Prize Winning Documentary: "The Germans From Russia"

Kraft, Katherine. "The Germans From Russia." Community News 26, no. 1: 6, 3 September 1999.

Recently, the monastery media center received the gift of a documentary, "The Germans from Russia: Children of the Steppe, Children of the Prairie." Awarded first place for best documentary among 11,000 entries and a Silver Telly Award from the Center of Creativity, this 60-minute video was produced for public television by the North Dakota State University Libraries and Prairie Public Television. It tells the story of the Germans from Russia, "agricultural pioneers whose quest for land and peace shaped them into a distinctive ethnic group" and addresses questions like these:

    What prompted so many Germans to emigrate to Ukraine and New Russia between 1762 and 1804?
    What challenges did they face and what successes did they achieve?
    What forces disrupted their lives and led some 300,000 to leave Russia for the United States, Canada, and Brazil between 1873 and 1914?
    What happened to those who remained in Ukraine?
    How did those who chose the Great Plains retain their ethnic identity in a new land?

"The story follows the Germans from Russia from ancestral villages in the Old World to northern prairie farmsteads in the New World. It is told with humor and intelligence and depicts with sensitivity the hardships and seemingly unendurable heartache the immigrants experienced through the generations" (Documentary).

Many sisters in our community have roots in Ukraine. Some, like Sisters Clement Boehm and Melfrieda Doll, were born there. Still more of us are first and second generation descendants of parents and grandparents who lived there--Sisters Johnita Meyer, Ella Schweitzer, Delphine Heier, to name but a few.

If any of this interests you, you will probably enjoy watching "Germans from Russia." It could be the occasion for an informative and entertaining living group activity and might even evoke some fascinating story telling among the sisters whose ethnic heritage this video documents and celebrates.

It tells the story of the Germans from Russia, "agricultural pioneers whose quest for land and peace shaped them into a distinctive ethnic group."

Many sisters in our community have roots in Ukraine.

Reprinted with permission of the Community News, St. Benedict's Monastery, St. Joseph, Minnesota.


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