07 November 2017

The Bolshevik Revolution – The Beginning of the End

Source: Washington Post, November 3, 2017,  "Century-old photos capture drama of 1917 Russian Revolution."

On this day, 7 November 1917 (Julian calendar date 25 October), the Bolshevik Revolution (also known as the October Revolution, or Red October) occurred in Petrograd (Saint Petersburg), Russia. At the time, there were more than 60 German colonies in the area of Petrograd.  It was the second of a pair of revolts comprising the Russian Revolution that resulted in the end of the Imperial Russian Empire, the creation of Soviet Russia and the rise of Communism in Russia.

The Russian Revolution didn't mark the sudden end of new colony settlement by Germans, but it did slow things down as the revolution was "the beginning of the end" for Germans from Russia, as Ken Volgele states in his forthcoming GRHS Heritage Review article.  Daughter colonies and chutors continued to be established between 1919 up until at least 1934 in areas including Bessarabia (a part of Romania between 1918-1940), Kutschurgan, Glückstal, Beresan, Liebental and North Caucasus among others scattered across the areas of Kherson, Taurida, Yekaterinoslav and the Don.  During the "intrawar" period, the names of the republics or "countries" to which the colonies (new and old) belonged changed often as each area declared autonomy and then were eventually collected into the Soviet Union.

For those of us who had ancestors who left Russia prior to 1917 and immigrated to the United States, the news of what happened in Russia came to them over the newswires and were published in local newspapers in the days and weeks after the October Revolution.   The 24-hour news cycle and the dissemination of information through social media we have today was non-existent. Radio wasn't even widely available then.  But just like today, the rush to get the story out often included errors and disinformation, purposefully or not.  Today we make quick judgments on the validity of information given the source, while our ancestors had a lot of time between editions of newspapers to process what little information they were getting.

A sampling of the headlines and articles our ancestors in the U.S. may have seen are below in chronological order from states with Germans from Russia populations.  One of these, the Jamestown Weekly Alert, would've been read by my own grandparents.  At the very end, I've included the article that ran today, 7 November 2017, in this morning's Washington Post, 100 years later.

Maybe in another 50 or 100 years, one our Germans from Russia descendants will use this blog post to illustrate yet another anniversary of our complicated history.

The Bakersfield Californian, Bakersfield, California. November 8, 2017. Source: Google Newspaper Archive

Montrose Daily News, Montrose, Colorado. November 9, 1917.  Source: Colorado Historical Newspapers Collection

The Seattle Star, Seattle, Seattle, Washington. November 9, 1917. Source: Chronicling America

Tulsa Daily World (Morning Edition), Tulsa, Oklahoma. November 9, 1917. Source: Chronicling America

Evening Times-Republican, Marshalltown, Iowa. November 13, 1917. Source: Chronicling America

The Saturday News, Watertown, South Dakota. November 15, 1917.  Source: Chronicling America

Jamestown Weekly Alert, Jamestown, North Dakota.  November 15, 1917. Source: Chronicling America

St. Paul Tidende, St. Paul, Minnesota.  November 16, 1917. Source: Chronicling America

El Paso Herald, El Paso, Texas.  November 17, 1917.  Source: Chronicling America

The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.  November 7, 2017. Source: The Washington Post

Learn More:
"100th Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution: Beginning of the End for the German Russians," Ken Vogele. Heritage ReviewGermans from Russia Heritage Society,  December 2017, Vol. 47, No. 4)
Wikipedia: Communism in Russia
Wikipedia: February Revolution
Wikipedia: October Revolution