11 January 2022

Repression Years and Deportation Locations

If you are beginning researching your family in the repression years, there are two new sources that complement each other nicely. One will give you a solid historical background, and the other provides lists of names, birth dates, originating colonies in South Russia and exile locations in Siberia and Central Asia.

The first is the new book, The Years of Great Silence: The Deportation, Special Settlement, and Mobilization into the Labor Army of Ethnic Germans in the USSR, 1941–1955, by J. Otto Pohl, a well-known independent scholar and published author of Russian-German academic research. In this volume, he provides a concise history of ethnic Germans from Russia from the beginning and the events leading up to his focus on the peak years of Soviet repression of ethnic Germans—1941-1955. The book will be published on March 22nd, but it is available for pre-order now from Columbia University Press. $42 USD. Shipping costs vary.

The second source is the MVD File Extractions Concerning Individuals/Families Who Were Relocated During the Repression Years” collection that is a part of the Glückstal Colonies Research Association 2021 (GCRA) Data Drive. This focuses on those who were exiled from the Odessa region (the enclaves of Glückstal/Hoffnungstal, Beresan, Liebental) in the 1940s, during the very peak that Pohl writes about in his book. There is no interpretation of this data at all. It is translated into English but is essentially raw and leaves it to the researcher to find family names and locations within the data. Set aside the fact that name of the research group publishing this includes Glückstal in its name; the fact is that much of what is on this data drive has to do with the neighbors in Kherson province with the exception of the Kutschurgan enclave, which is, for some reason, simply missing. The drive is available now from GCRA. $80 USD for non-members, $55 USD for members. Free shipping in the US. Contact the organization for international orders. 

I pre-ordered the book and purchased the data drive last November. Of particular interest to me on the drive is the list of resettlement locations, including coordinates—over 800 of them. It will take time to extract the pieces of data I need to add to my maps, but in the end it will add to the deportation story layer on the map. Currently what’s on the map (and still in progress) is from the book Fortjagen muss man sie.” Zeitzeugen und Forscher berichten über die Tragödie der Russlanddeutschen (“You have to chase them away.” Contemporary Witnesses and Researchers Report on the Tragedy of the Russian Germans). You can get a copy of the book (in both Russian and German) as a free PDF from RusDeutsch


07 January 2022

As the Bee Flies in Tiraspol District

1886 Map of the Tiraspol District, Kherson Province

Just before the holidays, I had a brief email exchange with a food historian who remarked on my grandmother’s recipe for pfeffernüsse that appeared in the last issue of the Glückstal Colonies Research Association Newsletter. Our conversation revolved around the ratio of lard it called for, its possible use for extracting the fat-soluble flavors in the scant amount of star anise and clove in the recipe, and also the inclusion of what I described as “interesting” honey. By interesting, I meant to imply anything that didn’t come out of a plastic bear. Let me explain. 

The German colonists who lived in the Glückstal colonies were farmers and also bee keepers. Beekeeping was something they brought with them from Germany. There are historical German beekeeping guides, calendars, newspapers and books in the digital collections of libraries in Germany, including several in Die Bienenbibliothek (bee library) at Regensburg University Library. The colonies of Glückstal and Neudorf were noted as engaging in “extensive” beekeeping operations, likely not only for the honey but also for the wax needed to make candles. The two colonies were only about 4.5 miles (7 km) apart, as the bee flies. The honey produced probably had the terroir of whatever pollen those bees harvested, which I image added to the flavor of whatever it was used to sweeten—including our beloved Christmas pfeffernüsse. What the characteristics of that honey might be could be discovered by researching what grew wild near the Glückstal beehives and what was cultivated that needed pollinators. I was curious.

Glückstal Mother colonies showing fruit and grape orchards in 1886.
Crop reports seemed like a good place to start for learning what was cultivated.  

1810 Crop Report 
(File 134-1-283, State Archives of the Dnipropetrovsk'k Region)
The first crop crop report for the Glückstal colonies was dated 1 December 1810, a year or two after settlement. It included the colonies of Glückstal, Bergdorf and Neudorf. Kassel was not included as it had been newly established in 1810. The report recorded the colonists growing the following: winter and summer rye (Wintter Roggen and Sommer Roggen), winter and summer wheat (Wintter Weizen and Sommer Weizen), buckwheat (Buch Weizen), oats (Hafer), barley (Gerste), millet (Hirse), potatoes (Kartoffeln), peas (Erbsen), Turkish beans (Türkeischen Bohnen), beans (Bohnen), lentils (Linse), hemp (Hanf), flax (Flachs), and hay (Heu).

