Thunder 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.'"

Thunder on the Steppe

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