Journey to the Homeland News
October, 1996 No. 6
Click here for photos
Autumn Greetings from the campus of North Dakota State University.
The October edition of the Journey to the Homeland News
includes comments from newspaper articles and electronic mail messages
that have been written by the June tour group members of their visit
to Ukraine and to Germany. The newsletter includes photographs of
days in Stuttgart, in Odessa, and in the former German villages.
Ukrainian School Supply Project
Bringing the needed school supplies from the children and teachers
of North Dakota and Fargo-Moorhead schools, from North Dakotans,
and our German-Russian community throughout America was truly one
of the highlights of the Journey to the Homeland Tours. When we
return to Odessa for the tour in May, 1997, we will take with us
additional school supplies. Valuable contacts were made in Odessa
where boxes can be stored with a good system of delivery to needy
schools and families. Schools, libraries, and persons wishing to
donate items or financial contributions, should contact Michael
M. Miller for a suggested list of needs. Inquiries and shipments
can be sent to Ukrainian School Supply Project, Journey to the Homeland
Tours, NDSU Libraries, P.O. Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599.
My thanks to the school children and teachers who donated notebooks,
pencils, crayons, pens, and many other items to send to the school
children in southern Ukraine. I want to especially thank these schools:
Bel Air Elementary, Grand Forks; Eureka Elementary, SD; Flasher;
Fryburg; George Washington Elementary, Moorhead; Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock
Elementary; Holy Spirit Elementary, Fargo; Immanuel Christian Elementary,
Mandan; Jim Hill, Minot; Lewis and Clark Elementary, Mandan; Lewis
and Clark Elementary, Williston; McKinnley Elementary, Fargo; NDSU
Libraries, Fargo; Robert Asp Elementary, Moorhead; Rolla Elementary;
St. Joseph's Elementary, Williston; St. Mary's Elementary, Bismarck;
St. Mary's Elementary, Richardton; St. Rose of Lima Elementary,
Roseville, MN; Strasburg; Susan Lindgren Elementary, St. Louis Park,
MN; Trenton; Union School, Pollock, SD; UND-Williston; Wahpeton
Senior High; Washington Elementary, Fargo; Wilkinson Elementary,
Williston; and Willow City Public Schools, ND.
Thank you Prairie Public Television and Prairie Public Radio for
your efforts to inform viewers and listeners. Many boxes arrived
at the studios in Bismarck and Fargo for shipment to Odessa, Ukraine
in June, 1996 and for May, 1997.
My gratitude is extended to individuals and organizations who
donated school supplies and made financial contributions. The dollars
are being used to purchase needed items and for shipment costs.
Newspapers publish articles about the Journey to Homeland Tours
Penny Raile of Los Angeles wrote an informative article for The
Saint Francis Herald, Kansas, "Ancestral Villages of Local German-Russian
Families Visited". Raile writes, "Word spread fast that Americans
were in town. Curious locals came out of their homes for a look,
offered information and willingly posed for pictures. The village
transformed time back one hundred years. Dairy animals grazed in
the front yards. Mother chickens, ducks and geese directed their
young to safe ground. Horse drawn hay wagons were driven through
the town. Women milked the cows and goats in the fields." (Penny
grew up on a farm near St. Francis, KS. She joined her parents to
Odessa. A graphic artist, Penny is completing a children's book
of her historic journey to her ancestral villages.)
Marge Jergentz-Stout of Livermore, California, comments in a Tri-Valley
Herald newspaper article, "Standing in the places where they
[my ancestors] had stood so long ago is just an indescribable experience.
It brings a person full-circle. It is like coming home." I never
thought such a journey would be possible. Only the painstaking research
of German-Russian genealogists made it possible." (Marge teaches
people how to write their family histories and owns her own travel
Ron Vossler of East Grand Forks, Minnesota, prepared for the Grand
Forks Herald the article, "At Peterstal - A Container Village
in the Ukraine". He writes, "Heinrich Glesbrecht hopes that he is
part of a solution to a half-century old problem: what to do with
the displaced ethnic Germans living within the borders of the old
Soviet Empire. Giesbrecht is one of 1,000 ethnic Germans resettled
from homes in Kazakhstan, who now live in container villages in
the Ukraine. The population of ethnic Germans in the old Soviet
Union continues to grow. It is estimated that two million now live
in Siberia and Kazakhstan. Germany has the capability to absorb
at least one million more over the next ten years."
