Video Features Germans From Russia
Chrismer, Ellen. "Video Features Germans From Russia." Lodi News-Sentinel, 4 March 1997.
State University Germans from Russia bibliographer Michael Miller
and Prairie Public Television producer Bob Dambach will come to
Lodi this weekend with a dual purpose.
They are visiting
Lodi to promote a television documentary featuring a group of Americans
of Russian German descent visiting the former homes of their mothers,
fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers in southern Russia. Lodi
residents Hiller Goehring, Victor Goehring and Leah Grasmick were
members of the group.
But the filmmakers
also hope that the video display will energize Lodians into doing
their own genealogical research. Victor Goehring, who has done extensive
research on Russian Germans in Lodi, estimates that nearly 40 percent
of the early settlers of Lodi were of Russian German heritage.
boasts an active chapter of the American Historical Society of Germans
from Russia. The club will sponsor Saturday's event.
"We would like
to talk to Lodi residents about the projects we are going to pursue,
oral history interviews, the preservation of photographs and collecting
textiles and folk traditions," said Miller in a telephone interview
from San Diego where he was speaking to another group of Russian
The North Dakotans
will visit Lodi at 2 p.m. Saturday, making their presentation at
a private residence at 2401 W. Lodi Ave. The program will be open
to the public.
poses one of the first recorded accounts of the Russian Germans,
an ethnic group whose story is one of the more extraordinary in
American history, said Miller, himself a Russian German.
to trace their roots," he said. "They are, perhaps, the only ethnic
group that settled in another country away from their home before
coming to America.
Lured by German-born
Russian Empress Catherine the Great's promise of free land, Germans
moved from Alsace and southern Germany in the 18th century to Russia,
now the Ukraine and Moldava. A century later, Czar Alexander I decreed
that all minority groups learn Russian and their men serve in the
Russian army. At that time, Russian Germans prepared to move to
the United States. They settled in rich, rural agricultural areas
such as North Dakota and Saskatchewan.
their food ways and their cultures well into the 1950s," said Miller.
"There are still many people in North Dakota who speak German.
And many Russian
Germans headed to the warmer climes of California, Oregon and Washington.
Northern Californians to learn of the role that their local friends
and relatives played in the emigration from Russia. If the documentary
does air, Dambach plans to include a segment on the lives of Russian
Germans who settled on the West Coast
"We want to
ask why did these people come to California and are they keeping
their roots," said Miller.
But first Miller
and Dambach need to complete fund-raising efforts to ensure that
the documentary will air. In their travels across the southwestern
United States they are hoping to raise $200,000 for the production
as well as other Russian German genealogical work.
outcome of the television documentary, Miller has ensured that the
story of the Russian Germans will be known to Internet users. He
has set up a web site, (http://library.ndsu.edu/gerrus), offering
genealogical and general information on the ethnic group. North
Dakota State University, with its Russian German resources, has
been cited by the National Archives as a model for the promotion
of genealogical resources on-line.
community is getting more and more interested." he said. "The Internet
and the World Wide Web are helping out a lot."
Dambach also will appear at 2 p.m. Sunday at St. John's Lutheran
Church, 1701 L St., Sacramento.
For more information
about the researchers' Lodi visit, call Florence Wheeler at 334-4080.
with permission of the Lodi News-Sentinel