By Sigrid Weidenweber
Center for Volga German Studies, Concordia University Library, Portland, Oregon, 2008, 443 pages, hardcover.
Review by Cheryl from agooddaytoread.com
The Meiningers had set out for Russia seeking to improve their lives, to escape the political and religious turmoil often surrounding their otherwise picturesque German homes and villages. They dreamed of the faraway place awaiting them. They colored the soil beneath the vast steppe rich and black in their minds – ready to be tilled. And there would be a neat little house ready to receive them. In their wildest dreams, they could not have imagined what actually awaited their arrival. There were no houses, no fields – nothing but grass as far as the eye could see. It was almost evening; they were hungry, wet and cold and felt like orphaned children.
These German immigrants and their descendants civilized this bleak Russia frontier, converted the harsh steppe into fields of waving grain dotted with wind-driven flour mills, and in this isolated place, developed a culture that was uniquely their own. They survived savage attacks of marauding tribes, the unpredictable often harsh climate and the vagaries of tsarist edicts. Sigrid tells the fascinating story of these courageous people in The Volga Germans.
The Volga Germans is the second volume in Sigid Weidenweber’s trilogy The Volga Flows Forever. Catherine, the first volume, brings to life the fascinating historical character of Catherine the Great who invited her native countrymen to settle the Russian frontier. In the final volume, From Gulag to Freedom, Sigrid follows the Volga Germans through the hardships of collectivization and deportation during the Soviet years to finally immigrate to the San Joaquin Valley of Central California.
About the Author
Born in Germany in 1941, Sigrid Weidenweber remembers firsthand the horrific aftermath of fascism. At the end of the war, she found herself living under communism. Both of these totalitarian regimes left indelible marks on her psyche. After the Berlin Wall was built, she finally escaped this repressive environment with the help of friends and a French passport. Sigrid holds degrees in medical technology and psychology. Her first book, Escaping the Twilight, deals with aspects of medical anthropology in an Islamic culture. Her wide range of interests led to the writing of the trilogy, The Volga Flows Forever. In this first volume, Catherine, she brings to life a fascinating historical character. She has been married 44 years, has two children, and two adorable grandsons.
Comments about the book:
"Weidenweber’s ability to tell a dramatic tale, while remaining true to the historical reality of two centuries of German settlement in Russia, is quite compelling. Her attention to the smallest detail adds charm and color to a sweeping tale, firmly rooted in the triumphs and tragedies of the Volga German experience."
---- Brian J. Els
University of Portand
"Like its first volume, this second in a trilogy digs deeply into the Volga German experience exactly as historians have been able to record it and with a great deal more readability. Keenly and exactly researched, this fictionalized history is the more readable because it personalizes the facts, the lives, and the tragedies endured by the Volga Germans for over a century."
--- La Vern J. Rippley
Saint Olaf College
"The story of the pioneering Volga Germans spans whole centuries and whole continents. It is an epic story and novelist Sigrid Weidenweber artfully captures this epic quality in her newest book, The Volga Germans."
--- Timonthy J. Kloberdanz
North Dakota State University
"The Volga Germans is not only interesting but quite moving as it reveals the drama of a Volga German family."
--- Arthur E. Elegel
Menlo Park, California
"In The Volga Germans, the powerful Volga current brings the reader a grand parade of Germans, Russians, Kalmuks, Kirghiz, and Tartars – an ethnic mѐlange worthy of the sweep of landscape and passing decades. The author conveys a family epic with compelling domestic narrative, punctuated by historical explosions."
--- Dona Reeves-Marquardt
Texas State University
The Volga Germans: The Volga Flows Forever, Book Two
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