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A Trip to North Dakota/USA, Part 2

Nitschke, Klaus. "A Trip to North Dakota/USA, Part 2." Mitteilungsblatt, June 2008, 18.

This translation from the original German-language text to American English is provided by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado

Completion of the article from the previous issue Mitteilungsblatt, May 2009, 12-13.


July 21, 2001 [This may be a misprint -- the author may have meant 2007; see the next date below - Tr.]. In the Nitschke family's summer home in Alfred we spent a wonderful day that included driving a tractor, taking a walk in the beautiful surroundings of the summer home, conversation with members of the extended family, and a wonderful meal. Shirley Nitschke prepared /strudel/ for everyone present and also served pickles, chicken, and green cucumbers in sour cream. The meal was prepared exactly in the same way I had become familiar with watching my mother, and all reported that it was delicious. The Bessarabian cuisine is definitely still known even in America, and that includes /knoepfle, borsht, knoepfle soup, kuechla, holubtzi/, etc.

L to R: In front of the summer house; preparing strudel; dining together

For June 22, 2007, Shirley and Larry Nitschke had arranged and prepared a Nitschke Family reunion in Jud. Around one hundred members of the Nitschke Family were in attendance, the oldest person there, at 101, being Olga Madcke nee Nitschke, and the youngest being Lawson Nitschke (grandson of Larry and Shirley) at 3 months of age. 

I gave my presentation here, too, and my son Kevin translated. Interest in the family history was also very great, since the Nitschke ancestry from Beresina/Bessarabia is common to all who were in attendance. [In Jud,] Nitschke relatives were usually called second or third cousins, and I am one of these.

In addition to our presentation, the day also included prayers, German singing, stories of various experiences, recitations, coffee and /kuchen/. Afterwards, a lively discussion about the Nitschke book ensued, and we were presented to many folks who are members of the Nitschke clan and are not all that far related to us.

It was a very good time in North Dakota. We were hosted very well, were shown many things, and we took home much in new discoveries.

We found our get-togethers with family members to be unique experiences. Although clan members live far apart, in other States and across the expansive and sparsely populated State of North Dakota, they do not spare any efforts to get together with their relatives.

Equally admirable and impressive for us was the participation of so many, from the convention in Bismarck to the family gathering in Jud. Here, 100 years after emigrations from Bessarabia, the descendants of former Germans from Russia continue to meet, and they continue to nurture their traditions, to show great interest in their ancestry, to hold workshops on various topics concerning the Germans from Russia, on many different family histories, and many more. They travel from various States of the US and from Canada to participate in such events. What great interest in their past these Germans from Russia still maintain, and how conscientiously they continue to preserve their heritage after such a long time! 

In this regard, I would like to mention one more matter: Shirley Nitschke has published a novel with the title "Heimat -- Steppes of Russia, my Country, my Home" [title translated into German: "Heimat -- Steppen von Russland, mein Land, meine Heimat"]. A brief summary of the novel: Vladimir, a Russian, is in New York looking for the German woman Helga. Her pretty face and her blue eyes have haunted him for years. The two had few moments together during her stay in his country. Life on the steppes of Russia was difficult for the Germans. Vladimir learned from these people, and even as a young boy he wished to become one of them. However, it was not the intent of the Crown that any native should have personal contact with the Germans. He knew no other people who gave him more to embody in his "way of life" on the steppes than this group of people.

L to R: Olga Madcke nee Nitschke (101 years of age) with Lawson Nitschke (3 months old); participants

He describes in a picturesque manner and rather realistically the daily struggle of working on the land, and the political changes such as heightened military presence, induction of beloved relatives into serving with a  weapon, resettlement, and so on. And in this environment there begins a love story ranging from longing to hope. This is a story strongly imbued with religion, about work in the fields, fear of the future, worrying about brothers and about the loved one, strong will, and yearning for love. It is an interesting and readable novel, but unfortunately available only in English. Perhaps it will may be translated and published in Germany, maybe with the Bessarabienverein. I have suggested as much, because it would certainly find many readers. 

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

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