Marie (Trupp) Krieger
1910 – 2006
Historian, Luminary, and Soul Mate of the Greater Pacific Northwest Community of Germans from Russia
The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon, August, 2006
Marie (Trupp) Krieger was the much loved great great grandmother of the extended community of Germans from Russia (“G-R”) in Portland and the greater Pacific Northwest. She represented all the good and wholesome ethnic traditions and cultural assets of this German immigrant community of early Portland. She was the G-R intellectual matriarch. Marie committed the last 35 years of her life to the collection, documentation, translation, publication, and dissemination of material of historical and genealogical significance to the G-R community in a most giving, unselfish, and friendly manner. She communicated daily with a vast network of thousands of people all over the world on all aspects of the ethnic culture and family history. She had a brilliant memory and intellect coupled with a really big heart and was always happy and eager to share her knowledge. More recently, many younger people have learned of their G-R heritage through old family records and the internet. Marie was always happy to help them with their research and openly shared her vast archives with all who had a sincere thirst for information about their heritage.
The “Germans from Russia” in Portland emigrated from Russia between 1880 and 1925. The cultural history dated from the 1760’s when over 30,000 ethnic Germans emigrated form the area now known as Germany to Russia at the invitation of Catherine the Great during a period of famine and difficult times in Germany. Promises of free land, freedom of religion, and exemption from military service lured many to Russia where they prospered for over 100 years. A change of laws and attitudes in Russia in 1874 prompted immigration to the U.S. during the 1880’s and later. Portland’s population of G-R’s numbered over 10,000 in 1920, and it is now estimated that greater Portland has well over 100,000 people with some G-R heritage in their family line.
The approximate geographical area of the original Portland G-R community was defined by N. Williams Avenue, N.E. Stanton Street, N.E. 15th Avenue, and N.E. Alberta Street. With the beginning of World War II came greater economic opportunity, and the next generation of G-R’s with larger families moved to other parts of the city.
Many young G-R’s proudly served in the U.S. Armed Forces in all U.S. wars and international conflicts after 1918 and have distinguished themselves in many professions as physicians, dentists, engineers, teachers, attorneys and judges, as well as in many areas of business and finance.
Marie grew up in an era when God and her church were the center of the G-R community and of her life. The ministers of the five local Portland G-R churches maintained detailed ledgers recording all births, deaths, marriages, baptisms and confirmations within the church. Worship of God was in integral part of daily life with all its decisions, values, and relationships. Throughout her life Marie epitomized these central values: Marie loved her God, her church, and her extended family. She gained wide informal recognition as the intellectual matriarch of the Northwest G-R community.
In tribute to her heritage, Marie collected the historical church records and ledgers of the Volga German neighborhood in Portland and translated this vast treasury of family history from the old German script into English. A loyal band of assistants helped Marie with the organization, typing and publishing of these translated documents. This labor of love took many years, and Marie was the key to unlocking this information and making it available to current generations. Because of there work thousands of researchers are now able to learn of their family history.
Having current access to family history records is especially important to people of G-R heritage because the ethnic heritage was deliberately concealed from many children during the periods of Word Wars I and II. It was not popular to have German heritage while America was in conflict with Germany during these years. The situation became even more complicated when the Soviets halted all communication between Americans and their G-R relatives in Russia. Horror stories from Russia describing execution, torture, forced starvation, gulag imprisonment, and devastating forced labor in concentration camps caused great sorrow in many American G-R families. Millions of innocent people were tortured, enslaved, and/or killed. Family members were deliberately separated and scattered, losing all contact with each other. Many parents in the U.S. G-R communities suffered enormous personal grief while knowing the plight of relatives abroad and keeping it from their children. All mention of the situation was avoided. Thus, many family ties were lost while focus was maintained on the happy times for the children and their lives as “modern: Americans."
Marie’s work and that of her loyal assistants has become an invaluable bridge to the past in contributing to accurate databases now available to modern archivists and researchers. Many researchers had little prior knowledge of their G-R heritage. In addition to the church records, Marie and her friends have maintained an obituary file containing thousands of individual names with personal data. Her work is now continuing as an integral part of the Williams-Krieger Library at Rivercrest Community Church in Portland.
Over the years Marie delivered, via U.S. mail, many boxes of obituary cards to the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (“AHSGR”) National Headquarters in Lincoln, Neb., obtained from newspapers located in Portland, and in Ritzville and Odessa, Wash., as well as translated obits from various Kirchembote (German language church newspapers) in the locations where G-R’s have settled throughout the United States. As a tribute to Marie’s life’s work, the Oregon Chapter of AHSGR has entered her name into “Portland’s Walk of the Heroines” at Portland State University.
Marie Trupp Krieger was born on Nov. 29, 1910, on a wheat ranch, Post Office Box 31, Irby, Wash., (southwest of Odessa), Adams County, and she was Christened on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 1910, at the Congregational Emmaus Church situated in the northwest corner of Adams County on the Lincoln County line. She entered the first grade at the Schafer School, District #73, in Adams County, and graduated from Odessa High School in 1929. She graduated from Washington State University in 1934 with a bachelor’s degree in foreign languages. She earned her room and board performing chores in college professors’ homes in Pullman. She moved with her family to Portland in 1935 and signed a contract for $996 om1936 to teach German and English at Endicott, Wash. She taught at Endicott for three years before taking a position at Tonasket, Wash., to teach English and Spanish. In 1941she moved to Portland to marry Walter Krieger in the living room of the home in which she resided the rest of her life. In Portland she was a substitute Spanish and German teacher at Roosevelt High School (1943-1945). She then became a homemaker as well as secretary and treasurer for her husband’s refuse hauling service. She still regularly attended the annual class reunion at Tonasket, Wash., where she had taught in 1939 through 1941, met with her remaining students, and always enjoyed the reunion. Her husband Walter died in 1993.
Marie and her husband were avid sport salmon fishermen and members of Northwest Steelheaders Association, 440 Troop Carrier Group, Sauvie Island Grange, Odessa Historical Society, Odessa High School Alumni Association, WSU Alumni Association, Rivercrest Community Church (a merger of Brethren and ion Congregational Churches of G-R heritage), and the ASGR of Lincoln, Neb.
Marie died Aug. 17, 2006, at the age of 95 years, 8 months and 19 days. A memorial service has been held. Packets of “forge-me-not” seeds were distributed to all who attended. While Marie is no longer with us physically, her legacy challenges all of us to never forget our God and our heritage. This gentle, caring soul taught us daily by example with the personal hope that we carry on her work and passion by helping others as she always helped us with such grace and humility.
THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF GERMANS FORM Russia (“AHSGR”) is an international organization dedicated to the discovery, collection, preservation, and the dissemination on information related to the history, cultural heritage, and genealogy of Germanic settlers in the Russian Empire and their descendants.
For additional information contact AHSGR – Oregon Chapter
President Treasurer and Membership:
Dr. Ray Koch Lois Klaus
2904 Old Dufur Road 111N.E. 67th Avenue
The Dalles, OR 97058 Portland, OR 97213
Family and friends of Marie have received a tremendous outpouring of emotions, letters, and appreciation regarding Marie. There may be a subsequent celebration of her life in the future to accommodate all those who were not able to attend the memorial service. Please let the above individuals know your contact information if you wish to be placed on a mailing list regarding future events and publication of Marie’s works.