Russian-Germans Belong to Germany,
to Baden-Württemberg. They Belong in
the Midst of our Society.
National Convention 1994
Tuefel, Minister-President Erwin. "Russian-Germans Belong to Germany, to Baden-Württemberg. They Belong in the Midst of our Society." Volk auf dem Weg, July 1994.
Obviously the trustees of the fate of our recent resettlers do not
think much of ready-made speeches, known by the name "Spicker"
[larder?? as in larding the meat with salt pork? translator's note]
and even more aptly designated with the Russian "Spargalki"
from the vocabulary of Peter, the Great. Dr Waffenschmidt has demonstrated
that again and again from Bonn, and it was still more impressively
demonstrated in Stuttgart on the 18th of June by our most important
Swabians from the nation and the state capital -to the joy of the
participants and to the terror of the journalists, who like to copy
out speeches in order to more easily separate the wheat from the chaff.
The editors hope soon better to introduce to its readers, domestic
and foreign, the mayor of the state capital, Stuttgart, Manfred
Rommel, than would be suitable in a short report to the national
convention of 1994.
Minister-President Erwin Teufel indeed has held his position "only"
three and -one-half years; our readers are however well-acquainted
with him: in 1991 he wrote the forward to our homeland book; in
1992 he expressed his attachment to our countrymen as patron and
keynote speaker of the 23rd national convention of the Landsmannschaft
of the Germans from Russia, and in 1993 we were again able to read
from his pen in our homeland book:
"The Russian-Germans are a people whose history is at the
same time turbulent and moving, that, however, can equally look
back to a stable tradition. To this tradition belong centuries-old
values striven for and lived for, for freedom and self-government,
tolerance and partnership. Above all they were people from Baden
and from Württemberg, who about two centuries ago followed
the call of Russian czars and produced blooming, predominantly agricultural
settlements and a rich culture. ...”
And in his keynote speech at our national convention of 1994 he
I want to tell you why I am not doing this out of a sense of duty
- because I am attached to the people who have come to us from Russia,
because I know about their fate, about the great suffering that
every family has suffered, because I wish to provide a little restitution
for the bitter injustice that has happened to you and to your ancestors,
because I know about your origins in Baden and Württemberg,
and for this reason greet you as my countrymen.
I wish you to feel happy in Baden-Württemberg, whether you
have found here in your old homeland a new homeland or whether you
have come to Stuttgart to this national convention of the Germans
from Russia. I bid you a hearty welcome in Baden-Wurttemberg.
I wish to place a motto above your national convention: "Be
at home in foreign lands, but never let your homeland become foreign."
Your ancestors had this motto as a goal and lived it. Above all
it was people from Baden and Württemberg who about two centuries
ago had followed the call of Russian czars -I am thinking of Catherine
the Great and Alexander I -and went to that country.
They emigrated there, not out of love of adventure or to become
rich, but because their homeland could not support them. And they
built a life in their new surroundings. As farmers they worked the
ground with industry and knowledge. Their cultural landscape was
characterized by creative energy and a wealth of inventiveness;
and they made the economy, science and culture bloom. More than
300 mother colonies were set up, from which in turn over 3,200 daughter
colonies developed. An original 100,000 German immigrants became
an ethnic group of over 2 million people. These people became at
home there -without forgetting their origins -they did not let their
original home become foreign to them.
And now that you have returned to your ancestral home, after suffering
sorrows, some of which were unspeakable, then you should know, that
you belong to us. Therefore, fifteen years ago, the state of Baden-Württemberg
took over as patron of all Russian-Germans. For this reason I am
able to greet you in your home- and patron land.
And I greet you as a patron of this traditional national convention
here in Stuttgart, a convention during which you have been renewing
your acquaintance with your patron land, Baden-Württemberg,
and with our fatherland, Germany. I gladly acknowledge that your
fate, your origins and your future are particularly important to
me. I would to speak with you about this – about your origins
and about your future.
I know about your fate and know what the Russian-Germans have endured.
They have suffered because they were German, because they acknowledged
their origin, their language, their culture, their ancestors and
That determines my relationship to you and that must determine
the relationship of the Germans and of Germany to the Germans in
Russia and to the Germans from Russia. Therefore I and my party
have, against all pressure, supported article 116 of the basic law
and the right of acceptance in our country.
