Southern California Chapter Hosts
By Margaret Aman Freeman, Redondo Beach, California
Redondo Beach, California
August 1, 2003
On August 1, a sunny day at the banks of the
Pacific Ocean, the Southern California Chapter, American Historical
Society of Germans from Russia (AHSGR)-International hosted
an official delegation of the German government. Honored guests
were: Jochen Welt, Federal Ministry of the Interior, responsible
for matters related to repatriates and national minorities in
Germany, Klaus Pöhle, director general of the Federal Ministry
of the Interior, and Dr. Alexander Schumacher, Referent. They
were accompanied by Dr. Hans Jürgen Wendler, Consular General
of Los Angeles.
Jochen Welt is a member of the Deutscher Bundestag
and is responsible for ethnic Germans in the former Soviet Union
migrating to Germany. Since 1989, close to three million ethnic
Germans have immigrated to Germany from Russia, Kazakhstan,
Ukraine, Siberia, and other former Soviet states. His office
is responsible for many economic, educational and cultural projects
in the former Soviet Union.
The German entourage was greeted by the national
colors of the United States and Germany prominently displayed
as the dignitaries entered the driveway, setting the tone of
mutual interest and respect. The reception for the delegation
at the Freeman home in Redondo Beach included welcoming statements,
a receiving line, a toast to our future of communication and
cooperation, and a group picture.
Bob and Margaret Aman Freeman, as hosts, welcomed
the group, and in conjunction with the Glückstal Colonies
Research Association and the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection,
presented the delegation with copies of Glückstal Kolonien
Geburten und Eheschließungen, 1833-1900, Glückstal
Kolonien Todesfälle, 1833-1900.
Al Hart, president of the Southern California
Chapter, AHSGR-I, extended a welcome on behalf of the Southern
California Chapter and brought greetings from Ed Hoak, international
president of AHSGR-I.
Bob Benson, president of the California District
Council, AHSGR-I, welcomed the group on behalf of the California
District Council and the California Chapters of AHSGR-I. Bob
described the mission of AHSGR-I and followed with a review
of the agricultural contribution of the early German Russian
immigrants to California, and the movement of successive generations
into the professions and business. The SOAR Project and its
successes was also described and the successful North American
program of village coordinators.
Bob asked the Germans to consider making archival
records in Germany more accessible for research suggesting a
corollary benefit of encouraging tourism into Germany. He invited
the participation of these German guests at the upcoming Modesto
Convention in 2004. In conclusion, Bob presented a bottle of
Bogle, a wine from Clarksburg in Northern California, to each
member of the delegation produced by a descendant of German
immigrants to the golden state, California.
At this point, Arthur Flegel led the group in
a toast to future communication and increased cooperation on
our common goals, concluding with the singing of "Ein Prosit,
ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit."
Arthur Flegel then used a large reproduction of
the Stumpp map showing the settlement of Germans from Russia
in the United States to illustrate the extent to which Germans
from Russia descendants have spread out in our country.
He shared a handout he had created to describe
the immigration to the USA by Germans from Russia 1850-1914,
and he showed examples of various newspapers published by the
Germans from Russia groups from Europe and Russia. He spoke
of the founding of AHSGR, the formation of GRHS, the development
of the Germans from Russia societies, the membership growth,
our publishing ventures, and our future plans. He concluded
with the idea that all of us in South America, North America,
and east to Russia are still Germans from Russia ethnically
Mr. Welt's talk in German, with the aid of an
interpreter, centered on their people to people approach, the
hope for future cooperation, and an awareness of each other's
programs, and the future exploration of ways to work together
he expressed gratitude for this beginning and the hospitality
showed to them.
Present for the occasion were the hosts, Bob and
Margaret Freeman, local chapter members: Al & Marion Hart,
Dave and Barbara Horn, Gary & Betty Schlaht, Pastor Rhinehold
Klein, out-of-town guests: Arthur and Cleo Flegel, Bob and Marge
Benson, and out-of state guest, Ed Wagner of Oregon.
The group was in Washington, D. C., on July 28-29,
2003, where they metwith representatives of the federal government.
On July 30, 2003, in North Dakota they met with Governor John
Hoeven and staff. The German officials visited the North Dakota
Heritage Center. They also toured the building of the Germans
from Russia Heritage Society in Bismarck and met with GRHS President
Al Feist and other dignitaries. The Bismarck-Mandan Development
Association hosted the delegation at lunch.
At Strasburg, ND, they visited historic sites
including the Lawrence Welk Homestead, Saints Peter and Paul
Catholic Church, and the nearby iron cross cemetery meeting
with Father Leonard Eckroth and local historian, Albert Feist.
State Senator Robert Erbele hosted the group at the Lehr Tabernacle
Campgrounds and at his Buffalo Ranch north of Lehr, ND.
On July 31, 2003, at North Dakota State University,
Fargo, they visited the new Research Technology Park, the Northern
Crops Institute, and the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection.
Staff at Prairie Public Television met with them to discuss
cooperative documentary projects on the history and culture
of the Germans from Russia.
All in all, they had a very busy five days.