Germans from Russia wedding exhibit featured at NDSU Libraries

May 24, 2000

The photographic exhibit, "Germans from Russia Weddings: From the Steppe of South Russia and Bessarabia to the Dakota Prairies," is on display at the NDSU Libraries from May 26 to June 1, 2001. The exhibit is located with the new Marie Rudel Portner Germans from Russia Room.

The exhibit highlights wedding photos from Bessarabia, Black Sea, Crimea, Dobrudscha, Mennonite, and Volhynian German-Russian weddings. Part of the exhibit can be viewed at the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection web page:

These photographs provide visual display of traditional wedding costume and customs from 1870 through 1940 -- and their cultured transitions through seventy years. The most impressive historic photos were made between 1900 and 1920. Unannounced deportation "programs" to Siberia and Kazakhstan destroyed most photographic souvenirs, except those rare photographs treasured by earlier immigrants to North America. This may help explain why no visual images survive for the older colonial villages of the Grossliebental District in Cherson, which immediately surrounds the Black Sea port city of Odessa. However, prosperous Bessarabian colonists (west of Dniester River) were spared such confiscation of family photo souvenirs, due to temporary Romanian jurisdiction.

Three photographs highlight the Ehestand (matrimonial certificate) of Fred Gackle and Magdalena Sandau with images of their 1914 Lutheran wedding and 60th wedding anniversary. Their ancestral villages were Alt-Posttal, Kulm, and Leipzig in Bessarabia. A classic posed portrait of Immanuel Wagner marrying Elisabetha Rueb in Sarata, Bessarabia, in 1898, displays flamboyant grosgrain silk ribbons. An exceptionally beautiful "Ehestand" (matrimony certificate) of colored lithographic cabbage roses and two white doves documents the Lutheran marriage of Henry Hoefs and Emilia Knodle at Walschtown, SD, in 1902.

The earliest wedding photo (with Russian text) depicts the marriage of John Fleck and Margaret Zimmerman, circa 1870, in Landau, Beresan District in Cherson. Another rare Cherson photograph displays the Catholic Kutschurganer wedding of August Schmaltz and Magdalena Welk in Selz, a village known for the monumental architecture of the Assumption Catholic Church.

A 1959 wedding portrait of Reinhold Bernhardt and Elsa Ganzer reveals continuing wedding traditions cherished by Black Sea Germans, who were exiled into Siberia and Kazakhstan.

The Volhynian Lutheran wedding of Julius Swanke and Emma Ihde at Prestigo, Wisconsin, before re-locating to Tower City, ND, seems regal. With Prussian heritage, Julius was born in Novogrod Volhynia, White Russia. (In 1831, an emigration of West Prussian colonists from Annetta and Josephina, Volhynia, joined a second wave of settlement into Bessarabia.)

Three Hauck family wedding photos represent Eupatoria, Zurichtal, and Twiach, Crimea, traditions. An elegantly warm portrait of August Kasper and Amalia Schield shows them standing at their 1910 wedding in Dodge, ND. Amalia was born in Feodosia, Crimea.

An elegantly posed wedding photo of Andreas Vogt and his bride shows prosperity, when married in 1903 at the historic Mennonite villages of Khortitsa-Rosenthal, Nutskroeker District, South Russia.

A Flugelhorn brass ensemble of seventeen musicians surrounds and "high times" the Lutheran wedding of Christian Hoffman and Marie Siewert in 1936 at Kodschalak, Dobrudscha, Romania. Their ancestral villages were in Bessarabia and the Glueckstal District.

"The Stanton Photo Company, Springfield, Ohio" identifies a circa 1880's young wedding couple as Rohrbach, Beresan District, Cherson, South Russia, the earliest immigrant families in 1872 to Sandusky, Ohio. These families provided hospitality and launched land survey scouts from Cherson, South Russia, to identify preferred lands for Black Sea German settlement near Yankton, Dakota Territory, and Sutton, Nebraska.

For more information, contact Jay Gage, exhibit curator, or Michael M. Miller, Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, NDSU Library (701-231-8416 or

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