Important Dates in the History of German Russians


April 21, 1729

  Sophia Augusta Frederica of Anhalt-Zerbst was born in Germany. She later ruled Russia under the name Catherine II. (Catherine the Great)


  Seven Years' War. Important factor in bringing Germans to Lower Volga to establish colonies.

June 28, 1762

  Catherine II ascends the throne of Russia

December 4, 1762

  First Manifesto issued by Catherine II, inviting foreigners to come to Russia. It brought few results.

July 22, 1763

  Catherine II issued second manifesto. It spelled out the conditions under which they could immigrate and granted special rights and privileges. Large numbers of German peasants accepted the invitation.


  Founding of German colonies along the Lower Volga River.


  Kirghiz Raids and Pugachev's rebellion, called the Pugachevshchina, ravished the Volga colonies.


  Mennonites from West Prussia began immigrating to Russia due to 1772 Partition of Poland, which threatened their military service exemption as conscientious objectors. Settlements were established primarily in the Taurida region of South Russia.


  Second Partition of Poland grants area of Volhynia to Russia. Polish landowners invite German peasants to lease land for cultivation.
November 6, 1796

  Death of Catherine II at age sixty-seven.


  Reign of Czar Paul I, son of Catherine II

February 20, 1804

  Alexander I modifies and reissues manifesto of Catherine II, inviting foreigners to settle in New Russia.


  Reign of Tsar Nicholas I, Grandson of Catherine II, and brother of Alexander I.


  Polish Insurrection brings about immigration of many Polish Germans to the Bessarabia and Volga Region.


  Reign of Tsar Alexander II, great-grandson of Catherine II, son of Nicholas I.


  Another wave of Germans immigrate to Volhynia prompted by 1861 abolishment of serfdom, leaving significant drain on work force. Second Polish Insurrection of 1863 brought more Polish Germans to Volhynia and other areas of Russia.


  Germany unified as a nation for first time. Created unease among European nations and Russia. Time of increased animosity towards foreigners in Russia due to Slavophile movement and growing nationalism.

June 4, 1871

  Imperial Russian Government issues decree repealing the Manifestos of Catherine II and Alexander I, terminating the special privileges of the German colonists.

January 13, 1874

  Imperial Russian Government issues second decree amending the previous one. This decree instituted compulsory military conscription for the German colonists. These decrees impelled thousands of German Russians to immigrate to North and South America


  Reign of Tsar Nicholas II, descendent of Catherine II. He abdicated during World War I. On July 16, 1918, the Bolsheviks executed him and his family. Nicholas II was the last monarch to rule Russia.

July 28, 1914

  Outbreak of World War I.


  Advancement of Eastern front. Volhynian Germans deported to Volga and South Russia.

December 13, 1916

  Volga Germans ordered to be banished. This order was never carried out because of internal troubles in Russia.

November 7, 1917

  Bolshevik Revolution in Russia led by Vladimir Lenin. The beginning of the Communist regime. (October 25, 1917 by old-style Russian Calendar).

June 29, 1918

  Lenin established Autonomous Volga German Workers' Commune, forerunner to the ASSR of the Volga Germans, founded in 1924.


  1920-1923 Period of famine in Russia. Death by starvation in the Volga-German colonies alone estimated at 166,000 lives, one third of the population. American Relief Administration provided assistance.

January 1924

  Autonomous Socialistic Soviet Republic of the Volga Germans established.


  Second period of famine again claims many lives throughout Russia.


  German farms and property expropriated by Soviet government. Germans forced into collective farms or migrate to the cities. Period of Stalinization.

September 1, 1939

  Outbreak of World War II.

June 22, 1941

  Nazi Germany invades Soviet Russia.

August 20, 1941

  Beginning of the banishment and exile of the German populations in Russia. Crimean Germans deported.

August 28, 1941

  Decree ordering deportation of Volga Germans to northeastern part of Soviet Union, Middle Asia, and Siberia.

October, 1941

  Germans in the North and South Caucasus deported. St. Petersburg Germans also deported.


  Fall of Soviet Union.