Village Report for Kronsthal
Chortitza Colony, Russia, 1942

| Village Name and Location | Population Count |
| Count of Mixed Marriages | Germans in Mixed Marriages |
| Origins | Education | Cultural Life |
| Health and Welfare | Church Records |
| Economy | Economic and Political Hardships in the Bolshevik Era |

I. Exact Name of the Village:

German: Kronstal
Russian: Dolinsk
During Bolschevik era: Donlinsk
Region: Chortitza (12 km)
District: Zaporozhye (25 km)
Military region: Dnjepropetrovsk (90 km)
Postal Station: Chortitza (12 km)
Train Station: Kanzerovka (7.5 km)
Founded: 1809

II. Population Count:

Germans Ukrainians Russians Jews Others Total
pre Jun '41 now pre Jun '41 now pre Jun '41 now pre Jun '41 now pre Jun '41 now pre Jun '41 now
Persons 461 472 31 16 - - - - - - 492 488
Families 120 119 7 4 - - - - - - 127 123

How many households have no [male] household head? 54

Census of Germans in the following years:

1914 - 460 Germans
1920 - 475 Germans
1926 - 500 Germans
1930 - 581 Germans
1936 - 540 Germans
1941 - 461 Germans
1942 - 450 Germans


6 couples



In 1780 the fist immigrants from the Danzig lowlands settled in the Chortitza Colony. In 1797, a new group of 118 families came from Germany. Because there was a shortage of Crown land, the government purchased a substantial parcel of land from Noble Miklaschevsky. It was on this land that in 1803 they established Burwalde and Nieder Chortitza. The new immigrants and settlers from Kronsweide and Rosenthal combined in 1809 to establish the village of Kronsthal, with 22 families. The Kronsweider wanted to village to be called New-Kronsweide while the Rosenthaler wanted to call it New-Rosenthal. Finally they agreed on the name Kronsthal - the beginning of Kronsweide and the end of Rosenthal.


Language in the last years:

The instructional language until 1937 in all German Colonies was German, and after that Russian. German was thought of a foreign language, taught from grade 5 twice a week.

School Grades, Records of Attendance, instructional materials, classrooms, subjects taught, etc.

There was a grade school until 1918, with six grades. The school year usually started September 1 and ended May 15. School was compulsory before WW II in the German schools. In Soviet era, the compulsory school was for seven years. The children's attendance was low due to the shortage of clothing. Teaching and school materials were not available. It was a two schoolroom/class system.

Enrolled children:

54 boys and 44 girls (98 children in total).


Two teachers - both German. Mr. Koch and Mrs. Kasdorf both had taken the German teacher training in spring. Mr. Koch is now in Germany taking a three-month course.

Number of Illiterate Germans:

A man of 35 and one old woman of 60 years.

Langauge at Home:

German and a dialect, Plattdeutsch.


Cultural Life:

1 school house


In the Bolschevik time, there was a library with about 300 Boslhevik books in Russian and Ukrainian languages. There were no German books. The books were hardly read, and all were destroyed. At this time in the village, they read issues of a German-Ukrainian newspaper. Good German books would be read with pleasure. It is important to establish a good library for the coming winter.

Projectors and Associated Equipment:

In the village, there are no projectors and never were. Films were only shown in Osterwick.

Existence and Nature of Electrical Power:

220 volts - although power is interrupted now.


There always were choirs in the village. Earlier, they were more children's choirs, practicing out of the love of music. They also sang folk songs. In the Bolshevik times, there were always choirs, led by ethnic Germans. But, most of the time, the songs were Russian and Ukrainian. Now, there is a church choir.


In Bolshevik times, there was a strong orchestra. Now there is none.

Physical Education and Social Life:

In school, there is no physical education. The social life was almost destroyed by the Collective system. Everyone is happy and contented when, for a few hours on Sunday, they can freely meet in the congregation and can stay and visit, or can be by themselves [away from the Communists].


