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Remarks given at premiere events


Dr. Richard W. Bovard
Arthur E. Flegel
Stuart and Cindy Mitzel Longtin
Kathleen Pavelko - Welcome Remarks
Kathleen Pavelko - Acknowledgements of Donors
Kathleen Pavelko - Introduction of Bob Dambach
Kathleen Pavelko - Introduction of Michael Miller
Ryn Pitts

Richard Bovard, Interim Director of Libraries, North Dakota State University, Fargo

Comments from Dr. Richard W. Bovard
Interim Director of Libraries
North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo

I am pleased to represent North Dakota State University on this occasion, an occasion when we celebrate a documentary that honors the history and culture of one of our state's important ethnic groups.

As you know, for over 100 years NDSU has been an influence upon the well-being of this state through its many agricultural offices, programs, and Extension Services. Likewise, the College of Human Development and Education (formally the College of Home Economics) has been a force in improving the living conditions of many North Dakotans.

But for almost all of this time, from 1907 and the hiring of A. G. Arvold, NDSU has been interested in promoting the cultures of the state and culture in the state. Before this founder of the Little Country Theatre retired, the Institute for Regional Studies was founded. Since 1950, this Institute has existed to preserve and study the history and culture of the state and region. With a publication program exemplified by its recent award-winning Magnificent Churches on the Prairie, the Institute has promoted the study of North Dakota. With an archives enriched by the recent acquisition of forty years of the Jules Lebrun farm records, the Institute has preserved vital documents of the state.

Over time, many scholars have jointed the faculty to study North Dakota history, rural culture, and ethnic cultures. And they have taught others to know and appreciate the people of this land. In our History Department, Bill Reid, the first Institute archivist, was eventually joined by such scholars as David Danbom and Tom Isern. In Sociology/Anthropology, Father William Sherman, a pioneer in the study of North Dakota ethnic cultures, was eventually joined by such scholars as Tim Kloberdanz and Gary Goreham.

And at the NDSU Libraries, where the archives of the Institute are housed, Michael Miller has enthusiastically nurtured the development of a special, focused collection: The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection. Since 1978, that collection has developed from a traditional book collection into an oral history project, four international listservs, and an annual Tour to the Homeland-among many other things.

So, at NDSU, we delight in the production of this documentary. We honor a significant group of immigrants to this land. And we maintain our long tradition of commitment to this state.

(left to right): Michael M. Miller, Cleora Rauscher Flegel & Arthur E. Flegel presented Prairie Public Television's "Donor's Edition" Germans from Russia videotape & plaque for their major financial contribution, Menlo Park, California, 25 February 1999.

Written remarks Arthur E. Flegel, Menlo Park, California
Major donor to the documentary (read by Dr. Richard W. Bovard)

Since early youth I have been intrigued with the thought, "Why and under what conditions did my ancestors migrate from Germany to Russia?" Oldsters whom I questioned could at best give a vague response which included something about the Russian Czarene, Catherine the Great.

Names of towns and villages mentioned by my parents and their friends as they reminisced about the "old country" could not be located on the maps which my elementary school geography book provided. Consequently, the more remote the reasons behind these ancestral movements appeared the more determined I became to search for the appropriate answers.

This, however, became more of a challenge than I had anticipated. Finally, I made a vow, that if the Lord would provide the means, I would devote and dedicate whatever talents He might bless me with towards uncovering this perplexing riddle. I can now gratefully state that the Lord provided most abundantly and the answers to those questions did indeed become an over- riding event and interest in my life.

My major breakthrough came while researching in the Hoover Institution at Stanford University when I came upon an impressive card file referring to Germans in Russia. This led to an acquaintanceship with Dr.Karl Stumpp of Tuebingen, Germany and my eventual involvment with the printing and distribution of his magnificent volume, The Emigration from Germans to Russia in the Years 1763-1862. [title of book in italics] Dr. Stumpp may very well be regarded as the patriarch of German from Russia historical research.

By the time of the creation of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia in 1968, I had already assembled a substantial collection of material on this subject and was pleased when asked to become a part of the creation of a society dedicated to the research and preservation of our unique German from Russia history and genealogy. As a matter of fact, this endeavor has become the primary activity of the past forty years of my life.

It is indeed my sincere desire and hope that the unique heritage which we of German from Russia background possess will be preserved for many generations to come. To that end I have been privileged to make a fairly substantial monetary contribution to the work spearheaded by Mike Miller and Richard Bovard and intend to continue to support the effort as long as it is the Lord's will for me to do so.

Stuart Longtin, Fargo, speaks on behalf of Cindy Mitzel Longtin and himself, major financial donors to the documentary, expressing gratitude for the completion of project

Comments from Stuart and Cindy Mitzel Longtin
Fargo, North Dakota
Major donors to the documentary

What you are, is what you were, when. How can anyone know where they are going when they don't know where they came from? Doesn't everyone wonder what particular set of circumstances brought them to where they are and what they are?

This documentary, and others to follow, is important, very important. The history and tradition it shows are part of the unique history of a people. It shows the power of a people in overcoming adversity. It shows the drive of a people to succeed. It shows the ingenuity of a people to adapt and incorporate traditions and techniques of another culture to their own. It also shows the faith of a people. A faith that sustained them, through wars, droughts, famines, prejudice, and even a police state.

This what the German-Russian people were, are now, and are passing on to future generations.

