Germans From Russia Lauded by Sinner

"Germans From Russia Lauded by Sinner." Forum, 12 July 1986.

North Dakota Gov. George Sinner told members of the Germans from Russia Heritage Society Friday that their ancestors laid the groundwork for the reputation for hard work and excellence in education the state enjoys today.

"Germans from Russia … are one of the most important parts of our culture," Sinner said at the society’s 16th annual international convention at the Fargo Holiday Inn.

Sinner, who is of German-American ancestry, told the nearly 500 people from United States and Canada that Germans from Russia wanted three things when they immigrated to the United States: They wanted land. They wanted to avoid being "Russianized." They wanted freedom and opportunity.

Literature tells of the hardships they endured in clearing the land for farming that characterized them as being frugal, practical, and hard-working, the governor said.

"It may be from this pioneer stock that we in North Dakota earned a reputation for the work ethic," Sinner said.

Although Germans from Russia weren’t initially eager to send their children to school in this country, they later took the lead in battling illiteracy.

In February 1923, the county that had demonstrated the most progress in fighting illiteracy was McIntosh County, which was the county with the highest population of Germans from Russia, Sinner said.

"Today, we share the fruits of the efforts of these people," he said.

North Dakota leads the nation in the percentage of high school graduates, has the highest per capita number of National Merit scholars; and the highest percentage of high school graduates that go on to college, Sinner said.

Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Fargo, North Dakota.

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