1811 Crop Report 
(File 134-1-320, State Archives of the Dnipropetrovsk'k Region)
The following year, the same crops were reported in the report dated 1 December 1811: winter and summer rye, winter and summer wheat, buckwheat, oats, barley, millet, potatoes, peas, Turkish beans, beans, lentils, hemp, flax, and hay.

1814 Crop Report 
(File 134-1-398, State Archives of the Dnipropetrovsk'k Region)
Although there was a crop report for 1814, no specific crops were named in it. 

1820 - Spring 1821 Crop Report 
(File 252-1-314, Odessa Regional Archive)
In this report dated May 1821, beekeeping (Bienen) appears along with reports of planting trees grown for wood (Holzbäumen) and fruit trees (Obstbäumen), specifically mulberry trees (Maulbeerbäumen) for silk. The specific list of crops has also been pared back to include rye, winter and spring [sic, summer] wheat, barley, oats, lentils, potatoes, and peas. According to the translators’ notes, there were other crops grown, but the pages were illegible.

1825 Statistical Reports of the Glückstal Colonies
The 1825 crop report comes from Deutsche Bauernleistung am Schwarzen Meer, Bevölkerung und Wirtschaft 1825 (German Farming Statistics of the Black Sea, Population and Economy 1825). Georg Liebbrandt (1899-1982) discovered a set of statistical documents in the archives in Odessa, had them translated from Russia to German in Berlin, and Hans Rempel organized and published the translations in 1940. I have a used copy of this book on order, as I am curious about the other enclaves around the Black Sea. Reported in the translated excerpts (German to English this time by the Glückstal Colonies Research Association), the following crops were grown: winter rye (Winterroggen), winter wheat (Winterweizen), summer wheat (Sommerweizen), buckwheat (Buchweizen), oats, barley, millet, potatoes, corn (Mais), peas, small beans (Fasol', Kleine Bohnen), lentils, hemp, flax (noted as Lein this time instead of Flachs), and hay. It also enumerated the trees planted: acacia (Akazien), willows (Weiden), poplars (Pappeln), mulberries, apples (Apfel), pears (Birnen), plums (Pflaumen), cherries (Kirschen), peaches (Pfirsiche), apricots (Aprikosen), nuts (Nüsse), and grapevines (Weinreben). 

I have to note that by 1825, the four Glückstal Mother colonies had collectively 161,471 grape vines planted, with 85,570 in/near Glückstal colony itself. (~250 vines made 1 barrel or 60 gallons of wine)

All this reminded me of an agricultural map I happened upon last year of the district of Tiraspol from 1886.

The Tiraspol District was established in1795 in the Russian Empire and went through several re-districting and province changes before it settled in as a district in Kherson Province in 1803. When the German colonists arrived in South Russia, the Glückstal, Kutschurgan, Beresan and Liebental enclaves were all a part of the Tiraspol district until 1825 when the district of Odessa was established. The Glückstal enclave (including the colonies in the Hoffnungstal parish) remained in the Tiraspol district along with some of the Kutschurgan, Beresan and Liebental colonies until 1923. The point of this is that there were no hard lines around the German enclaves that kept them administratively together.

This map shows what settlements in Tiraspol had significant agriculture in place in terms of gardens, state-run nurseries, fruit orchards and vineyards. It also lists what places would partake in survey of what appears to be increasing the number of grape vines grown by 1895. Among them the German colonies of Neudorf (#9, Нейдорфская), Hoffnungstal (#20, Гофнунгстальская) and Kassel (#22, Кассельская). I'm not sure the results of the study are available online anywhere. 

Some of the crops and trees mentioned in the crop reports needed pollinators, but not all of them. The trees that the colonists planted caught my eye since I have heard of acacia honey. But the German colonists preferred to plant willow trees over acacia trees maybe because acacias already grew wild? Bees will stay roughly two miles (3.2 km) from their hive, but they will travel up to five miles (8 km). What else grew wild in that range around Glückstal and Neudorf?

Ultimately, I don’t know what characteristics honey from the Glückstal colonies might have had...and maybe still have...and how it might have flavored pfeffernüsse. I would be an interesting topic to dive into from a number of different directions, not just culinary and agriculture science. If anyone need a writing topic, I'd be more than happy to read whatever you wrote. Until then, I’ll stick with my own advice of using “interesting honey” over what comes in the bear. 

Above is a lightly marked up version of the map above with some of the German
 colonies noted for orientation. Click on it to see a larger version.

