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The objective of the Volga German Project is to use the collaborative powers of WikiTree to collect, organize, and trace the information of those families into one, easily referenced, location. Our dream is to trace families alive today beyond their Mid-Western present, through their colonial days in Russia, and back to the regions in Germany where they originated. We realize that this will take much work and diligence on the part of the Project Members. But we are willing and able to carry it out!

NEW RESOURCE: https://familysearch.org/search/collection/2367299 Family search has added new records for Volga Germans. This will be a great help!

http://cvgs.cu-portland.edu/archives/maps/colonies.cfm Good site for Volga German information. Includes some village maps showing surnames of households.

http://cvgs.cu-portland.edu/archives/maps/colonies.cfm Center for Volga German Studies, Concordia University

HISTORY OF THE VOLGA GERMANS (Geschichte der Wolgadeutschen)

In 1762 and 1763, Catherine the Great invited Europeans to settle and farm the Russian frontier lands of the Volga River. All who did so could maintain their language and culture and have freedom of religious practice. Those settlers were exempt from serving in the Russian military "forever". Over the next five years, German farmers from the Palatinate and Rhineland, the Kingdom of Bavaria, Baden, and Hesse came by the thousands.

Many who had been recruited to immigrate to Russia met in a centrally located town and were loosely organized into groups, each headed by an appointed leader, and then traveled to a northern seaport. The people from Hesse usually moved northward through Giessen, Kassel, and Hildesheim to the seaport town of Lübeck. It took many emigrants six weeks to go from Isenburg, near Frankfurt, to Lübeck, a distance of 300 miles or so.

The voyage from Lübeck, Germany to Kronstadt, Russia took 10 to 11 days under favorable conditions—but in some cases it took 6 weeks. Englishmen then captained most ships, and the goods sold onboard ship were extremely over priced. There were claims some captains intentionally diverted and slowed voyages in order to make more onboard sales.

Once getting to Russia, there was another long journey of close to a year to get to their actual settlements from the port of Oranienbaum in northern Russia to their southern Volga villages. This nearly always involved some harsh winter travel, mostly on foot, and the death toll was high.

Eventually, Russia took back the freedom from military service and forced German migrants into the Russian Army. At that point, many families fled to the United States and Canada. Most continued in farming, already used to the freezing temperatures and desert-like environments.

NO STRANGERS TO HARDSHIP: From their homelands in Germany, the trip to their new village on the Volga took about a year, on foot to the port, then by ship, then again on foot (wagons were for supplies) from the northern part of Russia to the southern part of the Volga river. Many died on the way. The Russian government also did not have all the promised seed and livestock available in a timely manner, and often the settlers arrived too late to plant a crop to ripen before winter. There was mass starvation that first year. They had little wood to build a home in time for winter, so often they built temporary homes underground, lived without heat, and had to cook their meals with dung as the only available fuel. There was much sickness and few or no doctors.

During the first years, the settlers were at risk from raids from Mongols. In fact, Katherine the Great wanted the settlers to act as a buffer between Russians and the Mongolian hordes. They did not bother to warn the settlers about this before they left home!

The Russian census taker, Popov, observed that in many villages, every summer gophers destroyed much of their grain crop. Wolf packs decimated livestock. He writes of the village of Kutter: "The inhabitants of this colony work diligently but, because of the lack of good land in the lower reaches of this colony, half of the seed was sown on non-arable land and wasted. The settlers justifiably complain about the quantity of wetlands. Vegetable gardens planted near the yards bear scant fruit, so the colonists, by means of canals, drained a swamp. They divided the land into small plots and there planted potatoes and garden vegetables. Because of the lack of good pasture in the lower lands, there is cattle plague here. More than 29 head of stock perished this past autumn and this spring. Because of this, the stock of the colonists will never be in desirable condition, in my observation, horses suffer from diseases when fed steppe grasses. This colony has shortages of everything it needs. They have no possibility of improvement from any direction, given the conditions described above and because of the constriction in possession of crown lands."

The colonies DID hang on and increased in prosperity. But famines came with each drought. There was very little margin for crop failure.

