Dakota's Germans from Russia to be presented
at German-American Center in Stuttgart
May 1, 2001
Michael M. Miller, Bibliographer, Germans from Russia Heritage
Collection, NDSU Libraries, Fargo, will make a presentation, "Dakota's
Germans from Russia" at the German American Center (Deutsch-Amerikanisches
Zentrum), Charlottenplatz 17, Stuttgart, Germany, on May 31, 2001,
at 7:30 pm. Miller has been invited by the James F. Byrnes-Institut.
The German American Center website with text in English and German
Miller travels to Chisinau (Kischinev) and Tiraspol, Moldova for
May 14-18, and Odessa, Ukraine for May 18-30 where he will make
presentations to the German communities, archives, and schools.
From May 23 to June 4, Miller will host the seventh Journey to the
Homeland Tour to Odessa and Stuttgart sponsored by the NDSU Libraries.
On June 2 at Stuttgart, Germany, the NDSU Libraries will sponsor
the "Amerika Haus" information tables at the Bundestreffen,
a large gathering of Germans from Russia with 50,000 persons expected
Today, the largest concentration of German-Russians in the United
States is located in North Dakota with around 30 percent of the
640,000 people primarily of Bessarabian, Black Sea, Crimean, Dobrudscha,
and Volhynian heritage.
A 1920 census survey estimated that about 116,000 German-Russians
were settled in the United States, with the greatest density of
70,000 immigrants living in North Dakota. Today the sons and daughters
of these Dakota pioneers have relocated throughout the USA, especially
in western USA.
Large populations of Black Sea German descendants still live yet
in North America, particularly in the states of California, Idaho,
Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota and Washington of the
United States, as well as the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia,
Manitoba and Saskatchewan of Canada. Persons of Volga German heritage
live primarily in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and western
United States, as well as the western prairie provinces of Canada.
An estimated one million German-Russian descendants are living
in North America. Many of these people have kept alive their unique
German dialects, as they were spoken in their ancestral villages
of the Russian Empire more than 200 year ago. They continue the
same food traditions and recipes, which their grandparents prepared
in such villages as Glueckstal, Karlsruhe, Kulm, Leipzig, Selz and
Strassburg in South Russia, located near Odessa, Ukraine. Today
in North Dakota, one can identify the names of towns with the same
names of ancestral villages near Odessa and further back in Germany
In the early 1970s, two Germans from Russia societies were founded:
the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (AHSGR),
Lincoln, Nebraska, and the Germans from Russia Heritage Society
(GRHS), Bismarck, North Dakota. In 1978, the North Dakota State
University Libraries in Fargo, North Dakota, established the Germans
from Russia Heritage Collection (GRHC). These North American groups
house some of the most comprehensive compendiums of books and other
archival materials which document the heritage and culture of the
Germans from Russia. Cooperative projects continue to develop between
AHSGR, GRHS and GRHC, as well as the heritage societies located
in Stuttgart (Landsmannschaft der Bessarabiendeutschen and the Landsmannschaft
der Deutschen aus Russland).
During the 1990s, electronic discussion groups or listserves, mail
lists and websites have flourished and grown dramatically in North
America. This new technology of electronic communication has led
to a global re-discovery among people of all ages with a dynamic
interest in the study of history, culture, foodways and folkways
of the Germans from Russia. North Dakota State University is the
home of five Germans from Russia listserves with more than 3,000
The NDSU Libraries in partnership with Prairie Public Television,
Fargo, ND, funded and produced the 1999 award-winning videotape
documentary "The Germans from Russia: Children of the Steppe,
Children of the Prairie." In 2000, they jointly produced, "Schmeckfest:
Food Traditions of the Germans from Russia." Other video documentary
projects are possible. The documentaries have created a renewed
interest and awareness in a common heritage, especially among senior
generations eager to share their knowledge and memories to the younger
generations. In recent years, there is a "rediscovery"
of the Germans from Russia "Unser Leute" heritage in North
America. There is a growing awareness including partnerships with
shared research between people living in the homeland of Germany.