There were few gatherings for funerals and weddings in recent times. There are more now. Now, however, everyone suffers from poverty and clothing shortages.


Number of Doctors, Nurses and Midwives:

The closest hospital is in Chortitza (12 km away). The closest maternity hospital is in Osterwick, but it is closed now. In Osterwick there is a nurse practitioner and a midwife.

Health Conditions:

Now there are four cases of malaria. In May there was a case of spotted typhoid. In some families, there are different eye diseases like trachoma. Otherwise, the health conditions are satisfactory.


Kronsthal belongs to the Osterwick Parish, where the church and marriage registers are maintained. There are still five old churchbooks from the previous century.


Land in hectares:

Number of farms in 1918:

There were 18 full farms but they were partly subdivided. Besides these, there were also 26 landless families, known as "Ahnwohner". Most are employed in Osterwick factories.

Average size of a farmer's land:

.5 hectare

Food Supply for People and Livestock: The supply is low. At this time, 50% of the people receive rations: 9.7 kg. of flour monthly, and once we received 200 gr. of butter. 47 families have no cow. Chickens are owned by most families. 68 families, even today, have no pigs or piglets. So, that even for the coming winter there will be a shortage of "fat". For the present, it is a little easier because of the availability of vegetables. The livestock became very weak through the winter. They mostly ate straw - strong fodder was unavailable. Now they are grazing. There have been many downpours.

Water Supply:

There are too few wells. There are streets with no wells, and the depth varies from 3-12 metres from well to well. Only four wells are suitable for people to drink from.

Livestock Inventory

In the Collective Privately Owned Animals abducted in the war
horses 80 - -
cows 18 66 47
sheep - 15 167
pigs - 67 215
goats - 18 -
beehives - 19 -

Inventory of Fowl:

There are about 1,300 hens, geese and ducks

Fruit Orchards, Vegetable Gardens, Vinyards, and other land under cultivation:

Condition of Homes and Yards in the Village:

There are 10 older brick houses, seven wooden houses (the oldest one from the time of the village's first settlers), out of crown wood [? treetops]. The others are out of clay. About 10 roofs are clay tile, a few are tin and shingles, and the rest are out of straw. All the houses are in need of repair. In the last years, there were almost nothing that could be done about it. Now, there are no materials available. The average home has two rooms for living in, and a kitchen. There is a serious shortage of beds, clothing, and underwear. In Bolshevik times there was little available and now there is none.

Public Buildings, Furnishings, and their Condition:

Schoolhouse with two classrooms and a teacher's residence with two rooms made out of bricks and in good condition.

Industry and Production:

Collective mill for preparing crushed grain for feed. Two workers in addition to a blacksmith and a finish carpenter. Six workers in the Collective,

Road Conditions:

The settlers established a village in the valley. There are no cobblestone streets, so when it is wet, the streets turn into gumbo because they have no (drainage) foundation. The sidewalks are elevated, but if it rains, even they get muddy. Between the villages, there are no cobblestone roads either - just dirt roads.

Farm Machinery Inventory:

Average daily agricultural production in 200 pound unites/hectare:

< '18 '31 '32 '33 '34 '35 '36 '37 '38 '39 '40 '41
Wheat 18 15 8 12 7 8 15 11 12 11 7 8
Barley 15 10 6 10 6 6 11 10 12 10 7 10
Oats 18 8 7 15 6 8 12 10 14 13 11 12
Rye 19 10 8 17 7 9 14 12 15 12 12 7
Corn 30 15 13 18 14 14 16 19 17 16 19 18

Rations and Cash Paid per Workday:

'31 '32 '33 '34 '35 '36 '37 '38 '39 '40 '41
Grain (kg) - .7 1.5 .9 2.0 4.0 3.0 2.0 1.5 1.4 1.5
Potatoes (kg) - - - .5 - - - - - - 1.2
Cash: Rubels - 1.2 .48 .75 .96 1.64 1.12 1.36 2.26 1.87 .67

Labour opportunities and relative standard of living, considering both inkind and cash income earned.

