Bukovina Heritage Trip – 2011

By Roma Kutzik
Published by the author in the Bukovina Society of the Americas Newsletter,
Vol. 22, No.1 March, 2012

Ed. Note: Bukovina Society member Roma Kutzik journeyed to her ancestral homeland with the Bukowina-Institut of Augsburg, Germany in September 2011 and wrote a report to the Society headquarters on December 12, 2011.

Thank you for your help in placing me in contact with the Bukowina Institut! Our 2011 trip to Bukovina, the home of our heritage, was a success in so many ways.

Our trip began in Bavaria, and covered parts of Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania and the Ukraine. We visited Eisenau (Prisaca Dornei), the Kutzik family’s hometown in Bukovina, which was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and is now part of Romania. As we looked out across the beautiful vistas in the countryside, we learned about our heritage from our fellow travelers and tour guides, Herr Geier and Caroline and Mary Scheinost of the Bukowina Institut in Augsburg, Germany, as well as the people whom we met.

My grandfather Johann Kutzik was schooled as a tailor in Radautz, Bukovina. He immigrated to the U.S. before World War I, in 1908. My dad, Reinhart Michael Kutzik, age 19 years, followed in 1920 and in 1923, my grandmother Ludwina Munster Kutzik came with her two girls, Elizabeth and Gertrude.

I walked many miles and learned that there is indeed evidence of Kutzik family history. The white Evangelical (Lutheran) church with its tall steeple, cherished by our grand-mother Ludwina, still stands on the hill in Jakobeny [now Iacobeni]. Family records of marriages, deaths, births, and baptisms were kept there and in the cemetery we were able to find family names including Schmegner, Tomascheck, and Wagner.

I met a distant relative, Renate Gschwendtner, granddaughter of the late Gisela Oberländer, who furnished me with details of church records. I was also delighted to learn that our family had participated in their community as carpenters, hammer-smiths, and shoemakers as well as tailors.

One of my favorite sites was St. Nicholas, the wooden church at Bogdan Voda of Maramures in northern Roma-nia. It took my breath away with its design, artistry, and craftsmanship! In Bukovina, we visited the Voronetz and Moldovitza painted churches, surrounded by monasteries, which were a gift of Stephen III (also called “the Great”) to the Bukovina people in the 15th and 16th centuries. Beautifully designed with painted frescoes of Bible stories, they supplied teaching to illiterate community members as well as the women who were not allowed to enter. Sermons were for the men; women often stayed outside, looked at the pictures, and listened.

I loved Mozart’s scenic Salzburg, Augsburg, Luther’s church, the Rathaus (city hall), the shops and town square as well as Oktoberfest in Munich, four awesome days in Berlin, the Dom (cathedral), Budapest and Vienna and Chernivtsy [Czernowitz] with its beautiful university, the museums and other buildings, great food, and wonderful company.

Our experience included so many sights and even more learning than I can list. I will always remember the Bukovina horses with their red tassels, the cemeteries, the food, the haystacks, the roads, the personality revealed in the clothing people wore and the buildings of Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, Cluj Napoca [in northwestern Romania], and Chernivtsy as well as the sweet homes nestled in the Carpathian hillside, and, of course, Eisenau.