Who colonized Russia

Russia / Russian Empire

German emigration to Russia in the 18th and 19th centuries
Century [© Ingenieurbüro für Kartographie
J. Zwick, Giessen]

The first general census of 1897 recorded 1.8 million inhabitants of German mother tongue (1.4 percent of the total population) for the territory of the tsarist empire. 76 percent were Lutherans, 13.5 percent Catholics, 3.7 percent Mennonites, 3.6 percent Reformed, 3.2 percent belonged to other denominations. More than three quarters of Germans lived in the country, 57.7 percent worked in agriculture and forestry. The most important settlement areas of the Germans were the lower Volga (326,861 Germans in the Saratov and Samara governorates), the so-called Black Sea area (377,798 in the Cherson, Tauria, Ekaterinoslav, Bessarabia and Don area), Russian Poland (407,274 in the so-called Vistula governorates) ), Volhynia (171,331), the Baltic Sea provinces (165,627 in the governors of Livonia, Estonia and Courland) and the two capitals St. Petersburg (46,550) and Moscow (17,717). In addition, German craftsmen, entrepreneurs, tradespeople, doctors, pharmacists, officers, civil servants and scholars - to name typical professions - worked almost all over the empire. Peasant colonists had settled in a number of other smaller settlement areas and scattered settlements. The numerous spouses of the Russian rulers of the 18th and 19th centuries, who came from German princely houses, should not be left unmentioned.

In the course of the 20th century, the settlement focus of the Germans shifted to the east as a result of several circumstances: An economic migration of peasant colonists from their original settlement areas on the Volga and the Black Sea towards the North Caucasus, South Urals, Siberia and Central Asia had already started around the turn of the century. After the First World War, the Germans of Poland, the Baltic States, West Volhynia and Bessarabia, along with the territories in which they lived, left the Union of the Russian Empire. The Germans who remained in the Soviet Union were deported from their settlement areas west of the Urals to Central Asia and Siberia in 1941 and scattered over large territories.