New book on genocide of Germans in Russia from
May 25, 2000
The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection is pleased to announce
the new book The Open
Wound: The Genocide of German Ethnic Minorities in Russia and the
Soviet Union, 1915-1949 and Beyond by Samuel D. Sinner,
doctoral student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The book
uncovers important documentation on the fate of thousands of ethnic
Germans many with relatives in North America.
Author Samuel Sinner writes in the Foreword: "I would like to
dedicate this book to my relative Peter Sinner, Saratov and Leiningrad
professor, poet, and early 1930s Stalin victim, as well as my late
father's uncle and aunt Joshua and Pauline Davidian, whose Armenian
people lost an even greater percentage to genocide than did the
In the Preface, Eric J. Schmaltz writes: "Old wounds may heal,
but scars remain. Let us not entirely forget the dark and painful
history of Russian-German people. Perhaps only in this way will
the last survivors of the Lenin-Stalin years break their historical
shackles and find the strength and courage to carry on."
Undoubtedly, the twentieth century - the so-called "century of
progress" - was an unprecedented era of blood and mass murder. The
Nazi and Soviet genocides killed tens of millions. Samuel Sinner,
a Ph.D. student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a specialist
in modern history and languages, has just finished the first full-length
study published in America on the genocide of ethnic German groups
in the Soviet Union.
The Open Wound a dual-language volume in English and German,
carefully and critically examines all the available statistical
data from Soviet archives released after Glasnost relating to the
number of Russian Germans who perished under the Soviets. Based
on these and other archival sources from Germany and America, Sinner
concludes that between 1915 and 1949, about one million Russian
Germans needlessly perished under the last Russian Tsar, Lenin and
Stalin. The deaths resulted mainly from mass deportations, executions,
man-made famines, and enforced labor in the Gulag. The book also
presents numerous gripping eyewitness accounts from Russian-German
survivors and genocide victims. These first-hand reports present
heart-rending and often near-apocalyptic scenes of mass death and
near complete extermination.
The Open Wound recognizes that the Russian Germans were
not the only ethnic group which suffered in the Soviet Union. Unfortunately,
nearly every ethnic group, including the Russian majority, was repressed
under Lenin and Stalin for a variety of reasons, including the volatile
combination of political ideology and traditional racial conflicts.
This shows that the recent genocidal events in Bosnia are merely
the repetition of an old theme. Sinner is himself a Russian German
and so concentrates on his own group, telling its tragic story.
His work assembles the vast scientific statistical documentation
on the mass death of the Russian Germans, but also puts a human
face on the repression.
Many Russian Germans will discover in this book the names of familiar
ancestral villages, as well as those of their own families and relatives.
Non-Russian Germans who read the book will also identify with
and be touched by a suffering that reaches across ethnic lines and
which can be humanly understood and felt. The silenced victims of
starvation, shooting and death by forced labor are given a voice
to speak again, telling us their story. This book makes known their
suffering, ensuring it is never forgotten by relatives nor by the
The book is introduced by two lengthy and copiously documented
essays totaling 65 pages by the world-renowned Slavist and historian
Dr. Gerd Stricker of Zollikon/Zurich Switzerland and the historian
Eric J. Schmaltz, a Ph.D. candidate at the History Department of
the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Samuel Sinner is completing doctoral studies in Modern Languages
at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His dissertation will be
on Peter Sinner, Volga German author and Stalin victim. Sinner received
his Master of Arts Degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
in 1998, with his major field of German language and literature.
The American Historical Society of Germans from Russia publishes
in 2000, Letters from Hell: An Index to Famine Letters from Die
Welt-Post, 1920-1925; 1930-1934, compiled by Samuel Sinner.
He has prepared other major articles, presentations and translations
on the Germans from Russia.
The Open Wound book is available from the Germans from
Russia Heritage Collection, NDSU Libraries, PO Box 5599, Fargo,
ND 58105-5599. The price of the book is $35 softcover and $55 hardcover
plus postage and handling for each book ($4 for shipping in the
U.S., $6 for shipping to Canada). All orders must be in U.S. dollars.
Make check or money order payable to NDSU Library. More information
can be seen at the following web page: http:/library.ndsu.edu/grhc/order/general/sinner.html.