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German Newspapers in North Dakota

Keller, Dr. Edward. "German Newspapers in North Dakota." Emmons County Record, 6 March 2008.


During my growing-up days with my Germans from Russia community in Strasburg, N. D., during the 1920's and 1930's, my mother subscribed to a twice-a-month newspaper, the "North Dakota Herald," published in Dickinson by George and Albert Lengoski. A frequent writer for the paper was Fr. George Aberle, a German priest in Dickinson who had authored the book, "From the Steppes to the Prairies."

Winter nights mother often sat at our kitchen table, the German paper spread out by the kerosene lamp and read to us from the North Dakota Herald. It contained some local Dickinson area news, but mostly news from the Russia she and my father left in 1905. Our relatives and friends in Russia wrote letters to the North Dakota Herald.

Recently at a Germans from Russia gathering in Bismarck, I enjoyed a most interesting talk about German newspapers in North Dakota, in the aftermath of the German Russian migration to North Dakota. The speaker was Michael Rempfer, a German from Russia descendant. Michael is a retired North Dakota State University graduate and does extensive research on German newspapers in North Dakota. He grew up in the Ellendale area and lives in Bismarck. I learned a wealth of oral history.

During the 1920's and 1930's, about seventy North Dakota weekly newspapers carried one entire sheet in German -- information and news from relatives and friends of people who had migrated to North Dakota. The people in Russia called this the Free American Press because in Russia the press was not free. Rempfer said there are thousands of letters from Russia in the newspaper archives. He showed many samples. The letters told about deaths, births, marriages, exiles to Siberia, immigration to Canada and Australia, prison camps, war stories, political events, lack of food and clothing, lack of schooling, loss of farms and property, no money and the cruel treatment in the Russian army. As a result friends and relatives sent care packages to these poor Russians - many of which never reached their destinations. The letters were well composed, creative, with intelligent use of words and much of it in poetry form. Some were humerous. They loved to tease the North Dakotans by writing about their wine and schnapps parties as they knew of prohibition in North Dakota.

In the late 1930's as Hitler developed World War II some of the letters from Russia clearly indicated preference for Germany. I thank Michael Rempfer for the research he is doing and for the informative evening.

Note:

Michael Rempfer is the Village Coordinator for the village of Neu Beresina - part of the Glueckstal District. He shares part of the history of that village in our 2008 GCRA book "The Glueckstalers of New Russia, the Soviet Union, and North America," due out this summer. For information about the book, visit the website of the Glueckstal Colonies Research Association, www.glueckstal.net

Reprinted with permission of the Emmons County Record.

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