In small families, one can somehow survive, but in big families with few workers they simply do not have enough to live on.

XI. Economic and Political Hardships in the Bolshevik Era:


Youths <18011

Banished and not seen again:

'29 '30 '31 '32 '33 '34 '35 '36 '37 '38 '39 '40 '41 Total
Men 9 - 1 6 - 1 - - 3 11 - - 4 35
Women 13 - - - - - - - - - - - - 13
Youths (<18) 22 - - - - - - - - - - - - 22
Total 44 - 1 6 - 1 - - 3 111 - - 4 70

Murdered or Abducted:

Murdered by Machno Army (1918-June 1941) 1 0 0 1
Murdered in World War II 0 0 0 0
Abducted since June 1941 13 3 5 21
Abducted and Returned 5 0 3 8


The mass arrests of the Germans in Russia occurred in 1937 and 1938. Everyone was on edge, because the reason for those being taken was completely unknown. It did not matter if they were rich or poor, then or now - they were arrested.

The first to be arrested was David Wiens. They arrested him during the day and took him away in a car to some unknown destination; the NKVD could only tell us that they were arrested. Most were shipped north. Because the arrests during the day caused such an upheaval, the later arrests were made during the nght. When we rose in the morning, we would hear cries of women and children whose fathers and husbands had been taken away.

Additional description of the events directly before and during the war until freed by the German troops:

On 22 June 1941 the war started between Germany and Russia. The mistrust of the Russian government for ethnic German residents was always substantial, but especially when the war started. There were Russian or Ukrainian guards on the bridges, fields, and high-power lines. The Red Party Russian sympathizers were afraid - not without reason - of air raids. The ethnic Germans were being spied on consistently.

For example, Old Man Gerhard Dyck was arrested and put into jail because he was wealthy. Everyone anxiously awaited the things to come. On 12 July 1941 all men, women and youth over 15 were mobilized to help the army dig trenches for the war. Only very old men, mothers with small children, and the Administration were left at home. The harvest proceeded at full speed. Everyone that was left behind worked as hard as they could - except the Administration of course.

The fate of the ethnic Germans became evident. From 23 July 1941 many refugees came through our village en masse from the West to the Dnieper. The refugees were accompanied by cattle and tractors. No one knew where to go. Many combines were pulled around. One only heard the noisy mooing of the cattle in the evening until late at night when there was a terrifying silence. Finally the refugees settled in their campsites for the night. Suddenly we heard mortar. The Russians were trying to shoot down an airplaine. A restless night. Everybody looked for safety in bomb shelters.

On 8 August 1941 we had to move the Collective's cattle, tractors, and combines behind the Front (over the Dnieper Bridge). It became clear that the Germans would systematically be evacuated. The Russians, Ukrainians, and Jews were fleeing from the Germans. The livestock, nine men, and three women under the leadership of Litowschenko were moved. The tractor operators drove the tractors and the combines away. Some of the privately-owned livestock remained and we could use it. We had to promise to take the livestock along when we moved on. On 17 August the militia came heavily armed - 17 men into the village. They had a categorical order to move all of the residents to behind the Front. Holowatyj, the Russian from the Collective farm, chased everybody together with the militia out of the village.

He came together with the militia to chase everyone out. The main street was cleared first. 63 families (264 souls) were loaded onto 20 wagons. Everybody could only take the absolute necessities. Where they went, we do not know. We went to Dnieper Island. A woman showed us an unoccupied bridge. Then a troop of Red Army soldiers appeared with an order to march the people ahead. The people turned pale. Everyone was ran to save themselves, any way they could, as best they could. Some ran to the bunkers, others to the gardens, some to the summer fallow fields in the valley where they could hide in the corn and sunflower fields.

