German Researcher to Visit
Pierceall, Jennifer. "German Researcher to Visit." Jamestown Sun, 6 October 1993.
A German researcher could help some area residents learn about
family they never knew they had.
Peter Hilkes, an internationally-known German researcher and scholar,
will discuss "Germans in the former Soviet Union" from 3 to 5 p.m.
Oct. 12 at The Arts Center in Jamestown.
Since the Soviet Union dissolved five years ago, more than 600,000
ethnic Germans emigrated back to Germany, said Michael Miller, a
bibliographer at North Dakota State University Libraries.
Hilkes will discuss problems the Germans from Russia have encountered
with language, education and employment since they emigrated to
Germany and how the German government is helping Germans who remain
"I'm very excited about meeting with the people and talking with
them on several issues, and about what's going to come in the future,"
Hilkes is traveling in the Dakotas and Canada because of the large
number of Germans from Russia there, Miller said.
"We want them to be more aware of what happened to the people
who were left behind, after their families came here," Miller said.
Thirty to 40 percent of the people in North Dakota are of German-Russian
descent, Miller said.
Hilkes concentrates on Russian Germans in the Soviet educational
system. He is a leading authority on the problems of integration,
language, education and employment of Germans who emigrated back
to the Federal Republic of Germany. He has traveled widely throughout
the former Soviet Union, Miller said.
He will also speak about how the German government assists Germans
still in the former Soviet Union, economically, socially and culturally.
Because of the high number of immigrants, Germany has placed restriction
on emigration from Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent
States, Miller said.
Many of the German families who live in the CIS have relatives
living in the Dakotas, he said.
"There are a lot of Germans in North Dakota who don't even know
they have relatives over there," Miller said.
For 50 years, German families living in the U.S.S.R. were forbidden
by the Soviet regime to write to their families in America, Miller
"There were a lot of people who stayed in Russia before the war,
and were sent to Siberia," said Art Bronz, of the James Valley Germans
from Russia Heritage Society in Jamestown.
Since the Soviet Union broke, hundreds of Germans in Russia have
written Miller trying to locate their American families.
"It's mostly people over there, trying to find their families
over here," he said. "There's more interest over there in finding
Miller said he has found many families for the German people in
Russia - and many are living in south-central North Dakota.
Bronz said many members of the Germans from Russia society are
interested in finding family members in Russia.
"Our main goal is to preserve our heritage," Bronz said. "We also
do some genealogy."
The Jamestown group is one of the largest of the 27 chapters of
Germans from Russia, he said. "We have quite a few members - about
150," Bronz said. "I think the Bismarck chapter might be a little
The international headquarters for the Germans from Russia is
located in Bismarck, and holds research material for people trying
to find out about their families, he said.
Miller said people need to do extensive research before contacting
him to locate family members.
"They need to do some serious checking into their own heritage
first," he said. They should try to find out which village the family
members lived in.
The North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies and NDSU Libraries,
the University of Mary, Dickinson State University and Germans from
Russia Heritage Society are sponsoring Hilkes' talks. The North
Dakota Humanities Council awarded a matching grant.
Reprinted with permission of the Jamestown Sun