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Archiver > GER-VOLGA > 2007-06 > 1182591953

From: "Vera Beljakova" <>
Subject: [GV] German-Russian relations/timespan/overview/marriage
Date: Sat, 23 Jun 2007 11:45:53 +0200

Sorry for cross posting but this topic is of general
interest to GRs,
Not only Volga-GRs.

Well, since you ask ....about German/Russian
relationships, here is a
brief overview of the time span and development....

1. To begin with the Russian serfs were obviously envious
foreigners were getting a better deal and preferential
treatment. It
was pretty galling that foreign farmers were given free

2. After the abolition of serfdom in 1860 relations
improved as the
Russian serf now enjoyed a somewhat better. freer status,
and started to
move around and off the landlords' estates into towns.

3. After the abolition of German colonial privileges and
introduction of German colonists to full-scale Russian
citizenship with
is advantaged and also disadvantages, tension eased, as
now everyone was
more equal than before, everybody was up for military
service...etc....Germans were no longer the "privileged

4. It was during this period, and starting from about
1880 that the
rich colonists began to move out of the colonies to now
compete on the
open market with Russians in big towns.

5. One generation later, their children, urban and
educated, started to
intermarry with Russians.
Marriage unions were now based in 'class', education,
business ties and
rather than village or German loyalties .

----------------- I am a great admirer of Dietz (and
Alexei). [ See
What Dietz says is of course true but takes a wide sweep,
since nearly
95% all colonies had this function to be the buffer
between the ever
expanding Russian Empire. It did not only apply to the
German colonies,
although these were the most numerous.
This method of expansion also applied to other nations'
soldiers' colonies and of course the Cossack Host.
Ditto Southern Russia.

But this is not how the Russian peasant/serf saw it, who
had no private
land or farm.
Russification, meaning Russian language taught in schools,
took place,
so the better educated children knew Russian well, and
those who were
sent off to higher education in the cities and
universities came out
bilingual. Once they completed university, they were
written out of the village commune and most found jobs and
careers in
cities, thus becoming bi-lingual and bi-cultural....quite
a few them
took Russian wives.
These city GRs are the ones that did not emigrate to USA
or keep
"village roots", and you will not find them on this List.
My family is a typical example of bi-lingual, bi-cultural
The language and religion remained but links with villages
were slowly
loss from about 1890, as such families moved to Saratov to
competing in the open marketplace and better economic and
By 1920, when a large number of GRs fled the revolution or
the civil war
or its immediate aftermaths to Berlin - children were sent
off to
bi-lingual Russian-German schools.

I remain bi-lingual, bi-cultural 117 after grandpa left
this village as
a child, and some 90 yrs after grandparents left Russia.
One GR son, from the (Saratov) Borel milling family,
finished his
education in St.Petersburg, and ended up as a officer in
the white army
and marrying the daughter (only child) of General Alexeev,
leader of the
White Army of the Civil War.
Their daughter, who died recently in Buenos Aires,
authored her father's
Few educated GRs chose to return to their villages, but
settled near and
around larger towns (including Dietz), where they were in
a better
position to pursue their careers
---- Original Message ------
From:Lauren Brantner Sent:Friday, June 22, 2007 19:33 To:
; Subject:Re: [GV] Russian German
Relationships If
you get a chance to read Jacob Dietz's history that AHSGR
published you will find his viewpoint:" The colonists, in
spite of
frequently expressed viewpoints, were not at all invited
to Russia
because of the German Empress Catherine's II's sympathy
toward them.
They were not in favorable conditions and their favor was
not the goal
of their invitation. Such an accusation is historically
unreliable and
politically unscrupulous.
As we know from what the many manifestoes, circulars, and
communications have shown us, the real reasons for the
invitations of
the Volga colonists were the settlement of empty lands,
the drive to
establish a natural buffer for the safety of Russia
between the Kalmyk,
Kirghiz and other wild tribes and to assert Russia's power
over these
areas. There was also the desire to raise the level of
agriculture and
industry by means of the immigration of enlightened
Western Europeans.
The Russian government did not favor the immigrants, but
awaited favors
from them to benefit the country. And this expectation
was glowingly
fulfilled." Further he comments, "Because of their
colonies' destruction
and their unhappiness, the colonists gave great
service...through their
blood and destruction the colonists purchased the peace of
the Russian

Our last AHSGR dinner speaker was the newly hired
Coordinator of the
German Russian International Program at Colorado State
University, Dr.
Alexi Kuraev-Maxah who is a Russian/German scholar here to
in the exchange between CSU and Saratov State University.
He indicated
that Russian peasants had no brick churches, no schools,
ate maybe 2
meals a year with meat in them, and lived really hard
lives and had to
serve in the military for many years. In their eyes, GR's
had a lot
more to eat, didn't have to serve in the military, could
work their way
up in life, etc. So naturally there was resentment that
"foreigners" had a better life, clean villages,
opportunities etc. When asked about Catherine's motives
in bringing in
Germans, Maxah commented that above all Catherine was a
very astute
politician and that bringing in the Germans solved
problems for her. If
you look at her manifesto it asks for foreigners not
Germans, he
commented. If you look at the conditions in Europe when
Germans left -
they were facing really hard times because of all the wars
devastated the countryside. So --- not a pretty picture
all the way

If you look as a whole at the colonies - Germans kept
their language,
their culture, their religious practices intact. For
there to be a
large amount of interaction with the locals, someone had
to learn
another language.

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