What is the Landsmannschaft der Deutschen
aus Russland e.V.?
What is their purpose?
What have they accomplished?
Translation from German to English from the publication Information für Spätaussiedler aus der ehemaligen Sowjetunion published by the Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland, Stuttgart, Germany, 1998.
The Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland e.V. was founded by German Russians in 1950. Financially and in its working methods, it is independent of governments, administrative bodies and political parties. It is not bound by religious affiliations but open to members of all religions. The Landsmannschaft is set up democratically: Countrymen in local chapters elect delegates; the delegates elect regional and national chairmen. The advisory board with representatives of various denominations and specialists advise the national chairman.
The Landsmannschaft pursues only charitable projects, i.e., its work is not set on financial gain. Any profits are used in accordance with statutes. The coworkers of the Landsmannschaft in the national, regional and local chapters basically work in a volunteer capacity. Financial resources come almost exclusively from membership dues and donations of members.
The Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland e.V. stands by the Charta der deutschen Heimatvertriebenen of August 5, 1950.
Excerpt from the Charta der deutschen Heimatvertriebenen
After careful consideration and examination of their conscience, the chosen representatives of millions of displaced persons conscious of their responsibility before God and people, conscious of their affiliation with a Christian-occidental society, conscious of their German origin and recognizing the common task of all European people have decided to make a solemn statement which lays down responsibilities and rights which German displaced persons consider as their basic law and as absolutely essential for bringing about a free and united Europe. They made this statement to the German people and to the whole world.
1. We displaced persons renounce revenge and retribution. We are serious about this decision and consider it sacred in memory of the continuous suffering which the last century in particular has brought on humanity.
2. We will support with full effort every beginning which is set on creating a better Europe where people can live without fear and constraint.
3. We will participate in rebuilding Germany and Europe through hard, incessant work...
We feel called to demand that the right for a homeland as one of the fundamental rights to humanity given by God is recognized and realized... The peoples in the world are to feel jointly responsible for the fate of displaced persons as one of the worst affected by the suffering in this era. The people are to act according to their Christian duties and according to their conscience... We call on all peoples and people who are willing to lend a hand so that for all of us the way for a better future out of guilt, misfortune, suffering, poverty and misery is found.
Since its founding, the Landsmannschaft sees itself as the representative of interests, as a relief organization and as a cultural society of all German Russians in the whole world. Germans who live in the former Soviet Union and who are denied national representation are included. As long as they don't have this opportunity, the Landsmannschaft will speak for them and intercede on their behalf especially regarding the right to free departure, to exercise their religion, free use of their mother tongue, to cultural autonomy and to right the wrongs suffered in 1941 and later.
Excerpt of the statutes of the Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland e.V.
§ 3 section 2. Goal and purpose of the Landsmannschaft are:
a) Promoting unification of families, and departure and admission of all Germans and their family members who want to leave the former Soviet Union;
b) Advising and serving ethnic German emigrants, late ethnic German emigrants, displaced persons, prisoners of war, war victims and surviving dependents of the former Soviet Union in all aspects of legal, social and economic integration;
c) Promoting linguistic, cultural-ethnic and religious identity of Germans in the former Soviet republics;
d) Supporting youths through linguistic, educational, occupational, social and cultural integration;
e) Promoting the unity of the Landsmannschaft nationally and abroad, and strengthening a shared identity with all social classes of the Federal Republic of Germany;
f) Spreading and deepening knowledge about the former areas of origin;
g) Supporting research projects in the areas of science, ethnography and culture;
h) Speaking out for the attainment of human rights and the right for self determination of all peoples
3. The statutory purpose is attained especially by:
a) Protecting and representing social, economic and home-political interests of members and countrymen within the framework of the law in view of the government and legislative authorities, authorities, courts and the public, if the society considers it necessary;
b) Collaborating with all appropriate authorities and other institutions on a national, regional and local level
c) Collaborating with all German Russian societies nationally and abroad, and with the Kulturrat der Deutschen aus Russland (KDR) e.V. in Stuttgart;
d) Collaborating with appropriate teaching and research institutes
e) Realization of travel exhibits to present culture and history especially the fate of all German Russians during war and as a result of war;
f) Publishing to record, secure and care for the German Russian heritage;
g) Erecting and maintaining monuments and commemorative memorials.
The society succeeded through unrelenting efforts of its many members in integrating materially, culturally and socially German Russians who had arrived during the war. The Landsmannschaft, through numerous petitions, letters, telephone calls, auditions with authorities and government departments, contacts to politicians, journalists, national and international organizations and also by taking legal actions, contributed in creating a social framework that offers much assistance with integrating and settling early displaced persons, late ethnic German emigrants and countrymen who hopefully will still be allowed to immigrate. The Landsmannschaft is now working through increased efforts on keeping this framework open to all countrymen. To receive your rights and to be right are two different things. The Landsmannschaft has already helped thousands of countrymen to solve their personal problems, to assert their rights. The Landsmannschaft has created important pre-conditions for the unification of families; it has informed the German public as well as the public at large concerning the political existence and the bad situation of the German ethnic group in the former Soviet Union and continuously pressed on to intercede on their behalf.
Is it worthwhile to become a member of the Landsmannschaft?
It is worthwhile in any case not only because, as a member, you receive the monthly paper of the society Volk auf dem Weg free of charge but you are also entitled to advisory service and support in all aspects of society: assistance with integration according to BVFG, income support, pensions, questions concerning citizenship, problems with authorities, acceptance of credentials and much more.
Above all, it is actually a moral obligation to become a member in order to support the representation of interests of all German Russians at least through the membership fee of DM 54.00 a year (in one month DM 4.50), new states DM 42.00 (DM 3.50/month). We can very effectively help ourselves and our relatives and friends, when we join the Landsmannschaft. Note that the Landsmannschaft membership costs are for persons living in Germany.
In the former Soviet Union, our fellow men and women as individuals can hardly do anything on their own to assert their rights. Here, relatives can do only little for them. If therefore we take advantage of the numerous contacts of the Landsmannschaft, we then take advantage of decades of experience and respect; we take advantage of the idealistic volunteer work of its coworkers. The more countrymen join the Landsmannschaft, the better it can accomplish its tasks and take on new tasks for the well being of the whole ethnic group.
For persons living outside Germany, contact the Landsmannschaft for membership and subscription. Write to: Landmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland, Raitelsbergstrasse 49, 70188 Stuttgart, Germany.
Translation from German to English by Brigitte von Budde, Fargo, North Dakota.