Manifesto of Catherine, The Great

Volk auf dem Weg: Deutsche in Rußland und in der GUS: 1763 - 1997

"Manifesto of Catherine, The Great." Volk auf dem Weg, 1997.

Translation from German to English by Ingeborg W. Smith, Western Springs, Illinois

A People on the Move: Germans in Russia and in the Former Soviet Union: 1763 - 1997
Bells Are Ringing Again in Omsk, Western Siberia

Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of 8/28/1941
My Homeland
Settlement Areas for Germans on the Volga Identified
To my Mother Tongue

We, Catharina the Second, by God's Grace Czarina and ruler of all the Russians, in Moscow, Kiev, Vladimir, Novgorod, Czarina of Casan, Czarina of Astrachan, Czarina of Siberia, Mistress of Pleskau and Grand Duchess of Smolensk, Duchess of Estonia and Lithuania, Carelen, Twer, Jugoria, Permia, Wiatka, Bulgaria and others; Mistress and Grand Duchess of Novgorod of the Low Lands, of Tschernikov, Resan, Rostov, Jaroslav, Belooseria, Udoria, Obdoria, Condinia and Commander of the entire North Side and Mistress of the Iverian country, of the Cartalinian and Grusinian czars and of the Cabardinian land, of the Tscherkassian and Goritsian rulers and Hereditary Mistress and Ruler of others.

As the great extent of the lands of our empire is sufficiently well known to us: so we acknowledge that not a small number of such regions still lie fallow, that could be advantageously and easily most usefully utilized to be populated and lived in. Most of these lands have hidden within their bowels an inexhaustible wealth of all kinds of valuable ores and metals; and because the same are richly provided with woodlands, rivers, lakes and seas situated for commerce, so they are also uncommonly well-situated for the furtherance and increase of many kinds of manufacturers, factories and for various other establishments. This gave us the impetus for the distribution of the manifesto, which was published on December 4, of the past year 1762, for the use of all of our faithful subjects. However, as We in the same manifesto have only transmitted a summary of our wishes to those foreigners who might have the desire to settle in Our Empire: therefore, for a better discussion of the same we order the following prescription which We herewith most solemnly set down, and bid it be fulfilled by being proclaimed to everyone.


We shall allow all foreigners to come into Our Empire, in order to take up residence in all provinces wherever it is agreeable to each of them.


Such strangers may after their arrival not only announce themselves in Our Residence at the Tutel-Chancellory instituted for this purpose, but also in the other border towns of Our Empire in accordance with their comfort, at the governors, or where such are not available at the most dignified commanders of the city.


As, among those foreigners desiring the settle in Russia, there will also be those that do not have sufficient funds to defray the necessary cost of travel; those may report for help to the ministers and residents at our embassies. These shall not only send them to Russia at our expense without objection, but shall also provide them with money for the journey.


As soon as such foreigners shall have arrived in Our Residence and have announced themselves at the Tutel-Chancellory or alternatively in a border town; so shall the same be detained that one may determine their real objective, what it is that they actually wish, and whether they wish to be listed among the businessmen or guilds and want to become citizens and also in which city; or whether they have the desire to settle on free and fertile land in entire colonies and lands to farm or to take up all kinds of useful pursuits.

Our appreciation is extended to Ingeborg W. Smith for translation of this article.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller