Visit From North Dakota
Harsch Moderau, Elfriede. "Visit From North Dakota." Volk auf dem Weg, July 1999.
Translation of German to English by Brigitte von Budde,
Fargo, North Dakota
On May 30, the choir Heimatklänge of Stuttgart welcomed rare
guests: Prof. Michael Miller, bibliographer at North Dakota State
University in Fargo, USA, and a group of 20 Americans came to Stuttgart.
They were on their return trip from the Ukraine and Bessarabia where
they had visited the former German settlement areas.
On their trip they were very impressed by the wonderful hospitality
and friendliness of the people. However, the poverty which had become
worse especially in the Ukraine in the last few years affected them
very much. A few days were planned for Stuttgart. Aside from a city
tour there were excursions to Elsass and Ludwigsburg. Many participants
were in Germany for their first time; they were fascinated by our
Our choir had invited the Americans to coffee and home made pie
in the Haus der Heimat. Of course, our guests were welcomed with
music starting with the songs "Ave Maria", "Die kleine Bergkirche"
and with folk songs which our choir director, Marina Bauer, had
recently rehearsed with us. Waldemar Hergert (accordion) and Stefan
Klötzel (balalaika) played Russian and German melodies. Marina Bauer
welcomed the guests and their guide Prof. Miller as well as the
chairman of the chapter of Stuttgart, Ludmilla Holzwarth.
In order to get mutually acquainted, all choir members introduced
themselves and told of the experiences in their lives: deportation
from German settlement areas to Siberia and Kazakhstan, forced labor,
separation from family members, ban of the German language. Many
did not survive this difficult time. Our choir members are almost
all late ethnic German emigrants; many came to Germany only a few
Our visitors introduced themselves also: most of them had German
names. Their ancestors immigrated from Russia, mainly from the Odessa
area, to America where they largely settled in North and South Dakota
as farmers and cultivated the prairie. Many descendants of these
farmers, among them also our guests, have learned and studied other
occupations. They have sold or leased out their farms and moved
to other areas of the USA.
Quickly we made contact with our guests even when there were language
barriers. Once again we could experience most beautifully how music
unites people in spite of borders and language barriers. It was
a hot, sticky summer day and a thunderstorm coming up suddenly with
strong lightning and thunder brought welcome relief. One of the
visitors said the thunderstorm reminded him of his home in North
Dakota where such storms are frequent.
Many nice memories of our concert tour to North Dakota two years
ago stirred in us.
After all had had coffee and kuchen, the youngest traveler of
the group, Dr. Kurt-Alexander Zeller, a singer, surprised us on
the piano with two songs of Franz Schubert accompanied by a lady
from the group.
The afternoon passed quickly and good-byes were said soon. Then
the young American singer spontaneously joined our tenors and sang
with them. Our guests joined enthusiastically in the song "Wo Freunde
auseinander geh'n" the last verse of which we sang in the English
language. The guests from the USA sang along the song "Du liegst
mir im Herzen", the song so loved by all German Russians and Americans,
and swayed to the music.
Prof. Miller said a brief farewell on behalf of the travel group.
He presented us with a gift for the Landsmannschaft the Homeland
Book of the Bessarabian Germans by Albert Kern and the video
The Germans from Russia: Children of the Steppe, Children of
the Prairie. He emphasized how important it is that American
German Russians learn what a difficult life their relatives and
countrymen remaining in Russia had to endure. After that he asked
Dr. Lee Keck, a pastor from among the guests, for a closing prayer.
Dr. Keck thanked God for His gracious intercession on the rest of
the journey. He included in his prayer especially all German Russians
and prayed for peace in the whole world.
Reprinted with permission of Volk auf dem Weg.
Our appreciation is extended to Brigitte von Budde for translation of this article.