Christian Fiess was one of the "great persons" in the history of our Germans from Russia community worldwide.
Christian was born and raised to adulthood in what we refer to today as Bessarabia. His Fiess family basically comes out of the village of Sarata. In 1940, young Christian was a school teacher in Sarata when our German Russian families were brought ("repatriated") out of Bessarabia.
After the war, Christian Fiess established the collections and was the first archivist and curator of the Heimatmuseum der Deutschen aus Bessarabien in Stuttgart, Germany. He gathered from among those Bessarabian Germans who left Bessarabia in 1940 and returned to Germany many photographs, family documents, textile and clothing archives, and many other valuable materials. These items now can be viewed and researched at the Heimatmuseum.
Christian built on this collection of family documents and with help of our Bessarabian German peoples, gathered from the German Archives and churches - copies of church registers (such as birth, marriage and death records) and church "Familien/Personalien Buecher", and Ahnentafel charts made up by these families.
He organized these paper copies into file folders by specific family groupings. This valuable family history and genealogical archives as part of "The Christian Fiess Collection" was filmed by the LDS Family History Center in Salt Lake City. These valuable microfilms contain great volumes of valuable family research data for our entire Bessarabian German Russian community.
These 6 microfilm reels contain about 8,700 pages/frames of data. The film numbers concerned are; 1476492, 1476493, 1476494, 1476495, 1476496, and 1476497.
Several people were involved in discussions concerning an indexing for these files. Several attempted to start such a project, but the films were too much for them. In 1994, while Dale Lee Wahl was visiting with Christian in Stuttgart, the discussion of such an index was approached. Then in 1996, a native German who now lives in the USA was made aware of the films and the great data contained on them. This was Elli Wise. Once Elli saw copies of the data from the films, and was able to discern what was in these files, she knew she had to do this project herself!
In coordination with the GRHS Clearing House, the LDS was approached concerning this planned project. With liaison and help of key individuals in Salt Lake City, the plans were put together. We would get Christianís blessings and a signed permission by to do the indexing and to gain copies of the films for use during the indexing - and a little plus that these of the films would be housed and belong to the GRHS (a non-profit organization).
So as Elli prepared to go to Germany and to visit this great man, she discovered that she was related to Christian himself - as a matter of fact, Elli is great-niece of Christian.
Needless to say, Elli's trip to Germany was a very enjoyable time for both her and Christian. She then moved ahead to provide the indexes so our German Russian researchers would be better able to find their family data among these great files.
The indexes for the six films were first posted on the Odessa Digital Library.
Now we make these index files available in many forms here on the GRHS and RIG webpages for the GRHS members to use as an aid to find the film and data on the six films held in the GRHS film collection in Bismarck.
The users of these files must be aware of a few notes that we have taken along the way.
- 1. There will also be Odessa family data included in these files.
- 2. The handwriting is sometimes difficult even for a person with the great skills of Elli. Some of these documents are reproductions and can contain errors introduced by the previous readers/typists/translators of such records. These reproductions are being included as found in the files. So be careful in your use of these indexes. As we know, the c - k are often interchanged within a word and sometimes both are used (ck together). The capital letters are some times confused because of the extra squiggles, or marginal handwriting. Keep an eye on the capital G - H, the I-J-F-T . . . the S and the St - N, and so forth. And above all, keep an open mind to the spelling of your ancestors names.
- 3. There will be several redundant entries in the indexes, but it is wise not conclude that you should not go look at the other information on the other films.
- 4. We must understand that while this index data by itself is very interesting, we must not lose sight of the why of the index - it's value is limited if it is not used to go look at the filmed data itself. The individual records mostly provide the entry/page numbers and in which books to refer to for additional data/research material. One may also find original copies of German held records prior to the individual families emigration to Russia. Many records will appear either duplicated or repeated, though most of these instances they are a different version of the same information, usually providing data not provided on another record. So proceed cautiously before making some erroneous premature conclusions.
As we use this great index data and these grand film files, let us give a special thanks to Elli, Christian, and all of the Bessarabian peoples who helped Christian assemble this great collection. All of us who will do Bessarabian research of our Bessarabian families for many decades to come must be especially appreciative of these folks who have come before us and provided us with such a wonderful treasure chest of historical data and the tools to unlock their secrets.
A Note from Elli Wise
My great-uncle Christian Fiess called me the 'extension of his hand' in providing translation and index of the records, he so carefully collected and confirmed with the individual parishes/sources as best as he could. Some data that could not be confirmed is also included and very usable.
Christian Fiess spent over 60 years collecting material and preserving heritage and making such available to help others to find their roots/relatives/ancestors. I admire his life time devotion and feel especially privileged to be able to extend his work to help others just as he intended.
I found not only a great-uncle .. but so much more... roots and family . . . even I did not know I had.
Most of all . . . I found a great love my great uncle and I deeply share . . .
Thank you Elli Wise - 11 April 1997 [rev. Dec 2006]