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Eduard Zwetzich, Augsburg, Germany, Surprising American Cousins With a Visit

Hansen, Janet. "Eduard Zwetzich, Augsburg, Germany, Surprising American Cousins With a Visit." Ransom County Gazette, 9 October 2006.


The Zwetzig family, many members of which live in the Lisbon area, recently received a surprise visit from a cousin who lives in Germany. The visit, though unexpected, was a very enjoyable one and one Eduard and his newly found cousins hope will be repeated.

On Sunday, September 17, Scott and Heidi Zwetzig, Fargo, received a call from Michael M. Miller, Germans from Russia bibliographer and staff member of the North Dakota State University (NDSU) Library, Fargo. Miller, who had found the Zwetzigs' name by checking the Fargo phone directory, informed the couple that a resident of Germany whom he believed to be their relative, was coming to Fargo the following evening and would be staying at his home for a few days.

The German man, 21-year-old Eduard Zwetzich, wished to meet some of his American relatives and Miller was serving as his contact person. Miller also called Scott's aunt, Ruth (Zwetzig) Sanderson, Lisbon, whom he had previously met.

Scott met with the young man and made arrangements to bring him to Lisbon on Thursday, September 21, to visit a number of relatives. Scott, his brother Mark, Fargo, and his sister, Sherri Dick, Lisbon, took Eduard to visit Ruth and her husband, Dick Sanderson. After a look at Ruth's book containing some family history, they determined that Eduard is the grandson
of Ruth's first cousin.

The Zwetzich/Zwetzig cousins stopped at the Gazette for a short interview before touring the Norman Zwetzig, farm, south of Lisbon. Normanis Ruth's brother. The farm is the "home place" where Norman, Ruth, and their six siblings grew up. Norman remained on the farm and he and his wife, Beverly, raised their eight children, who include Scott, Mark, and Sherri, there. Several other Zwetzig relatives remain in southeastern North Dakota.

Eduard lives in Rieblingen, a village of about 350 people, located about 30 kilometers from the city of Augsburg. Augsburg is not far from Munich, in the state of Bavaria in southern Germany.

Eduard explained that he and his family members in Germany spell their last name "Zwetzich", rather than "Zwetzig", as do his American relatives. The family believes the spelling was changed by their ancestors who emigrated to the United States, in order to simplify the spelling for their
English-speaking acquaintances. The pronunciation remains the same.

Eduard's parents are Eduard and Irene Zwetzich. He has one older brother, Victor. Eduard, who is single, works in Augsburg, for a business named Servost Logistik, in German. He explains that he works as a freight forwarder. He speaks, via telephone, to Russian clients who order shipments of clothing or other goods. Eduard arranges for the purchase of the goods
from various European suppliers. The items are collected in Servost warehouses before being transported to the Russian clients. Eduard is bilingual, which makes him well-suited for his job. He must be able to speak German, Russian, and English fluently in order to serve his clients.

Eduard stated that his trip to Canada and the U.S. came about as a birthday gift for his maternal grandmother, Anna Piet. When asked how he received a trip in honor of someone else's birthday, he laughed. "My parents arranged and paid for a trip to Canada as a birthday present for my grandmother, who has relatives there," he explained. As his present for his grandmother, he offered to accompany her. "My dad is paying for my grandmother's trip, but I am paying for my own," he explained with a grin.

Eduard and his grandmother arrived in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on Tuesday, September 12. After a short visit with some of his Canadian relatives, Eduard traveled on to North Dakota, to find American relatives on his father¹s side. He returned to Canada after a week. Eduard and his
grandmother departed from Canada for their return trip to Germany on Thursday, September 28.

Arrangements for Eduard's visit to North Dakota had been made in advance with Michael Miller, who has corresponded with the Zwetzich family in Germany since 1989.

It was during that year that Eduard's father and grandfather, both of whom were also named Eduard, traveled to the United States to visit their North Dakota relatives. Ruth explains that her father, Jacob Zwetzig, who lived in the Lisbon area, corresponded in German with his relatives in
Germany. He had extended many invitations to his nephew, Eduard I, to come to North Dakota to visit him and his family.

Finally, in 1989, Eduard I decided to accept the invitation. He and his son, Eduard II (Ruth's first cousin), made the trip from Germany to North Dakota. Since they did not speak a word of English, they had arranged for a translator. Michael Miller, having been raised in Strasburg, North Dakota, an area settled by Germans from Russia, speaks both German and Russian
fluently. He agreed to serve as interpreter during their visit and invited the Zwetzichs to stay in his home. He helped them find their North Dakota relatives and served as interpretor during their visits.

Ruth said she remembers their visit well. "They brought with them "samovars" (Russian tea makers) as gifts for the American families with which they visited. I now have two of the samovars in my home. The visitors spent two weeks here. We had a family reunion at which Michael Miller served as interpretor. Jacob was the only member of the American family who could speak German.

Ruth explains that her father, Jacob, was born in Rene, Russia in 1893. He was the sixth son of Frederick Zwetzich (1877-1928) and his wife Katherine (1857-1933). Ruth explains that many German families emigrated to Russia under the rule of Catherine II. Many of those same families migrated back to Germany or to the United States in the late 19th century.

Jacob and Eva, Ruth's parents, were married in Russia and came to the United States in August of 1912. They spent some time in Michigan before moving to North Dakota, to Aliceton Township, in 1916. After living on several farms in Aliceton Township, they moved to the farm where Norman now lives, in Bale Township.

Many of the Zwetzichs remained in Russia, later moving back to their German homeland. Eduard's great-grandfather, Gottfried, was among them. The visit from Gottfried¹s son and grandson in 1989 was very enjoyable for Jacob and his family.

Ruth remarked that her family was very grateful for the help of Michael Miller. Without him they would not have been able to visit with their German relatives. Since becoming acquainted with the Zwetzich family seventeen years ago, Miller has continued to communicate with them and has visited their homes in Germany three or four times. Therefore, it was not unusual that Eduard III would make his arrangements to visit North Dakota through Miller.

The young Eduard stated that he enjoyed the freedom which he felt in America. He was very excited about meeting his American relatives and was very impressed with North Dakota. "People are much more friendly here than in Germany," he stated. "I have seen some interesting things since my arrival. Michael showed me around Fargo. In this rural area I have enjoyed
seeing a number of animals such as buffalo and deer. In Germany one never sees an animal running around in the wild."

Although most of what he observed was very much to his liking, Eduard commented that he had a couple of small complaints. "First of all, the speed limits on American highways are so slow," he said. "I am used to driving on the German Autoban, where one must drive a minimum of 130
kilometers per hour and there really is no upper limit to how fast you can drive." "My other complaint," he said with a grin, "is that there is too much fast food here!"

Eduard said the climate in North Dakota seemed very similar to that in Germany, although he has been told that North Dakota winters are more extreme. "It gets hot in the summer in Germany, but we don¹t have air conditioning in our homes," he said. "We just open and close windows."

Eduard is planning to apply for a one-year student exchange program through which, if accepted, he would be able to spend a year at North Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS) in Wahpeton. "I would study business management," he explained. "I would love to be able to spend a year here in North Dakota, where I could visit at greater length with my American relatives."

Left to right: Mark Zwetzig, Eduard Zwetzig, Scott Zwetzig, and Sheri
Zwetzig Dick, September, 2006, Lisbon, North Dakota.

Reprinted with permission of the Ransom County Gazette.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller
North Dakota State University Libraries
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
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