Germans from Russia Heritage Society Convention
9 July 1977
Presentation by LeRoy Oberlander
Transcription by Joy Hass Stefan
Edited and Proofread by Linda M. Haag
… in Atlanta, Georgia, he said [? 002] is a thing of the past. It’s no longer a time [? 003] individual. But for individuality, we’d lose everything, because Jesus said 2000 years ago there’s none righteous; they’ve all gone their own ways. And they’ve altogether become filthy and I’m afraid that some are [? 007] today. Now all on grace, those are good, but we can’t live by law alone. America began as a country of grace, where we live from the heart. But now, everything has to be contested by the law.
The Bible says [? 011]. And anything run by law only will soon die. So let us all stand in prayer. Our Lord we thank you for this day, and we thank you for all of these people who have come together here; friends from Russia, from Germany, and from various parts of the United States. You’ve been with us all through these years and kept us as human beings, and looked over us, and cared for us. You supplied our physical needs and our spiritual needs. Now as we assemble to gather here, help us to realize that we cannot get on in this world without that spiritual and higher power which we receive directly from God in our own lives. Now this moment, we thank you for the management and for the leadership of this great gathering together. And as we’re assembled together let us remember in our hardships, when there was no way out, we could always look up. We received assistance, strength and courage. As we’ve read in your word that you are the lifter up of our heads when they have fallen down, and now in Jesus’ name, we ask that Jesus bless this gathering and see to our needs. We will praise you for it all. Amen. God bless you and God keep you.
Thank you very much, Reverend [? 037]. We want to continue our opening ceremonies by recognizing that we come from a particular ethnic group, but that we are also Americans and Canadians and members of other governments. Won’t you join with me at this time in the pledge of allegiance to our flag of the United States? Would you stand?
[group]: I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands., one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Thank you. We shall now call on Ray Thomas and ask him to lead us in the Star Spangled Banner and O Canada, and [? 050] to help out. If any of you don’t have music, it’s available at the back of the room, and if you don’t have any, raise your hand and we’ll get you some music.
Please all rise and join in singing the National Anthem, followed by the national anthem of Canada.
[058 - 098 group singing the Star Spangled Banner and O Canada]
Thank you very much. You may now be seated. I thank
the panel, the McDonalds and the Meleskis. I’d
like to share with you some communications we have
1. My congratulations to all of my friends here today for the outstanding contributions you have made to the state of North Dakota. Your great heritage has had an important influence on our state, and the accomplishments are ones for which you can be very proud. My sincere best wishes for a wonderful meeting. My regards, Bill [? 109], State Senator.
2. Heard that you are meeting for your annual event and want to add my sincere good wishes for a successful gathering. Regards, [? 111], United States Senator.
3. Please extend my personal greetings and very best wishes to all my friends attending your annual convention. Your heritage is one to be extremely proud of, and we in North Dakota and the United States can be thankful that you or your ancestors chose this country. Your contributions as hard working, honest, and dedicated citizens in your communities have helped make this a better place to live. I am confident that you will have a most successful and enjoyable convention. Mark Andrews, North Dakota Congressman.
At this time we will call on our secretary, Mary Wald, from Minot to read the minutes of the meeting held in Dickinson a year ago. Mary…
The minutes of the sixth annual convention at Dickinson
are as follows:
The meeting was called to order by President LeRoy Oberlander. He made opening remarks about the [? 128] city and the facilities of the German-Hungarian club. He welcomed the group and made announcements pertinent to the convention. The secretary read the minutes of the fifth annual convention held in Minot. The motion to accept the minutes as read was made by Jerry [? 131], and seconded by Pius Ries Napoleon. Motion was carried. The treasurer’s report was given by the secretary since the treasurer [? 133] had just assumed the office and did not have the opportunity to prepare an extensive report. She reported that the balance brought forward as of June 28, 1975 was $10,527.85. The total income as of July 7, 1976 was $12,295.55. Full expenses were $12,144. The balance on hand as of July 7, 1976 was $1,678.41.
There are various funds. One year signed certificate of deposit in the amount of $1,500. That put savings in the amount of $4,466. There is Life Membership Fund in the amount of $1,900, [? 143] Assistantship Fund $625, and the Memorial Fund in the amount of $20. [? 145] of Fargo moved to accept and file this report, citing [? 146]. Motion carried. The secretary also read the resolutions committee report. Tom [? 147] of Minot was chairman of the committee and resolved to thank the manager of the Hungarian club [? 148] and the personnel, Mrs. Mertz from Bismarck and her committee for a job well done on the food and cookbook. Also resolved to thank the convention chairmen, [? 151], LeRoy Oberlander, the chapter president, Mrs. [? 152] for preparing for the convention and for making it an outstanding success. Mrs. [? 153] moved to accept the resolutions and second was by [? 154], Bismarck. Motion carried.