Sources and Further Reading:

  • Freeman, Margaret and Stangl, Thomas A., trans. 2004. “Glückstal Colonies Crop Report, 1820—Spring 1821.” In The Glückstalers in New Russia and North America: A Bicentennial Collection of History, Genealogy and Folklore, 223–33.
  • Rudolf, Homer, trans. 2004. “Statistical Reports of the Glückstal Colonies from 1825.” In The Glückstalers in New Russia and North America: A Bicentennial Collection of History, Genealogy and Folklore, 235–44.
  • Stangl, Thomas A. trans. 2010. “1810 Crop Report. State Archives of Dnipropetrovsk’k Region. File 134-1-283. Glückstal Colonies Research Association. Glückstal Colonies Research Association 2021 Data Drive.
  • Stangl, Thomas A. trans. 2010. “1811 Crop Report. State Archives of Dnipropetrovsk’k Region. File 134-1-320. Glückstal Colonies Research Association. Glückstal Colonies Research Association 2021 Data Drive.
  • Stangl, Thomas A., and Koenig, Donn, trans. 2013. “1814 Crop Report. Glückstal District. File 134-1-398, State Archives of Dnipropetrovsk’k Region, Dnipropetrovsk’k, Ukraine.” Glückstal Colonies Research Association. Glückstal Colonies Research Association 2021 Data Drive.
  • “Карта Тираспольского уезда с обозначением населенных пунктов и земских дач,  принятых за единицы исследования, и виноградников.” (Map of Tiraspol County with the designation of settlements and zemstvo dachas, taken as survey units, and vineyards.) 1886. Russian Empire. https://bit.ly/tiraspol-district.    
  • “Тираспольський Повіт (Tiraspol Region).” 2021. In Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. https://bit.ly/wiki-tiraspol-district.  


30 November 2021

Giving Tuesday 2021

I'm often asked if there is a way to donate to the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations project. I've been thinking about this lately, and I have a modest proposal.

This project is fun for me. If I was not enjoying myself, I would not be doing it. Anything that comes out of the research that others find useful is just my way of paying it forward year round. #GivingTuesday is a day where people all over the world come together to do good and give back.

So, if you like what the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations project does...and it's helped you with your research or understanding of the role of Germans from Russia in history...and you really want to give, please consider paying it forward by donating to the genealogy society, historical society or university of your choice.  

All of your favorite GR organizations have costs associated with their work that I do not. The cost of running my site is minuscule, and the time I put into the writing and research doesn’t have to be justified to anyone in order to be funded. Not so in the case with the universities, state historical societies or genealogy societies. You could really help out these organizations that rely outside funding. Since I use all of them as sources, you helping them is helping me.

Consider the following possible ways to give and the impact you could make: 
  • Organizations that take items such as personal papers, books, photos, objects, textiles, etc., not only have to hire staff to process the items into the donation, they also have to purchase out of their own funds the archival storage materials for preservation and conservation. Your donation could help offset these costs and keep those treasures protected for generations to come.
  • Having a web presence is important to any organization. Many don't have the technical skills within them to run their own websites and have to outsource the cost of running and maintaining their web presence. Your donation or volunteering your expertise could help offset these costs.
  • For years, some organizations have committed to spending money on purchasing church records from Russian and Ukrainian archives so they can transcribe and translate them and make them available to researchers. Your donation or volunteering your expertise with transcribing and translation could help offset these costs.
  • Genealogy societies thrive on memberships. Join a genealogy society or buy a membership for someone who is just getting started with their family tree. There are many Eastern European and Germans from Russia societies to choose from – some may even be local to you. Most come with newsletters/journals, access to members-only information, including previously researched pedigrees, webinars, maps (yay!), and discounts on books and other research materials. Your membership or donation could help these organizations with the good work that they do and help someone just starting their genealogy journey.
  • Donating your written family history along with your GEDCOM can enrich the genealogy collection of any organization or research group. Consider donating it to several places, not just those that are a part of a genealogy society, but also those that make the information available for free, including university and local public libraries.  
  • Volunteer. One of the most rewarding ways to give back is contributing to ongoing research that others can use. If you make yourself available to an organization or project you're fond of, they will find a way to use your own unique talents. 
  • Write and submit articles to genealogy and historical societies for publication in their journals and newsletters. Editors are are always looking for articles, and while social media posts may reach a large audience, having your article published creates a permanent record of your story within their archive for future generations of researchers to discover. You may think, “what’s left to say that hasn’t been said already?” Remember this: History doesn’t end. It didn’t end when our ancestors arrived in Russia, and it didn’t end when their descendants arrived in the Americas. The stories of Germans from Russia live on in you and in the stories that you will tell.   
As I've always said to anyone who has contributed information to this project, every little bit helps. Thank you for every little bit you’ve contributed over the years. 


29 November 2021

Roshdestwenskoje, North Caucasus

Roshdestwenskoje (РОЖДЕСТВЕНСКОЕ) on a 1877 map of the Caucasus.
Source: Retromap

Roshdestwenskoje (Rozhdestvenskoye, Roshdestvenka, Roshdestwenka) in the North Caucasus was a Catholic daughter colony founded on the Kuban River in 1864, although Germans from the Volga colony of Köhler may have arrived as early as 1858. 

