Big Kraut Poses as Big Chief
"Big Kraut Poses as Big Chief." Pierce County Tribune, 28 July 1971, 1.
The Krauts, Germans-from-Russia variety, had a big pow-wow
at the Memorial Hall in Rugby, Monday, July 19, beginning at 8 o'clock.
Actually it was a meeting of the N.D. Chapter of the National organization
|Dr. Karl Stumpp, Germany
In many respects it was an unusual meeting. Presiding was Judge
Ray Friederich, state president. And at the head table with him
were three men with doctorates. The three, Dr. Adam Giesinger of
Winnipeg, Dr. Joseph Heidt of Indiana, Dr. Karl Stumpp of Germany.
The latter has spent about 50 years getting the history of the suffering
and tragedies that these people have endured since first migrating
to Russia a few centuries ago. The three are considered the outstanding
authorities in the world on this particular ethnic group.
The distinguished visitors seemed pleased with the large crowd.
Dr. Stumpp said there were many more than at a similar meeting
in Bismarck. Ushers and workers at the affair estimated the crowd
at about 400.
Dr. Giesinger, who is a distant relative of John Giesinger in
Rugby, said his grandfather homesteaded land in this area back in
1899. Later the family moved to Canada. He is a chemical engineer
besides an author, lecturer and scholar.
Dr. Heidt, who has known Dr. Stumpp about seven years, introduced
him. It was obvious that the mutual understanding and respect of
the men ran deep. Both men were choked up after Heidt's introduction.
Heidt served as a translator.
A few highlights of Dr. Stumpp's talk: there are now about 60,000
Germans from Russia living in free Germany; coming to America was
the realization of a cherished dream; he has made numerous trips
into Russia for records; helping to get news to families of the
whereabouts, or whether alive or dead of members, has been a deeply
moving and satisfying experience for him; so often he was greeted
by a woman, "Do you know where my man is? Do you know where our
men are?"; traveling in America made him realize how small Germany
was; he was impressed with the American custom of opening a meeting
with a prayer and the pledge to the flag. This isn't done in Germany
Dr. Stumpp revealed that he has worked for 40 years on a book,
which when completed in about a year or so, will list virtually
every German from Russia. It will run to 1,000 pages.
Dr. Stumpp said in 1904 there were about 300 "Mother" colonies
of Germans in Russia. By 1914 there were 3500 (the addition of what
he called "daughter" colonies).
The Germans had been promised by CZAR Alexander the First and
by Catherine the Great: freedom of religion; the right to have their
own schools and exemption from military service.
In 1971 the CZAR reneged on these promises and German youths were
obligated to serve in the military which could means from 8 to 12
In 1874 the great migrations to America, Canada and Liberia began.
Dr. Stumpp said in 1921-22, 300,000 Germans in Russia starved. In
1932-33 there was a terrible famine. About 300 starved in the village
of Lundau alone. Stalin took everything, especially all the land
from the Germans (as well as others).
From 1928 until 1934, tens of thousands fled or were shipped to
Siberia or Asia. One of the greatest sufferings was separation of
families. The women and children didn't know where their menfolk
were or if alive at all.
In 1941, a million were transported from their villages and homes
in a single week.
Again in 1944, Dr. Stumpp said, 240,000 fled in an attempt to
reach Germany. About 60,000 made it.
The years 1944 to 1955 were years of torment because families
or parts of them could learn nothing about missing members. After
Stalin's death in 1955, letters were permitted.
Dr. Stumpp was inundated with letters from people in Russia or
Germany inquiring about members of their families. So great was
this volume that reading was impossible. It was a Herculean task
just to note postmarks.
Dr. Stumpp estimates that there are still about 1,846,000 Germans
in Russia. Conditions are a little better for them now, but they
are forbidden to have a church; anyone under 18 is forbidden to
attend a church service; services are held in homes with locked
doors, muted voices and drawn blinds. The worshippers risk arrest.
"Worshipping is an exercise in heroism," Dr. Stumpp said.
MC Ray Friederich presented Dr. Stumpp with a little Geographical
Center Monument replica. Also, because he was disappointed in not
seeing Indians and buffalo, they put an Indian headdress on him
and let people take his picture.
What with Dr. Stumpp's nose and all, he looked the part of an
A mixed group directed by Mrs. Caroline Voeller sang about a half
dozen German songs. To the Germans, these songs are little akin
to the spirituals for the blacks. Mrs. Carl Weimer and Mrs. Clemence
Volk served as accompanists.
Following the meeting, the ladies served coffee and kuchen.
Reprinted with permission of the Pierce County Tribune.