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Germans From Russia all Over the Globe Share Characteristics

Wood, Carter. "Germans From Russia all Over the Globe Share Characteristics." Grand Forks Herald, 4 July 1994.


STUTTGART, Germany - Germans from Russia living in the Dakotas, the former Soviet Union and Germany know far too little about each other, says a leading researcher on the ethnic group.

Nevertheless, they share numerous cultural and historical characteristics, says Peter Hilkes, an associate with the East European Institute in Munich, Germany.

For example, religion plays an important role for Germans from Russia everywhere on the globe, said Hilkes, who visited the Dakotas last fall. A Herald reporter also accompanied Hilkes on a recent trip to Odessa, Ukraine.

No matter what the country, he argued, they tend not to be politically active as Germans from Russia, per se. Few elected officials make defending the interests of Germans from Russia a priority.

While the older generations still may know their German dialect, the younger generation rarely speak or even understand more than the predominant language of their home country. Immigrants to Germany from Kazakhstan or Siberia often take years to learn German.

And Germans from Russia often have little grasp of their own history, Hilkes said.

"For example, until today, probably few of you knew that there are so many Black Sea Germans in North Dakota, and that they form a substantial part of the population," he said at the recent national convention in Stuttgart.

In the former Soviet Union, the lack of knowledge is understandable, Hilkes said. Being a German was "taboo," and few Germans from Russia were willing to distinguish themselves from the other ethnic groups.

Reprinted with permission of the Grand Forks Herald, Grand Forks, ND.

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