In Touch with Prairie Living
By Michael M. Miller
The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection (GRHC) at the NDSU
Libraries in Fargo reaches out to prairie families and former Dakotans.
In various ways, it affirms the heritage of the Germans from Russia
as an important part of the northern plains culture.
The Germans from Russia Heritage Society's 30th Anniversary Convention
is July 13-16, at the Radisson Hotel, Bismarck. There will be excellent
workshops, bookstore, and the genealogy/family history room for
research. For more information and registration, contact GRHS at
701-223-6167, or visit their website at http://www.grhs.org.
In June, I return safely to Fargo after memorable days with our
Journey to the Homeland Tour members in Odessa, Ukraine and Stuttgart,
Germany. The visit to the Black Sea and Bessarabian German homeland
villages was unforgettable experience. Life in our former German
villages is very difficult economically, especially for the older
generation who receives a very small pension. I saw large gardens
where many vegetables already appear in the large market in Odessa
and at the bazaar near the village of Kutschurgan, the former German
village of Strassburg, located on the border with Ukraine and Moldova.
One can see many people going to the Kutschurgan market by foot,
bicycles or vehicles. Many Moldovans travel to the market where
the economy may be even more difficult than Ukraine with lack of
employments and salaries. We must be very grateful that our ancestors
decided to immigrate to the Dakota prairies and to North America.
Again I was touched by the warm hospitality and friendship of the
The tour members presented to the Lighthouse Orphanage in Odessa,
the handmade quilts made by the German-Russian women at the English
Lutheran Church, Tuttle, ND, coordinated by Arlene Kruckenberg Knutson.
The article with color photographs, "N.D. grandmothers craft quilts
for Ukraine orphans," by Carol Just Halverson, appears in the April,
2000 issue of "North Dakota REC/RTC Magazine." The story can be
founding on the following GRHC web page: http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/outreach/journey/photographs/journey99/halverson.html .
On June 4, at The Forum in Ludwigsburg, near Stuttgart, Germany,
I attended the Bessarabian Bundestreffen with about 5,000 persons
in attendance. Joining me were tour members: Herbert Herman Sr.,
Gackle, ND, and his daughter, Melinda and Charles Snell, Bismarck,
ND. Sixty years ago in 1940, thousands of Germans left the Bessarabian
villages for Poland and on to Germany. Many of the Germans have
relatives in the United States and Canada. To attend the Bessarabian
Bundestreffen is a rewarding and memorable experience which I also
attended in June, 1998.
On Saturday, August 5, 2000, I will be in Devils Lake, ND, for
a Chautauqua presentation. The event takes place at 3 pm at St.
Joseph's Catholic Church. I will speaking about the Germans from
Russia of the central Dakotas and the settlements in north central
GRHC's traveling exhibit, "The Kempf Family: Germans from Russia
Weavers on the Dakota Prairies," continues to be shown at the Public
Library, Harvey, ND, until November 1. The NDSU Library, Fargo,
features until November 1, the exhibit, "Germans from Russia Wedding
Traditions: From the Steppe of South Russia & Bessarabia to the
The award-winning documentary videotapes "The Germans from Russia:
Children of the Steppe, Children of the Prairie" (1999), and "Schmeckfest:
Food Traditions of the Germans from Russia" (2000), continue to
be well received throughout North America. To secure the videotapes,
contact Prairie Public at 1-800-359-6900. The videotapes can also
be secured by going to this GRHC website at "Videotape Documentary
& Other Projects." The videotapes include 20-minute bonus video
footage, not shown in the one-hour documentary. See many interesting
pages about the documentary at the Prairie Public Broadcasting website:
For further information about donations to the collection, including
family histories, outreach programs, videotape documentaries, Journey
to the Homeland Tour including Odessa, Ukraine and Stuttgart, Germany,
for late May/early June, 2001; German-Russian cookbooks; GRHC's
publications including these new books, "Marienberg: Fate of a Village,"
"Open Wound," and "The Dark Abyss of Exile: A Story of Survival";
and German-Russian heritage, contact Michael M. Miller, NDSU Libraries,
PO Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599 (Tel: 701-231-8416; E-mail: Michael.Miller@ndsu.edu;
GRHC website: http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc).