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German-Russians Under Monarchy and Dictatorship: HFDR Publishes a new Volume of the Series 'Russland-Deutsche Zeitgeschichte' [Contemporary German-Russian History]

Russlanddeutsche Unter Monarchie und Diktatur: Ein Neuer Band der 'Russland-Deutschen Zeitgeschichte' des HFDR Erschienen

Paulsen, Nina. "German-Russian Under Monarchy and Dictatorship: HFDR Publishes a new Volume of the Series 'Russland-Deutsch Zeitgeschichte'." Volk auf dem Weg, December 2005, 11.

Translation from the original German text to American English by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado


"Historical truth does not recognize boundaries, does not recognize nationalities, does not recognize nations. It must remain objective!" A serious attempt to pursue this motto by the publicist, Joachim Feist, is made in Volume 4 of the series "Russland-Deutsche Zeitgeschichte [Contemporary German-Russian History]" (2004-2005 Edition) recently published by the Historische Forschungsverein der Deustchen aus Russland [Historical Research Society for Germans from Russia].

By means of fifteen historical articles, an attempt is made to allow differing views and various results of research into Tsarist, Soviet, and post-Soviet eras to be expressed. As the book's subtitle indicates, its content provides a bridge across 200 years of German-Russian history under monarchy and dictatorship.

The HFDR, founded six years ago, and its chair, Anton Bosch, have dedicated themselves to delve into unfamiliar, unresearched, contentious, or even dark questions or topics concerning German-Russian history. The new volume pursues this objective totally. In their contemporary historical articles, researchers introduced therein remain firmly grounded on historical facts. They attempt to keep or to explain contemporary history of the Germans from Russia in their respective epochs just as it occurred at the time.

A portion of the articles provides realistic glimpses into the life and work of certain personalities of German-Russian descent who made significant contributions to historical developments. (Author Anton Bosch states:) Fully representative of this is the life and work of Baroness Barbara Juliana von Kruedener, a 19th-Century writer and preacher through whose help and private wealth around 5,500 "Chiliasts" from Wuerttemberg, resettled in the Black Sea region between 1815 and 1818.

The Ukrainian music researcher and critic Grigoriy Hansburg wrests from total oblivion the gifted poet Elisabeth Kuhlmann (1808 - 1824), who was born into a German professional officer's family in St. Petersburg. This poet actually shows up historically mainly through the music of Robert Schumann, who was inspired by Kuhlmann's poetry and set several of her poems to music.

A new edition of the travel experiences of Joseph Aloisius Kessler, Bishop of Tiraspol-Saratov, who was born on the Volga in 1962, provides a glimpse into the tragic history of the Roman Catholic Church in Russia preceding World War II. An article by Natalya Rublyova also has a cleric as its central focus -- Michael Koehler (1897 - 1983), a priest of the Tiraspol Diocese.

Hilda Riss presents the lives and works of two German-Russian scholars from Crimea. Peter Koeppen (1793 - 1864) left a permanent mark as a geographer, statistician, ethnographer, philologue, and bibliographer; and Dr. Leopold Gross (1925 - 2002) achieved, thanks to his talents and thirst for knowledge, a shining career as scienteist in general physics and in the chemcial-photographic industry.

The interaction between German-Russian and Soviets, too, is traditionally part of the research work of the HFDR. In this case, Anton Bosch's painstaking research taps into the suspenseful history -- previously not familiar to the broad public -- of two Neptune fountains: the original located on the grounds of the Peterhof at St. Petersburg, and its copy in the City Park of Nuremberg.

German-Russians have always been completely at the mercy of merciless political events in both countries. Especially instructive in this context is the perspective of sober and moving diary excerpts "Auszug aus der Heimat [Moving from my Home]" by Walter Hornbach, who depicts in gripping descriptions the loss of his home during the spring of 1944. Waldemar Schmidt presents glimpses into the barely researched topic of German-Russians' pre-Revolution emigration movement to East Africa, and into its significance for Germany's colonial policies.

Viktor Diesendorf and Johannes Herber display the history of Katharinenstadt-Baronsk-Yekaterinograd-Marxstadt-Marx, one of the largest colonies on the Volga. Just a look at the changing names hints at how political events occurred thick and fast.

Albert Fuetterer, originally from South Ukraine, reports on two Christmases: one (1945) as an American prisoner of war and another (1946) in an NKVD camp in Soviet Uzbekistan.

Three further topics provide documentation on Soviet era history and describe the wretched existence of Germans in the then Soviet Union. Dr. Viktor Bruhl describes anti-German policies and practices between 1934 and 1955 within German settlements in Siberia.

Dr. Viktor Krieger compares things that seem incomparable at first glance: the formation of a national cadre [Kazakhs] in Kazakhstan and [Germans] in the Republic of Volga-Germans. Among other things, he points out that the long-term wave of massive activities involving ideological influencing effectively had similar consequences in both cases.

A biography of Emma Welsch (90) of Nuremberg, rendered in authentic language by Kurt Reinelt, proves that family, faith, and mother tongue constituted the actual home for the German-Russians in exile.

Of course, not missing in this almanac is an instructive glimpse into the sensibilities of Germans from Russia now in their historical home country of Germany. Maria Savoskul, a young Russian historian from Moscow, describes for the reader the problem of finding oneself and the related problems of the various phases involved in integration of the Aussiedler in this country.

Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation of this article.

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