A Catholic parish was established in Roshdestwenskoje in 1884. The clergy serving the parish included Konrad Keller (1884-1886), Allois Schönfeld (1898-1903) and Johannes Beilmann (1905-1909).

Karl Stumpp notes this colony was founded in the Soviet period (* = in der Sowjetzeit gegründet). Ulrich Mertens in his German-Russian Handbook states it reappeared (alluding that it disappeared at some point) in the Soviet period with a founding date of 1925. Roshdestwenskoje appears on maps from 1877 through 1990 in the same location with the same name. There is, however, another Rozhdestvenskoye that appears today to the northwest of the one that appears on old maps, but it only appears on the English-language Google Map, not on the Russian version and not on Yandex Maps. Logic dictates the colony location on the older maps, supported by early church records (many thanks to Tim Rohr for providing one), is the location of the former German colony. 

1926 map of the Caucasus. Source: Retromap

1942 German map of the Caucasus. Source: Retromap

1985 Detailed World Map v.1. Source: Retromap

1990s Map of the USSR. Source: Retromap

EWZ indexes indicate that the German colonists living in Roshdestwenskoje had ties to the Volga colonies of Dobrinka, Herzog, Köhler and Semenovka with surnames of Berger, Bessedin, Bonn, Diehl, Haach, Kantner, Lasarenko, Laumann, Merslow, Ringelmann, Rupp, Scholomow and Werbach. The Köhler connection surnames include Schmidtlein, Hartwich and Lambrecht.

Today, Roshdestwenskoje is a suburb of Nevinnomyssk, Stavropol Krai, Russia.

View of the Kuban River and the cast iron bridge circa 1900-1917.
Source: Retro View of Mankind's Habitat

Sources and Further Reading:

  • Die Kirchen und das religiöse Leben der Russlanddeutschen. Katholik Teil. (The Churches and Religious Life of the Russian Germans. Catholic part.), Joseph Schnurr (1980), p. 300.
  • Einwanderungszentralstelle (EWZ) Film Series: 50, The National Archives and Records Administration, Black Sea German Researchmybirthplace=Roshdestwenskoje
  • German-Russian Handbook, Ulrich Mertens (2010), Germans from Russia Heritage Collection (GRHC) Publications, https://hdl.handle.net/10365/32028, p. 636.
  • Karte der deutschen Siedlungen im Nord und Südkaukasus (Map of the German settlements in the North and South Caucasus). Karl Stumpp, AHSGR, Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland (1960). #F3
  • Maps of Roshdestwenskoje (44.6300, 41.9183) on Retromap: 18771926194219851990s
  • Retro View of Mankind's Habitat, vintage photos of Nevinnomyskaya.
  • Rozhdestvenskoe (Stavropol Territory),Wikipedia (in Russian).

01 November 2021

Final Map Update for 2021

The final map update for 2021 has been posted and includes updates and/or additions to 1,578 locations. 

As work moves forward to add historical geographical context around where Germans lived in Russia, the most noticeable change this time is that Russian Poland (Congress Poland, Kingdom of Poland, Vistula Krai, Mittelpolen, etc.) has been broken out into its respective Russian provinces (governorates) as they were at the end of the Russian Empire. The same procedure was followed as was used for re-aligning the provinces of South Russia but this time using the borders on geo-referenced maps from 1820 and 1879, after Russian Poland had been fully incorporated into the Russian Empire in 1832. The borders for the Orenburg Province in the east Volga Tartary were also appropriately re-aligned and districts updated. More settlements were added to western Russia as well in the province of Podolia in the southwestern krai.  Most of these came from records and not maps. It is important to follow the humans and record where they lived, even if cartographers and ethnographers didn’t put them on their maps because there were not enough of them. They were still there. Cities with large urban German populations recorded in the 1897 census were added with their parishes in their respective provinces. These are more or less stakes in the ground for future research as more locations will be added around them in time. 
Kingdom of Poland 1820 (Source: David Rumsey Map Collection)

Kingdom of Poland 1879 after it had been incorporated into the Russian Empire fully.
This is from a larger map entitled "South-West Russia. Showing the Extent of the Kingdom of Poland previous to its partition in 1772." (Source: David Rumsey Map Collection)

In the process of isolating groups of settlements that need updates to data regarding
their province or district. It's tedious work made much easier by technology.

Russian Poland before and after.

Next up will be fixing the provinces in the Caucasus and Asiatic Russia. I anticipate the next map update will be ready mid-to-late January. Research will continue while I also take some time to do a little year-end reflection, writing, yard work, and a few backroad trips now that the heat has finally broken for the season here in the southwest. It has been a long summer.

Map as of 31 October 2021.