It is the only just, humane reply and is expressed by the membership
of the Landsmannschaft in response to your situation and to your
suffering. The sacrifice of your ancestors cannot have been in vain.
As a symbol of the fate of many Russian-Germans I should like to
remind you of a Bible that can be seen in the House of the Germans
from Russia. This Bible was acquired in 1781 by a family Tröster
from Grunbach and went to Russia with the family. At the end of
the 19th century it came to America during the great wave of emigration
from Russia. From here it returned to Stuttgart in 1978. Like this
Bible, through many forced journeys and detours, many of you have
returned to the land of your fathers and mothers. After flight and
expulsion and emigration we wish to offer you a new home here in
For that reason, already in 1979, now 15 years ago, the state,
out of close ties of history and lineage, took over the patronage
of the Landsmannschaft of the Germans from Russia. Therefore, we
can celebrate a small anniversary this year. With this patronage
we wish to:
--strengthen our connection with your ethnic group and your fate,
--effectively support you in the conservation, care and further
development of your cultural wealth and
--strengthen and consolidate the cohesiveness of the Russian-Germans.
to strengthen this patronage idea. Our state has always tried hard
to give life to the patronage in a number of ways. It pleases me
greatly that you know how to value these endeavors and have expressed
this in the motto of your current national convention. This national
convention is the high point of the annual schedule of your Landsmannschaft.
The cultivation of your homeland culture and the remembrance of
the life in the old homeland, have a very particular meaning. Our
state supports this cultural work.
Out of this convention we are granting to the Landsmannschaft of
the Germans from Russia an annual institutional support. Here in
Stuttgart we have helped to found and to furnish the House of the
Germans from Russia. During the years of its existence it has developed
into an important center for the cultural work of the Landsmannschaft.
We have set up for it at the University of Freiburg its own research
facility for the history and culture of the Germans, and have had
much success in our state with our exhibit about the history and
culture of the Russian Germans. Soon our state office in Bonn will
open an exhibit consisting of works by Russian-German artists. During
the past year the state has for the first time promoted the border-crossing
cultural work of the Landsmannschaft by means of support for sending
literature to the German minority in the successor states of the
former Soviet Union.
The cultural heritage of the Germans from Russia belongs to the
intellectual-cultural fortune of our whole people and is an indelible
part of the whole German culture. We wish to preserve this heritage,
so that you may pass it on to your own children and grandchildren
and all may pass it on to the upcoming generation in our country.
The first goal of German politics is to help the Germans in Russia,
in the Ukraine, in Kasachstan, to conduct a life that is worthy
of human beings. We do not wish to tear 'anyone out of his accustomed
surroundings and bring him here. But we wish that all of the Germans
in these countries will be able to make their own decisions as to
where they wish to fashion their future. For this reason we help
them where they are and for this reason we do not slam the door
shut here. Against all criticism, that is the attitude of Chancellor
Kohl, the attitude of the national government, the attitude of State
Secretary Waffenschmidt and my conviction. These political views
are not undisputed. They are disputed in politics. They are disputed
by a part of our citizenry. But they are the only politics that
will be just to the origins of the Germans in Russia and to their
This also applies to the War Results Settlement Act that went into
force on January 1, 1993. The result is a political compromise that
admittedly produced certain limitations, above all delays, that
however gave great consideration to the most important wishes of
those most concerned, the resettlers from Russia and the successor
states of the Soviet Union.
The integration of the resettlers coming to us is being supported
and promoted by the state in many ways. The governmental help, however
cannot do the job alone. It is necessary for our people to help
and this must happen. I know, that particularly the members of the
Landsmannschaft, both active and honorary helpers are making outstanding
contributions to this large endeavor.
I am convinced, that the Russian-Germans enrich our country.
They bring valuable virtues with them, such as deep religiosity,
pronounced family feeling, readiness to help their neighbors, undemanding
natures and industry. Let us all therefore not become tired of seeking
to promote understanding among the people for our countrymen and
to make it possible that the countrymen that are coming to us will
find an atmosphere of solidarity and willingness to take them in.
(Further points of the minister-president's speech, that
particularly concern the endowment of a culture prize for
Russian-Germans and the situation of our countrymen who still
live in the CIS, will be reported in the next issue of Volk auf