Hoffnungstal, Bessarabia – History of a German Village (Part 1)

This is part 1 of 6 blog posts on my grandfather’s home village of Hoffnungstal, Bessarabia (now Ukraine).

Hoffnungstal, Bessarabia Ukraine
Founding of Hoffnungstal

The village of Hoffnungstal, Bessarabia, (Nadezhdivka, Ukraine), was the last German mother colony created in Bessarabia. It was initially founded in 1842 by 25 families from the estate of Karlstal, part of the Freudental parish near Odessa. These families had first settled there between 1806 and 1819, but they were expelled in 1841, possibly due to the sale of the estate.

After leaving Karlstal, these families spent a winter in the Swiss-settled village of Schabo. This may have been intended as a temporary solution or it may have been the government’s intention for them to settle there permanently. However, the existing Schabo villagers objected to this because of the large number of German families (there were only 18 farmsteads available and 25 German families), religious differences, and disagreement over which land would be allotted to the new villagers.

Instead, the Welfare Committee (which managed German settlements in Tsarist Russia) decided in 1842 to settle the displaced villagers on the last available parcel of land, “Number 9,” in Bessarabia. (When Bessarabia first opened for settlement, a large influx of German families who had previously settled in Poland came there. Emigration from Poland had stopped by 1839, leaving this one piece of land, which was designated for German settlements, still open in 1842.)

This land was in the valley of the Karadai stream. At first, the settlement was known only as “Number 9.” In 1843, the new villagers, hopeful that they could settle in and prosper in this new place, named it Hoffnungstal, or Hope Valley.

From 1842 to 1848, 57 additional families joined the colony. These 82 families filled up the planned complement of settlers for this village.

The first 25 families received loans of 100 rubles from the Welfare Committee that had to be paid back, interest-free, in 10 years. Subsequent colonists received land, but had to rely on the capital that they brought with them. When the settlers first arrived, the steppe was bare of housing, forests, or crops. They built their homes using stone from the nearby quarry.

Farmstead of Otto Schott (Hoffnungstal: Bilder einer deutschen Siedlung in Bessarabien)

Farmstead of Otto Schott (Source: Hoffnungstal: Bilder einer deutschen Siedlung in Bessarabien)

A beautiful setting

The Karadai is surrounded by alternating hills and valleys, and the site of Hoffnungstal was considered one of the most beautiful in Bessarabia. Hoffnungstal was located about 5.5 miles northeast of the German parish village of Klöstitz, four miles southwest of the Russian village of Nicolaijewka, about five miles east of the German village of Borodino, about 11 miles from the German village of Beresina (which would later be very important because of its railroad station), and 10 miles south of the estate and market village belonging to the Russian Countess Mansir.

Hoffnungstal was spread out for 3 kilometers, lying north to south along the Karadai. There were two main streets running north/south, one on the east side of the stream and one on the west side. The farmsteads or “Hofs” of the 82 families were situated on either side of the Karadai. Each farmstead had four acres along the small stream, which usually included a vegetable patch and fruit trees for household use. Across the road, the remainder of the farmstead included about eight acres. A gate from the street led into the farm courtyard, which was surrounded by the family home and barns. Homes in Hoffnungstal were generally 22 feet wide (but of varying lengths) and consisted of at least six rooms.

Within the eight-acre farmstead was included the yard, threshing floor, straw and haystacks, and potato and vegetable gardens. The largest portion of the yard was usually filled with cultivated grapes used for making wine.

In the center of the village, the marketplace lay to the west of the Karadai. To the east of the Karadai, were the church, school, village administration building, and cemetery. The part of the village north of the center was commonly called the Oberdorf or upper village, and the part of the village lying south of the center was the Unterdorf or lower village.

Growth of the village

Hoffnungstal grew and prospered over the years. By 1859, 11 years after it was founded, the village had grown to 89 families with a population of 743. By 1900, the population was 1,160; at the time of the Umsiedlung in 1940, there were over 2,000 people living in the village.

This growth was primarily from births in the existing village families—due to very strict village regulations, it was practically impossible for someone from outside the village to purchase land in Hoffnungstal. The local code called for the next of kin to have first rights to purchase land. Next in line was a member of the colony, and lastly was a German from another colony. Through the 1800s, no one from outside the village was able to purchase land or property. After 1900, a few families from other German villages and two “foreigners” (probably Russians, Romanians or Jews) owned land in Hoffnungstal.

(To be continued)


“1848 Hoffnungstal Bess History.”  Hoffnungstal Newsletter (Vol 3 Issue 1)  April 1997.

Aippersbach, Johann and Minna. “Letters from Hoffnungstal.”  Hoffnungstal Newsletter (Vol 4 Issue 1) April 1998.

