In Touch with Prairie Living

February 2007

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 Germans from Russia as an important part of the northern plains culture.

In March, Prairie Public will broadcast a fascinating new series - "Growing Up German Russian: A Radio Series". This series contains thirteen audio clips from the oral histories collection by the Dakota Memories Oral History Project in 2005 and 2006. This series will feature the following narrators: Adam Boschee, West Fargo; Alice Ruth (Miller) Buck, Streeter; Marvin L. Hartmann, Fargo; Marvin G. Fiechtner, Wishek; ElRoy and Ruth (Dockter) Fischer, Gackle; Emil E. Schaffer, Gackle; and James Vetter, Fargo. These narrators (as well as a many other DMOHP narrators) have vivid childhood memories - memories of learning to drive a tractor, eating kernels, witnessing a prairie fire, adopting a little colt, having a car catch fire, listen to German funeral songs, learning to swim, hearing stories about life in Russia and immigrating to the United States, and growing up on the prairie during the Dirty Thirties. Included in this incredible series are commentaries from Jessica Clark, Germans from Russia Doctoral Fellow and Project Coordinator, as well as from Drs. Gordon Iseminger (UND), Kimberly Porter (UND), and Tom Isern (NDSU).

To find the Prairie Public radio frequency in your area, visit or call 800-359-6900. The North Dakota Humanities Council, Prairie Public, and GRHC have provided funding for Growing Up German Russian: A Radio Series. A CD version of this series will be available for purchase later this year.

The Dakota Memories Oral History Project will continue this year (2007), conducting interviews in the Beulah/Hazen, Bismark/Mandan, Devils Lake/Rugby, and Dickinson/Richardton areas of North Dakota. For more information, visit our website at To contact Jessica Clark (Project Coordinator) call 701-231-8419 or email

GRHC has published an important new book, "Death of a Past Life" by Robert N. Reincke, North Hollywood, CA, a true story of an elite German-Russian family's horrific experience of the St. Petersburg Bloody Sunday Massacre of 1905, the desperate evacuation to the Caucuses, and to Berlin, Germany, finally ending in an impoverished immigration to Ellis Island in 1949.

We are making plans for the 13th Journey to the Homeland Tour to Odessa, Ukraine and Stuttgart & Wiesbaden, Germany for May 17-28, 2007. The tour includes four days in Odessa visiting the former German villages, and six days in southern Germany. Tour members will attend the large Germans from Russia gathering called the Russlanddeutschen Bundestreffen, at Wiesbaden on May 26. The dates for the 2008 tour will be May 20-30. Tour members from Alberta, Florida, Hawaii, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota and Washington will be visiting their ancestral German villages: Rosental (Crimea); Bergdorf, Glueckstal, Kassel, Klein Neudorf, Marienberg & Neudorf (Glueckstal District); Gueldendorf & Hoffnungstal (Odessa District); Lichtenfeld & Worms (Beresan District); Arzis, Borodino, Eigenheim, Mannsburg, Plotzk & Tarutino (Bessarabia). Please contact me for further information and registration.

GRHC has available an outstanding new cookbook, "Favorite Recipes" prepared by the Southern Nevada Chapter in Las Vegas of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia. It is one of the best German-Russian cookbooks available. Recipes include Grandma's Halupsy, Kaseknepfle, homemade noodles, dumplings, Dampf Nudele, Bessarabian Halushka, Kuchen, Platchenda, and many other recipes. For more information, contact GRHC.

The new DVD documentary, "We'll Meet Again in Heaven" funded by GRHC is narrated by Ronald Vossler, UND, Grand Forks. Vossler guides the viewer from the small North Dakota town where he found the first letter, down the "blood-dark corridor of ethnic history" to former German villages in Ukraine and Moldova that were the source of numerous immigrants to the American prairie frontier.

The award-winning DVD documentaries: "Germans from Russia Food Pantry" and "The Germans from Russia: Children of the Steppe, Children of the Prairie" & "Prairie Crosses, Prairie Voices: Iron Crosses of the Great Plains" are also available.

The California Germans from Russia Heritage Fest is April 14, 2007, Los Angeles Lutheran High School, Sylmar, California. The American Historical Society of Germans from Russia Convention is June 11-16, 2007, Holiday Inn, Hays, KS (; the Germans from Russia Heritage Society Convention is July 19-22, 2007, Ramkota Hotel, Bismarck, ND (

For further information about Germans from Russia heritage, Dakota Memories Oral History Project, donations to GRHC including books, events, documentaries, CDs, DVDs, cookbooks and the June, 2007 tour, contact Michael M. Miller, NDSU Libraries, PO Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599 (Tel: 701-231-8416; E-mail:; GRHC website:

February, 2007 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