- Volga Germans
The Volga Germans ( _de. Wolgadeutsche or "Russlanddeutsche") were
ethnic Germans living along the Volga Riverin the region of southern European Russiaaround Saratovand to the south. They maintained German culture, language, traditions and churches: Lutherans, Reformed, Roman Catholics, and Mennonites. Many Volga Germans immigrated to the Midwestern United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguayand other countries in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In the late 20th century, many of the remaining ethnic Germans moved to Germany.
Catherine the Great
In 1762, Sophie Fredericke Auguste von
Anhalt-Zerbst, a German native of Stettin, displaced her husband Peter III and took the vacant Russian imperial throne, assuming the name of Catherine II . "Catherine the Great" published manifestos in 1762 and 1763 inviting Europeans, except Jews,Lewis, Bernard, "Semites and Anti-Semites", New York, W.W. Norton and Company, 1999 edition, ISBN 0393318397, p. 61.] to immigrate and farm Russian lands while maintaining their language and culture. Although the first received little response, the second improved the benefits that were offered and was more successful. In addition to land development, an important consideration for Catherine was the provision of a buffer zone between her Russian subjects and the nomads to the east. Germans responded in particularly large numbers due to poor conditions in their home regions. People in other countries such as Franceand Englandwere more inclined to migrate to the colonies in the Americas than to the Russian frontier. Other countries, such as Austria, forbade emigration. Those who went to Russia had special rights under the terms of the manifesto. These were later revoked when the need for conscriptioninto the Russian army arose in the latter part of the 19th century. This was especially offensive to the German Mennonite communities, whose doctrine teaches against war and aggression. Some Germans emigrated to the Americas or Germany to avoid the draft, though many did remain in Russia.
The 20th century
Following the Russian Revolution, the
Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic("Autonome Sozialistische Sowjet-Republik der Wolga-Deutschen" in German; "АССР Немцев Поволжья" in Russian) was established in 1924, and it lasted until 1942. Its capital was Engels, known as "Pokrovsk" ("Kosakenstadt" in German) before 1931.
Hitlerinvaded the Soviet Union, Stalin worried that the Volga Germans mightcollaborate with them. On August 28, 1941, he dissolved the Volga-German ASSR and ordered the immediate relocation of ethnic Germans, both from the Volga and from a number of other traditional areas of settlement. These were stripped of their land and houses, and moved eastwards to Kazakhstanin Soviet Central Asia, Altai Kraiin Siberia, and other remote areas. Similar deportations happened for other ethnic groups, including North Caucasian Muslimethnic groups, Kalmyksand Crimean Tatars. In 1942nearly all the able-bodied German population was conscripted to the labor army. About one third did not survive the labor camps.
The Volga Germans never returned to the Volga region in their prior numbers. They were not allowed to do so for decades. After the war, many remained in the
Ural Mountains, Siberia, Kazakhstan(2% of today's Kazakh population are recognized as Germans - approximately 300,000), Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan(approximately 16,000 = 0.064%).Fact|date=November 2007 Decades after the war, some talked about resettling where the German Autonomous Republic used to be, but this movement met with opposition from the population resettled to their territory and did not gain momentum.
Since the late 1980s, many Volga Germans have immigrated to their ancestral homeland of
Germany, taking advantage of the German "law of return", a policy which grants citizenship to all those who can prove to be a refugee or expellee of German ethnic origin or as the spouse or descendant of such a person ( Greece, as well, had a similar law for the Greek minority from the former Soviet Union). This exodus occurred despite the fact that some Volga Germans speak little or no German, since for decades the language could not be spoken in public.Fact|date=November 2007 In the late 1990s, however, Germany made it more difficult for Russians of German descent to settle in Germany,Fact|date=November 2007 especially for those who do not speak some of the Volga dialects of German. Today, there are approximately 600,000 Germans in Russia( Russian Census (2002)), a number that increases to 1.5 million when including people partly of German ancestry.
The largest group of Volga Germans that emigrated to the
United Statesand Canadasettled mainly in the area of the Great Plains; Alberta, eastern Colorado, Kansas, Manitoba, eastern Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Saskatchewan, and South Dakota. Outside of the Great Plains, they also settled in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New York State, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and Fresno Countyin California's Central Valley, often succeeding in dryland farming, a skill learned in Russia. Many of the immigrants who arrived between 1870 and 1912 spent a period doing farm labor, especially in northeastern Colorado and in Montana along the lower Yellowstone Riverin sugar beetfields.
Other Volga Germans made a new life for themselves not in the fields but in the industrializing cities of the
United States. Chief among these is Chicagowhich saw an immense upsurge in immigration from Eastern Europeduring this time and is the largest Volga German establishment in North America. Although settlement by the Volga Germans occurred in a number of areas throughout the Chicago Metropolitan Area, the largest area of concentrated settlement was in Jefferson Park on the city's Northwest Side mostly between the years 1907-1920. By 1930 450 families of the Evangelical faith were living in this area, most of whom originated from "Wiesenseite" [March 1995 issue of the Newsletter of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia "German Russians in Chicagoland"] . Later many of their descendants would move out to outlying suburbs such as Maywood and Melrose Park but a fair number of family residences surrounding the Jefferson Park central business district along Lawrence and Milwaukee avenue can trace their roots back to Volga German immigrants. Bernhard Warkentin, a German Russian, was born in a small Russian village in 1847, and traveled to America in his early twenties. Interested in flour mills, he was especially impressed with the wheat growing possibilities in the United States. After visiting Kansas, Warkentin found the plains much like those he had left behind in his native Russia. Settling in Harvey County, he built a water mill on the banks of the Little Arkansas River– the Halstead Milling and Elevator Company. Warkentin's greatest contribution to Kansas was the introduction of hard Turkey wheat into Kansas, which replaced the soft variety grown exclusively in the state.
During the 1970s, Dr. Kenneth Rock, a professor of history at
Colorado State University, collected sixty oral histories of Germans from Russia immigrants and their descendants as part of the Germans from Russia in Colorado Study Project, documenting life in the German communities in Russia, the immigration experience, work and social life in the United States, and interaction between the Russian-German communities and the wider society in both Russia and the United States. [cite web |url=http://lib.colostate.edu/gfr/index.html |title=Germans from Russia: On the Trail to Colorado |access date=2007-10-08 |publisher=Colorado State University Libraries]
Approximately one million descendants of these Russian Germans live in the United States. [ [http://www.loc.gov/rr/european/imde/germchro.html Chronology : The Germans in America (European Reading Room, Library of Congress)] ] Modern descendants in Canada and the United States refer to their heritage as "Germans from Russia", "Russian Germans", "Volgadeutsch" or "Black Germans." In many parts of the United States, however, they tend to have blended to a large degree with the much more numerous "regular"
German Americans who are numerous in the northern half of the United States.
Germans from Russia also settled in
Argentina(see Crespo and Coronel Suárezamong others), Paraguay, and Brazil(see German-Brazilians).
Argentina1,200,000 [According to the [http://www.alemanesvolga.com.ar/libros/folleto.html Asociación Argentina de Descendientes de Alemanes del Volga] (Argentine Association of Descendants from Volga-Germans) there are more than 1,200,000 descendants of Volga Germans in Argentina; (this number does not include other German communities).]
* Lt Col.
Harold W. BauerUSMC Ace
History of Germans in Russia and the Soviet Union
Germans of Kazakhstan
Expulsion of Germans after World War II
Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic
* [http://cvgs.cu-portland.edu/ The Center for Volga German Studies at Concordia University]
* [http://www.grhs.org/ Germans from Russia Heritage Society]
* [http://flagspot.net/flags/su-wd.html Flag]
* [http://www.webbitt.com/volga/ Volga Germans]
* [http://www.ahsgr.org/ American Historical Society of Germans from Russia]
* [http://www.lib.ndsu.nodak.edu/grhc/ Germans from Russia Heritage Collection North Dakota State University]
* [http://www.volguenses.com.ar Germans from Russia in Argentina Genealogy] es icon
* [http://wolgadeutschen.narod.ru/index.html Wolgadeutschen] ru icon
* [http://skyways.lib.ks.us/genweb/archives/ethnic/german-russian/jubilee/index.html The Golden Jubilee of German-Russian Settlements of Ellis and Rush Counties, Kansas]
* [http://comunidad.ciudad.com.ar/ciudadanos/herman/Volga/volga_eng.htm Germans from Russia in Argentina]
* [http://www.lib.ndsu.nodak.edu/grhc/history_culture/history/volga-germans.htm German Memories - Volga Germans Migration Towards Americas]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Volga Germans — See Germans, Ethnic … Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation
Germans, Ethnic — Germans began settling in Russia during the 16th century. Under the reign of Catherine the Great (1762–1796), German settlers were granted special rights, including exemption from conscription, precipitously increasing the number of immigrants … Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation
Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic — The Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (German: Autonome Sozialistische Sowjetrepublik der Wolgadeutschen , abbreviated A.S.S.R.W.D.; Russian: Автономная Советская Социалистическая Республика Немцев Поволжья) was an autonomous… … Wikipedia
Germans — This article is about Germans as an ethnic group. For other uses, see Germans (disambiguation). For the population of Germany, see Demographics of Germany. For an analysis on the nationality or German citizenship, see German nationality law. For… … Wikipedia
Germans of Kazakhstan — The Germans of Kazakhstan are a minority in Kazakhstan, and make up a small percentage of the population. Today they live mostly in the northeastern part of the country between the cities of Astana and Oskemen, the majority being urban dwellers.… … Wikipedia
Volga River — Geobox River name = Volga River native name = Волга other name = other name1 = image size = 300 image caption = Volga in Yaroslavl (autumn morning) country = Russia country1 = state = state1 = region = region1 = district = district1 = city =… … Wikipedia
Germans of Paraguay — Infobox Ethnic group group = German Paraguayan poptime = 450,000 popplace = Asunción and Boquerón Department. langs = Paraguayan Spanish, German rels = Christianity (mostly Roman Catholic and Protestantism), Judaism related = German, German… … Wikipedia
History of Germans in Russia and the Soviet Union — Catherine the Great the most famous Russian Empress of German descent The German minority in Russia and the Soviet Union was created from several sources and in several waves. The 1914 census puts the number of Germans living in Russian Empire at … Wikipedia
Ethnic Germans — German Argentines celebrate Oktoberfest in Villa General Belgrano. This article is about the ethnic German diaspora. See Germans Abroad for German citizens with residence abroad. See Emigration from Germany for disambiguation. Ethnic Germans… … Wikipedia
Alemanes del Volga — Los alemanes del Volga (en alemán Wolgadeutsche o Russlanddeutsche, «alemanes de Rusia»; en ruso Поволжские немцы, Povolzhskie nemtsy) eran alemanes étnicos que vivían en las cercanías del Volga en la región europea meridional de Rusia, alrededor … Wikipedia Español