If this were not enough, the Volga Germans underwent raids by an army led by Pugachev, the Bolshevik revolution, and civil war.

The livelihood of most villagers consisted of farming. They kept with the tradition of their homelands by traveling to their farmlands during the day and returning to their homes in the village at the end of the day. They grew rye, wheat, barley, oats, millet, potatoes, sunflowers, and tobacco, with the village homes keeping vegetable gardens and fruit trees in a yard adjacent to each home (the Hinnerhof) to supply food for the family table, including carrots, onions, sugar beets, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, schwarzbeeren (blackberry) and other berry varieties. They also had communal village gardens of cabbage, melons, watermelons, and pumpkins, as well as orchards for apples, pears, and cherries. Hemp and flax were grown for making clothing. They also raised cows, sheep, swine and chickens and kept a stable of horses.

The years 1921-1922 saw massive numbers of deaths from starvation throughout Russia, caused by Lenin's policy of forced grain requisition as part of the kulak (wealthy private farmers) extermination campaign. The Germans living along the Volga River in Saratov and Samara had resisted the grain requisition. As a punitive measure, Lenin ordered the Volga area settlements be completely stripped of all grain and livestock and that mass executions be carried out. Over 30% of the Volga German population was deliberately starved before Lenin allowed international famine relief organizations into the area. The Volga and Ukraine were the main bread baskets of Russia, and the Germans skilled farmers, but the famines lasted throughout 1924.

The final destruction of the Volga Germans as a people came in 1941 with mass deportations to Siberia where many were never heard from again. When the policy ended, survivors were allowed to leave Siberia but not return to their ancestral villages. Many thousands have returned to Germany since then, since Germany guaranteed citizenship to all who could prove German descent. Story of their deportation: http://expelledgermans.org/volgagermans.htm

Very interesting write-up here: http://volgagermanbrit.us/showmedia.php?mediaID=7

For Genealogists: Passengers who were felt to be contagious were left off at Grosse_Isle to be in quarantine until no longer contagious. The next immigration ship arriving after they were released from quarantine would disembark its contagious passengers and pick up the newly released ones. A family might not be listed on the manifest of their original ship but also might not have been added to the manifest of their new ship. Here is an example of a Ger-Rus family (Galka?) Surname Hinter bound for Windsor removed from the ship "Sicilian" at Grosse-Ile quarantine island on July 02 and released July 19 1913 All were Protestant Rec.No. 11079 Amelia age 32y Rec.No. 11080 Frederic age 6y Rec.No. 11081 Emile 10y Rec.No. 11082 George. 5y Rec.No. 11083 Waldeman 3 ymeasles Rec.No. 11085 Reinhold. age ? Measles This website lets you search the Grosse_Isle complete records with just a surname to see if your migrant ancestor's might have been delayed thusly http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/immigration/immigration-records/immigrants-grosse-ile-1832-1937/Pages/immigrants-grosse-ile.aspx. It includes births at sea, deaths at sea, and burials at Grosse Isle. Click on "Search Database"

Also see this history as seen through the Filbert family: http://www.filbertfamily.net/news.html

TRANSPORT OF THE COLONISTS TO RUSSIA: From: "Transport von Oranienbaum bis zur Wolga (1766-1767" by Brent Mai. List of all colonists who arrived in Russia via Oranienbaum: It gives both surnames and first names. http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=de&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwolgadeutsche.ucoz.de%2Fforum%2F14-44-2&anno=2

Colonies (work in progress)

Note: The earlier dated 106 colonies were "mother colonies". Colonists were assigned to settlements according to their religious confession. Later colonies were settled from the mother colonies and were called "daughter colonies". The first colony founded was Dobrinka.

West (Bergseite = hilly side); East (Wiesenseite = meadow side) These are descriptive as well as telling us which side of the Volga they were situated on.

Description of all colonies here:

List of colony village coordinators and their contact information (great resource if you're looking for further detailed information or specific data such as village census information, births, deaths, marriages, etc.)

