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Dakota Kraut

Becker, Bernelda. "Dakota Kraut." North Star Chapter Newsletter, Novmeber 2004, 4.

Vossler, Ronald J. Dakota Kraut. North Dakota University Libraries, Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, Fargo, North Dakota, 2003.


Twenty years didn't seem to make much difference between Ron's childhood and mine. He, a child of the 50s; me, a child of the 30s, both living in small Dakota towns, had many similar experiences.

Both Ron and I determined to shuck our German language along with the accent, if possible. World War II and Nazi Germany were my reasons; his were going off to college and ridicule from friends. We both, later in life, regretted our lack of fluency in the mother tongue of our grandparents.

As I read his book, I found myself recognizing words I'd long forgotten. For instance, I only had to see the word messer and I knew it meant knife. That word had been lingering in the back of my mind all these years, just waiting for a reminder trigger. Other words were: baum for tree, schnie for snow, heissa for hot, grottle for crawling, gesagt for said.

How well do I remember some of the superstitions the "old folks" had, as well as things they told us children to frighten us into behaving. Just as Ron was convinced God dwelled at the top of the town elevator and watched him through the little window at the top, I accepted the story that thunder and lightening meant an angry God might return at any moment to snatch me up and send me to hell if I had done some evil act.

The gruff old grandmother who could not show love reminded me that I, too, had seldom seen affection openly displayed. I don't recall my parents or grandparents ever telling me they loved me, but I knew they did.

Ron's book stirred many memories, raised much notalgia, and left me with a feeling of loss. I didn't finish my growing up years embraced in the warmth of family as Ron did. We moved away when I was twelve. I finished growing up not belonging to a church or feeling part of a neighborhood. There is something to be said to know aunts, uncles, and cousins. I missed out on that. I highly recommend this good book.

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