“At Last – It is Possible to Make Visits to the Homeland.” Translated by Adam Müller. Hoffnungstal Newsletter (Vol 2 Issue 1) April 1996.

Eisenbeiß, Albert. Familien- und Sippenbuch Hoffnungstal/Bessarabien. Zentralstelle für Personen- und Familiengeschichte – Institut für Genealogie. 1996. (Translations for some parts of this book were available in the Hoffnungstal Newsletter.)

Flaig, Armin. Ein Hauch der Ewigkeit. (A family history written by my third cousin, Armin Flaig.)

Giesinger, Adam. From Catherine to Khrushchev—The Story of Russia’s Germans. American Historical Society of Germans from Russia. Lincoln, Nebraska. 1981.

Hoffnungstal Heimatbuch. Peter Krug Verlag, Bietigheim, Germany. 1983.

The Holocaust Teacher Resource Center website. http://www.holocaust-trc.org/home.htm, accessed in 2001.

Kern, Albert. Homeland Book of the Bessarabian Germans. English translation published by the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University Libraries. 1998.

Ketterling, La Rose M. “Details of Hoffnungstal Cholera Deaths-1855.”  Hoffnungstal Newsletter (Vol 4 Issue 2) August 1998.

Retzloff, Duane. “Discovery of the Hoffnungstal Schoolhouse.” Bessarabian Newsletter (Vol 4 Issue 3) December 1998.


  1. Marilyn Thysell on May 25, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Thanks for the blog. Always interested where my Bessarabia families lived and how they lived. I think my great grandmother is from that village. Several sources list otherwise. So enjoy your work and time and effort you put into it.

  2. Ron Scherbenski on June 5, 2015 at 7:54 am

    Thank you Carolyn for these very interesting and informative posts. I appreciate all your good work.

  3. Carolyn on June 5, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    Thanks, Ron!

  4. CARL H. HEPPERLE on June 9, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Always interesting to read about the German settlements in Russia

  5. Carolyn on June 9, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    Thanks, Carl! That’s what I think, too!

  6. Greta Wahl-Diede on August 12, 2015 at 6:01 am

    Thank you so very much for this 6-part blog, I’ve read it several times!
    I’m having difficulties finding death records for Johannes Karl and Christina (Ostertag) Wahl.
    I know that they were in Karlstal about 1841 (their son, Johann and Barbara Burkle were married there), and have death dates of circa 1842 and 1841 respectively. They would have been in their late 60s/early 70s.
    I’ve tried to look up records for Schaibo (no luck). I’m hoping that you have more access to land or death records than I do!
    Please help if you can,

  7. Carolyn on August 14, 2015 at 6:01 am

    Hi Greta,

    Well, you’re fortunate to share ancestry with Dale Wahl, who was the mentor to many of us with Black Sea German roots! We have a couple entries in the Black Sea German database for this couple.
    Christina’s death is noted as being in 1845 in Odessa http://www.blackseagr.org/blksea-db/getperson.php?personID=I30007&tree=148 and http://www.blackseagr.org/blksea-db/getperson.php?personID=I35543&tree=291

    Johannes Karl’s death is seems to be a bit more of a mystery. http://www.blackseagr.org/blksea-db/getperson.php?personID=I30006&tree=148 and http://www.blackseagr.org/blksea-db/getperson.php?personID=I35541&tree=291

    But if Christina died in 1845 in Odessa and Johannes Karl’s estimated death date is 1841 or 1842 (just a couple years earlier), Odessa would seem to be a likely place to look more closely.

    This includes indexes to the Odessa city St. Pete files and I don’t see your guy there http://odessa3.org/collections/stpete/odessa/. Hmm, I’ll have to think what other suggestions I can come up with, but hope this helps a little.

  8. Greta Wahl-Diede on August 15, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks so much for your help! Family lore says he died in a cholera epidemic, but I find no such reference in that time frame. Still looking 😉

  9. Linette Bossert on November 8, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Hi! Opas family were from Hoffnungstal, Besserabia, they called it Valley of Hope. Are there any Bosserts listed in your geneology database? Pictures of the Bosserts at the school? My father in law (Albert) came to Canada when he was 17 years old with his brother Otto left his mother and she lived out her years in Beilefeld, Germany. She passed away when she she was 98 years old. My father in law is now 83 years old. There were several other Bosserts as well in the colony. My father in law and to Canada with many others on a boat landing in Montreal than off to Saskaychewan where many Besserabian Germans settled after 1940. He says many went to Medicine Hat, Alberta also.

    Please let me know if you having info I can pass onto my husbands family.

