Our Trip to Ukraine
Home Our Tour Starting in Kiev Down the Dnieper Molotschna Zaporozhye and Chortitza Borosenko Coastal Crimea Mennonite Crimea Black Sea Experiences Odessa Family Genealogy


Trip to Ukraine -- September, 1999

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passengers-t.jpg (12621 bytes)Ginger and I traveled to Ukraine in September, 1999, to be part of the Mennonite Heritage Cruise.  We joined another 160 persons, primarily of Russian Mennonite descent, to try to understand the area in which our ancestors had lived.

We were looking for a feeling of the place -- the space from which our families had come to the U.S.  We had the opportunity to feel the time and place of 20th-century Russian Mennonites as well -- of people who had experienced life after everything changed starting in 1914.

The following sections describe the trip which began in Kiev and traveled down the Dnieper River, spending a day in Dnepropetrovsk (formerly Ekaterinoslav), several days in Zaporozhye in the heart of the Mennonite colonies, a few days in the Crimea, and a short time in Odessa.  Click on the photos and links for more description and pictures.

KievWe arrived in Kiev (Kyiv), a good way to begin.  The modern history of Ukraine began here with the acceptance of Christianity and the construction of beautiful churches beginning in the 11th century.

On-board we had the pleasure of  an introductory lecture by the Canadian ambassador and a performance by a folk ensemble.

shevshenko-mem-m.jpg (11876 bytes)Traveling down the river   After traveling overnight from Kiev, we stopped in Khanev at the memorial of Taras Shevchenko, the 19th century poet and "father of Ukraine." 

The following day we were in Dnepropetrovsk, once Ekaterinoslav, the home to urban Mennonites who were often industrial leaders.

chortitza-oak-tZaporozhye was our home for the heart of the tour.  The city lies adjacent to the "Old Colony," Chortitza, and from here we took bus trips elsewhere.

The Zaporozhye/Chortitza section describes special events:  a joint church service with the Zaporozhye Mennonites, the famous oak tree, a visit to a school, a visit to a museum and entertainment by the Cossacks.


threshing_stone-t.jpg (13202 bytes)Molotschna was the heart of the visit.  This colony held over 50 Mennonite villages at the turn of the century.  Upon going through our family history, we found that at least 24 of the had been home to ancestry.  We made a sampling of the Molotschna villages in two days of bus tours.


Borosenko-window-m.jpg (16100 bytes)Borosenko  A private excursion for four took us to the Borosenko colony where we found a different landscape and the gracious owners of former Mennonite homes.


DniproSunset-m.jpg (12764 bytes)To the Black Sea  While making our way to and traveling the Black Sea, we shared writing and painful memories and discovered Ukrainian foods in dachas.



Chersonesus-m.jpg (11308 bytes)Coastal Crimea produced a wealth of historical treasures from our base in Sevastopol -- Yalta and the ruins of ancient Chersonesus were highlights.



stillLife-m.jpg (12688 bytes)Central Crimea  Visiting the sites of the former Mennonite villages including Annenfeld whose history was part of the Warkentin family history.


PotemkinSteps-m.jpg (16534 bytes)Odessa lies on the Black Sea at the end of our journey.  We found history, lovely architecture, the opera, and the contents of the archives.



ppw-m.jpg (11667 bytes)Our Genealogy  In various places, the stories have referenced the individual ancestors who lived in Molotschna.  For those who may wish to see if there is a connection, you may consult simple pedigree charts.   Further details may be found at:  http://www.theratzlaffs.net/history

Ken and Ginger Ratzlaff.  

Last edited: 05/10/11   ken@theRatzlaffs.net