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Thread: Kazakhstan and the Volga Germans

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    Kazakhstan and the Volga Germans

    ''Most of the Germans are collective farmers or skilled workers, a result of their heritage as well as post-World War II restrictions on their education. Germans say they are denied exit visas because the high quality of their labor is critical to the underdeveloped regions they inhabit. On the other hand, some Germans are reported to have the feeling that they are not really welcome in Germany. Some believe if and when they do relocate to Germany, their form of the German language will prompt discrimination.''

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    Post Re: Kazakhstan Germans

    Of all the minority ethnicities, so-called "Lost Peoples", liquidated under Stalin - Crimean Tatars, Kalmuks, Karachays, Chechen-Ingush, Balkars - the Volga Germans were the only ones considered too untouchable to rehabilitate.

    ". . . The Volga Germans, their fate has been hardest of all. The Volga German Autonomous Republic was liquidated as far back as August, 1941.About 400,000 Volga Germans were deported, including every inhabitant of the region who was of German descent, even if these were Red Army officers or soldiers. History of the Volga Germans goes back a long way. Catherine II issued two manifestoes - in 1762 and 1763 - inviting foreign settlement on the "freelands" of Russia. Germans were promised full religious freedom, and were exempted from military service; they received financial aid, and were let off taxes. So prosperous German colonies grew up all over Russia. Germans settled in Bessarabia, the Odessa area, the north Caucasus, Orenburg province, and in particular, the lower Volga region centering on Saratov. The Volga community was progressive, industrious and rich. But, even under the Czars, the Germans were suspected of being more German than Russian, and during World War I, plans were drawn up - but never executed - to exile the entire German community to Siberia. The Bolsheviks, seizing powere, rescinded this plan, established a commissariat for Volga German affairs, and came to the Volga Germans in the guise of deliverers. But during World War II they did exactly what the Czars threatened to do. Almost at once, when Germany attacked Russia in 1941, the Soviet government decided to take no chances with the Volga Germans. To catch spies and agents among them. the NKVD used aircraft disguised as German planes, which dropped bogus pamphlets. When members of the population rose to this bait, reprisals began; hundreds of Volga German leaders were caught and shot. Then came liquidation of the whole republic. Its territory was divided between the Saratov and Stalingrad provinces of the RSFSR, and the population was deported.

    Today the Germans appear to be scattered over wide areas of Central Asia, Siberia, and the northeasten reaches of European Russia. One large concentration is in the Altai Kray, and a German language newspaper is published in Barnaul; others have been seen in Vorkuta, and in the Kolyma region in the Arctic. Little, incidentally, has ever become known of the fate of hundreds of thousands of other Soviet citizens of German descent who lived in the Crimea, the Urals, and elsewhere. But at least fifty thousand Germans in the Ukraine joined the Nazis, and thousands more, who did not cross the lines, were punished by deportation or otherwise. Also, Germans were moved out of the north Caucasus, and a "partial deportation" took place in Moscow, Leningrad, and other cities. But there are still plenty of Soviet citizens of German descent in the big cities, particularly Moscow, who have never been molested at all . . ."

    Inside Russia Today,
    by John Gunther, c. 1957
    (pg. 190-191)

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    Post Re: Kazakhstan Germans

    Nice map.

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