Music & Poetry of the Germans from Russia

The cultural traditions of poetry and especially music are important to the story of the Germans from Russia. The German songs of folkways, childhood, weddings, funerals and immigration provide rich cultural folk music of the Germans from Russia community.

For generations, Germans from Russia have valued music and poetry as integral to the preservation of their culture and communities. Immigrants used them to express their varied emotions as they fled their home countries to an unknown place. Then, when they arrived in the United States, poetry and music continued to shape and strengthen their small communities and the shared hardships of building a new life.  

The music of the Germans from Russia is heavily influenced by religion and contains themes within Christianity. Both vocal and instrumental music play a role within religious ceremonies and community events, such as weddings and funerals. Folk music equally contributes to the rich musical tradition of this community. Regional figures, such as Lawrence Welk, bring attention to the rich musical traditions of the German-Russian community. German songs reinforce the cultural values of this community and strive to educate the younger generations of the challenges they faced.  

Through interviews from the Dakota Memories Oral Histories Project (DMOHP), the importance of both music and poetry to the Germans from Russia community is illustrated by recorded accounts of second- and third-generation Germans from Russia. Experiences with music, instruments, and poetry are present in many of the interviews, all of which can be viewed online here.

Poetry & Music
Additional Resources

Bohlman, Philip V., and Otto Holzapfel. Land Without Nightingales: Music in the Making of German-America. Edited by Otto Holzapfel. Madison: University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2002. (Catalog record).

Kaiser, Michael Marie., and Margaret K. Aziz. Songs for a Journey: a Selection of Poetry. Edited by Margaret K. Aziz. Brownsville, Tex: Springman-King Company, 1980. (Catalog record).