German Russians on the Front Page of the New York
"German Russians on the Front Page of the New York Times." California District Council Report, Spring 2002.
SHIFT IS DECREED
Soviet Takes Sweeping Step to Forestall a Fifth Column
NAZI FOMENTATION FEARED
Action Impelled by Failure of District to Report Any Dissident
By Cyrus I. Sulzberger, wireless to the New York Times
MOSCOW, Monday, September 8 In a sweeping move designed
to obviate permanently any danger of a fifth-column movement in
the Volga German Republic, which has housed hundreds of thousands
of Germans since the latter part of the Eighteenth Century when
Catherine the Great invited in settlers from South Germany, the
Soviet Supreme Council has signed a decree ordering the resettlement
of that population in Siberia.
This predominately farming folk will be moved eastward as soon
as possible. A decree signed by President Mikhail I. Kalinin on
August 28 indicates its obvious purpose by stating:
According to reliable information received by the military
authorities, thousands and tens of thousands of diversionists and
spies among the German population of the Volga are prepared to cause
explosions in these regions at a signal from Germany.
Easternmost German Colony
The Volga settlement is the easternmost colony of Germans. The
accent of the Volga settlers, however, is markedly differently from
that of the present Reich.
When this war started there was considerable speculation as to
how extensively the Nazis were seeking secretly to organize dissent
among this racial element. President Kalinins decree now indicates
that the government is taking no chances.
Russia watched with interest the uprisings of German settlers in
the Yugoslav Banat during the Nazi invasion last April. Although
the German Armys drive toward the Volga is a tremendous distance
from its possible eventual objectives, it is clear that steps toward
preventing present or future troubles are already being taken.
The decree, whose existence was made public today, is based on
the theory that possible German efforts to muddy the waters in the
Volga Republic might necessitate a Soviet action against the entire
population in that region and that therefore to avoid such a predicament,
it is more advisable to resettle that population on Siberian land.
This area is not only far from any danger of such interference but
It is stated that no Germans from the Volga have reported the existence
of the purportedly large numbers of dissidents who have been uncovered.
If diversionist acts took place, the decree said, under
orders from Germany by German dissidents or spies in the Volga German
Republic or in neighboring regions, and bloodshed resulted, the
soviet government would be forced under martial law to adopt reprisal
measures against the entire Volga German population.
In order to avoid such an undesirable occurrence and to forestall
serious bloodshed, the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the U.S.S.R.
has found it necessary to resettle the entire German population
of the Volga regions to other districts under the condition that
the resettled peoples be allotted land and given State aid to settle
in the new regions. The resettled Germans will be given land in
the Novosibirsk and Omsk districts, in the Altai region of the Kazakhstan
Republic and neighboring localities rich in land.
In connection with this, the National Defense Council is
instructed to resettle as soon as possible all Volga Germans who
will be given land estates in new regions. Nothing has been
said about whether the regions evacuated by these Germans will be
settled by new inhabitants, but because of the great industrial
and agricultural importance of the Volga settlement, it is most
likely that this will take place. Hundreds of thousands of persons
have been removed successfully from White Russia and the Western
Ukraine and it is not impossible that some of them will be deposited
in the Volga strip.
MOSCOW, Monday, September 8 (AP) A mass movement into exile
in Siberia was ordered today for the heavily German-derived population
of the Volga area, because of its alleged readiness to sabotage
Russias war effort.
The German Volga territory is an autonomous Soviet Republic in
European Russia, north of the Caspian Sea.
Of its population of 571,089 in 1926, about 67 percent were Germans.
The republic covers some 10,329 square miles, about three-fourths
lying on the left bank of the Volga River and the remainder on the
The German population grew from 27,000 colonists settled there
in 1760-61 [sic] at the invitation of Catherine the Great by special
manifesto when the population was so much less than today that the
government was concerned about the development of the uncultivated
Reprinted with permission of California District Council