In the Footsteps of German Colonists


“How agreeably was I surprised to see the advanced state of agriculture as we traveled southwards and to find this mighty empire, I supposed to be thinly peopled, covered with populous villages and waving corn”, wrote the wife of a Russian officer not long after Odessa’s founding while traveling through Odessa’s region.

Indeed, in the middle of flatlands travelers stumbled over a neatly organized settlement with small wooden houses gathered in rows around a plain stone church, with doorposts painted with simple but elegant flower motifs, with beautiful flower gardens in front of the houses. A settlement had a strange to the local ear name: Klein- or Grossliebental, Leipzig or Lustdorf. In Odessa itself, there were two German neighborhoods and a Lutheran church, which locals still call “kircha’.

Thousands of German colonists moved to Russian Empire and the Black Sea steppes in the early 19th century, making their new home here. They developed lands, set up their settlements and made Odessa’s region prosper. The 1917 Bolshevik revolution, Civil War, Stalin’s regime and WWll radically changed life of millions of people and German colonists were no exception.

Interested in learning more about German colonists in Odessa and Odessa’s region? Have family roots and want to explore your heritage? Want to visit a particular area, which once was a German village? We’ll be delighted to develop a custom tour for you and help with the research.

Customer Reviews

“…Thanks for all of the research on Kleinlebental. We were so happy to just be in the area where our family lived before immigrating to the U.S. in 1906. We have many many things to share with the family at home…”

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Photos of the Tour

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