Friday, August 1, 2008

Guten Morgen! Today is Friday, August 1, 2008
A BIG WELCOME Governor Dave Freudenthal, who grew up in nearby Thermopolis, Wyoming, took time out from his busy schedule to give us a personable and witty welcome yesterday, while reflecting upon his own German heritage. (Okay, he’s not German-Russian, but we think he’s worthy of being an Honorary G-R!) Kenyne Schlager, the Vice-President of the City Council welcomed us to Casper. It was a nice touch for the “official” opening of the convention.

IT’S AUGUST 1st Much of this morning will be for recognizing the achievements of young people. It’s part of the Folklore Symposium: Storytelling, Youth Essays, and Music as the 2008 International Convention of Germans from Russia begins its fifth day of activities in Casper. The symposium gets underway at 8:30 in the Ballrooms of the Parkway Plaza Hotel. AHSGR’s Ken Koehler of Arvada, Colorado will preside over the Storytelling event, while Del Beck of Rapid City, South Dakota will be the point person for the GRHS Youth Essay Contest. It’ll be a chance to acknowledge the achievements of young and old alike in preserving our German-Russian heritage through the written and spoken word. There’ll be music, too, as Cyndi Lesser-Babish of Greeley, Colorado – accompanied by John Stehle of Denver – pays tribute to her famous accordionist father, Adolph Lesser.

VASCHKAU Dr. Nina Vaschkau of Volgograd State University in Russia was the speaker for the Foundation Luncheon yesterday. Her talk, Deportation of Russian Germans in 1941, provided a grim reminder of the ruthlessness of the Russian government and the despair of the German deportees. Those who criticized the deportations were considered anti-Soviet; and Germans who dared oppose it were subject to 20 years of hard labor. Even those persons who hid Germans could go to prison for five years. As late as 1955, after Stalin died, German-Russians were still given no compensation for the confiscation of their property when deported.

WORKSHOPS Professor Inna Stryukova of Kikolaev, Ukraine made the trek to Casper – among other things – to lead a workshop entitled “Looking at the Land of Your Ancestors” yesterday. There was standing room only in the Tiffany Room. It’ll be repeated tomorrow morning (8/2) at 8:30 in the American Room. Stryukova’s presentation was one of 14 workshops available yesterday to the more than 700 people at the convention.

"NOT STRANGERS” North Dakota State University professor Tim Kloberdanz had a timely reminder for Black Sea, Volga region, and other German-Russians: we have more in common than you might think. After a demonstration of differences in language and some customs, Kloberdanz, with the assistance of his wife, Rosalinda Kloberdanz, and her mother, Maria Appelhans, shared the touching story of Rosalinda’s 100-year-old grandmother and her experience as an immigrant. Kloberdanz said that the grandmother visited the United States and spoke at a very early AHSGR convention. No matter where ours roots may be – Black Sea, Volga, or elsewhere – we German-Russians have more in common that we have that sets us apart. And that would seem to be true whether we live in Canada, Germany, Argentina or the United States. Heritage evening concluded with informal village visits and socializing.

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