The cannons thundered. The airplanes flew. The children cried. The battle lasted until evening. The left bank of the Dnieper River looked like a sea of fire. Once in a while schrapnel flew overhead. On the right bank of Dneiper the signals lit up all night. The Red Army came and asked that we surrender into imprisonment.

Finally the morning came, and military trucks and tanks came closer and closer. Then the Red military driver turned around the corner - and faced us. he stopped and cried "Hands up". We answered in German. He was surprised and asked why we (Germans) were here. We explained quickly. Then more tanks and military trucks came. The fight from the airplane was answered with shooting. The bullets hit the combines that stood at the side of the road. Bombs were falling and then it was still. In the morning he asked first for the Jew, who had, the day before, ordered us out. No Jew remained. Even the leader of our Collective had saved himself by crossing the bridge (it was 18 August). But, there were strong orders that we were supposed to follow him in the morning.

We started. I was in the first wagon because I had the permit. The wagon stopped because the bridge was still occupied by Jewish refugees who were eager to get across. It was the chaos of chaoses. Overturned wagons, people screaming, and horses being whipped. I decided not to rush. We Germans didn't really want to cross the bridge behind the front.

Then, suddenly there came an order to clear the bridge because the Russians wanted to cross. At 10:00, civilians came, out of breath, screaming, "Forward, forward"! The German troops were coming. The left bank of the Dnieper River is being shelled. One German family got mixed up with the Jews and crossed the bridge.

On August 18, I was blamed for not crossing the bridge faster. The day before, we also lost time because we didn't really want to cross. On the way, we went into a ravine. But, the repulsive Jew found us in the bushes. Now we still had to go to the island at the approach of the bridge. Always, we were controlled, because we Germans were a "socially foreign element". At night, we reached the Dnieper Island.

All night the Red Army was moving along the main packed gravel road on the island. At midnight, an airplane came and there was a lot of shooting. A battle broke out. In the morning, the Jew and the leader of our Collective had disappeared [run away]. The thunder of falling bombs and the noise of the cannons terrified us. After the battle we came out from our hiding places. The women and the children were crying. but, our salvation was at hand. Already on the 18th of August in the evening at 9:30pm the Dnieper bridge was blown up. And now, after 10 mintues, the Red Army blew up the hydro-electric dam and evacuated the island. One person - a fifteen-year old daughter of Heinrich Toews died instantly after being shot through the head. Mrs. Harder was wounded. Two horses were dead. Although we were still shaken, we hitched the horses to the wagons and went back to our village.

On August 19 at 2:00pm we reached our home in our dear village of Kronsthal. Only the family who had crossed the bridge was missing. In our village, the German militia had settled and made themselves at home.

Now we are free! The brave German troops rescued us from the damn Bolshevistic yoke! For 24 long years we suffered terribly under that Bolshevik yoke. How many Germans were banished or abducted, dragged behind the front, one can see from the tables above. The worst was not permitted by God, because the Bartholomaeus Night [ed note - killing spree] that had been planned by the Red Army was interrupted by German troops which surprised the Army at the critical moment.

We citizens of the Kronsthal Village speak our heartfelt thank you to our great leader, Adolf Hitler, the German Army and the German people, for the salvation from hardship and assure him that we will be ready tat any time to do our part whenever Adolf Hitler can use us. Hail Hitler.

Minister for the Occupied Territory, Dr. Stumpp
Mayor P. Giesbrecht
District Commissioner, Gerhard Fast
Dated 18 July 1942

1. These children are included in the current population counts above.

2. In mixed marriages, only the German partner is counted; the children are included above.

3. All persons 18+ are counted among the men and women, even if unmarried.

Editor's note:The reference to Bartholomaeus Night is an allusion to a historical killing spree. More information about it will be provided in an updated version of this page.

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Translation by Dora Epp and Anna G. Rempel
Transcription, editing and html by Judith Rempel
01 April 1997