  10. Carolyn on November 8, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    Hi Linette – we have a lot of Bosserts in our Black Sea German database. See http://www.blackseagr.org/blksea-db/search.php?mybool=AND&mylastname=Bossert&myfirstname=&search1=Search

    If that doesn’t help, are you aware of the Hoffnungstal book by Albert Eisenbeiss? Albert pulled together all the family data for each family who lived in Hoffnungstal. If you don’t have a copy of the book, drop me an email at [email protected] and I’ll send it to you.

  11. Katharine (Litz) Below on April 15, 2016 at 3:23 am

    Hi Carolyn,
    I have just come across your information. My father was born in a german village in Russia. He called it Hoffnungsfeld but maybe it was Hoffnungstal. I believe the similarities are so close in meaning. Their name is Litz. Would you please let me know if there is any record of the Litz family.

  12. Carolyn on April 16, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Hi Katherine,

    Well, just to make it super confusing, there were multiple villages with both the name Hoffnungstal AND Hoffnungsfeld in Russia. This list can show you all the possibilities http://www.blackseagr.org/pdfs/village_list.pdf

    But what might be more helpful is the Black Sea German database. I see lots of people with the name of Litz here. You didn’t give me your grandfather’s first name, but see if you see him here: http://www.blackseagr.org/blksea-db/search.php?mybool=AND&nr=50&tree=-x–all–x-&mylastname=Litz&lnqualify=equals

    It does appear there were Litzs in Hoffnungstal. Do any of these look like your family? http://www.blackseagr.org/blksea-db/search.php?mybool=AND&nr=50&tree=-x–all–x-&mylastname=Litz&lnqualify=equals&mybirthplace=Hoff&bpqualify=contains

    If we can narrow it down a bit to your specific family, I have a book on Hoffnungstal that I could do more lookups.

  13. Katharine (Litz) Below on April 17, 2016 at 5:08 am

    Hi Carolyn,
    Thank you so much for the information. My grandfathers first name was Rheinhold. His wife’s name was Lydia. They had two sons Rheinhold and Waldemar. Waldemar was my father and he was born in 1918 or1919, they was some mix up about that. They left Russia in the early 1930’s.They had a warning from a Russian friend that my grandfather was next to be sent to Siberia or be killed. They left immediately and walked over the Caucasus Mountains for several days to Persia. They lived there 5 years and then were told they would have to join there religion or leave. They then went to Germany and came to Canada before the war started. I did not find any Rheinholds in the web sites you listed. My mother is still alive in a nursing home. I showed her information from you and she was so excited. She said that my dad often spoke about fishing in the Caspian Sea. Were there settlements closer to the Caspian Sea. We don’t ask enough questions when they are alive. Hope to hear from you again. Katharine(Litz)Below

  14. Carolyn on April 23, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    Katharine – I just sent you an email.

  15. […]   Hoffnungstal, Bessarabia – History of a German Village (Part 1) […]

  16. Katharine (Litz) Below on May 2, 2016 at 10:25 am

    Hi Carolyn,
    Thank you for all the information on the books avaiIable for research. If any one else has family from german villages closer to the Caspian Sea, please contact me. Thanks again Carolyn, Katharine (Litz) Below

  17. Shari Douglass (Rothenberger) on November 13, 2017 at 10:26 am

    Hello, I know my comment is at least a year after most, but if you are still responding to this post I would appreciate knowing about the Hoffnungstal book by Albert Eisenbeiss you spoke about. I have really had a hard time finding out much about my great grandfather and great grandmother. They lived in Berlin in Hoffnungstal. Their names are Karl Rothenberger DOB 11/23/1865 and his wife was Mary Magdalena Neumuller DOB 1869?

  18. Carolyn Schott on November 13, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    Hi Shari,

    I don’t see any Rothenbergers or Neumuellers in the Albert’s book. Are you sure they lived in Hoffnungstal, Bessarabia? What other information do you have on them?

    Ah ha- look further. They must have been in Neu-Berlin, which was part of the Hoffnungstal, Odessa parish. https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1Sz-Sn4I1F-iqS2sNeeTPZ6-Jd8I&z=18&ll=47.11029999999999%2C30.257799999999975

    On this map, they’re combined with the Glueckstal Colonies. I’d try the Glueckstal Colonies Research group. They would probably have the best idea. But if they can’t find out anything for you, check back with me again and I’ll do more digging. https://www.facebook.com/Gluckstal-Colonies-Research-Association-131385740262277/