The nominating committee report was given by John [? 155], Rugby. He reported the following names for nomination: LeRoy Oberlander of Dickinson, and Karen [? 157]. John Kramer moved to accept the report [? 159]. Motion carried. Nominations from the floor were [? 160 – 162]. On the committee were Gary Metz, Minot, and Craig [? 167]. The president reserved one call for nominations until the second half of the meeting, July 10, on Saturday. Nominated on Saturday were Donna [? 167] and [? 167]. Al [? 168] presented the membership committee report. Members of the committee were [? 169]. [? 170] reported that membership for this year was 1207. 142 members have not renewed their 1976 membership. We have 202 members.
He mentioned that Dickinson had started a chapter since the 1975 convention. The charter was presented to Dickinson at the banquet held on Saturday evening. Joseph Schneider of Bismarck moved to accept the membership report, seconded by Jerry Metz, Minot. Motion carried. Dr. Armand Bauer, chairman of the publications committee reported that other members of his committee were Mrs. Essick [? 177], [?], [?], and August Schultz. He reported that the Heritage Review and Der Stammbaum have become the vehicles by which articles about families, colonies, and history reach members of the Society. Der Stammbaum includes family histories as well as other genealogical material. Mrs. Essick, chairman of the Genealogical Committee, reported that family data sheets are still being used and found. She also asked for volunteers to assist with the genealogy files and obituary files which need to be copied. [? 186]. A representative gave the total sales for June 1st, 1975 to June 1st, 1976, as $2288 dollars. He gave expenses for the office as $1326 for the same period. He reported the increase of office space and insurance rates in the past year.
The Repository Committee report was made by LeRoy Oberlander. He mentioned various people who are on the committee. He also requested input from [? 193] as to what consideration should be made for [? 194] location for the repository. [? 194] of Nebraska asked whether or not the North Dakota State Historical Society had been designated in the past, and why we were looking for a repository. Mr. [? 197] addressed himself to the [? 198] by stating that access to the materials placed in the Historical Society was limited. The feeling was that the material is not used for research; it is merely on display. The materials in the Society archives are not returned to those who have given it to them. A change in the state laws may have to be made to make the materials more available. R. J. [? 203] of Bismarck reported that he had spoken to Dr. Kessler, who was an interpreter for a German group which appeared in Hettinger in 1975. Dr. Kessler had sent him a copy of a magazine which had been put out by a German group which had given coverage to the Germans from Russia. It featured several pictures of Hettinger and a picture of the North Dakota Historical Society Germans from Russia Medal, and the American Revolution Bicentennial Medal in the publication. It was a good item for publicity for the North Dakota Historical Society of Germans from Russia. Oberlander recessed the meeting until July 10th at 11:00 a.m.
July 10th, 11:00 a.m. The meeting was reconvened by President Oberlander. He asked for further nominations from the floor. He called for a motion to cease nominations. [? 215] moved that nominations cease, seconded by Jerry Metz, Minot. Motion carried. Members of the challenge committee were Herman Wildermuth, Vaca Valley, California; Jerry Metz, Minot; [? 219 – speaking too fast for me to catch the names], and Leonard [?], West Fargo. Recommendations for advisory associate members for the board were called for at this time. Suggestions were made that recommendations be given to our members as soon as possible. Dr. Armand Bauer reported for the Bibliography and Translation Committee. He reported that the earliest English language book about the Germans from Russia was written by [? 225] in 1937. Books which have appeared recently are The Czar’s [? 226]; The White Lamb, [? 228]; St. Joseph’s Colony, Lambert Schneider; and The Volga Germans by Fred Volk; and Translation of [? 230] by Herbert [?] is in process now. Announcements of publications and translations will be made in Heritage Review as they appear. A call for old business was made by Oberlander. The formation of chapters was brought up. New business was called for at this time. The formation of Dickinson Chapter [? 234] was announced and invitations for the 1977 convention was left open. The board’s directors will accept the invitation by any chapter which wishes to extend it. The 1978 convention will be held in Fargo with the Red River Chapter as host.
