Zarenreich in den amerikanischen Westen:
Deutsche in Russland und Russlanddeutsche in den USA (1871-1928):
Die politische, sozio-ökonomische un kulturelle Adaption einer ethnischen
Gruppe im Kontext zweier Staaten
From the Tsarist Empire to the American West: Germans in Russia
and German Russians in the USA (1871-1928): the political, socio-economic
and cultural adaptation of an ethnic group in the context of two
by Dr. Susanne Janssen
Studien zu Geschichte, Politik und Gesellschaft Nordamerikas,
John F. Kennedy-Institut für Nordamerikastudien, Freie Universität
Berlin, LIT Verlag, Münster, Germany, 1997, 327 pages, softcover,
The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection is pleased to announce
the publication of Dr. Susanne Janssen's book, Vom Zarenreich
in den amerikanischen Westen. The book in the German language
was based on her dissertation completed at the John F. Kennedy Institute,
Berlin, Germany completed in 1991. Dr. Janssen visited Nebraska
and North Dakota populated by Germans from Russia people.
For her dissertation, Dr. Janssen researched the German from Russia
Heritage Collection at North Dakota State University Libraries,
Fargo, ND and the library of the American Historical Society, Lincoln,
NE. She interviewed persons of Black Sea German ancestry in North
Dakota and persons of Volga German ancestry in Nebraska.
The work compares how the German-Russians in Russia and later
in America adapted to a new country. Her writing raises an awareness
and an understanding for the recent immigrants of the ethnic Germans
who lived in the former Soviet Union who have immigrated to Germany
facing similar problems as the early settlers. The author reviews
the problem from the political, socio-economic, and cultural view.
She examines: 1) how the German-Russians and the Americans reacted
to WWI; 2) what measures they took for an anti-German campaign and
3) differences and similarities of how they adapted in a free and
in an unfree society between 1871 and 1928 were investigated.
Some of the persons Dr. Janssen interviewed include the following:
Ruth M. Amen, Lydia R. Grasmick, Henry Grenemeier, Mollie Grenemeier,
Adolph W. Miller and Alex Stier (Lincoln, NE); Mathilda Becker,
Jacob Groszhans, Henry Huether, Anna M. Maier and Emma Roeszler
(Ashley, ND); Thekla Dosch, Joseph and Rosalie Mattern and Magdalena
Schwab (Strasburg, ND); Hilda Koepplin, William L. Moser and Bertha
Ruff (Wishek, ND). Responses and interview summary is in the English
and German languages in some cases. Pages 302 - 327, the complete
oral interviews are published entirely in the English language with
questions and answers for the following interviewees: Alma Herman,
Fargo, ND; Henry Grenemeier, Lincoln, NE; and Ruth M. Amen, Lincoln,
Dr. Janssen includes an extensive bibliography of references.
Susanne Janssen, Vom Zarenreich in den amerikanischen Western:
Deutsche in Rußland und Rußlanddeutsche in den USA 1871-1928,
Münster, Germany, Lit Verlag, 1997), 327 pp. paper, ISBN 3-8258-3292-9.
Published in the series Studien zu Geschichte, Politik und Gesellschaft
Nordamerikas, editor, Dr. Willi Paul Adams.
In her dissertation Janssen compares the assimilation process
of the approximately 150,000 Germans who migrated from Russia during
the 60 year time frame to lands, especially North Dakota and Nebraska.
Uppermost for the study is a view to replicating the assimilation
experience for the Russian Germans in both countries, with a view
to currently returning `emigr'es from the CIS to Germany, approximately
1.5 million since the Wall fell. Thus Janssen analyzes the political
situation in Russian, the socio-economic adaption of the colonists
to the Russian situation, their cultural and political assimilation
in the United States up to the First World War, and the problems
they faced as "Germans" during the conflict both in Czarist Russia
and in the U.S. Interestingly, WWI allowed the Germans from Russia
in the United States to achieve, finally, "German" status, that
having become a sufficiently negative designation to umbrella all
immigrants with a German culture.
Prior to 1917, German Rooschians were distinctly sub-categorized
socially by the Reich and the non-German settlers. Result: Germans
from Russia were slow to enter American politics, strong in their
religious affiliation and economically rather successful. When matters
hit close to home, however, German Russians became politically active,
e.g. on behalf of the Non Partisan League in North Dakota. And in
Russia, the Germans remained culturally superior to their dominant
ethnic outsider group in spite of their education being limited
to the grades, whereas in America the Russian Germans remained educationally
below their neighbors the Norwegians, Reich Germans and Anglo-Americans.
Within this frame work, however, the Germans in Russia resisted
adaption whereas in the U.S. they welcomed the absorption process.
Thus, an assimilative parallel between the Russian and the American
sequence of events fails to replicate. In conclusion, Janssen discovers
the irony that success for the Germans in Russia aroused Slavophobic
antipathy while economic achievement in the sugar beet districts
of Nebraska, and the wheat field of North Dakota, and in the politically
strong Non Partisan League awakened the jealousy and enmity of the
Americans during World War I. Thus whether in a democracy or in
a monarchy, minority tolerance by the majority was dramatically
lacking, though of course in the former there was no mass internment,
deportation or liquidation of settlements.
Thoroughly researched with references to most of the scholarly
work done to date on Russian Germans, very extensive bibliography,
fine table of contents breakdown but no index. A masterful work
deserving of close attention in all serious German-Russian scholarship.
Reprinted with permission of Society for German American
Studies, volume 19, number 2, June, 1998, page 15.
Review by Frederik Ohles