Colony Name Year Founded Religion West or East Origin
AHRENFELD (KRATZKI) 1855 Lutheran West daughter colony of Dittel, Hussenbach, Merkel, Bauer, Doennhof
ALEXANDERHOEH 1860 Lutheran West 2 daughter colonies combined: Alexanderdorf and Höh
ALEXANDERTAL 1853 Lutheran West Daughter colony of Schilling (thus also called Neu Schilling)
ALT-WEIMAR 1861 Lutheran West daughter colony of Galka, Stephan, Schwab, Dobrinka, Moor.
ANTON 1764 Lutheran West
BALZER 1765 Lutheran West Baden, Hesse, Rhineland, Palatinate, Württemburg,Switzerland
BANGERT 1767 Lutheran East
BASEL 1767 Lutheran East
BAUER 1766 Lutheran East
BAUM 1767 Lutheran East
BEAUREGARD 1766 Lutheran West
BEIDECK 1764 Lutheran West
DEGOTT 1766 Catholic East
DEHLER 1767 Catholic East
DIETAL 1 July 1767 Lutheran
DINKEL 12 May,1767 Lutheran
DOBRINKA 1764 Lutheran West
DREISPITZ September 16, 1767 Protestant
FRANK 16 May 1767 Lutheran
GALKA 12 August 1764 Lutheran
GNADENFELD (NEU-MOOR) 1855 Lutheran East Daughter Colony from Schilling, Balzer, Dönhof, Grimm, Norka, Schwab, and Moor.
GÖBEL 25 May 1767 Catholic West Mother Colony: 72 families from Mainz, Würzburg, and Isenburg Germany
GRAF (Krutoyarovka), (Граф ) 10th June 1766 Catholic East
GRIMM July 1, 1767 Reformed West
HERZOG June 14, 1766 Catholic East
HOLSTEIN May 26, 1765 Evangelical East
HUCK 1 July 1767 Reformed West Isenberg, Hesse
HUSSENBACH 1767 Lutheran West Brandenburg, Saxony,Palatinate,Darmstadt
KAMENKA September 16, 1764 Catholic West
KOLB 13 May 1767 Lutheran
KRAFT 1767 Lutheran West
KRATZKE 7 August 1767 Lutheran
KUKKUS 26 June 1767 Lutheran East Braunfels, Kurpfalz, Hesse, Dierdorf, Weisbaden, Worms, Baubach, Isenburg, Baden-Durlach
KUTTER 8 July 1767 Lutheran West Isenburg, Hesse, Prussia
LAUB 12 July, 1767 Lutheran
LAUWE August 19, 1767 Lutheran Nüremberg, Baden, Darmstadt, Neu-Isenburg, Palatinate, Rhineland, Saxony, Brandenberg.
MARIENTAL 16 June 1766 Catholic East
MERKEL August 28, 1766 Lutheran West
MESSER July 7, 1766 Reformed
NIEDER-MONJOU 7 June 1767 Lutheran
NORKA 15 August 1767 Lutheran
OBERMONJOU (Krivovka, Kriwowskoje), (Ней-Обермонжу) 5th March 1767 Catholic East Hesse
PFEIFER 15 Jun 1767 Catholic East
ROSENBERG (Umet) 1847 Lutheran West Daughter colony of Grimm, Balzer, Dreispitz, Shcherbakovka, Stephan, Holstein, Galka, Kutter
ROTHAMMEL 1767 Catholic West
SCHILLING 1764 Lutheran East
SCHÖNCHEN (Panino, Paninskaya), (Шенхен) 3rd August 1767 Catholic East
SCHUCK 18th July 1766 Catholic West
SCHWAB 8 July 1767 Lutheran West Büdingen, Hessen, Baden-Württemberg
SEWALD 20 Aug 1767 Catholic West
STAHL-am-Karaman 9 July 1766 Lutheran East There is another Stahl...a different place!
STAHL-AM-TARLYK 13 August 1767 Lutheran East Otherwise called Stepnoje.
[[Space:|Space:]] Catholic
STEPHAN August 24,1767 Lutheran
UNTERDORF 1852 Lutheran West Daughter colony
VOLMER 18th July 1766 Catholic West
WALTER 25 August 1767 Lutheran West Mother colony. Neu-Walter is a later daughter colony from many villages
WARENBURG 12 May 1767 Lutheran East Darmstadt, Brandenburg, Prussia, Württemberg, Holstein.
VOLHYNIA AREA See Volhynia page

