Killesberg Messe, Stuttgart, Germany
Sponsored by the Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland, Stuttgart
By Margaret Aman Freeman, Redondo Beach, California
The 27th Bundestreffen at Killesberg Messe in Stuttgart sponsored by the Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland was held June 2, 2001 at Killesberg Messe, Stuttgart, Germany. About 24,000 attended this year, a much smaller group than the 55,000 attending in 1998.
This year's meeting broke the every other year tradition of the gathering, which has taken place in even numbered years. The Bundestreffen has become a very expensive gathering for the Landsmannschaft to sponsor, as the Landsmannschaft funding by the German government is decreased. The growing age of the returnees is also considered a factor in the decreased participation, as many no longer travel or are no longer alive. The current use of the internet and fax is also helping people to find each other and get together, when previously face-to-face contact was necessary.
Michael M. Miller, Bibliographer, Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University Libraries, again arranged for Amerika Haus, as he has in 1994, 1996, and 1998. Although "Amerika Haus" is set up in the room of the 1944 returnees to Germany, many come from all the other numerous halls, where people who are returnees from Siberia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekhistan and other regions of the current CIS gather to meet their friends and acquaintances.
"Amerika Haus" is a display with literature about programs in North America and includes a table where people who wish to contact their North American relatives can come, talk to the North Americans, and write their names and addresses and possible locations of the people for whom they are searching. These names are gathered and given to the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia and the Germans from Russia Heritage Society, where they are passed on to the village researchers. Many times these requests result in families being reunited after the years of separation begun by the terror years in Russia, World War II, and banishment to the far-flung states of the then USSR.
Working this year were the members of the Journey to the Homeland Tour, who had been to Odessa and environs, and others who traveled to Germany especially to help out: Carl Mack, Monsignor Joseph Senger, Loretta Phlieger Turner, Charles Rohde, Tom and Janice Huber Stangl, Harold Ehrman, Ed and Doris Bischoff, Mary Jaeger Marando, Rosemary Ripplinger Schwan, Bill and Gerry Walth Sommer, and Bob & Margaret Aman Freeman. Living in Germany and coming to help were Jerry Aman and his wife, and Bob and Linda Mitzel. Monsignor Senger of Minot, ND also spent time greeting the returning Germans, as well as preaching at the ecumenical church service, a regular part of the Bundestreffen.
Jan Stangl spent considerable time at the Marienberg table talking to those individuals and their descendants about whom she had written in "Marienberg, Fate of a Village".
With the theme "Chancengleichheit durch Integration!" displayed throughout the one day meeting, the emphasis of the speakers and groups was on the returnees becoming part of the citizenry of Germany while keeping some of the customs established during their Russian years. This theme was also carried through the Heimatabend, an evening program which finished the day for most participants. Dancing in the various rooms for the various age groups continued until late in the evening.
Bob and Margaret Aman Freeman and Michael Miller appeared on the cover of the July, 2001 issue of "Volk auf dem Weg," an issue devoted to the Bundestreffen.
On May 31, 2001, Michael Miller made a presentation, "Dakota's Germans from Russia," at the Deutsches Amerikanisches Zentrum, Institute for Auslandbeziehungen in Stuttgart, which was well attended. He also took his Journey to the Homeland group to Alsace where they enjoyed the countryside and vineyards. Miller also arranged for a concert and reception by the renowned Stuttgart Russlanddeutschen Chor, an event enjoyed by all those who toured and those who assisted at the "Amerika Haus".
Our appreciation to Margaret Aman Freeman for preparing this review of the 2001 Bundestreffen.