Germans From Russia to Meet in Rapid City

Holland, Deb. "Germans From Russia to Meet in Rapid City." Rapid City Journal, 17 August 2003, sec. 1C.

There will be kuchen aplenty when Rapid City hosts the Germans from Russia Historical Society national convention Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 4- 7. Rapid City "Living our Grandparents' Dreams" is the theme of this year's convention. Ramkota Hotel and Convention Center will host the event. The GRHS celebrates the successful journey of the German speaking immigrants who left the Black Sea area of Russia around the turn of the 20th century and settled on the northern Great Plains.

"We're very proud of our heritage," Rapid City GRHS member and convention volunteer Dick Hoff said. "Imagine the courage -the grit -our parents and grandparents had to muster to leave their homes and families and take a chance on a new land a half a world away. The society keeps that spirit alive."

Dick and his wife, Vera, both come from German-Russian stock. Retired now and living in Rapid City, they grew up in Richardton, N.D" where their grandparents settled after leaving the Black Sea villages in Russia. The Hoffs have visited their ancestral homes in Germany and in what is now the Ukraine.

"Keeping the spirit alive is why Dick and I are active in our local GRHS chapter," Vera Hoff says. "We are the children of a very unique people. We have a unique heritage with a unique story to tell. If we let our heritage and our story fall by the wayside, we will lose a small part of what has made our country so great -we will lose part of the story that tells why America will always be such a magnet for people who want freedom and a better life."

Dick and Vera are members of the Black Hills chapter organizing committee that will host the annual convention. The Hoffs say the convention annually draws almost 700 attendees.

“Our conventions are so much fun," Vera says. "German food, German sing-alongs and dancing, lots of fellowship -who wouldn't have a great time?"

The convention agenda will include workshops that help people appreciate their Germans- from- Russia heritage, family-tree research, instruction in using online resources and German-language tips. Inna Stryukova, head of the Foreign Language Department at the Agrarian University in Mykolayiv, Ukraine, will be keynote speaker and a presenter at the convention.

The winners of a "Pride in Your Heritage" student essay contest will be honored at the convention as well. The contest focuses on why it is important to be proud of Germans- from -Russia ancestry .

'The convention general session will feature speakers on Germans- from- Russia historical and cultural topics," Dick says.

The convention will close with a nondenominational memorial service, conducted in German and English, in honor of members who have died since the most recent convention.

For more information on the convention, visit the Germans from Russia Heritage Society Web site at, contact the Hoffs at 718-4116 or, or call Black Hills Chapter of GRHS president Bob Schneider at 722-7712.

Reprinted with permission of the Rapid City Journal.

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