In order to avoid the undesirable occurrence and to prevent serious bloodshed the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet deemed it necessary to resettle all the German population, living in the region of the Volga, to other regions . . .
Thus 177 years as an ethnic group invited into the Russian Empire as a valuable minority with privileges like free land, interest free loans, limited tax exemptions, local autonomy, and exemption from the draft came to a spectacular end on August
24 28, 1941 in the wake of Nazi Germany invading the USSR.
The Volga Germans were only the largest settlement of Germans in the Russian Empire. Other areas of settlement included the Black Sea (including a group of Mennonites), North Caucuses, Bessarabia, the Transcaucasus, and Volhynia. It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the settlers. Privileges, like local autonomy, would be granted, repealed, and sometimes granted again. Emigration out of Russia or internal migration to Central Asia occurred after famines. The requirement for military service was reinstated. There were Kazakh attacks on some settlements.
Still, by 1914, the Germans in Russia had grown in number almost 7% of the Empire’s population and were an economically industrious group with a culture supported by schools, libraries, and museums of their own.
The woes of the German Russians started with the forced resettlement of the Volynian Germans into the Volga region.
But it was the Bolshevik Revolution that was to turn them into a particularly persecuted minority. While the Volga region was declared, in 1919, an ethno-national state, the Germans, with their successful agricultural operations, resisted Bolshevik collectivism. Confiscation of German Russian grain supplies created a severe famine in the Volga in 1919 through 1922 though it was partially mitigated by international aid. When requestioning of food by the government ended, the Volga Germans were able to recover somewhat. By 1928, there was a record grain harvest. Various institutions – the Komosomol, labor unions – were used by the Communist Party to solidify the German Russians as a “titular nationality” with its own language and culture. Even in Kyrgystan, Germans got a larger autonomy.Continue reading