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From the Establishment of Autonomy to the Time of Banishment and Deprivation of Rights
 
Becker, Heinrich. "From the Establishment of Autonomy to the Time of Banishment and Deprivation of Rights." Volk auf dem Weg, June 2009, 16.

This translation from the original German-language text to American English is provided by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado the respected periodical "Globus"


Prof. Dr. Hartmut Froeschle, a literary researcher with the Gustav-Siewerth-Akademie (near Waldshut-Tiengen, Baden-Wuerttemberg), subjected the latest Heimatbuch of the Landsmannschaft, which we published in December, 2008 under the title "Von der Autonomiegruendung zur Verbannung und Entrechtung in Russland," to a critical review that, happily for us, turned out to be very positive.
 
As part of the series of the commendable Heimatbuecher that are published by the Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland, special volumes appear from time to time to address specific themes. The latest one, published by Alfred Eisfeld and with contributions from ten historian specialists, deals with two important and tragic periods in the history of the German-Russians and carries the title "Von der Autonomiegruendung zur Verbannung und Entrechtung in Russland . "Die Jahre 1918 und 1941 bis 1948 in der Geschichte der Deutschen aus Russland." [From the Establishment of Autonomy to the Time of Banishment and Deprivation of Rights. 1918 and 1941 to 1948 in the History of the Germans from Russia]."
 
In the preface, the publisher emphasizes the fact that the German-Russians in the Soviet Union were quite literally robbed of the knowledge of their own history: "Through the deportation of the German population from the European portion of the country to Siberia and Kazakhstan, and the dissolution of the ASSR {Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic] of Volga-Germans, not only the well-developed settlements and the social and familial environment, but also the totality of the collective property and educational institutions, and for many, in fact, the very opportunity to attend general education institutions, were utterly destroyed." Not until the time of Gorbachev, toward the end of the 1980s, would the "taboo-ing" of the German-Russian fate in the Soviet Union gradually be lifted.
 
Eisfeld expresses his appreciation for the fact that, since the early 1990s, especially younger researchers in the former USSR have assumed with remarkable degree of effort the task of researching the "blank spots" in the history of the German-Russians. Numerous investigations into local and regional events, into document editions from regional State Archives and written memories comprise to a great part the sources that were used by the authors for their articles in this particular volume. The bibliography of this collective volume cites, e.g., eleven volumes of Russian-language contributions to conferences on the history of the Volga-Germans that were held in Moscow between 1994 and 2008, plus six volumes containing the results of conferences held in Dnyepropetrovsk between 1996 and 2006 on the history of the Germans in Ukraine.
 
In Part I of the book, the year 1918 is at the center, as it is marked by efforts toward autonomy in the Volga region (Viktor Herdt) as well as in Ukraine and in Siberia (A. Eisfeld, Peter Wiebe); and as described by the publisher and A. Beznosov, amid the struggle toward survival in that turbulent time, German self-protective organizations were being formed in Ukraine.
 
The main characteristics of the span of years between 1941 and 1948 (Part II) were banishment and deprivation of rights.One article describes the "repatriation" of German-Russians who had reached Germany, which for most of them did not mean a return to their homes, but forced labor in a foreign environment. One article each is devoted to the fate of women and children under the conditions of deportation, forced labor, and "special settlements;" another author reports on the changes in 1948 in the laws governing the "special settlers," which formed the basis for the forced resettlements (with strict duty to report) of the German-Russians. Very interesting and written fluidly are the contributions by Viktor Krieger: "Deportation of the German-Russians, 1941 - 1945 and its Consequences" and "Assignment to Forced Labor camps." (Krieger is also a contributor to the topic "Volga-German Literature," which I concentrated on in the Yearbook for International Germanistics, the third edition of which will appear shortly.)
 
The book is rounded out in Part III by three experiential reports, a listing of the literature, as well as a register of persons and a geographical register.
 
The authors of these highly academic articles, all based on a broad set of sources, are all concerned with exactitude, and thus their articles contain many details that at times makes their reading not so simple. Despite that, this collective volume will be rather instructive not only for specialists who desire to become familiar with the current state of research, but also for all who are interested in the tragic fate of a historically very important German ethnic group from abroad. In any case, this volume belongs in any school library.  

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

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