Volga German Wedding
A Cultural Afternoon in Schweinfurt celebrating German Russian farmers’ customs
Kampen, J. "Volga German Wedding." Volk auf dem Weg, April 2010, 41.
Translation from the Original German-language text to American English provided by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado
Reenacting a Volga German Wedding, Schweinfurt.
Jakob Fischer provides some individualized "coaching" .
Around 250 came to the Schweinfurt Deaconate Center on March 14 to attend a cultural afternoon for Germans from Russia, a project of the Schweinfurt chapter of the Landsmannschaft (Ewald Oster, chair), of the mobile exhibition “Volk auf dem Weg” (Jakob Fischer, project director), of Porject “Angekommen und Integriert in Bayern [Arrived and Integrated in Bavaria]” (Olga Knaub, director), and djo/Unterfranken.
The presentation with the theme “Wolgadeutsche Hochzeit [Volga German Wedding],” offered the participating children’s, youth, and cultural groups a forum to present themselves as carriers of German Russian cultural efforts and to provide a broader pubic closer familiarity with the multi-faceted cultural treasure of the Germans from Russia
Also among the audience were local citizens and representatives from politics, e.g., Sebastian Remelé, CSU city council member, who a week later would be elected Lord Mayor of Schweinfurt, and also city council member Stefan Labos representing the “Schweinfurt Slate.’
In his welcoming speech Ewald Oster emphasized the importance of good communication between the Germans from Russia and the native locals. Jakob Fischer and Olga Knaub introduced their projects, which were intended above all to support mutual understanding between both groups.
Through dance, song and other musical contributions, around seventy-five performers of all ages represented the musical cultural tradition of the Germans from Russia. Jakob Fischer directed the entire program.
Also presenting that afternoon were the dance group “Crazy Dancers” from Lower Franconia (Anna Herget), the dance group “Grazie” and the folklore group “Birkenheim” from Upper Franconia (Nadya Fuchs), the women’s chorus “Harmonie,” the children’s singing group “Kleine Tröpfchen” (Olga Baluev), the mandolin and guitar ensemble (Theodor Kinzel) from Schweinfurt, a singing group “Regenbogen [Rainbow]” from Nord Neustadt on the Saale River, plus participants of a 2008 concert tour of Argentina. Many of these are also active in Landsmannschaft work.
“Traditional costumes are important for reinforcing identity. Although German Russians in different settlement regions had their own different traditional clothing, it is time for the Germans from Russia hereabouts to present themselves in traditional clothes when attending important events,” declared Olga Knaub.
For that reason she had invited Lilli Uhlmann, who presented a traditional German Russian costume she had designed during her research as a member of the Historical Research Association for Germans from Russia. The project had been undertaken under sponsorship of the Heimathaus [Homeland House] in Nuremberg and was largely financed by the Catholic Church as part of Aktion Renovabis.
Lilli Uhlmann commented: “I tried to take into account all the advice that was given to me, to overcome differences by looking at social facets, and to consider that clothing of Germans in Russia came into being under the influences of customs and work, climate and economic conditions.” Lilli Uhlmann firmly wishes to make it possible to fashion traditional clothing for cultural groups and for private persons. In looking for sponsors, she called for support and advice from all friends of the Germans from Russia.
Olga summed it all up as follows: “This afternoon has demonstrated that collaboration between various people and organizations can function very well at a local and regional level. It is also important that different generations can come together and learn from one each other.”
For the participants, the afternoon became one more motivation to maintain the traditions and customs they have brought with them and to present them to the public as their own strengths.
Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation of this article.