In Touch with Prairie Living

August 2008

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

On June 28, 2008, I lost a longtime colleague, Bernd G. Laengin of Winnipeg, Manitoba at age 67. Bernd was a well known author and writer of books in the German language about Hutterites, Amish, Mennonities and the Germans from Russia. He wrote over 24 books in his lifetime.

Laengin traveled the world many times over and dedicated his life to the impact that leaving Europe and Germany in particular had on its many emigrants. He had a particular interest in the Hutterite, Amish, and Mennonite communities, and he cherished the friendships that grew out of his research of these people.

Bernd Laengin came to Winnipeg to become editor of the German language newspaper, Kanada Kurier. The GRHC plans to publish his well known pictorial book of the Germans from Russia with translation from German to English.

The GRHC has published Strasburg, Emmons Co., N. Dak.: Celebratory Publication on the 25th Jubilee of St. Peter and Paul's Parish. This 1914 publication originally in the German language was translated by  Father Jonathan Fischer, O.S.B.,  of St. John's Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota, a native of Strasburg. My grandfather, Michael Baumgartner, is pictured in this publication. He was one of the builders of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church at Strasburg. Michael immigrated with his parents in 1889 to North Dakota from the Catholic German village of Strassburg, Kutschurgan District, South Russia. (today near Odessa, Ukraine). The neighboring former German villages of Elsass and Selz celebrate their 200th anniversary in September - 1808 - 2008.

"The Foreword shares: Today, after 25 years, the first settlers look back with satisfaction and pride on all the difficulties more richly repaid for all they went through when they see how the community of Strasburg, seen from any point of view, has developed into a blooming parish, which can rightly be numbered among the better parishes in the Diocese of Bismarck, perhaps even in the whole state of North Dakota."

A new German-Russian cookbook is available, Aus Kueche und Keller: Specialities from German-Russian Cuisine, translated from German to English by Alex Herzog. Joseph Schnurr, who authored the book in the German language, writes in the Foreword: "Many of our country folk of the younger generations are often looking for recipes of one or another specific dish that had been put on their tables during their youth. This collection is also intended not so much as a proper cookbook than they should be simply as a minor contribution to the 'Living Habits of the Germans from Russia'.” The cookbook contains recipes for Borscht, Schlitzkuechle, pickled cucumbers with vinegar, canned apples and pears, fried goose with apples, Easter ham, and blood sausage. There is also a section of "The German Housewife in Russia.”

The 15th Journey to the Homeland Tour to Odessa, Ukraine and Stuttgart, Germany is May 20-30, 2009.

For further information about the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, Dakota Memories Oral History Project, Journey to the Homeland Tour and donations to the GRHC (such as family histories), contact Michael M. Miller, NDSU Library, PO Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599 (Telephone: 701-231-8416; Email:; GRHC website:

August 2008 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