This documentary will hopefully raise an interest in our young people and cause them to want to learn about their heritage. This is a heritage that served their ancestors well and will serve today's and tomorrow's generations as well.

When we found out about the documentary project from Michael Miller, we became enthused with the same excitement that he felt. We feel very fortunate to be able to be part of this wonderful heritage experience. Our trips to the Ukraine fired our zeal to learn and help to spread this learning. We have had the privilege of walking the village streets of our ancestors. We've seen the same churches where the families prayed, worshiped, were married, and were buried. This experience was something that can't really be explained. We sincerely hope that more German-Russian young people will become interested in their heritage as a result of viewing this splendid story.

We want to thank Michael Miller for his drive and enthusiasm about something about which he feels so very strongly. Our thanks also go to Bob Dambach for his superb production talents. The efforts of these two people, and all the rest involved in the project, brought about a result that is clearly first-rate and professional.

May this be the start.

Kathleen Pavelko, President of Prairie Public Broadcasting, Fargo, welcomes guest to the documentary premiere event

Welcome Remarks
Kathleen Pavelko, President
Prairie Public Broadcasting, Inc., Fargo, North Dakota

Good evening, and welcome to an evening of celebration, acknowledgement and entertainment.

We are here to celebrate the completion of an important work of history and heritage, to acknowledge the historians and others who shared their expertise, to thank the donors who provided financial support for the program, and to present to you the first public screening of The Germans from Russia: Children of the Steppe, Children of the Prairies.

The Germans from Russia documentary is historically sound, emotionally striking, visually beautiful.and I think a real contribution to the history and heritage of the Prairie region. We hope that through this program, many hundreds of thousands of viewers nationwide will come to understand the remarkable qualities which make this ethnic group unique in the history of Europe and North America.

Tonight you will meet the individual whose passion and knowledge about the Germans from Russia created the original idea. You will also meet the television producer who took an idea and created a visual history. And you will meet one of the project's most significant donors, a family whose commitment to their heritage led them to support this documentary effort to tell the Germans from Russia story.

I'd like to begin tonight with the partnership between two North Dakota institutions that made The Germans from Russia documentary possible. The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection and the staff expertise of the Libraries at North Dakota State University are the intellectual heart of this project. Archives, oral histories, letters and artifacts are all part of this rich resource.

But the Libraries did more, drawing on its far-flung connections with the Germans from Russia community nationwide and raising the funds needed to produce the project. And, as the program neared completion, the Libraries devoted its considerable electronic resources to getting out the word that the program was about to emerge.

Acknowledgements of Donors by Kathleen Pavelko

In your program is an impressive list-the complete list-of contributors to The Germans from Russia. The financial support came in amounts both large and small, from within North Dakota, across the country and abroad. Major funding for the program came from the members of Prairie Public, from the North Dakota Humanities Council, and from Arthur E. and Cleora Flegel. Although the Flegels could not be with us tonight, Art Flegel has sent a message to share with you and here is Richard Bovard to present it.

Bob Dambach, Executive Producer and Director at Prairie Public Television, shares his thoughts about the completion of the documentary

Introduction of Bob Dambach by Kathleen Pavelko

Making a television program can be a mysterious process to the outsider. It seems clear that pictures are necessary, and sound, and some words, too. But how do you go from an idea-let's make a documentary! - to the carefully crafted story you will see tonight?

That's the work of the producer, and a complicated task it is. A producer brings together content experts, a script writer, videographer, graphics specialists, video editors and composer. Each one of these professionals has strong views. A producer must keep the ultimate goal in mind, even while handling thousands of technical and organizational details.

Bob Dambach, the producer of this program, is the director of television programming and production at Prairie Public. This program has been his special focus for the past four years. When it seemed the project was stalled, he kept it going. In addition to being the producer, he's also been a part time videographer, writer, fundraiser and editor.

In fact, a producer worries about everything. Ladies and gentlemen, I would like you to meet the most accomplished and productive worrier at Prairie Public Broadcasting, Bob Dambach.

Introduction of Michael Miller by Kathleen Pavelko

This project has many proud parents, but none is more proud, or more significant, that Michael Miller. As bibliographer of the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection at the NDSU Libraries and as a German from Russia himself, Michael brings considerable historical expertise to this topic. But after a 1994 trip to the Ukraine, it was Michael's idea and Michael's passion to bring the Germans From Russia story to the screen. Throughout the long production process, it was Michael who provided the entry to the German From Russia community. It was Michael who kept the community connected and informed electronically via his newsletter, messages and web site. It was Michael who communicated his passion for the project to the many potential donors. And it was Michael who graciously and generously participated with other scholars and experts in telling the story.

Ryn Pitts, Chair of the Prairie Public Broadcasting Board of Directors, extends greetings

Remarks from Ryn Pitts, Chair, Board of Directors, Prairie Public Broadcasting, Inc.

On behalf of the board, I am very pleased to welcome you to this evening's reception and screening of The Germans from Russia: Children of the Steppe, Children of the Prairie.

And I'm especially pleased to celebrate the partnership with the NDSU Libraries which helped make it possible.

It is Prairie Public Broadcasting's mission to be the region's most trusted provider of news, information, education and cultural programming. Partnerships such as the one with the NDSU Libraries are essential in fulfilling that mission.

We look forward to future projects with North Dakota's universities, the State Historical Society of North Dakota, the Humanities Council and with individual authors and scholars. By combining their expertise with ours, we plan to continue to tell the story of the prairie region in compelling and thoughtful ways.

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