The Audit Team Committee report was made at this time by Marvin Ecklund, who had reported that the books were in order. Mrs. [? 240] moved to accept the report, seconded by Chris [? 241]. Motion carried. Mrs. [? 242] reported that many requests for German songs with songbook have been received during this convention. It would be an official song for the convention. It would also make the people hear songs of our people. Mrs. [? 244] suggested these books could also be used in German classes throughout our state. Fred [? 247] of Fargo moved that a committee be formed to look into the possibility of preparing a songbook at this time. It was seconded by Ann [? 249]. Motion carried.
Fred [? 249] of Fargo announced that the banner of the Dickinson Chapter was the only one, or whether all the chapters have one. Oberlander reported that Minot was the only other chapter with a banner. Al [? 252] suggested that each chapter, as well as the state organization, should attempt to prepare a banner. [? 254] moved that a memorial service be published in the Heritage Review, seconded by Jerry Falk. Motion carried. Election results were reported by Herman [? 256] and were as follows: 105 votes were cast with one discounted because it had 5 selections on it. [? 259] Mrs. Alma [? 260] suggested that the local group be named for our fine convention. The people moved that this be done, seconded by Anthony Becker, Saskatoon. Motion carried. Alma [? 263] moved to adjourn, seconded by John [? 264]. Motion carried.
Respectfully submitted, Karen [? 266].
Are there any corrections or additions to the minutes?
If there are not, I’ll approve the minutes as
read. Now I call Ed [Dahl ? 270] for the treasurer’s
Thank you Don. This is the hardest report to give. Everybody wonders how much money we have. Nobody wonders how much money we spent. If I could have kept all the money I’ve been given, we’d have had quite a sum in the bank. The trouble is, there are always bills to pay, and when they come along and have an okay on it to pay this bill, then I’ll pay it. I had intended to make a nice report and have it in this book so that you all could take it home and digest it. My wife agreed to do it, but she’s been in the hospital since Easter. So I didn’t have time to do it. So I’ll give the amount that we’ve got in the bank at this time, with more money coming and some more business coming. So this is where we shoot at as of the first of July, $4,060.20 even money. I’d just like to say this. If I would give you a definite, itemized statement at this time, it wouldn’t work anyway because I have a stiff board of directors that I have to look up to. And they see to it that everything is done in order. And I don’t write any checks unless I have the bill. But there is just one thing that you’ll have to take home with you. Expenses are going up. We just discussed it at the board meeting. As you all know, postage is going up. That’s going to hit us hard. Printing is going up, and postage for the printing is going up, and if it wasn’t for the good cookbook that we had, we probably wouldn’t be in the black. We’d probably be in the red. That’s one thing about it. I know we wouldn’t stop functioning, because I know that we have some supporters that would probably help us out in case of a pinch. But remember this, you’ll have to take some other names to bring up the income because we can’t stop the outgo, because the prices are just there and everything is going up. I’ll leave it at that. Thank you.
Thank you, Ed. We’re only going to have a brief meeting this morning. The regular business meeting at which we will conduct the business that is to be completed by this convention will be held Saturday afternoon. I want to, at this time, give you an idea of the items of business that will be contemplated and brought before this conclave for your decision. The bylaws presently provide for twelve directors and the thought has been that as our society expands, we are going to welcome two new chapters Saturday evening, the Jamestown chapter and the Beulah chapter. There is increasing reason to have representation from each area that there is a chapter. This would be precluded if we came here with the size board that we have. So your board of directors will recommend to this body that the board be expanded to fifteen members and that we elect seven members at Saturday’s session. So bear that in mind. I’d like to announce that at the conclusion of this morning’s session, we’ll meet in the Mandan room as a nominating committee. I’d like a representative of each chapter to be there, with Ruth Dickenson as chairman. And if any of you have suggestions for persons you’d like the nominating committee to consider, would you please give them to your chapter representative so they’ll be considered.
Nominations from the floor Saturday afternoon will also be accepted. As Ed indicated to you, costs continue to escalate in our society, among these, increased costs of postage and printing. We will be recommending to this group that the dues be increased one dollar per category. Family memberships would be $10 and individual memberships would be $8. That would be for your decision. The present bylaws provide that 10% of the dues collected will be refunded to the chapter, the local chapter, to which that member belongs. We have found that many of the established chapters no longer have a need for these funds, and it is cumbersome at our headquarters to segregate our large membership into local memberships. That is to tell whether a person belongs to Minot, Rugby, or somewhere in California, which has to do with the chapter each person belongs to. So we will be proposing a year from now that that provision is modified in some respect, and we’ll also be asking those chapters who are willing to forego the rebate to do so. [? 383]
I’d also like to announce the songbook has been completed in the national minutes, and is for sale. We hope that you will advertise it as well as all of the other books that are on display in the purchase room. One of the things our chapter can be most proud of is the publications of the annual sponsoring and selling. However if you all support us, we’ve had a wonderful experience with the cookbook. It’s been a problem maker as well as a great boost for our society. We are hoping the songbook will be equally successful; so if you will look that over and purchase what is of interest to you.
