Settlement Areas for Germans on the Volga Identified

A Beginning in two National Districts/ Yeltsin and Krawtschuk/ Congress in Moscow/ By Reinhard Olt.

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

"Settlement Areas for Germans on the Volga Identified." 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 Fomer Soviet Union: 1763 - 1997
Bells Are Ringing Again in Omsk, Western Siberia

Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of 8/28/1941
Manifesto of Catherine, The Great
My Homeland
To my Mother Tongue

KAMYSCHIN, March 19. On the subject of the former Volga Republic (ASSRdWD), visitors from Bonn have looked into the possibilities for the return of Russian-German. At one time these lived not only in that place but also in Ukraine, in Bessarabia, in the Crimea and in the Caucasus. In 1941, under Stalin's orders, they were deported to Siberia and to the middle Asiatic republics. Events in Moscow and Kiev pre-empted the study trip of members of the "Association for Germans Abroad' (AGA), who were probing the political terrain more or less under instructions from the Bonn authority concerned with the Russian-Germans.

So, Russian President Yeltsin had already signed a decree at the end of February "Concerning immediate regulations for the rehabilitation of the Russian-Germans." It contained a provision promising Russian-Germans who are willing to return, a national German district (Rayon), in the region of Saratov and a national German area (Okrug), in the region of Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad). Both of these autonomous regions shall be the basis for the creation of a self-governing German structure by means of gradually rounding-off the area. Yeltsin wishes to leave the setting of the borders to an organizing committee of Russian-Germans and Russians. There are nine members from Saratov and twelve from Volgograd; seven of them are Russian-German. A mixed German-Russian governmental commission, to which, among others State Secretary Waffenschmidt of the Bonn Ministry of the Interior belongs, is to watch over the progress of the project. In the meantime, in Kiev, President Krawtschuk, so-to-say "in competition" with Yeltsin, had invited Germans to return to their former settlement areas. He set up a fund from which their resettlement from the East of the former Soviet Union is to be paid.

In the restoration of autonomous German regions, one gets ones bearings in Russia from ASSRdWD. In 1941 this was virtually canceled, but never canceled consistent with international law. In Ukraine, in contrast, a similar German sovereignty did not exist. The maximalists among the Russian-Germans in the association, "Wiedergeburt" headed by Heinrich Groth, have made the demand for the restoration of the historic and psychologically symbolic Volga Republic in the form of an ultimatum, and if denied have threatened organized emigration. The organization is expected to pass a corresponding executive resolution this weekend in Moscow at their "Congress of the Germans." The opposition organization of the "Stayers," {those staying on} is unhappy that Waffenschmidt will appear at "Groth's Congress." Their speakers, led by Peter Falk, Hugo Wormsbächer and Jurij Haar, suspect that those Russian-Germans who are prepared to stay might understand this as a sign that Bonn is in favor of the politics of emigration.

The proponents off the politics of staying, who have joined together in an "Association of the Germans in the Countries of the CIS", recently gathered their Saratov members around them and discussed with them questions of a return to the Volga. At that time it was discovered that there are numerous inquiries from Siberia and Central Asia about resettling on the Volga. At that, both of the Saratov regional organizations of those determined to stay, "Heimat, (Home)" (the political arm), and "Hoffnung, (Hope)" (the economic arm), together with the VDA, negotiated with the regional administration for several days and received its agreement for the establishment of settlement areas. Something similar occurred in Volgograd. As the protocols show, one concentrated mainly on the questions of which areas, of what size and quality are available and whether Germans already live there. An additional criterion concerned the attitude of the indigenous population towards the settlement of Germans in their midst. For the region, Saratow, the first choice was Sochos 23 ("Burnij") in the district Engels, still under military rule. In an area of 250 square kilometers 20,000 hektars of agriculturally useful lands are available. Previously noted were three agricultural businesses in the district Marx: Firmanowo with more than 27,000 hectares of farmland, a 4,000 hectar holding of the firm Sepo for the use of "free German farming" and the firm, Rodon, which wishes to offer 1,260 hectares, (3,113 acres) for the same purpose. On the west side of the Volga, north of Kamyschin, one finds the expansive fields of the agricultural estates, Dobrinski, Umetowski, Kotowskij, Ilowlinski and Bujeratschni.

In the Volgograd region Germans may be settled in the districts Kamyschin, Kotowo, Star Poltawka and Pallasowka, as well as in the region around Lake Elton. In setting the borders of the national district one is being careful, particularly in the district Kamyschin, to put the settlement areas around places in which a large proportion o f the population is already German. These are the settlements Dobinka (47 percent German), Nagornyj (52 percent), Kukaninka (46 percent), Grasnjuchna (54 percent), Wodoburjatschni (32 percent) and Umjot (35 percent). One expects to begin immediately in the district Kotowo, particularly around Nowonikolajewka (56 percent German). The grounds of the agricultural-industrial holdings, Kksnoedkij, Posewnoj and Romaschkowskij, which are under consideration, share common borders and are on the territory of the former Volga Republic. In the district Stara Poltawka it is a question of the towns Werchnij Jeruslan (46 percent German), as well as Schpaki (47 percent), in the district Pallosowka around the village Romaschkij (53 percent).

On the other hand, the region around Lake Elton does not belong to the former ASSRdWD. Considering its low population density (three inhabitants per square kilometer) and its position directly next to the uninhabited military exercise area, Kapustin Jar, it nevertheless offers possibilities for creating a national German district, irrespective of whether the part of Kapustin Jar offered by Yeltsin will actually be added to it in the end. The entire territory including the northern part of Kapustin Jar consists of 2,400 square kilometers; excluding Kapustin Jar it is composed of the holdings Wengelowski, Put Ilitscha and Eltonskij. With the approval of the population, the regional administration will secure its gradual extension including access to the Volga across the military grounds and towards the District Bykowo.

Subject to agreement by Bonn, all plans shall be immediately put into practice by the German federal government. In the middle and long-termone foresees additional structural help. Saratov and Volgograd wish to tie the entire Volga region closer together economically. The Germans, insofar as they come, are expected to play a "central role". Saaratov should again become the intellectual and cultural center of the Germans on the Volga. Those are grandiose plans. But a promising start has been made.


60. Decree of Boris Yeltsin, President of the Russian Federation "About immediate measures for the rehabilitation of the Russian-Germans (end of February, 1992): District and Okrug (County). FAZ 20.3.92



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

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