbors and his colleagues also said the same.  He helped everyone, he was a very smart man.  As he worked as a personnel manager,  all the folks asked him for help.  This intercourse was changed after the war breaks out.

The contact to all of us was changed.  We don't have any of his documents, except his work book.  As our mother was very ill and all were hungry, we lived temporarily in a institution for children (children house) Adi two years and I one and half year.  This rescued our life.

My husband Anatoli was an army officer and I lived and worked there where he served. It was Kazakhstan, Siberia, Russia, .... I liked to travel overland, the life in different cities, meet with new folks.  We lived on each of the places where he served approximately for five years.  The state paid for the travel and for home.  My husband died in a car crash as he was 49 years old.  That was in Kazakhstan in 1986.  He stood in front of his car and repaired the engine as a light truck with high speed hit his car.  The truck was steered by drunken teenagers.  There was only a heap of metal that remained. Anatoli was hit down and dragged by the truck.  All his ribs were broken, he had internal bleedings, his liver burst, kidneys were dislocated ... They amputated his arm, first until the elbow, then with the shoulder, because of bone infection (osteomelit).  He was in Moscow in the best hospitals of Dr. Sklifosovsky and Burdenko. (Die ńrzte flickten ihn aus vielen Teilen zusammen, doch er bekam eine Leberzirrose und starb davon.)  The teens were not punished because the truck was steered by a son of a boss of that region government.

My son Alexander (Sasha) *1968 tragically died in his apartment in the city of Murmansk as he was 21 years old.  He completed the marine school and worked there as a mechanic on a vessel.  A friend borrowed him an old, defect power-drill.  As Sasha drilled in the bath room he was killed by an electricity shock.  Nobody was at that time in his apartment.  A couple days later his friends and relatives found him.  They looked for him because he was not on his workplace.  It is very hard to write about this... We buried him in Murmansk. Russia and Ukraine were one and the same country in the past so it was for Sveta and me possible to travel each year to the grave.  Now it's located in "abroad" and the travel costs are so expensive that we can't visit grave since many years.  My soul is hurting.  I'm crying by night.

Me remains my daughter Svetlana and two grandchildren Valeriy and Roman.  We live side by side on the same yard but in different high houses.  I'm living in an one room apartment.  I have got a wine yard (6 sotoks land) in an other community.  We have plant fruit trees, strawberries, raspberries and blackcurrants.  We preserve it for the winter with our own recipes.  At the summer we have a lot work.  Each winter I'm knitting socks and gloves.  Since seven years I'm retired.  The name of the town part, where Sveta and I live is "Damansky", brother Adolf lives with his family in "Novy Svet" in his own home. It is ca. 30-40 min. to walk from here.  In Kramatorsk lives: Adolf Renner, Anna Renner, Natalia Renner, Emma Sokolova, Renner, Svetlana Aseeva, Sokolova, Valeriy Aseev, Roman Aseev.

Daughter Svetlana (*Sep. 6, 1960) divorced many years ago and not remarried.  She lives with his two children in a three room apartment. She worked 20 years in the company "Mebel".  She has a trade school diploma.   The company went bust and Sveta is now unemployed.  Sveta does draw pictures and takes photographs since 30 years.  She completed a "sewing course"  She can sew summer clothing.  She is a hobby geologist , she has a collection of stones, crystals and minerals.  Now she repairs other folks apartments for money.   Nobody can make such repairs.  Beautiful ceilings and walls in the Italian imperator style.  But the life is now very expensive and it is hard with two children, she has only the money for the necessary things.  Sveta also taught their children make repairs, cooking, field works.  The children likes their computer and spent days and nights in front of it.

The eldest grandchild Valera (*Oct. 26,1983 ) will complete in June his lizei (high school) education.  He will get a diploma "computer operator - programmer".  He likes his computer and calls it "Christina".  He has also a "wood carving" diploma as well as a " painter artist" diploma.  A lot of diplomas but no work.  After his exams in June he plans learn the programmer profession in the college.  He get then one diploma more.  This costs a lot of money but it is not a guarantee for a work.  Perhaps it is better for him to look for a job now.  It is terrible.

The youngest grandchild Roman (*Apr.4, 1987) Pupil in 9th class.  He likes computer games.  In his childhood he painted pictures and was a ballet dancer.  He traveled overland, got a lot of prizes and awards.  Since two years, he doesn't dancing anymore. For this sports he need a lot of money for: lessons by famous champions, trips in foreign countries, money for travel and hotels, suits.  Sveta has not the money for all these things.  It's very pity.  We have cried as he stopped dancing. 

I worked as a secretary.  We had a typewriter at our home too.  It was a huge help for us as my husband was in the academy.  Because of a finger disease (poliatrit) I can't type anymore.  Now Sveta or Valeriy types my letters on computer keyboard.  I'm siting beside and dictate it . I'm embrace and kiss all of you.  I'm impatient waiting on your visit.







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