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 want to share
with you some of the comments received from viewers of the landmark
videotape documentary, The Germans from Russia: Children of the
Steppe, Children of the Prairie.
Mary Lynn Axtman of Fargo, native of Rugby, ND, writes: "Our ancestors
did not loose their connections to their Russian homeland and then
family they left behind once they settled in North America. The
letters from Russia asking for help from their American relatives
in the documentary was so touching and real for many of our families.
The video also showed that this important searching and helping
goes on even today with the tours and gatherings in Russia and Germany
where relatives are being reunited again. The travel by ships across
the Atlantic Ocean and passage through immigration centers like
Ellis Island relates not only to our German-Russian immigrant ancestors
but to all European immigrants who settled in North America."
Ivy Miller Breen of Cragmont, ID, writes: "As soon as I got the
video in the mail, I rushed home to view it. It was wonderful! I
would highly recommend it to everyone. Towards the end of the video
when Shona Dockter spoke of healing words that were used with cats
manure, I just about fell off my chair. These were the very same
"magic words" my father used on me which was passed down through
his mother, Christine Heydt Miller. I used those same "magic words"
on my own daughters to heal their scrapes and bruises as they were
growing up. I have only recently become aware of the rich heritage
of the Germans from Russia so you can well imagine my shock of hearing
this on the video. Thank you so much for making this wonderful and
important documentary. I will cherish my copy."
Allyn Brosz of Washington, D.C., Tripp, SD, native comments: "I
was impressed by the professional quality of the production and
by the concise and integrated manner in which the video told the
story of "Unser Leute" (our people). What a valuable addition to
the resources on the Germans from Russia. It will undoubtedly be
a standard reference work, both for education and public relations.
This is truly a treasured resource for telling our story."
Shona Dockter of Roseville, MN, Streeter, ND, native writes: "The
video was absolutely wonderful. I was enthralled every minute as
I watched. The original music is especially touching and appropriate.
What a wonderful achievement. I cannot describe the pride I felt
as I watched the story of our people unfold. I will share with you
the impact of the documentary on my parents: for my father, the
most touching moment was the chance to actually see the Russian
steppe where his father had walked as a young boy. My mother was
struck by the isolation the immigrants must have felt when they
homesteaded the prairies. She had always known that the German-Russians
lived together in villages in Russia and then went to homesteading
individually on the prairie. She had never given that aspect of
immigration story much thought until she saw it illustrated by the
documentary. Thank you for making our history come alive for hundreds
Jolene Geist Ehret of Kileen, TX, Jamestown, ND native writes:
"What courageous people our ancestors were when their descendants
made the decision to come to the New World, sometimes leaving family
behind. For the first time in my life, I am actually proud of my
heritage. I only wish that I could have learned more from my grandparents
before they passed on. I can hardly wait for my children to watch
the video. I know they will be as proud as I am to be a German from
Russia. My heartfelt thanks to all those who were involved in making
this very special movie. You did a magnificent labor of love for
The documentary will be shown on South Dakota Public Television
on Friday, April 16 at 8 pm CT; Nebraska Public Television on Sunday,
April 25 at 5 pm CT; and Oklahoma Public Television on Sunday, May
2 at 9 pm CT.
To secure the documentary videotape, contact Prairie Public Broadcasting
This "Collector's Edition" of the videotape includes 20-minute 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 (including the large Germans from gathering called the Bundestreffen),
for 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).