In Touch with Prairie Living
By Michael M. Miller
The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection at the NDSU Libraries
in Fargo reaches out to prairie families and former Dakotans. In
various ways, it affirms the heritage of the Germans from Russia
is an important part of the northern plains culture. I would like
to share with you the editorial that was featured in The Forum
newspaper, Fargo, ND, on February 9, 1999.
A unique important film saga
"An extraordinary documentary film about Germans from Russia should
be required viewing in every classroom in North Dakota.
The film is entitled "The Germans from Russia: Children of the
Steppe, Children of the Prairie." It traces the astonishing saga
of a unique people from 18th century Germany and Russia to 20th
century North America. It was produced by Prairie Public Broadcasting
and the North Dakota State University Libraries.
Clearly, it's a product of scholarship, dedication and love. A
capacity invited crowd last week at the premiere at the Plains Art
Museum in Fargo was captivated by the skill of the filmmakers and
power of the story.
Often the first reaction to "documentary" is ho-hum. Not this
The story follows the Germans from Russia from ancestral villages
in the Old World to northern prairie farmsteads in the New World.
It is told with humor and intelligence. It depicts with sensitivity
the hardships and seemingly unendurable heartache the immigrants
experienced through the generations.
And through it all, the film honors the tenacity, faith and work
ethic of the Germans from Russia.
Producer Bob Dambach and his Prairie Public crew can be proud
of a documentary work that surely will stand as the best film depiction
of one of North Dakota's most important ethnic groups. Of special
note is the wonderful script by Ron Vossler and original music by
Also, the determination of Michael Miller, bibliographer of the
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection at NDSU, cannot be minimized.
He can claim significant credit for the success of the effort to
fund and produce the documentary.
The documentary will be aired this month on Prairie Public Television.
But if you miss it, or you want it for your collection, the video
can be ordered from Prairie Public in Fargo."
The Germans from Russia documentary will be re-broadcast on Prairie
Public Television on Wednesday, March 18, 1999 from 8:30 pm-9:30
My thanks to all the financial donors to this documentary project
and especially to the many donors of $1,000 or more. I want to express
my gratitude to the major donors: Arthur E. and Cleora Flegel, Menlo
Park, CA; Stuart and Cindy Mitzel Longtin, Fargo; North Dakota Humanities
Council; and the Members of Prairie Public. The Longtins joined
the Journey to the Homeland tours in May, 1997 and May, 1998. Without
their support, the documentary would have not become reality.
At the documentary premiere events, Kathleen Pavelko, President
of Prairie Public Broadcasting, shared this message: "The Germans
from Russia documentary is historically sound, emotionally striking,
visually beautiful and I think a real contribution to the history
and heritage of the prairie region. We hope that through his program,
many hundreds of thousands of viewers nationwide will come to understand
the remarkable qualities which make this ethnic group unique in
the history of Europe and North America."
Our future dream is to consider video documentary projects on
specific areas of German-Russian history and culture including specific
villages such as those of Bessarabia, Beresan, Crimea, Kutschurgan,
Glückstal, and Liebental regions of South Russia (today Moldova
and Ukraine near Odessa), as well as, the culture, foodways, textiles,
and culture of the German-Russians. Our first project to begin in
the summer of 1999 will be filming of German-Russian cooking, foods,
To secure the documentary videotape, contact Prairie Public Broadcasting
This "Collector's Edition" of the videotape includes bonus video
footage, "Ukraine Places & Faces" of wonderful filming from the
former German villages of the Bessarabian, Beresan, Crimean, Glückstal,
Kutschurgan and Liebental regions in southern Ukraine and Moldova
not shown in the one-hour documentary.
For further information about the collection, the videotape documentary,
the Journey to the Homeland Tour to Odessa, Ukraine and Stuttgart,
Germany, for May 17-31, 1999 (limited space is still available),
the June 6-19, 2000 tour, and German-Russian heritage, contact Michael
M. Miller, NDSU Libraries, PO Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599 (Tel:
701-231-8416; E-mail: Michael.Miller@ndsu.edu;
GRHC website: http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc).