Guests from America

By Ingo Rüdiger Isert, President of the Heimatmuseum der Deutschen aus Bessarabien, Stuttgart, Germany

Museum und Archiv, Jahresheft, 1994, des Heimatmuseums der Deutschen aus Bessarabien, Stuttgart, pages 10 - 12.


During June, 1994 several groups of Americans of Russian-German descent attended the National Convention of Russian-Germans in Stuttgart. They had combined their trip to Europe with a visit to their old homeland on the Black Sea.

One had already heard in advance, that on June 17, 1994, a group led by John Klein from Lincoln, Nebraska wanted to visit the Homeland Museum of the Germans from Bessarabia. Two members of the board of directors of the Homeland Museum called for them at their hotel and escorted them on public transportation through the middle of Stuttgart to the House of the Bessarabian-Germans. The visitors showed understanding for the confusion due to the current remodeling of the galleries and the consequent difficulty in displaying the artifacts. One could clearly see their astonishment at what the small folk-group of Bessarabian-Germans has been able to accomplish to date and yet plans for coming years.

Two days later, on June 19, 1994, Prof. Michael M. Miller gave a dinner for the representatives of the Landsmannschaft of the Russian-Germans and for the chairpersons of the Homeland Museum of the Germans from Bessarabia.

Prof. Miller is a bibliographer at North Dakota State University at Fargo, North Dakota. There, at the Institute for Regional Studies a special department, the "Germans from Russia Heritage Collection" was created in 1976. This department collects the heritage of the Germans from Russia and so preserves it for the future.

The special collection of this Institute at the North Dakota State University is supported by a historical society of the Germans from Russia, that was founded in North Dakota in 1971 and -- in close connection with the name of the special collection - in 1979 took the name "Germans from Russia Heritage Society". The official organ for the society is the quarterly journal "Heritage Review" with the supplement "Der Stammbaum", (the Family Tree) with extensive genealogical material.

It is not surprising that this institution was developed in, of all places, North Dakota, when one considers that in 1920, of the more than 116,000 Russian-Germans living in the USA, a full 70,000 of them were living in North Dakota. The Black Sea Germans, as well, were above all concentrated in North and South Dakota.

Precisely the Bessarabian-Germans know this well, as what family, during the period between 1871 and World War I, was not able to point to one or more emigrants to America among their number? Likewise, the two most important newspapers for the Black-Sea Germans in the USA, the Dakota Freie Presse and the Staatsanzeiger, were published in both North and South Dakota. Much news from Bessarabia reached relatives in the USA through reporters or letters to relatives in the USA and there found its way into one of the two papers, so that we are able to gather a surprising amount of information about our Bessarabian history from these very "American" newspapers.

Reprinted with permission of the Heimatkländer of the Landsmannschaft der Bessarabiendeutschen, Stuttgart, Germany.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller