Posts tagged Ron Vossler

Two Worlds Have Come Together

Amazing what names of authors pop up while using the research databases such as J-Stor, EBSCOhost, et al. While helping my Ukrainian students with their research papers in Kyiv, Ukriane I ran across some very thorough writing about the Holodomor done by Dr. J. Otto Pohl.  Serendipitously, I met Otto last fall when I went to visit him and talk to his class in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.  He teaches history at the very university I taught at 15 years ago, back then it was known as Kyrgyz American University Faculty. The university has gone through several name changes since. 

Now Ken and I are teaching in Almaty while Otto is in Bishkek which is about a three hour drive away (counting the arduous border crossing).  Several days ago Otto wrote the following in his blog which fits with what I’ve been writing about concerning Ron Vossler’s writings.  The two researcher/writers have not met yet but have written and reviewed each other’s work in the past. 

Funny how my two worlds have come together with the people I meet simply because of knowing about the tragic event of the Holodomor. Maybe there are so few of us who really know the impact on millions of peoples lives of such a terrible event that happened 75 years ago. May it never happen again!

Displacement, Diasporas, and Descendants

 

Lately I have been reading and thinking a lot about diasporas. In particular I have noticed that many diasporas are the result of multiple displacements and thus have multiple homelands. The connection to the “original” homeland thus becomes attenuated considerably. The Afro-Caribbean diaspora in the UK is an example of one such multiply displaced group as are the Sephardic Jews expelled from Iberia.

The ancestors of the Russian-Germans now in Germany originally left Hesse, Baden, Wurttemburg and other states in Central Europe to the Russian Empire during the 18th and 19th centuries. In between their initial settlement in the Russian Empire and the migration of their descendants to Germany in the 1990s these families often experienced as many as five or six displacements. For these people homeland has variously referred to not only Germany, but also to areas in the Russian Empire and USSR. These homelands have ranged in size from individual villages to the entire Russian Empire. For most of the Tsarist era the primary geographical identification of most Russian-Germans remained on the local level of the village. But, other larger geographical affiliations also developed and co-existed with this identification. On the largest scale, most Russian-Germans considered themselves loyal subjects of the Russian Empire and later loyal citizens of the USSR.

Exactly how various Russian-Germans have over the course of generations viewed themselves variously as villagers of Norka, Volga Germans, Soviet Germans, and Russian-Germans would be an interesting subject to research. The existence of multiple geographic identifications due to both the displacement and modernization of internal diaspora groups in the USSR would make a fascinating comparative study. How for instance do the Russian-Germans differ from the Russian-Koreans in their emotional connections to specific territories?

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Pulling Weeds and 1932-33 Holodomor in Ukraine

Today was THEE day to pull out vicious weeds from my various flower gardens.  Since we got a blessed 4/10ths of an inch of rain last night, the thistle and itch weed were extracted easily.  The 4-5 hours I was outside playing havoc with those evil weeds, I was thinking about American education and what they “intentionally” leave out of world history books.  I believe not many people in the U.S. or other western countries really know what happened in Ukraine 75 years ago. (Sadly, many don’t care.) Ten years ago I honestly had NO idea what tragedy Ukraine went through in 1932-33 with the Holodomor (Terror Famine). We simply know from our history books that American farmers were focussed on poor grain prices and the rest of Americans were mired in the Great Depression.  Or for that matter, even less is known by many westerners about what Kazakhstan and other countries of the former Soviet Union endured during collectivization. 

I don’t normally put in links on my blog but this one about Ukraine and their memorial of remembering those who died of starvation is something I couldn’t resist inserting.  I hope my reading audience has a better understanding of my passion to get this information out so that more people are aware of what bad government can do to good people.  Turns out that after the 1917 revolution those communist elite who mimicked Lenin’s words of “religion is the opiate of the people” did not have a clue what a relationship with God was really all about.  Yes, admittedly religion can be dried out and oppressive if going through motions and rituals. However, many of those Ukrainian farmers mowed down by Stalin’s edicts to eradicate “kulaks” who owned small plots of property and worked hard off the soil of the land were merely God-fearing peasants.

