Germans in Russia are Having Tough Times, German
Wood, Carter. "Germans in Russia are Having Tough Times, German Researcher Says." Grand Forks Herald, 8 October 1993.
BISMARCK - Despite political uncertainty, economic hardships and
heavy emigration, ethnic German communities in Russia will survive
into the next century, an expert on their culture says.
The German government is contributing to that survival by restricting
immigration from the former Soviet Union, said Peter Hilkes of the
East European Institute of Munich, Germany.
At the same time, the German government is offering economic and
cultural programs to make staying in Russia more attractive, he
Hilkes is traveling the region to do research, give lectures and
build ties with the strong German from Russia community in North
Dakota. He speaks at 9 a.m. Oct. 14 at the St. Michaels Catholic
church basement in Grand Forks.
Hilkes is a consultant with the federal German government on projects
to aid the remaining 2 million ethnic Germans living in the former
Soviet Union, concentrated in Russia, Siberia, and Kazahkstan. Germans
and other ethnic groups were forcibly relocated there during the
Conditions in those regions have prompted a flood of emigration
to Germany, totaling more than 600,000 ethnic Germans since 1990.
Along with refugees from Third World countries, the influx has
put heavy pressure on a reunified Germany and economy suffering
from a deep recession and high unemployment. Many Germans resent
the immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
"In many cases, he is treated as a foreigner. Hes not
treated as a German, but as a Russian," Hilkes said. "He
is speaking Russian, He has quite different outlook. He is behaving
not according to the German style and mentality and so on and so
In reaction, the German government began in July limiting immigration
of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe to 225,000 a year. In addition,
authorities demand a much higher standard of proof of ethnic identity.
The law makes it much more difficult for the offspring of mixed
marriages between a German and Russian to immigrate, Hilkes said.
Meanwhile, Germany is working with governments in the former Soviet
Union to build housing and develop employment for the remaining
ethnic German communities. Cultural programs and German-language
newspapers are financed.
All projects also must involve the local Russians and other ethnic
groups, Hilkes said.
"You cant do any program for the Germans excluding
their neighbors. Its not possible," he said. "You
provoke ethnic conflict if you exclude somebody."
The best chance for cultural survival lies in Siberia, Hilkes
said. While Russian President Boris Yeltsin has promised the re-establishment
of an autonomous German settlement in the Volga, Hilkes said few
ethnic Germans support the plan.
Its also unlikely Germans will gain self-governing authority
in the Kaliningrad portion of Russia, Germans have settled in the
region, formerly part of East Prussia located between Poland and
Lithuania on the Baltic.
Reprinted with permission of the Grand Forks Herald.