In Touch with Prairie Living
By Michael M. Miller
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo
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.
From July 29-31, I was pleased to assist in hosting three important
officials from Germany, who visited North Dakota: Jochen Welt, federal
government commissioner for Repatriates & National Minorities;
Klaus Poehle, director general, Department of the Interior; and
Dr. Alexander Schumacher, assistant to Jochen Welt. Dr. Schumacher
who is of Volga German ancestry immigrating to Germany from the
former Soviet Union in the early 1990s.
In Bismarck, they met with persons at the Germans from Russia Heritage
Society, at the State Capitol with Governor John Hoeven and at the
Heritage Center. At Strasburg, ND they toured the Lawrence Welk
Homestead and Saints Peter & Paul's Catholic Church and Cemetery
with wrought iron crosses. At Lehr, ND, they met with local residents
at the historic Lehr Tabernacle Campgrounds, as well as visiting
Robert & Susan Erbele's bison ranch. At Fargo, they toured the
NDSU Research Technology Park and the Northern Crops Institute.
At the NDSU Library, they met historians, researchers and authors
regarding the history and culture of the Germans from Russia. The
German officials also traveled to Los Angeles to meet with German-Russians,
many with Dakota roots.
Karen Herzog, Bismarck Tribune writer, prepared an excellent
article in the July 31, 2003 issue: "The
lost Germans are found: Now what? German officials here to seek
help in aiding those left behind in Russia". Mike Nowatzki,
Fargo Forum writer prepared this article in the July 31, 2003 issue:
seek better programs to help Germans from Russia". The
articles can be located at the GRHC website. Nearly 2.2 million
ethnic Germans have emigrated to Germany from the former Soviet
Union since 1989.
They were interested to learn 1) about cultural assimilation of
German-Russians with other ethnic groups in North Dakota and 2)
how this distinct heritage is studied and preserved today. Jochen
Welt's office is responsible for the immigration process, as well
as economic development and education projects in the former Soviet
Union. About one million ethnic Germans still remain in Russia,
Kazakhstan, Siberia and Ukraine. Many of these ethnic Germans have
long lost relatives in the Dakotas, since the Stalinist ers of isolation
and genocide ethnic immigrations.
The office of Jochen Welt hopes to explore and develop cooperative
ideas with the office of Jochen Welt, the Germans from Russia Heritage
Society, Bismarck, ND; the American Historical Society of Germans
from Russia, Lincoln, NE; the Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus
Russland, Stuttgart, Germmany; and GRHC.
GRHC has published a new cookbook, "Sharing
Our Best Recipes: Members and Friends of United Methodist Churches,
Medina and Tappen, North Dakota." There is a German-Russian
ethnic section which includes recipes for: Fleisch Kuechla, Knoepfla
soup, Holapsie (pigs in the blanket), Borscht (vegetable) soup,
Ribble (milk) soup, Strudels, hot German potato salad,
homemade noodles, dumplings, Spaetzle (tiny egg noodles), cheese
buttons, Kuchen, Baska (Easter bread), Pfefferneuse, Blatschinda
(pumpkin pockets), and much more. Recipes come from the kitchens
with these family names: Bitterman, Bittner, Eisenbis, Enzminger,
Falk, Guthmiller, Harr, Hillius, Hofmann, Hoersch, Ketterling, Kinnischzke,
Kuck, Mayer, Messer, Mittleider, Moos, Moser, Reich, Roemmich, Roesler,
Schmallinger, Schlecht, Sprunk, Staiger, Wasmuth, Wolsky, and Zimmerman.
The cookbook is available by contacting GRHC or at: library.ndsu.edu/grhc/order/cookbooks/sharing.html.
GRHC has recently published, "Escape
by Troika: The World War II Chronicle of a Bessarabian German,"
by Oskar Zimmermann, Anaheim, CA. Mr. Zimmermann has many Zimmerman
relatives in south-central North Dakota. The book is available at
Prairie Public's award-winning "Prairie
Crosses, Prairie Voices: Iron Crosses of the Great Plains"
is receiving a terrific response from viewers. Be watching for this
third documentary of PPTV's Germans from Russia series on other
PBS stations in 2003. Iron Crosses stand as sentinels on the prairie
landscape, framed by vast expanses of grass and sky. Although they
stand silent, behind each cross is a story.
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 draw much viewer interest and have been shown on many PBS stations.
Each videotape includes bonus video footage not shown in the one-hour
For further information about Germans from Russia heritage, donations
to the Collection including family histories, books, notecards,
videotapes, cookbooks, tours, and the new Recipe Index Search, 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).
September, 2003 column for North Dakota and South Dakota