14 April 2023

Steppes Krai: Akmola Oblast

1914 of the Akmola Region from EtoMesto.

The splitting of Asiatic Russia into its former imperial provinces continues. The former Akmola Oblast of the Russian Empire is now complete. Today, it comprises part of Omsk Oblast in Russia and the North, Akmola, and Karaganda regions of Kazakhstan.

There were German colonies in this area as early as 1890, and before resettlement to Siberia picked up in the early 1900s, the Imperial Census of 1897 was taken. In it, it was reported there were 682,608 inhabitants in Akmola Oblast. Of those, 4,791 (0.7%) reported themselves as native German speakers. 

The map above shows the region as it was in 1914 in the Russian Empire, with resettlement areas still open for a few more years. Note that there are many numbered plots but not not many names of places on the map. By this time, there were already many German resettlers from provinces in South Russia as well as those in the Volga area. Where there is good, fertile land, there are Mennonite settlers. Like in Crimea, the Mennonites settled not in planned colonies that are named (such as Molotschna, Chortitza, Zagradovka, etc.), but rather, they settled in the general area around Omsk and west of Omsk along the railway. It was nice to discover several colonies by Germans from Volhynia, Estonia and Lithuania. Again, these are voluntary resettlements. However, mixed in with these settlements would eventually be the “special settlements” and other deportation sites.

To what is already on the map, I have done the following: added 65 colonies; removed 5 colonies that I could not find enough evidence to confirm the locations and did not feel good about leaving them there; and have pending another 49 new settlements that were formed in the Soviet era and that I need to cross-check against a list of special settlements so that I can categorize them correctly. 

The map below shows part of the region as it was in 1955 after the Russian revolutions, after the rise of the Soviet Union, and after WWII — i.e., what was left (as far as the Americans knew) after 40 years. 

1955 U.S. Army Map Service. Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, UT Austin. 

Next up will be the former oblasts of Semipalatinsk to the southeast, and Turgai and Ural to the southwest. Of note, the 1897 Imperial Census did not report even one native German speaker in any of these oblasts. But I have a list of 121 locations in the queue already. Should be interesting. 

The map data will be posted at the end of this research cycle, which is still on target for late June before convention season starts. 

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