  19. Shari Douglass (Rothenberger) on November 14, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Awww… Thank you so much for looking into it for me. You must be correct. He always said he was from Berlin, Cherson.. ( I believe ) Shows how little I know. I didn’t realize that there was a two Hoffnungstals. Thanks for looking for me. I will try to find an Odessa group to help. 🙂

  20. Douglas Thompson on March 26, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    Hi Just looking for the location our family came from ,always heard Berressa , near Odessa found my Great Grand fathers birth place as Hoffnnungsthal His family name Bauder . Some one in the family if I recall traced the family back to Germany around 1600? Thank you for this effort

  21. Carolyn on March 26, 2018 at 7:20 pm

    Hi Douglas,
    I don’t see any Bauders in Hoffnungstal, Bessarabia, though I do see some Bauers. But I DO see Bauders in Hoffnungstal near Odessa. Do any of these people look familiar?

  22. Douglas Thompson on March 26, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    Thank You I found my Grand Father #144173 Christoph Friedrich Bauder Hoffnungstal near Odessa location

  23. Carolyn on March 26, 2018 at 8:12 pm


  24. Lily Fischer on August 5, 2018 at 2:51 am

    my great great great grandparents where Peter Schott / Johanna Singer and they came for the village of Hoffnungstal, Akkerman, Bessarabia, South Russia, I have really enjoyed reading you blog and learning about the village and my ancestry, thank you so much for the time you have spent making this blog.

  25. Carolyn on August 8, 2018 at 8:43 pm

    @Lily – hello cousin! Your 3X great-grandfather Peter Schott was the brother of my great-grandfather Christian Schott!

  26. Victoria Kusmaul on May 10, 2020 at 9:29 pm

    Hi! I´m trying to get info about my dad’s family. What I know so far is that my great grandfather Alejandro Kussmaul was born in Kiev, now Ukraine; his mom was Marta Zelenski and dad Gustavo Kussmaul.
    From my great grandmother I just know her name: Catalina Brandel (or Brandell). Both parties came to Argentina, but we believe the surnames Kussmaul and Brandel are germans, but I haven’t found anything from them (tons of Kussmaul, bot not them).
    By the way, they were registered here as KuSmaul, and Alejandro as KusmauS.
    If you know anything, please tell me 🙂

  27. CAROLYN SCHOTT on May 11, 2020 at 9:04 am

    @Victoria – Kussmaul and Brandel are definitely German names. And there were a lot of Germans in what was Imperial Russia.

    There were a number of Kussmauls in the village of Teplitz, Bessarabia. That’s really not near Kyiv, but see if any of these look like your family. http://www.blackseagr.org/blksea-db/search.php?mybool=AND&nr=50&tree=-x–all–x-&branch=&mylastname=smaul&lnqualify=contains&myfirstname=Gust&fnqualify=startswith

    Also a number of Brandels, but none that appear to match your Catalina http://www.blackseagr.org/blksea-db/search.php?mybool=AND&nr=50&tree=-x–all–x-&branch=&mylastname=Brandel&lnqualify=contains

    I suppose you’ve looked at things like passenger lists, obituaries, local histories for biographical info, family Bibles, to see if you can get any more details about the specific towns they came from?

    If they were truly from the Kyiv area, the largest groups of German colonies near Kyiv were the Volhynia colonies. https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?mid=1Sz-Sn4I1F-iqS2sNeeTPZ6-Jd8I&z=8&ll=50.69947814375789%2C30.56249411718761

    The organization that knows most about Volhynia is SGGEE (www.sggee.org – plus they have a FB page).

    Hope this helps!

  28. Bob on November 28, 2020 at 4:34 pm

    Hi Carolyn I’m trying to find marriage records for my grandfather William Bauer (b 8 April 1893 ) to Marie Humburg they were married in Hoffnungstal Dec 9 1912 do you have access to the Lutheran parish records thanks

  29. admin on November 28, 2020 at 5:56 pm

    Hey Bob – If you look on this page, it’s a list of the original church records available for Bessarabian villages (other than the St. Pete records that are filmed only through 1885). http://www.blackseagr.org/research/bess_films.html

    It looks like the main records available for the time period you’re interested in are the family registers, which are really valuable even if they’re not primary sources.

    Another option is if you can find the Hoffnungstal Sippenbuch by Albert Eisenbeiss, where he’s summarized info for each Hoffnungstal family. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Familien_und_Sippenbuch_Hoffnungstal_Bes/r9v4GgAACAAJ?hl=en

  30. Robert Bach on November 29, 2020 at 8:37 am

    Hi Carolyn this is my second attempt can’t see my first comment I’m looking for information on my grandfather from Hoffnungstal William Bauer born April 8 1893 married Marie Humburg on 9 Dec 1912 In Lutheran Parish in same village thanks Robert