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Local Author Alert! “Ermordet (Murdered) Revelations of an Iron Cross” by Russ Baldner is a Must Read!
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Local Author Alert! “Ermordet (Murdered) Revelations of an Iron Cross” by Russ Baldner is a Must Read!

It is great to see the books about history from our Northeast Iowa area. Here is one you are going to love!

The synopsis is this: One summer evening near Spillville, two men had an altercation that ended tragically. Many years later, Russell and his lovely wife, Cathy, were out walking around St. Clement’s graveyard outside of Spillville when he was astonished to find an old grave marker with the German words “Ermordet” meaning “murdered” on it. Now, one-hundred fifty years later, Russell Baldner has put the pieces together after sixteen long years of research and tells us his revelations in a book about what he uncovered and the strange “uncanny circumstances” that led his research down many different, surprising paths.

Russell will be available for book signings and sales at the Spillville The price for the softcover book is $15 in person and $20 shipped. There will be an additional Ermordet book signing and reading at the Calmar Public Library on Saturday, October 26th, at 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. You can contact Russell at or call him at 563-562-3986 for more information.

His preface from his book explains about his journey, “The following story began as a startling discovery, quickly became a persistent curiosity, and subsequently evolved into a historical challenge and multi-faceted research effort, the results of which, having been shared previously in person with the public, are now made available for the first time in definitive written form. Somewhere during the long investigative journey leading to the present volume an accompanying transition on the part of the author also evolved, namely, a perspective less exclusively concerned with the academic, objective, emotionally detached particulars of history, but one increasingly mindful of the personal cost and larger human dimensions of the story.

He goes on to say, “The story….straightforward and candid, at times graphic, and unwaveringly and unapologetically honest—as well history should be—but intending no offense. Correspondingly, the following account avoids being gratuitously judgmental. Ermordet is, nonetheless, a story about human failings, circumstances needlessly spun out of control, and tragic with painful consequences—both to those directly involved as well as to their family and those who knew them. One-hundred fifty years after the event, there is no need, however, to assign individual blame.

Russell is a retired South Winneshiek High School teacher with a BA and MA degrees in History, also graduate study in German and Archaeology. He has presented many places, including to standing room only crowd at the Community Center at the Spillville Public Library in 2000 about his research in the murder case now recently published, 2012 Iowa Statewide Historic Preservation Conference and Effigy Mounds National Monument. His recent works include an annotated archival guide of historical documents of the former German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Iowa, archived at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque and Brothers Jungck: An Odyssey in Lutheran Synodical Affiliation and Ordination History.

As Russell so eloquently concludes his preface from his newly published historical research from Winneshiek County, he tells the reader his perspective on the subject matter, “Many years ago, a much quoted philosopher famously observed that ‘those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ If, in the 21st century, the Ermordet story prompts someone, somewhere, to pause and reflect and to be more thoughtful or forward thinking, and perchance in so doing aids in averting potential human misfortune, then its telling will have served an especially worthy purpose and partially redeemed, perhaps, a senseless 150-year-old tragedy. Therein lies yet hope.



*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.



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