Those professors in academia who want to suppress this truth about the evils of the Soviet Union in their hallowed halls of our American institutions are not being intellectually honest.  They are trying to promote their socialist, Marxist agenda once again but now this time they are trying to vilify Christians who may have a simple faith in God and are just ordinary citizens.  Instead of “kulaks” who were persecuted 75 years ago and starved to death, now they are going after the big corporations as the evil entities.  If those who in power had their way, they would want all those entrepreneurs and others who are in business to make money through the capitalist system to be punished.  However, if that were to happen those lower in the chain of command would lose their jobs and we would eventually have another Great Depression.  That is, if the intellectuals had their way and wanted to start a class warfare which seemingly worked in the 1930s.

These very people in the ivory towers who want their young students to believe in Utopia little realize they are trying to preach a certain poisonous opiate of their own concoction.  “Opiate” and “Utopia” share many of the same letters (can you tell I’ve been playing lots of online Scrabble?) These dishonest professionals are attempting to drug the younger generation in believing that Christians are evil and that their hardsell for Utopia or the nothingness of postmodern de-constructionism is the right way to think.  Ron Vossler has a new book he is working on which, of course, he says it way better than I ever could.

The following is one of the many projects from Ron Vossler’s website: Communist East Dakota: How Twenty Years Teaching at a Midwest University Turned Me into a Republican. This irreverent book—a Hunter Thompsonesque account of a fictional adjunct teacher perched on the lowest, dung-smeared rungs of a backwater Prairie University —portrays an academic Don Quixote, who after discerning the deep Marxist bias prevalent in American higher education, wages a humorous battle against the dark forces of left-wing propaganda that pollutes both his colleagues’ and students’ minds.

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Photos from our MN Farmyard

I don’t have much to write on Kazakhstan obviously being back home on “vacation” in NW MN.  Today I should have quoted from Ron Vossler’s latest book “Wedding of Darkness” but I already gave it to my Mom for her to read.  Quick read of three riveting accounts of what happened to Ron’s relatives who were left behind in Odessa, Ukraine area.  A misnomer to call them “Germans from Russia” really because geographically his relatives were living in what is today called Ukraine, they just happened to speak German. Back then when they immigrated to Dakota, their orientation was Russia because that is what the czar in Russia expansively referred to Ukraine as, Southern Russia.  Therefore, Ron has a difficult time explaining that whatever the Ukrianians went through with the Holodomor (Terror Famine of 1932-33), his ethnic group went through it as well just because they happened to be in the way of the great Utopian ideology touted by Marxists.

This year the Ukrainians are memorializing 75 years since the “Great Sadness” where families were tragically torn apart.  Good lines in Ron Vossler’s book as he poetically weaves together pieces from interviews he did with his “Germans from Ukraine” relatives who left for the U.S. after the 1932-33 starvation period together with primary source material and what Ron read from old Dakota newspapers he translated from German. 

Ron’s life work is tied up with resurrecting what happened to his dead relatives and the mystery of silence that prevailed in his Wishek, North Dakota surroundings.  Finding out about his relatives tragic past, changed his life.  Ron wants reconciliation, as do I, in our current history books about what REALLY happened under a despotic government that went more than haywire, it went crazy against families and personal property.  All in the name of collectivization and the great Utopia.  (BTW, Utopia does NOT equal heaven, it’s true meaning is “nothingness”)  The Ukrainians and the Germans from Russia who happened to be good, hard workers and owned property were targeted first under Stalin’s purge in the late 1920s and early 1930s.  They were reduced to owning nothing and even their lives counted for nothing!!!

Currently I’m reading a book on Holiness by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, simultaneous to that I’m reading the No. #1 bestseller “The Shack” by William P. Young.  The latter was a self-published fictional book and it describes a man’s “Great Sadness” of losing his young daughter to a sadistic serial murderer.  I’m half way through and can see why it has fallen through the cracks and not published by the Christian circles or the secular ones.  Simply, it is NOT smarmy enough with sex scenes but also it is not orthodox enough in its theology for Christian publishers.

However, the main character in the Shack apparently works through his sadness and I think that Ukraine and other countries like Kazakhstan can work through their “Great Sadness” if the truth of the atrocities are brought out in the open.  Similar to a rape victim never quite healing by keeping silent, so too have history books worked against the millions of victims and their families by not exposing what communism actually did to ordinary people while the Soviet Union existed. 