Helpful Sites

Combined lists of German settlers in Russia, years 1764-1767, by Pleve: http://www.readbag.com/cvgs-cu-portland-genealogy-1767-index-to-4-volumes

[YouTube videos about Volga Germans:

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUpCE6jPbwo

2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmHokzi2hA4

3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRtZIHa9DsA (Documentary)

4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFHJ58JmAs0 Returnees to Germany

5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qi-e_efZIJI Why some stayed in Russia

6. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQ1NZAmET2s (polka)

7. Looking for Elvira https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCTvjBBpZ5E

A Wonderful Site with lots of information

Volga Germans Project Category

Volga Germans on Wikipedia

a Univrsity website


Germans from Russia in Kansas

Volga Link

Volga Germans.net


Facebook site for Concordia University research page on the Volga Germans

Genocide [2]



One of the best research sites out there - AHSGR




[6] GRHS


The Volga Flows Forever

Society of Germans in Eastern Europe Databases


Comments: 13

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I don't see Samara Oblast, Russian Federation and Fischer Russia, this is where my Ancestor's are from and I found the cemetery they are laid to rest with the help of AHSGR.
posted by Carole Taylor
This is interesting, as I have some strong "Germans from Russia" roots myself, but my family came from the Catholic-German communities that were in the Odessa/Black Sea area (Ukraine) . My Great Grandparents immigrated to Saskatchewan in 1907, and other siblings and my GG-Grandparents immigrated as well between 1895-1915, some settling in Canada, some in North Dakota.

The Volga River is quite a distance from Ukraine and the Black Sea... Does anyone know if these two communities mixed much?

My Grandmother referred to her family as "Black Sea Germans".

I have a living cousin 2c1r whos family never left, and they also were compelled to move in WWII (1942) to where she grew up in Khabarovsk, in far eastern Russia.

posted by Brian Gix
May we have a sub profile entitled "Economic Study of a Volga Colony"

One in depth study was done by Maximilian Julius Pretorius. It was his Doctoral Thesis in Economics at the University of Leipzig , Estonia. He featured Galka Colony because he had a relative who made arrangements for him to live there while he did his research. Nevertheless it is generally considered the most definitive study for the Volga Colonies in general. Two professors of "Economic History of Eastern Europe" agree no better realtime study was done. ((Dr. Igor Pleve of Sarotov University and Dr. Takeo Suzuki of Waseda University in Japan.). I have this study in the original German and a passable English translation. I would enter it in this subcategory if you feel there would be any interest.

posted by Jayne (Wunsch) Dye
An extensive list of German colonies in Russia:

http://www.volgagerman.net/Index%20of%20German%20 Colonies%20in%20Russia.pdf

posted by Lana (X) H
I will be adding more villages from time to time. Since there were close to 200 of them, I will not add them all. Is anyone looking for one village in particular?
posted by Lana (X) H
Lana, you are awesome. What a project this is becomming!
posted by [Living King]
Find immigration records to US through Ellis Island:


posted by Lana (X) H
Homesteading land records in the US can be a source of genealogical information for the years 1862 through 1976.


posted by Lana (X) H
German names can be confusing. There are many Johanns and Marias, often in the same family. The FIRST NAME is often just a baptismal name: They were known by their second names. So, a Johann Georg was called Georg, and his brother Johann Heinrich was Heinrich.

Another confusing thing is that, when a child died, they often named a next child the same thing. So don't assume you have a duplicate if you have two of the same names as siblings...you will probably see that the oldest died as a child. The children of my grandparents included two Josephs, two Reubens, and two Jacobs.

Spellings of names were also inconsistent! Russian census often misspelled names. The names were often misspelled on immigration lists and were often changed on immigration. Johann Georg Adam became Henry Adam as an American!

posted by Lana (X) H
posted by Lana (X) H