"For all they have suffered, these ethnic Germans are a testament
to the human spirit. Resilient, like Giesbrecht, they want to start
a new life, to assume at least a part of their old identify." (Ron
Vossler is a native of Wishek, ND. He teaches writing at the University
of North Dakota.)
Comments from the June tour group members
While in Odessa, tour group members prepared the following electronic
mail messages that were sent worldwide from the computer center
at the Odessa Polytechnical State University.
On the final flight into Odessa, I thought of the exhausting trip
our group was making to visit the homeland of our ancestors. How
could I begin to compare it with what our ancestors did to emigrate
from Germany to Russia and to America. The fortitude they had is
astonishing! Hopefully I will be able to capture some of the spirit
-Penny Raile, West Hollywood, California
(Penny serves as Administrative Assistant for the Weingart Center
Association in downtown Los Angeles.)
To walk the ground and see the landscape with old churches and
schools, where my father and mother were born and where all four
of my grandparents married and started their families is the highlight
of my trip. Actually touring the villages of Landau and Kathariental,
where my grandfathers lived until age 16 and leaving the land they
loved made my personal history more alive. We brought many bags
of school supplies from the children of North Dakota to the children
of these villages. This goodwill gesture lets the people know we
still do care about the homeland of our ancestors.
-Judith Doll, Fargo, ND
(Judy is formerly from New Salem, ND, and teaches at Washington
Elementary School in Fargo.)
As tables and benches overflowing with wide-eyed children lined
the hot, sultry school room, eleven descendants of the Kutschurgan
villages entered with boxes and bags of school supplies. The children
listened attentively to the translator who carefully explained who
we were and why we had come to their village. They smiled and clutched
the small gifts as we distributed the paper, pencils, markers and
other small treasures, trying them out right away.
"From America?" One tiny boy asked in perfect English. They needed
so much more than we brought or ever could bring. New pictures for
the walls, blackboards and chalk, enough tables and benches for
all of them to sit comfortably. This list would go on a long way
before we came to availability of computers. But the children were
eager to learn, and asked us many questions, about ourselves, our
families, how children in America lived and studied and why we had
not brought any children along. They wanted to play and speak with
American children too. They had picked cherries for us, and strawberries,
and they had baked us a cake. One mother asked me, "Would you take
a picture of me and my child and send it to me?" Mothers know magic
moments. It will be special for the family when they receive the
color photo from America.
Lewis and Dona-Reeves Marquardt, Buda, Texas
(Lew is a native of Linton, ND, and Dona is a native of Colorado.
They recently retired as professors at Southwest Texas State University,
We were struck how much Bessarabia's geography [today in Ukraine]
looks like North Dakota. The wheat fields and sunflowers made us
feel very much at home. We were also surprised to see such a great
variety of farm animals. We saw sheep, horses, cows, goats, geese,
ducks, and donkeys. We embraced in a short time, Ukraine has become
like a second homeland. As one Bessarabian said, "If Germany was
our Fatherland, then Russia is our Motherland."
-Ronald Metz, LaHabra, California
(Ron is a native of Garrison, ND. An avid Bessarabian German historian,
since 1990 he has worked at the Cerritos College Bookstore in the
Los Angeles area.)
I was thrilled to walk the streets of Grossliebental where my
grandparents walked and to see the church where they worshipped.
The school which grandfather attended, is still being used as a
school; but his house was destroyed during World War II while another
house has been built on the same location.
-Theodore Weisenburger, Phoenix, Arizona
(Before his retirement, Ted was a County Judge in North Dakota and
served as Tribal Judge on both the Devils Lake Sioux and Turtle
Mountain Chippewa Indian reservations.)
