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The Second Conference of German-Russian Authors in 2002

Zweites Russlanddeutsches Autorentreffen 2002

Brantsch, Ingmar, and Sonja Janke. "The Second Conference of German-Russian Authors in 2002." Volk auf dem Weg, December 2002, 25.

Translation from German to English by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado


Participants in the Conference of German-Russian Authors in Oerlinhausen. Organizer Agnes Giesbrecht appears in the third row, second from the right.

[The following paragraph is printed in bold in the original:]
Following the gratifyingly successful, first-ever conference in February of this year [2002], a second conference of German-Russian authors, under the direction of Agnes Giesbrecht, took place in Oerlinghausen from the 18th to the 20th of October. And the authors did not come empty-handed. They brought plenty of material for discussion and even for argument. Unfortunately the time was too short.

On Friday, Agnes Giesbrecht led the popular free reading session during which, just as in the old country, singing under accompaniment on the guitar made for a relaxed mood.

On Saturday, Russian prose was introduced from an almanac that is available both in Russian and German. The German-language edition, published by Robert Burau, presents 24 authors of prose and poetry, and the Russian edition contains works of 37 authors.

For a subgroup under the direction of Waldemar Herrmann, Georg Gaab presented the first reading, a brief prose work on the war and on the opportunistic behavior of some countrymen. Of course, such a topic tends to be somewhat explosive, even if presented satirically. In contrast, Viktor Heinz' "Zarte Radieschen und anderes Gemuese [Delicate radishes and other vegetables]" was met with hearty laughter.

Johann Keib, with his fairy tale called "Die silberne Stimme der Liebe [Silver Voice of Love]," attempted to write something that "warms the soul," and he put forth the argument that his "Fairy Youth" could certainly depict a German-Russian. Julia Bernhardt (19) rejected the fixation on German-Russian themes. The tragic conclusion of her short story "Das brauchen sie nicht anzutun [No need to do that to people]" reminded listeners of Russian ethnic tales, which often also end badly.

Waldemar Herrmann's short story "Die Angorakatze [Angora Cat]" dealt with the loss of a pet dog and how its death also marked an entire facet of life and the end of a love relationship of its first-person narrator. Even sadder is the suffering of the protagonist following the loss of a child in Agnes Giesbrecht's lengthier story entitled "Inga."

Gottlieb Eirich's piece of prose entitled "Am Rande des Weizenfeldes [At the Edge of the Wheatfield]" actually met with some dispute when Eugen Warkentin claimed that he had read something quite similar. To which Eirich commented, "Similar experience, similar retelling."

The subgroup on lyric poetry was moderated by Wendelin Mangold, who strongly favors authenticity and uniqueness in the lyrical voice. Johannes Baer read a few very unconventional Japanese haikus, and Julia Bernhardt, in her "Kriegsland [Land of War]," presented some astonishing and unusual verbal associations such as "War must be a woman, because men fall in love with it."

If one reflects even briefly on the terrible difficulties that the German language and culture overcame and survived in the Soviet Union, it is almost a miracle that so much determination and even increasing ability continue to exist. Exist they must, because it is important to sensitize people on the tragic past and the difficult present for Germans from Russia. It appears that the mostly cheerful and slightly satyrical texts by Georg Gaab, Gottlieb Eirich, Alexander Reiser and Martin Thielmann, as well as the ironical-satyrical verses of Wendelin Mangold succeeded therein during the final session. The same can be said for the more pensive texts. In these, Agnes Giesbrecht reported on the Third Homeland, Waldemar Herrmann on the finality of a permanent move, Frieda Bayer on the drama involved in the decision to emigrate, and Julia Bernhardt on the black depths of a love relationship. Finally, Wladimir Eisner moved between earnestness and cheerfulness in his story dealing with life on the Polar Circle.

The most important thing about the conference in Oerlinghausen appears to be the realization that the literary work of young German-Russian authors here in Germany is getting to the point of being able to stand on its own feet.

Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation of this article.

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