In Touch with Prairie Living

August 2003

By Michael M. Miller
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo

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.

GRHC has published a new cookbook, "Sharing Our Best Recipes: Members and Friends of United Methodist Churches, Medina and Tappen, North Dakota". There is a German-Russian ethnic section which includes recipes for: Fleisch Kuechla, Knoepfla soup, Holapsie (pigs in the blanket), Borscht (vegetable) soup, Ribble (milk) soup, Strudels, hot German potato salad,
homemade noodles, dumplings, Spaetzle (tiny egg noodles), cheese buttons, Kuchen, Baska (Easter bread), Pfefferneuse, Blatschinda (pumpkin pockets), and many more. Recipes come from the kitchens with these family names: Bitterman, Bittner, Eisenbis, Enzminger, Falk, Guthmiller, Harr, Hillius, Hofmann, Hoersch, Ketterling, Kinnischzke, Kuck, Mayer, Messer, Mittleider, Moos, Moser, Reich, Roemmich, Roesler, Schmallinger, Schlecht, Sprunk, Staiger, Wasmuth, Wolsky, and Zimmerman.

My special thanks to Kristi Krebs Brink who co-ordinated with Lillian Mayer Schlecht, Medina, ND, to complete the "Sharing Our Best Recipes: Members and Friends of the United Methodist Churches, Medina and Tappen, ND" cookbook. The cookbook is available by contacting GRHC or at: Kristi, a native of Glen Ullin, ND, is a 2003 NDSU graduate in Public History. She began full-time work in June as Archives Associate for GRHC, with private funding from the Marie Rudel Portner Germans from Russia Endowment, established at the NDSU Foundation in 2000.

We are pleased to announce the "Recipe Index Search" available for use at the GRHC website. The Index Search includes recipe titles from various ethnic backgrounds,such as Bessarabian, Black Sea, German, Russian, Ukrainian, Mennonite, Hutterite, Volga, Crimean, and the Northern and Central Plains of the USA. The cookbook title, recipe category, recipe name, page number, and person who submitted the recipe are available through this search. Go to this website:

GRHC has recently published, "Escape by Troika: The World War II Chronicle of a Bessarabian German", by Oskar Zimmermann, Anaheim, CA. Mr. Zimmermann has many Zimmerman relatives in south-central North Dakota. In the preface, Dr. Worth L. Nicholl writes: "Based on Oskar Zimmermann's diary, which he kept from January 17, 1945, through the end of the war, and his personal recollections, this book tells the story of his forced exile from the vanished but beloved homeland of Bessarabia." The author writes in the Dedication: "This book is dedicated to the millions of German civilian refugees who fled from the Eastern Front in early 1945." The book contains excellent maps and historic photographs. The book is available at:

In cooperation with the Germans from Russia Cultural Preservation Foundation (, a new videotape, "Reflections with Monsignor Joseph Senger" is available. A native of Orrin, ND, Monsignor Senger, Minot, shares his childhood, farm life, and religious life, as a son of German-Russian immigrants. He shares his story of the emotional and unforgettable visit in May 2001 to southern Ukraine and his ancestral German villages.

Prairie Public's "Prairie Crosses, Prairie Voices: Iron Crosses of the Great Plains" is receiving a terrific response from viewers. Be watching for this third documentary of PPTV's Germans from Russia series on other PBS stations in 2003. Iron Crosses stand as sentinels on the prairie landscape, framed by vast expanses of grass and sky. Although they stand silent, behind each cross is a story.

Mother of Eight Designs, Butte, ND, has developed an "Iron Cross Memorial Keepsake" which has fine detail. The Keepsake is rich in symbolism from the cross itself to wheat; prairie - grass and hearts of prairie roses and the paradise shawl which the German-Russian women wore. To see this design go to:

Now in GRHC's fifth printing since February 2002: "German Food & Folkways: Heirloom Memories from Europe, South Russia & the Great Plains", by Rose Marie Gueldner, Fargo, a native of Anamoose, ND, is available.

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 draw much viewer interest, and have been shown on many PBS stations. Each videotape includes bonus video footage not shown in the one-hour documentary.

For further information about Germans from Russia heritage, donations to the Collection including family histories, books, notecards, videotapes, cookbooks, tours, and the new Recipe Index Search, contact Michael M. Miller, NDSU Libraries, PO Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599 (Tel: 701-231-8416; E-mail:; GRHC website:

August, 2003 column for North Dakota and South Dakota newspapers.

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