29 June 2017

On This Day, 29 June 1764

Dobrinka was the first Volga colony founded on this day 29 June 1764 with 353 Lutheran colonists by the Russian government.

By the late 1800s, Dobrinka had grown to over 4,000 residents.  Families from Dobrinka moved to new areas and helped found daughter colonies in Eckheim, Frankreich, Kana, Neu-Galka, Neu-Weimar, Oberdorf, Straßburg and Weimar.

Around 1860, in addition to traditional Lutheran and Reformed churches, there were several small mystical and/or rational sects of Protestantism cropping up in what was known as the Right Bank Ukraine, a historical name for a part of modern Ukraine on the west bank of the Dnieper River bordering Volhynia.  These sects were considered by the Russian authorities radical and a threat to the Russian Orthodox Church and to Imperial Russia itself. Of particular concern to the Russian government, their rise coincided with social uprisings across the country.  

In response to hardships and poverty, these sects would form around a charismatic leader.  Followers rejected authority and ordained ministers, and they always meet in secret to avoid persecution by Russian authorities and questioning neighbors.  There were many sects in Russia, most of which don't have a lot of information about them available.  There is also little concrete proof in addition to a few oral histories that Germans partook in all of them.  Some of the sects include the Brüderschaft (Brotherhood), Dukhobors (spirit wrestlers), Fuß Wacher (foot washers), Isralites(?),  Khlysty (flagellents), Maliovansty(?), Molokane (milk drinkers), Painters(?), Skoptsy (castrated ones), Studenbrüder (student brethern) and Tanzbrüder (dance brethren).

Location of Dobrinka on
Karte der deutschen Siedlungen im Wolgagebiet
(Map of the German settlements in the Volga region, AHSGR map #6)

In Dobrinka, the Tanzbrüder sect evolved in 1860, a Messianic sect that danced until its members fell exhausted.  An oral history of residents living in southeastern Colorado in 1975, a part of the Germans from Russia in Colorado Study Project, indicates the piteous sect was also present in "Straßburg on the Wiesenseit." It would make sense since Straßburg was founded in 1860 by families from Dobrinka . 

Location of the Volga colony Dobrinka, today known as Nizhnyaya Dobrinka, Volgograd, Russia

Learn More: 

2017 marks the 250th anniversary of the founding of the Mother colonies along the Volga River. There are many events throughout the year to commemorate the anniversary, and the Germans from 
Russia Settlement Locations project joins in the celebration of this rich Volga German heritage.  

The German immigrants that came to the Volga region were among first colonists to take up Catherine the Great on her manifesto. They came from Hesse, the Rhineland, the Palatinate and Württemberg.  They are also among the most well researched and documented groups of German colonists in Russia. Thus far, the Volga Mother colonies settled between 1764 and 1767 are the only colonies that have precise dates they were settled.  

For more historical and current events related to Germans from Russia, see our calendar page or link to our public Google calendar.

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