Then I reflect on holiness and what Kazakhs, Latvians, Estonians, Russians, Germans from Russia, Ukrainians and a host of other nationalities had to go through under the bloody hands of Stalin.  He and his cohorts were all about materialism and accruing wealth and power.  Stalin forcibly had thugs seize what possessions had been in families for generations, but namely love, communication and trust were destroyed. 

Getting back to Ron Vossler’s short account in “Wedding of Darkness,” the village church bells were taken down from every steeple throughout Ukraine.  Also, from a local newspaper account I read of that era a western observer witnessed church bells sitting on a wharf in Odessa (port city on the Black Sea).  These bells were about to be melted down to be used for machinery and equipment.  Holiness vs. Materialism, it is a war we all wage in our hearts and I’m reminded that my MN farmyard is not my home, heaven is.

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Rare “Dacha” Moment Sequel

What I forgot to mention in my last blog posting is that the evening we watched the ORANGE full moon come up, fireflies were also something to behold.  Once it was dark, they glowed brightly against the backdrop of our densely, grassed woods.  So, to look at the sky above with stars glittering and then look at eye level to see miniature stars twinkle was part of our rare moment.

Also, I neglected to add that we have a wren or two who warble their happy melodies, always a welcome sound.  Now that we have the thistle seed up, we have our regular, bright yellow finches back.  Of course, without us they have plenty of wild thistle to eat from but it is like the birds “fast food haven” to go to our feeder.  The other night as I went out to see how the wild raspberries were doing that some birds “planted” out west under the western shelterbelt trees, I saw some raspberries were already ripe.  Our domesticated ones are not that far along yet but it won’t be long that we will enjoy raspberries on our breakfast cereal.  What got me really excited to not only watch the remnants of a spectacular sundown but also to HEAR the howls of the coyotes out west.  I tried to call Ken out to hear but he had already retired to the house.

We have some pocket gophers that are playing havoc with our raspberry patch.  These varmits dig up beautiful rich, black soil but when they start getting into the lawn, we must put a stop to that kind of ambition.  I don’t know if flooding them out will help or what to do.  I remember my grandpa would sit out on the front porch and use a BB gun to get the little rascals that were creating mounds in our front yard.  Not sure what animal rights people would say about that but once you let a gopher family in, the rest of the colony will arrive post haste.

Ken has been watering with a hose our Braeburn apple trees as well as our grapes, hopefully we will have some grapes to harvest this year from the oldest vine.  I’m not sure how much we can harvest and make into jelly of the apples and raspberries since we have to be back in Kazakhstan by mid-August.  I have rhubarb I could make into sauce today.  Last night we enjoyed some store bought blueberries on our ice cream thanks to our good friend Ron Vossler.  We three enjoyed a picnic outside by grilling chicken shashlik and catching up.

It has been about a year since we saw Ron and he had just returned from a Ukrainian Holodomor/genocide conference in Dickinson, ND.  He told us stories of his recent trip to Ukraine where his relatives were from.  He has been to Ukraine about seven or eight times before.  He is a prolific writer concerning what he has unearthed about his own people (Germans from Russia) who left the Odessa, Ukraine area to settle as pioneer farmers in North Dakota.  His own relatives of two generations ago were starved out by the communist regime in 1932-33 when the Holodomor (Terror Famine) had labeled industrious farmers as “Kulaks.”

On my early morning walks along the gravel roads I look around the perfect beet fields and impeccable grain fields that surround our little hobby farm, no weeds!!!  I ponder what our German farmer neighbors would do if they were forced to join the collective.  What if these prosperous farmers were told they had to hand in all their equipment to the government because they were NOT supposed to own their own property or work for their own profit?  That is precisely what happened 75 years ago in Ukraine and also in Kazakhstan to the nomads who happened to be good shepherds and owned large stock.  The Kazakhs did not fare as well with collectivization due to their lack of experience.  However, Russian and Ukrainian farmers, who were sent down to Kazakhstan to take over the open spaces fared much better with their collective farms.

Our God-given freedom is a very precious thing, our freedom to earn money by hard work is rare.  That is why I am enjoying my moments in Minnesota especially since it is mosquito free.  Wonders never cease.

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