So on to spell out the locations of the meetings… [? 399] through lunch. This afternoon we will reconvene here at this room to hear Timothy Oberlander speak to us. The coffee kuchen will be at the same place as it was this morning. Then the workshops this afternoon will be at the far west part of the building, the far west rooms, and in the Ehrling and State Room which is on the lower level in the western part of the building. So if you get yourself into that part, you’ll find the workshops. Saturday we’ll reconvene with the memorial service. That will be here in this room. We’ll adjourn the business meeting at this time until Saturday afternoon. We are fortunate to have with us today the [? 416 – Schulmeleski? ] brothers who are helping us with our local ceremony. They’re going to favor us with some songs and also are going to show us a movie depicting a travel opportunity that they’ve offered to, which will naturally be for sale. [? 423].
Good morning everybody. Now we’re waiting around and waiting around for days and days and wondering how come you didn’t call us, and I guess yesterday we finally got a call and said, well the Germans from Russia are having their convention today, and would you come down? I said how come you didn’t call us earlier, and they said nobody could spell our name. [laughter] Anyway, we’re the [? 436 – Schulmeleski?] The Funtime Orchestra from Sturgeon Lake, MN, and you know that we have a television show that is syndicated in about 35 or 40 different markets throughout the United States and Canada. And so we wanted to stop by and just say hello. We found out you are in town, and wanted to be part of the program and provide a little fun and entertainment for you. So right now, I’ll tell you what we’d like to have you do.
Just clap your hands and sing right along with the band as we open up our program here for you… this is Florian, Jr. here on the trumpet, and we have Jeff, another son of mine on the saxophone, and Jerry is the crazy guy here on the drums who tells all those jokes, and then Patty will sing a song for you too. So let’s everybody sing together. One, two, three… [453-485 musical entertainment.]
Now we just happen to know one German song, and it’s probably got a little bit of a Polish accent to it, you see, but anyway, just sing along with us, alright? [491-524 musical entertainment].
[end of Side A; begin Side B]
[001-011 musical entertainment]
Thank you very much. Indeed, that’s really not the best dance floor in the whole world, but it does the job alright. Okay, well you know when you have a convention, you’ve got to have a horn and do a little celebrating, you know. And I suppose this one will fit in right with the celebration. You’ve got to have a little schnapps to go with it, so we’re going to do that one called “Heaven, There is no Beer.” Okay? [017-054 musical entertainment].
All right, you know, ladies and gentlemen, at most conventions you have a lot of advertising and so forth, but you know the Friends of Promotion are here, right from this area and a lot of people say, “Well I’d like to see what a real live radio announcer looks like.” And you have that opportunity right there because that fellow sitting at the back of the room there is Steve [? 059 – Verdine?] from KVMR radio right there. Steve, stand up. Let’s give them a nice big round of applause. There you go. And another smiling face right next to him, of course, that’s Marv [? 061 – Vickelson?]. He runs the Moose Lodge here, and they are inviting all of you as their guests there tonight. So how about a nice round of applause for our guests there too… Marv Vickelson.
All right now. This little [? 064] in Germany, we had to fly all the way to Munich to get this concertina here for Patty. I’ll tell you, we had to rush it to get this just in time for this little convention. But right now we’re going to bring Patty up here to the microphone. She plays that concertina. I’ve just started out, just about a couple of months ago, really. So we’re going to have her do a couple of little songs for you. She plays it not only this way, but she plays it on top of her head and front wards and backwards and the whole thing, and so here is little Patty. Let’s give her a nice round of applause. [072-094 accordion music].
All right, okay. And while Patty is up here, we’ll have her do a little song for you… this one is about a little Polish guy, is that alright? Here’s Patty. [098-130 musical entertainment].
