27 July 2017

On This Day, 27 July 1765

Two Lutheran Volga Mother colonies were founded by the Government on this day, 27, July 1765: Rosenheim and Schwed.  They are only about 3.7 miles or 6 kilometers apart. 

The locations of Rosenheim and Schwed on
Karter der deutschen Siedlungen im Wolgagebiet
(Map of the German settlements in the Volga Region,
AHSGR map #6)
Locations of Rosenheim (now Podstepnoye, Saratov, Russia) and Schwed (now Leninskoye, Sartov, Russia)

The old Lutheran church in Rosenheim, Volga.
Photo courtesy of Wolgadeutch.net

Rosenheim's first Lutheran church was built in 1821, some 54 years after it was founded.  After renovations, it was dismantled in 1876.  In 1884, a new brick building was begun and dedicated on 21 September 1886. The ruins of the church still stand today.  A few photos along with a 360-view of the interior are available on Google Maps, and there several more photos on Wolgadeutch, a few of which are included here. 

Staircase to the balcony.
Photo courtesy of Wolgadeutch.net
The nave facing the pulpit.
Photo courtesy of Wolgadeutch.net

A house in Leninskoye today, then known as
 Schwed or Svonarevka.
The 24 founding families of Schwed (Швед) came from Sweden, Saxony, Nuremberg and Danzig. Because many of the original settlers were from Sweden, the colony was named Schwed, probably by the colonists themselves. An order dated 26 February 1768* declared all German villages should have Russian names, so Schwed was given the official Russian name of Svonarevka. It's current name is Leninskoye, clearly renamed (again) after the Russian Revolution and the establishment of "national names" by the Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (1918-1941). 

Plat map of Schwed, 1930, drawn by Viktor Herzog.
Map courtesy of AHSGR village files. 

*Regarding renaming the German settlements in Russia, neither the original document nor the text of the 26 February 1768 "decree" survived. It was likely destroyed at some point, but references to it permeate early Volga colony histories, leaving little doubt that it did indeed exist. The details remain lost to history.  It was not on the Russian law books for that period, so it was probably simply a directive out of the Saratov of the Guardianship Office of Foreign Settlers. Renaming of villages was pretty constant through World War II, making a list of all such names particularly valuable to researchers.

Learn More: 
American Historical Society of Germans from Russia - Village Files
Center for Volga German Studies - Rosenheim, Schwed
Volga German Institute - Rosenheim, Schwed
Wolgadeutsche (History of the Volga Germans) - Rosenheim/photos, Schwed/photos

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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