Table of contents:
- Colonists from Germany in the Lower Volga region
- Establishment of the first colonies
- Accelerated assimilation with the population, religion and customs
- Modern Volga Germans in Russia
The mention of the first Germans in Russia dates back to 1199. We are talking about the "German court", where artisans, scientists, merchants, doctors and warriors settled. However, the church of St. Peter, which was the center of this place, was reported even earlier. How did German subjects appear on the territory of Russia, and what fate was in store for their descendants.
Many inhabitants of Germany moved to the Russian state during the reign of princes Ivan III and Vasily III. And on the territory of the Volga region, "service Germans" appeared during the reign of the second Russian tsar from the Romanov dynasty - Alexei Tishaishiy. Some of them became voivods and held high positions in the civil service.
Colonists from Germany in the Lower Volga regionAfter the adoption of the Manifestos of Catherine II, aimed at the development of the steppes and sparsely populated outskirts, foreigners began to arrive in the Russian Empire even more actively. They were asked to settle the lands of the Orenburg, Belgorod and Tobolsk provinces, as well as the city in the Astrakhan province of Saratov, which was considered the center of fish and salt industries. Since then, its commercial and economic importance began to grow even more.
A year later, the empress created a special office for the guardianship of foreigners, whose president was appointed Count Orlov. This helped the tsarist government to attract the people from the war-ravaged German principalities, not only at the expense of their own agents, but also with the help of the "callers" - the Germans who had already settled in the state. They were granted equal rights, as well as numerous privileges and benefits.
Establishment of the first coloniesThe first batch of colonists who arrived consisted of only 20 people. Among them were specialists in the cultivation of mulberry trees and artisans, who immediately went to Astrakhan. Later, about 200 more Germans arrived and settled the area along the banks of the Volga near Saratov. And from 1764 they began to arrive in the territory of the state in thousands.
The newcomers were settled at first in the apartments of the townspeople, then they began to build special barracks for them. Lands were allocated for the first 5 colonies in Sosnovka, Dobrinka and Ust-Kulalinka. A year later, 8 more crown colonies were founded and the first provocative one, which became the residence of Jean Deboff. As a result, 105 colonies were created in 10 years, where 23,200 colonists lived. The last wave of emigration from Prussia is considered to be the settlement of Mennonites in Samara and Novouzensk districts. In the period from 1876 to 1913, about 100 thousand people emigrated to Russia.
As a result, due to overcrowding, the colonists faced a shortage of land - there were only 7-8 acres of land per man. For this reason, some of them unauthorizedly settled in the direction of the Stavropol province and the Caucasus, where they created "daughter" colonies. Hundreds of families moved from the Volga region to Bashkiria, the Orenburg province, Siberia and even to Asia.
Accelerated assimilation with the population, religion and customsRussian Germans were allowed unhindered cultural and national development. Soon they founded the famous German settlement on the new lands. They were provided not only with their own housing, but also with agricultural implements. Many families received livestock - 2 horses and a cow.
The Germans quickly settled in a foreign land. More than half of them were farmers, the rest owned 150 different professions. Therefore, first of all, the colonists began to plow the fertile lands allocated to them - they grew vegetables, increased the crops of flax, oats, rye, hemp, and most importantly, introduced potatoes and a white turkey. The rest were engaged in fishing and cattle breeding. Gradually, a real colonist industry was organized: lettuce factories were opened, leather production, flour production at water mills, the creation of woolen fabric, the oil industry, and footwear were developed. But for the Russian government, the most important were military specialists and educated doctors. Mining foremen and engineers also aroused interest.
As for the spiritual life - most of the colonists were Catholics, the rest tended to Lutheranism, or even completely preferred atheism. Only religious people celebrated Christmas. On this holiday, they have a habit of decorating a Christmas tree, reading the Bible and giving children sweets for reading a rhyme. On Easter, according to tradition, an Easter bunny was put in the basket, which supposedly brought gifts to kids. And in October, the Germans celebrated the Harvest Festival. Notable features of German cuisine included dumplings, sausages, schnitzel, mashed potatoes, goose with stewed cabbage. Strudel and sweet croutons were often made as a dessert.
Modern Volga Germans in RussiaThe First World War and the new policy of the government led to the mass eviction of Germans from the Volga region "to places of compact residence." About 60 thousand deportees entered the Saratov and Samara provinces. As part of the anti-German campaign, these settlements were given Russian names, and residents were forbidden to speak publicly in their native language. They were planned to be evicted outside the country, but this was prevented by the February Revolution. With the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, a mass deportation of the foreign population from the Volga region was nevertheless carried out - hundreds of German settlements disappeared.
The return of German families to Russia began in 1956. Since there was an official ban, the resettlement was carried out semi-legally. Local collective and state farm leaders accepted foreigners on their farms due to a lack of labor. This practice has become widespread in the Stalingrad region. After the ban on the return of foreigners to the areas of their former habitation was lifted, their influx increased significantly. According to the census, in 1989 there were about 45 thousand Germans in the Volgograd, Kuibyshev and Saratov regions. Later, their migration to their homeland was observed, as well as simultaneous migration from Kazakhstan and Asia to the Volga region.
At the present time, a whole structure of regional and regional German national-cultural autonomies has been created in the Volga region, which are governed by the Coordination Council located in Saratov. There are also many organizations operating: German Cultural Centers, the All-German Association Heimat, the Association of Volga Germans and others. In addition, Catholic and Lutheran communities function, German magazines and newspapers are published. The number of Volga Germans is about 400 thousand people.
And one more migration story about how nomad reindeer herders from the Far North ended up in the center of Europe and became Hungarians.