Freeman, Margaret and Michael M. Miller. "Bundestreffen." Journal of American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, n.d.
A delegation headed by Michael M. Miller from North Dakota State
University, Fargo, attended the Bundestreffen in Stuttgart on June
18, 1994. Participants in the delegation came from California, Oregon,
Colorado, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Washington, D.C.
At the Bundestreffen and in the towns of Offenburg and Weingarten,
the delegation gave a program entitle "American House for the Black
Sea Germans," which included a slide presentation prepared by Prof.
Miller on the history and culture of Black Sea Germans living in
North Dakota and America.
American speakers were Dr. Shirley Fisher Arends of Washington,
D.C., author of The Central Dakota Germans: Their History, Language, and Culture, who presented a brief history of the Russian-Germans
in United States. John Philipps of Fallbrook, CA, talked about his
new book, Die Deutschen Bauern am Schwarzen Meer. Margaret
Freeman spoke on the Village Research of AHSGR and GRHS in North
America, and Michael Miller shared the stories of locating families
in Germany and Russia with their North American relatives through
In Stuttgart at the Bundestreffen, Prof. Miller was the only American
part of the official program called the Feuerstunde. He presented
the Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Rußland with an American flag
that had flown over the United States capitol. The American flag
was a donation to the American delegation by Congressman Toby Roth
of Wisconsin, a native of Strasburg, ND, of Catholic Black Sea German
ancestry. Pro. Miller's presentation was quoted in the Stuttgart
newspaper as presented in an American Swabish accent.
The Bundestreffen, attended by 45,000 individuals, began at 9
a.m. and continued until midnight. Representatives of various churches
and other organizations had booths where they shared information
about their activities. There were three large rooms (size of football
fields) for the gathering and visiting of the returnees. In each
room, long tables were set up with the names of each colony. The
American group was given a booth in the room for the circa 1940
returnees. There was much visiting and greeting of friends and family,
and even sharing of information in writing and by computer. Another
large room was used by the group that had been relocated in Siberia,
Kirghizstan and Kazakhstan. A third large room was the youth, and
in the evening they had their own series of bands for musical entertainment.
The chicken dance was popular there too!
Additional meetings in Stuttgart were at Haus der Heimat des Landes
Baden-Württemberg, Heimatmuseum der Deutschen aus Bessarabia, and
the Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland. The American delegation
hosted a special dinner of appreciation at the Holiday Inn Crown
Court in Stuttgart for those who welcomed us so warmly in Stuttgart.
In Offenburg, the Americans met with recent German-Russian emigrants
and received a warm welcome from Dr. Barbel Buchele, social worker
of Caritasberband Offenburg. With the help of emigrants, she organized
a surprise for the American group with an original Kazakh meal,
monti. The dinner included other German-Russian specialties with
a Kazakh flavor. There was also a Kazakh chert put up for the evening,
with maps and displays inside showing the travels of our fellow
Germans from Russia. The evening continued with poems, music provided
by a couple on an accordion and a balalaika with people singing
On June 21 the group met again with local returnees where the
Americans presented their program, and at the end of the evening
the Americans introduced themselves in their (frequently) halting
German. Among others, a class from a local school made up of mostly
returnees' children attended as a group.
In Weingarten the group toured the Basilica, as well-known Rococco
building, and attended a special Mass. They visited and "Anlager,"
the group of apartment units in which the emigres are initially
placed. There are six or eight units in a building, and each unit
has three bedrooms, a community kitchen and a community bathroom.
Each family is allotted a bedroom, so a room can be used by anywhere
between two to eight people.
The head of the local chapter, Ida Jobe, a relative of John Philipps,
provided a good reception in that community. That evening meeting
with the returnees was well attended as was the previous time in
Offenburg. The American delegation was pleased to have recent emigrants
from the former Soviet Union join their brothers and sisters at
the gathering in Weingarten, Germany.
The Americans also toured Elsass, visiting ancestral villages
with Prof. Jean Schweitzer as a guide. It was a learning experience
to see the beautiful Elsass, home of many of the participants' ancestors.
The American delegation found many Germans from Russia in Stuttgart,
Offenburg and Weingarten searching for their American cousins. Often
they came up to members of the delegation with treasured pictures
they had carried with them through the years in Siberia or Kazakhstan,
and gave the pictures to the Americans as an aid in finding their
Sharing the American experience was enjoyable for the Americans
also. Our Russian and German cousins were unaware of our early years
on the North American plains, living in sod houses, the drought,
the hail, and the wind that has made farming such a precarious livelihood.
Reference was made to the Homestead Act of 1862, the development
of the railroads, and the necessity for citizenship, along with
the isolated living patterns on the American plains to meet the
requirements for land. There was much interest also in the Swabian
dialect used by many of the Americans.
Plans were made for an American House for the Black Sea Germans
at the Bundestreffen in June, 1996. North Dakota State University
is exploring a tour to Odessa and the former Black Sea and Bessarabian
German villages before the 1996 Bundestreffen, with the American
delegation returning from Odessa to Stuttgart. For further information
about NDSU-sponsored tour, write to Michael M. Miller, NDSU Libraries,
P.O. Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050.
About the authors of the article...
Margaret Freeman lives in Redondo Beach, California. She is coordinator
of the Glückstal Colonies Research Association. She served on the
board of Directors of AHSGR.
Michael M. Miller is the Germans from Russia Bibliographer, North
Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo. He compiled the annotated
bibliography, Researching the Germans from Russia.
Reprinted with permission of the Journal of the American
Historical Society of Germans from Russia.