August 28, 1941 - Important Date
in Germans in Russia History
August 28, 2002
Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland, Stuttgart,
Translation from German to English by Alex
Herzog, Boulder, Colorado
Whenever there is mention of a truly historically
significant date for Germans from Russia, it can only be that
of August 28, 1941. No other date has touched this entire ethnic
German group so directly and so exclusively. It was on August
28, 1941 when a ukase by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR announced
the total banishment of Germans in Russia.
There certainly occurred other numerous tragic events
in the Soviet Union preceding and following that date. Two with
the most serious consequences were the "October" Revolution
of November 7, 1917 and the expansion of World War II into the
Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. However, the significance of these
two dates differs fundamentally from that of August 28, 1941.
The October Revolution and the German-Russian war
clearly affected all ethnic groups in the Soviet Union, but the
ukase of August 28, 1941 was directed against one single ethnic
group, namely, all citizens of the Soviet Union with German ethnicity.
Although naming only the Germans in the Volga region,
who in 1941 made up about 27 percent of all Germans in the Soviet
Union, the ukase in reality became a deathblow to all German-Russians.
Even so, one should not forget that the campaign of persecution
and annihilation of Germans in the Soviet Union had already begun
long before August 28, 1941.
On August 28, 1941 the Soviet system finally, and
quite openly, dropped all pretenses when, without any basis whatsover,
it accused the largest homogeneous ethnic German group in the
Soviet, the Volga-Gemans, of "concealing the existence of
thousands upon thousands of subversives and spies in the Volga
area" working on behalf of Germany, and when it deported
them all to Siberia and Kazakhstan.
Following August 28, 1941, all who were recognized
as Germans in the Soviet Union were forcibly banished. German
party functionaries as well as German workers and farmers -- all
were treated equally, all were exiled "in perpetuity."
The designation "German" became the common Mark of Cain.
There were no paragraphs distinguishing between "better"
and "worse" Germans.
Part of the tragic history of the German-Russians
is the fact that the world hardly took note of their fate. Even
in Germany, efforts toward solving the problems of Germans in
Russia only rarely appeared to be of any significance. And in
the Soviet Union? Gorbachev, in 1987, referred to them as "our
Germans." Only after realizing that his entire, gigantic
land of the Soviet
Union offered no single place to contain two millions of "his
Germans" did he begin to change his attitude. But the train
of emigration by Germans in Russia back to the land of their ancestors
had become unstoppable. They were the last ethnic group in Eastern
and Southern Europe to have had, and continue to have, the opportunity
Today, Germans from Russia cannot and do not wish
to believe that the German populace does not desire to have anything
to do with their former brothers and sisters. They ascribe this
problem exclusively one-sided reporting by the media and to inadequate
information from politicians.
The Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland [loosely
translated, "Cultural Association of Germans from Russia"]
would be a poor trustee of its ethnic group if it did not continually
point out the terrible fate of all those German-Russians who were
driven from their homes. For us, August 28 is an annual occasion
of great significance, when the Landsmannschaft reminds the
world emphatically of the fateful consequences of the war on the
German-Russians, a fate which they incurred through no fault of
The Landsmannschaft has little sympathy for official policies
which do not agree with our understanding of this situation. We
appeal to all democratic forces in Germany to assist us in the
constant reappraisal of this terrible chapter of German and Russian
history. Finally, we hope that even in the year 2002 we are not
too late in tackling this issue.
Our appreciation is extend to Alex Herzog
for the translation of the media release.