A local man is sharing his story in a book he wrote about his life in America. Originally from Germany, Claus Lembke explains how he ended up in Bismarck, North Dakota.
Claus Lembke grew up in Northern Germany, right next to the Danish boarder. His book, “Koming to Amerika: An Immigrant’s Story,” covers his life growing up post World War and him immigrating to America when he was 22 years old.
Lembke said, “I remember going to school for the first time, the food shortages, the currency was devaluating so fast.”
Before attending an Agricultural University in Germany, education standards in Germany were not ideal.
“I went to a one room school house and here’s 4 grades, and four of them were my brothers so we kind of dominated the school,” said Lembke.
Claus’s family worked on a small farm. He decided to come to America after meeting an uncle who also farmed to peruse his degree. He compared farming in America compared to back in Germany.
“The difference farming-wise was the hours. The guys here work from morning till its dark or wet, I grew up on a farm and we did not. We quit at 6 pm,” said Lembke.
When he first arrived, he worked with his uncle on his farm in western Minnesota.
“I didn’t speak English and when I went to functions on weekends, the 2 or 3 year olds could speak a heck of a lot of English than I could. It was difficult to learn a language when you’re sitting on a tractor all day,” said Lembke.
After a short time in Minnesota, Claus moved to Fargo and began a career in real estate. Claus relocated to Bismarck in 1979 to become the CEO of the North Dakota Association of Realtors, a job he held for 28 years.
Since moving to Bismarck, Claus has been a longtime Burleigh County Commissioner, run for statewide office, and has been involved in several community activities.
“It’s history. I lived through some history during the war, after the war, and even coming here has some historic significance,” explained Lembke.
He is now married and has raised three kids here.
“The freedom of America, the love for the country, I am not saying there isn’t growling going on, so it has its ups and downs but on the other hand there’s no finer country,” said Lembke.
The book is available at Ferguson Books in Bismarck, online, and will soon be available at the North Dakota Heritage Museum.