Argentinian Descent Tells not all Volga-Germans Settled in America

"Argentinian Descent Tells not all Volga-Germans Settled in America." Hays Daily News, 15 June 2007.

Daughter of Ralph Romig

One of the longest-distance speakers at the 38th annual international convention of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia was Isabel Kessler, who came from Buenes Aires, Argentina.

A large crowd settled into the Cody Room at the Holiday Inn on Saturday morning to hear Kessler, president of the Volga-German association in Argentina for the past four years, speak about the settlement of Volga-Germans in Argentina.

They were looking for land to grow wheat, which they found and settled in Argentina, Kessler said through interpreter Luis Vasquez. Vasquez, Lincoln, Neb., is one-quarter Volga-German.

From the year 1876, when Argentina put immigration laws into effect, to 1980, almost 208,200 immigrants arrived. About 52,047 of them were Volga-Germans, Kessler said.

They founded colonies in several provinces. The first colony of Volga-Germans in Argentina was established Jan. 8, 1878 by a group of 10 people.

Kessler said the faith, love of work and honesty of the Volga-German people is part of the heritage of their descendants.

The Volga-German Association in Argentina was formed in 1978, a year before the 100th anniversary of the first Volga-German immigrants in the country.

The first settlements were in the Buenes Aires province. Today, the descendants are involved in professional and city life as well as agriculture, but the people maintain their connection to their past.

In the suburbs as well as out in the fields, you can find very well-organized groups of Volga-Germans, Kessler said.

Kessler said the Volga-German association in Argentina, is about 1,300 members strong and has about 18 chapters around the country. The organization formerly had about 4,000 members. Some of the number
reduction is due to death, but the organization is seeking to revamp itself to be more appealing to younger participants, Kessler said.

The convention kicked off Monday and dismissed this morning after an ecumenical worship service.

Reprinted with permission of the Hays Daily News.

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