In Touch with Prairie Living
By Michael M. Miller
The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection (GRHC) 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
as an important part of the northern plains culture.
In September, Bob Dambach, director of programming and productions,
Prairie Public Television (PPTV), Fargo, and I traveled to south-central
North Dakota and north-central South Dakota for videotape documentary
filming projects. We filmed in the Eureka, Bowdle, and Roscoe, SD,
area for the 2002 PPTV iron cross documentary and the 2004 Glueckstal
documentary. We filmed at the Hague Cafe, Hague, ND, with Helen
Grefroh Fischer making her famous strudels. In Linton, ND, we filmed
Viola Welk Bosch making German-Russian foods. Father Thomas Welk,
Wichita, KS, was filmed for the 2003 Kutschurgan documentary.
In October, we traveled to Bismarck and Strasburg, ND, filming
Germans from Russia foodways including Bernadine Lang Kuhn and Erika
Lang Wangler, natives of Napoleon, ND. We also filmed at the well-known
annual church supper and bazaar at Saints Peter & Pauls Church,
We have designed two new color-coded laminated 11 by 17 inch maps
of the former Germans villages of South Russia. These maps include
German villages of Bessarabia, Crimea, Dobrudscha, Beresan District,
Kutschurgan District, and Liebental District, as well as Mennonite
and Hutterite colonies. Ancestors of the Germans from Russia community
in the Dakotas immigrated from these villages in South Russia. For
further information, write to me or visit: http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/order/maps/maps3.html.
The two maps were completed in 1999, with revisions in 2001. These
maps, clearly identifying locations and names of the homeland villages,
have been popular at GRHC outreach events.
Reservations are being taken for the Journey to the Homeland Tour
(May 26-June 7, 2002) sponsored by the NDSU Libraries. The tour
will include Odessa, Ukraine, and the nearby former Bessarabian,
Black Sea, and Crimean German villages; Stuttgart, Germany, and
Alsace, France. Limited space is available.
GRHC has published two important books that unfold the tragic story
of the Germans who stayed in South Russia (today Ukraine), the famine
and suffering they experienced. Well
Meet Again in Heaven: Germans in the Soviet Union Write Their American
Relatives: 1925 - 1937," written by Ronald J. Vossler,
shares their dramatic first-account story. The book includes many
letters translated from German to English including these family
names: Boschee, Dockter, Eckman, Feiger, Goehring, Graf, Heupel,
Hochhalter, Ketterling, Kirschmann, Kramer, Lang, Morlock, Opp,
Rudolf, Rueb, Schauer, Speidel, Stock, Viel, and Wanner. Ron Vossler
writes: "The family names clearly show a direct link, one of
old love and also of family ties, between the Dakota pioneers and
those unfortunate family members who remained behind in Russia."
In the new biography published by GRHC, Why
are you still alive?: A German in the Gulag by Georg Hildebrandt,
Heidelberg, Germany, the author writes about his life story and
the suffering by the Ukrainian Germans. Many Germans died in Siberian
detention camps during Stalin's dictatorship. Hildebrandt's biography
revives this story originally published in 1993 in the German language.
His biography is a shocking document of the Germans in the former
USSR. He documents what happened with amazing memory and precision.
Hildebrandt celebrated his 90th birthday in July, 2001.
The award-winning documentary videotapes The Germans from Russia:
Children of the Steppe, Children of the Prairie (1999), and Schmeckfest:
Food Traditions of the Germans from Russia (2000), continue to be
well received throughout North America. To secure the videotapes,
contact Prairie Public at 1-800-359-6900. The videotapes include
20 minutes of bonus video footage not shown in the one-hour documentary.
See many interesting pages about the documentaries at the Prairie
Public Broadcasting website: http://www.prairiepublic.org.
For further information about German-Russian heritage; donations
to the Collection, including family histories; outreach programs;
videotape documentaries; Journey to the Homeland Tour; German-Russian
cookbooks; and GRHCs publications including recent books: Streeter,
ND book; The Germans by the Black Sea Between Bug and Dniester Rivers;
Marienberg: Fate of a Village, and The Dark Abyss of Exile: A Story
of Survival, 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).