Notes from the visit of Ed Hoak to Dobrinka in May 2001
There is a paved, two-lane road that runs from Dreispitz, about five kilometers down to Dobrinka, which is on the banks of the Volga River.
Dobrinka was the first of the colonies to be established, on 29 June 1764. In 1912 it had grown to a population of 5,400 people. The old church is still there but it is badly decayed and in major disrepair. Ruins would be a more appropriate term. The ruins indicate the church must have been a grand structure at one time. The ruins still stand a large two stories tall with very large columns. No windows remain and the roof appears to be gone. It looks like it was a brick structure painted white.
The church site is in the center of Dobrinka, and overlooks the Volga River. There is a school building nearby and a small wooden structure that belongs to the school. The school is a large white two-story masonry structure that appears to be modern, guessing about twenty-five years old or so. The smaller wooden structure, along side the school, in outward appearance is similar to the wood houses so common in the villages. It may have been the original schoolhouse for Dobrinka. Dobrinka has a small store, which is a small white brick structure that seems to have been built as a store. It looks like a commercial building. It also has a large mental hospital, made of white brick. It has one and two-story wings around a courtyard. There is a building near the main downtown that looks like one of the old, unpainted, wooden houses that houses the German Museum. It appeared to be closed for the day but is very well maintained, indicating it is probably being actively used. The village club is in the downtown area. It is a two-story, white brick structure with an attached structure that is white brick on the first level and unpainted wood on the second level.
The village, like most others, has a mixture of older wooden houses and stucco houses. The new resettlement houses being built by the German Bank in many other villages were not evident here. A new eight-inch water main is being installed through the main part of town. There is evidence of a collective farm but its status could not be determined. There are what appear to be maintenance buildings for farm equipment as you enter the village and these seem to be in service. The streets, other than the main street, remain unpaved. It seems to be a thriving, clean, little town. The current population is estimated to be 2,000 - 3,000.
While in Dobrinka near the school and store, a loudspeaker on a pole was playing music for the whole town to hear, from a radio station. It would appear this was a carryover from an earlier time.
Time was short so there was no attempt to find German families in the village or to visit the cemetery.
Recent photos courtesy of Andrew Shvidko (2007):
Dobrinka picture 1 click here
Dobrinka picture 2 click here
Dobrinka picture 3 click here
Dobrinka church, Eugenia Diyamandidi (2008) click here