In Touch with Prairie Living

December 2001

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.

Two persons of German-Russian heritage are serving important positions during this challenging time in American history: 1) U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Senator Tom Daschle, a native of Aberdeen, SD, who had ancestors to the German village of Kleinliebental; and 2) Lt. Gen. Charles Wald, a native of Minot, ND, who had ancestors to the Kutschurgan villages, all located today near Odessa, Ukraine. Lt. Gen. Wald was assigned to the Pentagon in 1997. He is commander of the 9th Air Force, which covers some two dozen countries from East Africa across the Arabian Peninsula to Pakistan.

GRHC and the Germans from Russia Cultural Preservation Foundation will be sponsoring the “Arizona Premiere” featuring the new videotape documentary series, “Grandma’s Recipes: Germans from Russia Food Preparations and Memories.” The event is Saturday, March 2, 2002, 9:30 am-11 am, at the Civic Center Library Theater, 3839 Civic Center Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ. The North Dakota Picnic is Sunday, March 3, 2002, 10 am-3 pm, Pioneer Park, Mesa, AZ. Contact me for further information.

“Grandma’s Recipes” videotape is available from the GRHC. See these persons cooking in their kitchens and reminiscing: Millie Doll Hauck, Dickinson, ND; Helen Gefroh Fischer, Hague Cafe, ND; Bernadine Lang Kuhn, Owatonna, MN; Erica Lang Wangler, Bismarck, ND; and Alma Janke Schott, Gackle, ND.

We have two new, re-designed, color-coded 11 by 17 inch laminated maps of the former German villages of South Russia. These maps include German villages of Bessarabia, Crimea, Dobrudscha, Beresan District, Kutschurgan District, Liebental District, Mennonite, and Hutterite. Ancestors of the Germans from Russia community in the Dakotas immigrated from these villages in South Russia. For further information, contact GRHC or visit: The two maps were completed in 1999, with revisions in 2001. These maps have been popular at GRHC outreach events clearly identifying locations and names of the homeland villages.

The GRHC co-sponsors the “Cultural Heritage Tour: Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Alsace, France,” September 12–23, 2002. Tour members will visit the ancestral area of many German-Russians in Alsace and southern Germany. The tour includes: Stuttgart, Strasbourg, Lucerne, Salzburg, and Munich including the Oktoberfest. To receive tour information details, visit the website at Limited space is available for the Journey to the Homeland Tour (May 26-June 7, 2002) sponsored by the NDSU Libraries. The tour will include Odessa, Ukraine, and the nearby former Bessarabian, Black Sea, and Crimean German villages; Stuttgart, Germany, and Alsace, France.

In the new biography published by GRHC, “Why are you still alive?: A German in the Gulag” by Georg Hildebrandt, Heidelberg, Germany, Hildebrandt writes about his life story and the suffering endured by the Ukrainian Germans. Many Germans died in Siberian detention camps during Stalin’s dictatorship. His biography is a shocking document of the Germans in the former USSR. He documents what happened with amazing memory and precision. Hildebrandt celebrated his 90th birthday in July, 2001.

GRHC’s new book, “We’ll Meet Again in Heaven: Germans in the Soviet Union Write Their American Relatives: 1925 - 1937," by Ronald J. Vossler, includes many letters translated from German to English including these family names: Boschee, Dockter, Eckman, Feiger, Goehring, Graf, Heupel, Hochhalter, Ketterling, Kirschmann, Kramer, Lang, Morlock, Opp, Rudolf, Rueb, Schauer, Speidel, Stock, Viel, and Wanner. “The family names clearly show a direct link, one of old love and also of family ties, between the Dakota pioneers and those unfortunate family members who remained behind in Russia.”

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. Each videotape includes 20 minutes of bonus video footage, not shown in the one-hour documentary. To secure the videotapes, contact PPTV at 1-800-359-6900.

For further information about Germans from Russia heritage, donations to the Collection, including family histories, Arizona events, videotape documentaries, tours, German-Russian cookbooks; and GRHC’s publications including books, contact Michael M. Miller, NDSU Libraries, PO Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599 (Tel: 701-231-8416; E-mail:; GRHC website:

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