on the Steppe: Volga German Folklife in a Changing Russia
By Timothy J. Kloberdanz and Rosalinda Kloberdanz
American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, Lincoln, Nebraska,
2001, 302 pages, softcover.
--- from "It's Happening at State," by Steve Bergeson,
Office of University Relations, North Dakota State University, Fargo,
January 28, 2002
Special edition of Kloberdanz book published
A special commemorative edition of Thunder on the Steppe: Volga
German Folklife in a Changing Russia, a book written by Timothy
J. Kloberdanz, associate professor of sociology/anthropology, and
Rosalinda Kloberdanz, director of Information Technology Services,
North Dakota State University, recently was published.
The Kloberdanzes were among the first Westerners permitted to visit
the former Volga German Autonomous Republic in the Saratov, Russia,
area during the summer of 1991. Two years later, the husband-wife
team published a 300-page book, detailing their experiences. The
new edition marks the 10th anniversary of the trip.
During their time in Russia, the anti-Gorbachev coup occurred,
which many observers described as "the second Russian revolution."
In the book, the Kloberdanzes describe what the event meant to villagers
living in an isolated area.
They wrote, "while we felt changed by the coup d'etat and
its jubilant aftermath, the village seemed little changed by all
the thunderous commotion and political developments in Moscow. The
roosters crowed as usual each morning, the cows ambled out to the
communal pasture and women in white kerchiefs calmly pulled weeds
in their vegetable gardens. The fact that villagers were not receiving
the latest news did not seem to bother them as much as it did us.
After all, what did it really matter? The summer sun would shine
and the winter snows would fall and village streets would turn to
mud in the spring regardless of who was in power in Moscow."
"And so, at last, we learned the meaning of a strange, two-word
expression that previously had baffled us: 'Wolga, Wolga' (Volga,
Volga). The Volga, Europe's largest and mightiest river, stubbornly
would go its way, no matter if Gorbachev or Yeltsin or even another
Romanov ruled Russia. Change was coming to the hinterlands of Russia,
but it would come slowly--'Volga, Volga.'"