In Touch with Prairie Living
By Michael M. Miller
The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection (GRHC) at the NDSU
Libraries in Fargo reaches out to prairie families and former Dakotans.
In various ways, it affirms the heritage of the Germans from Russia
as an important part of the northern plains culture.
The website of GRHC has an attractive new design and format: http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc.
May I invite you to review the web pages.
From May 23-June 4, I joined tour members to Odessa, to the former
German villages in southern Ukraine, and to Stuttgart, Germany.
Tour members were from California, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, North
Dakota, Oklahoma and Oregon. They visited villages including: Karlsruhe,
Kathriental and Landau (Beresan District); Baden, Elsass, Kandel,
Mannheim, Selz and Strassburg (Kutschurgan District); Josephstal
and Kleinliebental (Liebental District); and Emmental and Krasna
Tour members traveled on May 28 to visit the orphanage at Landau
where they presented to the staff and children handmade quilts made
by Carl and Arlene Kruckenberg Knutson, Tuttle, ND and Ervin and
Vi Kruckenberg Schielke, Beulah, ND. School supplies, clothing and
personal hygiene items were also given to the needy children. Photographs
of the orphanage and visit can be seen at the GRHC website section
While visiting the village of Selz, Kutschurgan District, today
near Odessa, Ukraine, Father Joseph Senger, a tour member from Minot,
ND offered mass within the ruins of the church of the Assumption
built in 1901. The church was a basilica and also one of the largest
churches in Russia. Eva Zander who is 90 years of age attended the
services, prayed and sang in German. She had not attended services
or communion since the early 1940s. This was an unforgettable and
emotional experience with local residents including the Ukrainian
Orthodox priest and major of Selz attending the services.
On June 2, the tour group attended the large gathering of Germans
from Russia called the Bundestreffen held every three
years. Close to 25,000 persons attended where we hosted the Amerika
Haus information tables. These ethnic Germans have immigrated
in the 1990s to Germany from the former Soviet Union including Kazakhstan,
Moldova, Siberia, and Ukraine. Many are trying to locate their long
lost North American relatives, who they have lost contact with for
the last 50 years since the 1930s and 1940s. Father Joseph Senger
was one of the featured speakers sharing his May visits to Selz
in southern Ukraine and Alsace, France, while growing up on a farm
near Orrin, ND (formerly Kandel), not far from Selz in North Dakota.
GRHC has published Not Until the Combine Is Paid and Other
Jokes: From the Oral Traditions of the Germans from Russia in the
Dakotas, by Ronald J. Vossler, illustrated by his son, Josh
Vossler, a UND graduate student. In the introduction, Vossler writes:
This collection has been culled from twenty years of my own
personal journals and small pocket notebooks. My hope is that readers
will not only laugh, or a least smile, at some of these; but that
they also come away from this small collection with a better sense
of Germans from Russia, and their descendants. Someone once told
me that members of this ethnic group had both a hard nature, and
a strong faith in God. To those two attributes, I hope readers of
this collection might add one other attribute - the strength of
The Old Post Office Museum, Devils Lake, ND, features until September
15, 2001, two of GRHCs traveling exhibits: The Kempf
Family: Germans from Russia Weavers on the Dakota Prairies
and Germans from Russia Wedding Traditions: From the Steppe
of South Russia & Bessarabia to the Dakota Prairies.
The award-winning documentary videotapes The Germans from
Russia: Children of the Steppe, Children of the Prairie (1999),
and Schmeckfest: Food Traditions of the Germans from Russia
(2000), continue to be well received throughout North America. Schmeckfest
was shown in March on many PBS stations. To secure the videotapes,
contact Prairie Public at 1-800-359-6900. The videotapes include
20-minutes of bonus video footage, not shown in the one-hour documentary.
See many interesting pages about the documentary at the Prairie
Public Broadcasting website: http://www.prairiepublic.org.
For further information about donations to the collection, family
histories, outreach programs, videotape documentaries, Journey to
the Homeland Tour (May 21-June 3, 2002) for Odessa, Ukraine and
Stuttgart, Germany; German-Russian cookbooks; GRHCs publications
including recent books, Ron Vosslers new book; Streeter, ND
book; The Germans by the Black Sea Between Bug and Dniester
Rivers; Marienberg: Fate of a Village, and The
Dark Abyss of Exile: A Story of Survival; and German-Russian
heritage, contact Michael M. Miller, NDSU Libraries, PO Box 5599,
Fargo, ND 58105-5599 (Tel: 701-231-8416; E-mail: Michael.Miller@ndsu.edu;
GRHC website: http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc).