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Thread: The Tragic Saga of the Volga Germans

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    The Tragic Saga of the Volga Germans

    Asya Pereltsvaig posted an interesting piece on Geocurrents on May 31, 2013
    Source: http://geocurrents.info/place/russia...-volga-germans

    Just a sample from the start:

    When I was a college student in Russia, one of my classmates was a Volga German from Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. At the time, her identity made no sense to me as Germany, the Volga River, and Uzbekistan are thousands of miles apart. Who are the Volga Germans? How did they come to live in Central Russia, and later in Central Asia? This post examines the twisted history of yet another group victimized by Stalin’s deportations.

    The first German colonists—some 30,000 people—came to settle in Russia in 1763 at the invitation of Catherine the Great, herself of German descent. The majority of the early German colonists were refugees from the central German states, such as Hessen and the Palatinate, ravaged first by the Thirty Years’ War, which ended in 1648, then by the continuing confrontation between Catholic Austria and Protestant Prussia, and finally by the Seven Years’ War, which began in 1754. By 1763, the average inhabitant of Central Europe, regardless of religious or political allegiance, was under an extreme tax burden, constant threat of injury to person or property, and routine conscription into military service for one side or the other. Thus, the climate for emigration was ripe....
    and the end:

    Finally, it should also be noted that Russian Germans played a significant role in the settlement of the Great Plains in the United States. Particularly important was their introduction of climatically appropriate strains of winter wheat to the region. As noted by the authors of the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection:

    “By 1920, according to the census of the United States, there were 116,539 persons here who were born in Russia but still spoke German as their mother tongue. At this time a total of 303,532 Russian-Germans living in the U.S., scattered in approximately 1500 settlements throughout the country but being especially numerous in the prairie states between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and the Rocky Mountains.”

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    2.3 million came "back" to Germany between 1950 and 2005.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CelticGerman View Post
    2.3 million came "back" to Germany between 1950 and 2005.
    Thanks -- I thought most of them are now in Germany, but there are still some in Kazakhstan, no?

    Apart from Russian Germans, A fair number of Russian Mennonites settled in my area of the Plains, as well as in Central and South America. But these are often thought of as distinct from Germans because they are really a transnational ethnoreligious group like Ashkenazi Jews. Because "Mennonite" is not a Canadian census category, Mennonites typically are not sure whether to report as Dutch, German, Russian, or something else. (There are also Swiss Mennonites but they did not come to my area in numbers.)
    Last edited by AJL; 06-02-2013 at 02:11 PM.
     

    Other ancestral Y lines:

    E1b-M81 Ukraine (Ashkenazi)
    E1b-V13 England
    I1-M253 Ireland
    I2-M423 Ukraine
    R1a-L176.1 Scotland
    R1b-L584 Syria/Turkey (Sephardi)
    R1b-L20 Ireland
    R1b-L21 (1)England; (2)Wales?>Connecticut
    R1b-L48 England
    R1b-P312 Scotland
    R1b-FGC32576 Ireland

    Other ancestral mtDNA lines:

    H1b2a Ukraine (Ashkenazi)
    H6a1a3 Ukraine
    K1a9 Belarus (Ashkenazi)
    K1c2 Ireland
    V7a Ukraine

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    My Mother's sister married a Volga German descendant, they first came to South Dakota and nearly immediately went to eastern Washington to become wheat farmers. They had some excellent family foods.
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    My Volga German Great Grandparents left Russia prior to Stalin's regime. They settled in the US where many Volga Germans worked the beet fields upon immigration prior to finding more permanent employment
    Last edited by SC11; 06-02-2013 at 10:50 PM.

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    Germans were one of major victims of Nazism and the fall out when it was defeated. Prussia of course was carved up with the driving out of the Germans who had lived their since the days of the Teutonic Knights conquering the native Baltic Prussians. Danzig of course became Gdansk (beatiful city, carefully restored to its Medieval form after its WWII destruction) and Koningsberg (destoyed and rebuilt in a horrible Stalinist way) became part of the Russian outlying territory of Kaliningrad where their fleet was based in cold war. I think too Sudetenland Germans were driven out of Czechoslovakia.

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    My great-grandparents immigrated from Lüben, Duetch-Krone, West Prussia in 1907. Much of their family remained in Lüben, and were expelled at the end of the war. I quoted from some of the letters written to my great-grandmother by her nieces after the war.

    Aue, July 16, 1948

    My dear Laura!

    I also want to write to you, we say to you too, thank you very much for the lovely package that Marie sent to us. You can’t imagine our joy when the postman came with card, a package from America is here. All are such good products, which one can’t get here at all.

    Maria must be well, you see it in the pictures. Your dear grandchildren, such lovely girls. We are happy that they stay a week every year with Maria. Dear aunt Laura, let dear God give you several years in health, so that we can write each other often.

    Do you have a picture of yourself? It’s wonderful that you visit Maria and her family so often.
    If we could go again to Lüben and see what it looks like now?

    Our brother Karl is still missing, I hardly believe that that he will be yet alive. Also a son of his is still missing. He was a pretty, slim boy, that’s what war brings.

    Now dear Aunt Laura, stay healthy, and sincere greetings from your nieces Maria and Minna.
    I had not thought of my cousin Karl, many greetings to him, too.


    Aue, the 20, Sept, 1948

    I want to write to you again, both packages have arrived, one came 14 days later, our joy was very great, the good Marie had also sent good soups, the good meal and the chocolate that you couldn’t ….., we will also not forget this to Marie that she thinks of us in this time.
    Dear Aunt, to your picture I was very glad, you can see, the youngest is much like our mother. Only so thin legs and arms, so it is when the old age is coming, I remember when you were in your thirties.

    Hopefully, soon it will go better for us, that we have survived the awful time. Also that we soon want to return back to our home country, because here we never can settle in. Over there, in the West it would be better, you can buy almost anything, except that is is also expensive, but yet that’s already an improvement as here there isn’t anything to buy.

    Your Marie and Hedwig both looks like very well. We still have not returned to Lüben. Where they all are now, where they are scattered, and if they had sowed economies there and then had to leave, we will learn about it later.


    Aue the 25th Nov, 1948

    Dear Aunt Laura and Cousin Karl!

    However, I have to think to you again. Hopefully you all are right, now I have my apartment for me alone. Anna also lives in this zone, at her sister-in-law, her husband hasn’t still report til now. Also from my husband I haven’t got mail, only from the searching service I have received that he is situated in captivity. From the sister-in-law I got news that our Karl and his son are in Deutsch Krone, we will be very happy when we see them again.

    Dear Aunt Laura and Cousin hopefully you reach this lines still before carnival, I had also could write a few days earlier. How is the weather now at you, here the frost is beginning, I can’t imagine how it is in a foreign country against Germany.

    I will think on you much this Christmas. Hopefully we soon get a better time. I think so often where all the people from Lüben have fled and where all are absent-minded.

    Dear Aunt Laura write how you liked the time actually the years in America, well, was it more beauty as in Lüben? So often, I had read with Marie about it, we were both still children at that time, how it is yet sad for Germany. Marie and Hedwig had much luck that they were there [in the US]. How it should be in life, and how it is certain for everyone.

    Dear Aunt Laura and Cousin Karl I wish you a right healthy happy celebration and at the same time a happy new year.

    Right (cordial/hearty) greetings your nieces Minna and Cousine


    Gräfrath, January 10, 1949

    Dear Aunt!

    We have received your package with great joy, it weighted 19 pounds. Now, I will tell you what was in it.

    Coffee, cocoa, sugar, flour, noodles, raisins, fat, cinnamon, pepper, soap, candies and thread in two new towels. I still thank you heartily dear aunt, for all these beautiful things. It was a long time on the way. You were certainly thinking that it was lost. Marie wrote me in her letter that she wants to send one times a few clothes, I would be very happy, too. How we were glad, dear aunt, when we saw you on the picture. Who could imagine that we really get to see you once more in this life. I still was a little child when you went away from your home town. When I was bigger we gladly listened if they told news from you. Our mother now is 29 years dead, tomorrow on the 11th is her death-day, at this time I was 16 years. It was always her wish to live until I left school, because I was the youngest. So are passing the years. I suspended in my memory that grandmother said Aunt Laura has her birthday on 04th February. I wish, dear aunt, that you live this day in the circle of your Loves, still right often. If you turn to the grandmother, she lived 86 years, then there are still 10 years [before you are 86].

    Your little grandchildren make you certain much joy, they are all so sweet in the picture. Maria wrote me once that your daughter is a (dear/sweet) girl and your son Karl is not married. When he was a little boy you sent me a picture of him. That’s all so beautiful memories from the youth. I must end, can’t see anything, the tears are running down. In this hope, dear Aunt, that these sentences reach you in the best health. Your niece, Mariechen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AJL View Post
    Thanks -- I thought most of them are now in Germany, but there are still some in Kazakhstan, no?

    Apart from Russian Germans, A fair number of Russian Mennonites settled in my area of the Plains, as well as in Central and South America. But these are often thought of as distinct from Germans because they are really a transnational ethnoreligious group like Ashkenazi Jews. Because "Mennonite" is not a Canadian census category, Mennonites typically are not sure whether to report as Dutch, German, Russian, or something else. (There are also Swiss Mennonites but they did not come to my area in numbers.)
    Here is a more refined description of the Low German Mennonites - http://www.mennonitedna.com/lowgerman.html . Overall the Low German Mennonite communities were independent of Volga German settlements. From 23andMe results we do have indications that there apparently were a small number of marriages which occurred between Volga Germans and Low German Mennnonites.

    - Wayne

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    Quote Originally Posted by GailT View Post
    My great-grandparents immigrated from Lüben, Duetch-Krone, West Prussia in 1907. Much of their family remained in Lüben, and were expelled at the end of the war.
    Because it can be difficult to keep track of border changes over the centuries, here is the Wikipedia article on Wałcz (Deutsch Krone):

    ---
    In the High Middle Ages the region of modern Wałcz lied in a boundary territory of Pomerania and Greater Poland. It was eventually annexed by Poland in the early 12th century and except a brief Brandenburg rule, it remained as part of Poland until the first partition in 1772. After First World War Deutsch Krone remained part of Weimar Germany and for the most part of the interbellum it was part of the Grenzmark Posen–Westpreussen, and in 1919-39 was just inside the German border with Poland. After the end of World War II, the town was put under Polish administration according to the Potsdam Conference and renamed Wałcz.
    ---

    The various ethnic cleansings during and after World War II, committed by Nazi and Communist regimes, have their own articles. Writers often use euphemisms like transfer, or even the incorrect and insulting term repatriation.

    Expulsion of Poles from Poland by Nazis
    Expulsion of Germans from former eastern Germany by Communists
    Expulsion of Poles from former eastern Poland by Communists
    Expulsion of Ukrainians from Poland by Communists

    Repatriation is a technically correct euphemism for the Allies' joint policy of forced transfer of Ukrainian refugees back into Stalin's hands for murder or exile.
    Last edited by lgmayka; 06-05-2013 at 09:07 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alan View Post
    Germans were one of major victims of Nazism and the fall out when it was defeated. Prussia of course was carved up with the driving out of the Germans who had lived their since the days of the Teutonic Knights conquering the native Baltic Prussians. Danzig of course became Gdansk (beatiful city, carefully restored to its Medieval form after its WWII destruction) and Koningsberg (destoyed and rebuilt in a horrible Stalinist way) became part of the Russian outlying territory of Kaliningrad where their fleet was based in cold war. I think too Sudetenland Germans were driven out of Czechoslovakia.
    The Poles deserve some credit for restoring many of the medieval buildings in the areas of Prussia ceded to Poland after the war. Danzig/Gdansk is an excellent example, as is the main castle of the Teutonic Knights at Marienburg, now Malbork. The contrast with that portion of former East Prussia annexed by the Soviets couldn't be greater. The once beautiful medieval city of Königsberg became Kaliningrad, and most traces of its German heritage were deliberately destroyed. The medieval castle of the Teutonic Knights there was razed, and one of the ugliest examples of Stalinist architecture was erected on its site. I believe the official title is the House of the Soviets, but it is generally referred to as 'the monster'. It has never been occupied.

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