August Albuk is a child of Baltic German parents. Since his birth he lives in Karacaören – a village in the northeast of Turkey. At the end of the 19th century about 80 German families had settled there.
At one time, almost a hundred families of German origin lived in the small village of Karacaören, which was formerly called Paulinenhof. It is located in the Turkish province of Kars in northeastern Turkey. Today only one direct descendant of German-Baltic parents lives there: August Albuk.
His ancestors still cultivated fields and raised cattle. Now they are all dead or have left the village. He buried his parents in the cemetery built over a hundred years ago next to the village, where probably 150 to 200 other Baltic Germans lie underground. Today it is not possible to determine that exactly, because the cemetery has been forgotten over time and is in danger of disappearing. With much effort and improvisation August tries to preserve the graves of his parents. Almost all former villagers of German origin emigrated to the Federal Republic decades ago. Together with them, the many memories disappeared.
The families had once come from German-influenced areas in Estonia. They had probably been brought by the Russians in 1892 to the area around Kars, which was then part of the Russian Empire. About 80 German families, among them many craftsmen, had their modern equipment with them. In a short time they built their village and church and christened it Paulinenhof. It is said today that the German immigrants with their pioneering agricultural spirit took a pioneering role in the region. They were also known for their old art of cheese making, which nobody practices anymore. When Kars became a province of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, the village still counted several hundred Baltic Germans. They preserved their culture and Protestant faith for several generations.
August also cultivates its traditions, but at the same time is deeply rooted in its surroundings, which have now completely changed. The place that the many German emigrants had vacated in the 1970s was later taken over by Turkmen farmers from the surrounding area. Like his ancestors, August lives in a friendly relationship with his neighbors. He is married to a Turkish woman of Muslim faith. Together they raise a son and two daughters. The children have been baptized, says August, but later they will have to decide for themselves which faith they accept.
Older villagers still remember the Albuk family well. The father Frederik Albuk is said to have been wealthy and generous during his lifetime. He often lent his tractors or other equipment to the neighbors. There is nothing bad to report about the family, says one of the Turkish farmers in the neighborhood.
In later years, the living conditions changed. They were not spared the economic upheavals, explains August. Today he lives in modest conditions. The hard work of past years is written in his face. But he does not lose his courage. Moving away or even emigrating is not an option for him – this is what his father had wanted so much. Frederik was deeply rooted in caracaoören. It was his homeland, which he loved and never wanted to leave again – not even after his death. So he was buried in the village cemetery in 1997 at his wish. In 2011 his mother Olga died and was also buried there.
August speaks hardly any German anymore, but he is fluent in Turkish. Otherwise, one would hardly be able to distinguish him from his Turkish neighbors. Only his blue eyes and blond hair stand out. Like his father, he considers his village his home. In the past years he has struggled his way through with different jobs. Now he is pursuing a new business idea: colorful flowers in gray concrete pots.