There have been so many wonderful experiences on this trip. I
had a very emotionally moving experience in Speyer when I was able
to attend a religious service in the same church where four generations
of my Geiger family had worshipped. It was here that they were baptized,
confirmed, married and died. As I looked from the hillside to my
ancestral villages of Landau and Speyer, it was heart warming to
look down upon two of the towns from which so many of my loved ones
-Barbara Geiger Horn, Alta Loma, California
(Barbara recently retired as a microbiologist and clinical laboratory
scientist. The Horns are moving to a ranch in Texas where they will
raise dairy calves.)
The landscape of gently rolling wheat and sunflower fields reminded
us of North Dakota. While Bob Dambach of Prairie Public Television
filmed the noon milking near Kathariental, Tom Martin, a native
of Harvey, ND, took advantage of an offer to learn the fine art
of hand-milking. My mother, Agatha Doll Madison, and her sister,
Rose Doll Wood, showed a map of where their ancestors' house was
located in Landau. The house was found and the gracious widow invited
us inside. Rose and Aggie along with their daughters, Joyce and
Bettsy, are grateful to have had this opportunity to stand in the
home of our ancestors. Journey to the Homeland was a fabulous experience.
We all highly recommend this rewarding tour.
-Bettsy Madison Williams, Missoula, Montana
(Bettsy is project director of bilingual education in Missoula.
She accompanied her mother and aunt to Ukraine.)
People in the villages were generous and invited us into their
homes, offering to prepare food for us, which they often did. Chickens,
ducks, and geese roamed freely. The ducks and geese seemed particularly
pleased that there had been a rain. Horse drawn carts were hauling
feed for the animals. It would be wonderful if more of our friends
and families with roots to these villages would have the opportunity
to drive through and visit this country which is much like our Dakota
-Margaret Aman Freeman, Redondo Beach, California
(Margaret taught 23 years in the Santa Monica Elementary Schools.
A long-time German-Russian researcher and genealogist, she is coordinator
of the Glückstal Colonies Research Association.)
Journey to the Homeland Tours in 1997 and 1998
Persons interested in securing information about future tours
should contact Journey to the Homeland Tours, NDSU Libraries, P.O.
Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599 (Tel: 701-293-5564; E-mail: Michael.Miller@ndsu.edu).
The upcoming tours are in May, 1997 and June, 1998. Family tours
are available for interested persons.
North Dakota Horizons magazine features story on June tours
The 1996 winter edition of North Dakota Horizons available
in December will feature a special article with photographs about
the visit to Germany and Ukraine in June. The article was written
by Ronald Vossler with photographs by Michael M. Miller.
Tour group members reunite in Arizona this winter
Many of the June group mmembers will attend the NDSU Libraries
sponsored gatherings in the Phoenix area this winter. They will
be the featured speakers describing their memorable experiences
visiting their ancestral German villages near Odessa, Ukraine and
attending the large German-Russian gathering called the Bundestreffen
in Stuttgart, Germany. NDSU officials will discuss activities on
campus relating to the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection and
Join us for these events in Arizona:
- Thursday, February 27, 1997, Lakeview Hall #1, Recreation Centers
of Sun City, 10676 Thunderbird Blvd, Sun City, 1:30 p.m. to 4
- Saturday, March 1, 1997, Mesa Regal Resort, 4700 East Main,
Mesa, 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Sunday, March 2, 1997, North Dakota Picnic, Pioneer Park, Mesa,
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Photographs and newspaper articles featured on World Wide Web
The October 1996 edition of Journey to the Homeland News
is now posted on the World Wide Web. The newsletter, featuring color
photographs, can be found on the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
Homepage at: http://library.ndsu.edu/gerrus
Photos of the 1996 Germans from Russia gatherings in Sun City
and Mesa, AZ, newspaper articles, and other items are continuously
added to the homepage.
|Newsletter prepared by Michael M. Miller
|Design by Nick Ravn, Center for Writers, NDSU,
||Judith Doll, Fargo; Edwin M. Iszler,
|North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo.
||LaRose Ketterling, Mercer, N.D.;
and Michael M. Miller, Fargo.
Tour photographs, June, 1996
For further information, contact:
Michael M. Miller
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies
PO Box 5599
North Dakota State University Libraries
Fargo ND 58105-5599