There’s Patty for you. Well folks, thank you so very much. You know actually, we were just playing down the road here, about 23 miles north tonight and tomorrow at Wilton, at the Weary Supper Club. It was really wonderful that you offered us the opportunity to come and say hello to all of you for this wonderful convention sponsored by the North Dakota Historical Society. See, we didn’t have our sound group in here, so we have only one microphone and Jeffrey said there is no way am I going to be left out. That’s why, see, he hasn’t been amplified; so he’s been walking out there. He wants to make sure he’s heard over there. He’s quite a little kid, huh? [applause] I’ll tell you what. We’ll play this little number here before we turn this over to Jerry for his presentation, but anyway, Jeff, I want you to come right up here. We want to feature him because you know it was just about six weeks ago, he was recognized nationally by the National Jazz Educators as an outstanding jazz musician nationally. So I want to present that little guy to you. Here he is, 18 years old, Jeff. [?146 – Shebeleski?] [applause]. [148-186 saxophone music] [applause].
See, Jeffrey, they like you, they like you. We didn’t leave him out, did we? Okay, thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen at this time I want to present Jerry here, to make a presentation. Now listen, all we’re saying is that if you haven’t planned your vacation yet for this fall, we have a trip that is sponsored here by Prestige Vacations, KVMR radio and the whole gang from this area, and we have planeloads leaving from Montana and Milwaukee, and there’s a polka festival with 40 bands in Kitsfield, Austria. We’ll land in Germany for the first phase of that on September 9th. Jerry has a little film here, and I guess I’ve told them everything already, didn’t I?
Oh, you’re going to be there for the Octoberfest too. Alright. Listen, there’s going to be 40 polka bands from across the whole United States and if you haven’t, we have a brochure here to pass out, and it’s going to tell you all about it. So, to get that thing going over there and in the meantime, if any of you are interested in long play record albums of the band, here they are on sale right now during the presentation. They are $4. They’re over here. They have all kinds of tapes and whatever for $4 and $5. So, walk around and make yourself comfortable. This thing is only about seven or eight minutes long, that’s all. We hope you’ll just watch that. Jerry, are you all set? Jerry, listen, he’s a crazy guy, and I’ll tell you. He tells little jokes over there. One time he got put in jail for 30 days over there for telling bad jokes on television. He was locked up in Warsaw, ND. So, how about a nice round of applause for Jerry? [applause]
[217-392 soundtrack of promotional film to vacation in Austria]
Well, how does that sound? Okay, thank you folks. At this time there are a couple more deals I want to mention. You know, this is kind of funny, because I’m standing out there in the hall and Mr. Loeb hands me this card and he says, “Thank you for passing that law.” He said actually what happened… I’m a senator in Minnesota, and what happened is that a couple of years ago, a law was passed prohibiting studded tires in Minnesota. So Mr. Loeb said, “This is ridiculous. We came in from North Dakota and we don’t want to be arrested and pay fines in Minnesota for that.” He says they’re legal in North Dakota. I said, “Don’t worry Mr. Loeb. I’ll get back there in the Minnesota senate and I’ll take care of that for you.” So, I quickly drafted the law, and did this just because of this conversation with Mr. Loeb, and now from North Dakota and Canada, came on to Minnesota. You’re in good company. They’ll not fine you for studded tires. Isn’t that nice? That’s the way things happen. Anyway, on this trip here, Jerry… you know we were in town yesterday and they had ten people sign up, including several right here in the audience. Jerry will tell you just a few more words about it before we…
Okay, rather than to bore you with a lot of questions and answers on the trip, anybody that’s interested, if they just want to come up here after we’re through. To tell you the complete cost of the trip, including round trip fare, hotel accommodations and continental breakfast, is $628 leaving right here from Bismarck, North Dakota, on September 9th and returning on the 17th. Mr. and Mrs. Albert DeWald and Mr. and Mrs. Joe Schneider from your organization signed up last night. We’ll be more than happy to talk to anybody who would be interested in going. I guess that kind of concludes things for us, other than records and tapes. If you want to take a look at polka music over here, so thank you very much.
Jerry is a pretty good guy, right, Don? We’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure to be in your company today and as you’re leaving now, getting ready for your noontime meal, we have the records and the tapes. Tonight we’re at Wilton, ND, 23 miles north from here. Thank you. God bless you. Goodbye. [applause].
Thank you. It’s been our pleasure to have you. We appreciate your being here, and particular congratulations to Jeff on his award. That is excellent. Now we show our appreciation for taking time from your schedule and joining with us at our convention. [applause].
We’ll reconvene here at 2:00 and the nominating committee will meet down in the Mandan Room. So we’ll see you at 2:00.
[456-470 gospel music] [end of taped proceedings]