New book published on Germans from Russia

NDSU Libraries News, Winter, 1999, page 6

Descendants of Germans who lived in Bessarabia, in South Russia, have a new resource to help trace their ancestry. The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, NDSU Libraries, has published an English translation of "Homeland Book of the Bessarabian Germans" by the late Albert Kern, a German pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Kern researched parish and village archives and interviewed residents of Bessarabian villages after World War II.

The 365-page volume, which chronicles 126 years of German families in Bessarabia, contains photographs and histories of the former Bessarabian German villages of interest to families in the Dakotas and Canada. It includes photographs, extensive indexes, lists of Bessarabians who died in World War I and World War II, and information on agricultural practices, infrastructure, village life and customs.

Thousands of Bessarabian Germans immigrated to North America during the 1880s and early 1900s. Many homesteaded in central North Dakota and South Dakota and the western Canadian prairie provinces. They named towns here after their villages in Bessarabia, such as Kulm, Beresina and Leipzig. today many of the bessarabian villages well known to Dakota-area families are located in Ukraine near Odessa.

"This book is extremely valuable," said Michael Miller, Germans from Russia bibliographer. "It goes into great detail documenting acreage, village life, number of people, livestock in the village, the epidemics and when sons went to war. It will be an eye opener for many people, because so many are interested in writing family history. Now they can go to this book, which will help them find from where their people came."

Ted Becker, a paint contractor in Williston and Germans from Russia researcher, obtained a copy of the book in German several years ago and hired a translator to convert the text to English. He later approached Miller, who also was interested in publishing an English edition, about publishing the translation. The two men and Dale Wahl, another member of the Germans from Russia Heritage Society, raised approximately $11,000 for the project through private donations.

"We've found, over the years, that the interest in Canada, the United States and Australia, in the history of the German Russian people, including those in Bessarabia, is very strong," said Becker. "The interest centers not only on Genealogical data but history of the villages and the area as well. The book provides a tremendous amount of knowledge and information for a very large group, and I think the value of it lies in its importance to so many people. "A special hard cover edition was bound in November for benefactors who donated $250 or more. The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection began filling orders in December. To obtain a copy, send $55 for soft cover and $80 for hard cover, plus $6 postage and handling in the United States and $7 in Canada, to Bessarabian Book, NDSU Libraries, P.O. Box 5599, Fargo ND 58105-5599. Checks, in U.S. funds should be made payable to North Dakota University Libraries.

Additional information can be obtained at the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection Web site at, or by contacting Miller at 701-231-8416 or by e-mail at:

Threshing machine with locomotive in Paris, Bessarabia, circa 1915 Bessarabian farm wedding in Sarata, circa 1915

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