September 16, 2017 - Fort Collins, Colorado - 250th Anniversary of Dietel, Kratzke, Frank, Kolb, Hussenbach, Walter, and Norka

Celebrating the 250th Anniversary
of the Founding of the Volga German Colonies of
Dietel, Kratzke, Frank, Kolb, Hussenbach, Walter, and Norka​​

16 September 2017
Fort Collins, Colorado

The Volga German Institute @ Fairfield University is hosting a celebration of the 250th Anniversary of the founding of the Volga German colonies of Dietel, Kratzke, Frank, Kolb, Hussenbach, Walter, and Norka.  The programs for the day will be of interest to Volga German descendants from all colonies, not just those celebrating an anniversary.  This event, including a Volga German lunch, will be held at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Saturday, 16 September 2017.

The public is invited to attend.  Space is limited, so register early!

There are also two tours of important Volga German sites being offered on Sunday, 17 September 2017.  See below for details.


Early Registration: $55 per person if you register on or before 1 September 2017.

Regular Registration: $70 per person for registration received after 1 September 2017 or at the door.

To register & pay by credit/debit card, please follow this link for Online Registration.

If you prefer to pay by check, print the Registration Form, and mail it along with your check. To qualify for the Early Registration rate, payment must be received by September 1.

If you have questions, please call Jill at 203.254.4000 x2648.

[Note: There is no discount for partial attendance of this event. Notice of cancellation before 1 September 2017 will receive a full refund; after 1 September 2017 will receive no refund.]


​Registration and all workshop events will be held at Redeemer Lutheran Church.

7755 Greenstone Trail
Fort Collins, CO 80525
(Phone: 970.225.9020)

Parking: free on-site parking.


Dr. Brent Mai

John Kammerzell

​Main speaker for the workshop will be Dr. Brent Mai.  Dr. Mai serves as the Dean of Libraries and University Librarian at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, where he also leads the Volga German Institute.  Dr. Mai has spoken world-wide on many topics related to Volga German history and culture, authored dozens of articles and several books, and translated hundreds of documents. Dr. Mai, whose father's side is Volga German, grew up in Western Kansas, graduated from Bethany College in Lindsborg, and continued graduate studies at George Washington University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Vanderbilt University. He came to Fairfield from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, where he had been the founding director of the Center for Volga German Studies.

Dr. Mai will be joined by John Kammerzell who will be speaking about Volga German foodways!  John retired in 2015 after 43 years as a peace officer in the state of Colorado with his final position being that of a United States Marshall.  Marshall Kammerzell's Volga German ancestors immigrated to Colorado in 1906 from the colony of Frank.  In 2017, he was elected as president of the Northern Colorado Chapter of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia.  John is an excellent cook and has preserved the recipes of our ancestors.

Schedule for Saturday, 16 September 2017

8:30 - 9:00 Registration & Visiting
9:00 - 9:45 Session 1: Introduction to the Volga Germans and their Heritage
Everyone starts on a different page when it comes to their knowledge of who the Volga Germans are and how they came to be in Russia. This session will bring all attendees to the same place in that understanding - and we'll carry on from there.
10:00 - 10:45 Session 2: The Essence of Culture - Volga German Food
Nothing is more quintessential to the definition of culture than food, and the Volga Germans have plenty of unique recipes to validate that!  From Bierocks (called runza by some) to grebble to butterball soup to kuchen, the Volga Germans today continue to celebrate their heritage through hearty meals at the family table.  John Kammerzell will discuss the importance of preserving our Volga German heritage by way of the palate. 
11:00 - Noon Session 3: Resources for Volga German Genealogy
Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, there were few resources available to those interested in researching the genealogies of Volga Germans.  Since about 1990, Western researchers have had access to several archives in the Volga region where many documents have been located.  For most, using them is complicated by language - either German or Russian - and the corresponding Latin or Cyrillic alphabets. This session will deal primarily with the resources that are available from Russian Archives - where to get them and how to use them.
Noon - 1:00 Lunch
A Volga German lunch will be provided: green salad; entree of beer baked chicken or Bratwurst with sauerkraut or chicken/pork schnitzel; red cabbage with fire roasted Fuji apples; Spaetzle; and Vatrushka (Russian pastry) or German cholocate cake. Those with special dietary needs should let Jill know during the registration process.
During lunch, Dr. Mai will speak about the history of Dietel, Kratzke, Frank, Kolb, Hussenbach, Walter, and Norka.
1:00 - 2:00 Session 4: A Day-in-the-Life of a Volga German
What was it like to live in the Volga German colonies in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries? How did daily life change over time? In this session, we'll explore what daily colony life was like for your ancestors.
2:15 - 3:00 Session 5: The 1921 Famine - A Story of Resilience
The Russian Revolution of 1917 was followed by a famine in 1921 that consumed the entire Volga German region. The pain and suffering of those who had not immigrated was unimaginable.  Through the auspices of Herbert Hoover and the American Relief Administration (ARA), those living in North and South America came to the rescue, saving hundreds of thousands of lives.  During this session, we'll examine the causes of this famine, the suffering it caused, and the resiliency of those who came to the rescue.
3:15 - 4:15 Session 6: Volga German Settlement in the United States
Immigration to North America began in 1874 and by 1890 there were Volga Germans living from coast to coast. From onions in New York to wheat and sugar beets on the prairie to vineyards in California's Central Valley, the agricultural sector across the continent flourished under the Volga Germans. During this session, we'll examine the expansion of Volga German settlements across the country and how our culture continued to develop.
4:30 - 5:30 Session 7: The 1941 Deportation and Today's Volga German Descendants
Hitler's invasion of Russia in June of 1941 was the beginning of the end for the Volga Germans who remained in Russia.  An edict of 28 August 1941 called for their deportation to Asiatic Russia and by the 3rd week in September, the entire region had been emptied of the Germans who had lived there for 177 years.  This session will explore this journey and uncover what has become of the Volga Germans of today.

Tours on Sunday, 17 September 2016 (Cancelled)

The Northern Colorado Chapter of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia has put together two tours to Volga German sites in the Fort Collins area for the following day, Sunday, 17 September 2017.  It is not necessary to have gone to the event on Saturday in order to go on the tours.

Both tours will begin at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 7755 Greenstone Trail, Fort Collins.  Snacks/water provided. Seating is limited to 28 people on each tour.

Tour A:  9:00am to 12:30pm Bus tour to see the real-life setting of the book Second Hoeing in the sugar beet neighborhoods in Fort Collins & Plummer School. Stop at Meisner Farm, a present-day sugar beet farm/beet collection center. Last stop at the Bee Family Century Farm. Cost: $25 per person.

Tour B: 1:30pm - 4:00pm Bus tour to Windsor, Colorado with a stop at the WWII POW Camp 202 memorial, the Windsor Museum, the Windsor-Severance Historical Society Memorial Statue, and a special presentation of the German Russian churches in Windsor. Cost: $25 per person.


Area Hotels

Hilton Fort Collins
425 W. Prospect Rd.
Telephone: 970.482.2626

Fort Collins Marriott
350 E. Horsetooth Rd.
Telephone: 970.226.5200

Quality Inn & Suites
4001 S. Mason St.
Telephone: 970.282.9047

Best Western University Inn
914 S. College Ave.
Telephone: 970.484.2984