|September 8, 1941 The New York Times Cyrus I. Sulzberger
SHIFT IS DECREED Soviet Takes Sweeping Step to Forestall a Fifth Column
'NAZI' FOMENTATION FEARED Action Impelled by Failure of District to Report Any Dissident
MOSCOW, Monday, September 8 — In a sweeping move designed to obviate permanently any danger
of a fifth-column movement in the Volga German Republic, which has housed hundreds of thousands of
Germans since the latter part of the Eighteenth Century when Catherine the Great invited in settlers
from South Germany, the Soviet Supreme Council has signed a decree ordering the resettlement of that
population in Siberia.
This predominately farming folk will be moved eastward as soon as possible. A decree signed by
President Mikhail I. Kalinin on August 28 indicates its obvious purpose by stating: “According to reliable
information received by the military authorities, thousands and tens of thousands of diversionists and
spies among the German population of the Volga are prepared to cause explosions in these regions at a
signal from Germany.”
Easternmost German Colony
The Volga settlement is the easternmost colony of Germans. The accent of the Volga settlers, however,
is markedly differently from that of the present Reich.
When this war started there was considerable speculation as to how extensively the Nazis were seeking
secretly to organize dissent among this racial element. President Kalinin’s decree now indicates that the
government is taking no chances. Russia watched with interest the uprisings of German settlers in the
Yugoslav Banat during the Nazi invasion last April. Although the German Army’s drive toward the
Volga is a tremendous distance from its possible eventual objectives, it is clear that steps toward
preventing present or future troubles are already being taken.
The decree, whose existence was made public today, is based on the theory that possible German
efforts to muddy the waters in the Volga Republic might necessitate a Soviet action against the entire
population in that region and that therefore to avoid such a predicament, it is more advisable to resettle
that population on Siberian land. This area is not only far from any danger of such interference but
needs development. It is stated that no Germans from the Volga have reported the existence of the
purportedly large numbers of dissidents who have been uncovered.
“If diversionist acts took place,” the decree said, “under orders from Germany by German dissidents or
spies in the Volga German Republic or in neighboring regions, and bloodshed resulted, the soviet
government would be forced under martial law to adopt reprisal measures against the entire Volga
German population. In order to avoid such an undesirable occurrence and to forestall serious bloodshed,
the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the U.S.S.R. has found it necessary to resettle the entire
German population of the Volga regions to other districts under the condition that the resettled peoples
be allotted land and given State aid to settle in the new regions. The resettled Germans will be given land
in the Novosibirsk and Omsk districts, in the Altai region of the Kazakhstan Republic and neighboring
localities rich in land. In connection with this, the National Defense Council is instructed to resettle as
soon as possible all Volga Germans who will be given land estates in new regions.”
Nothing has been said about whether the regions evacuated by these Germans will be settled by new
inhabitants, but because of the great industrial and agricultural importance of the Volga settlement, it is
most likely that this will take place. Hundreds of thousands of persons have been removed successfully
from White Russia and the Western Ukraine and it is not impossible that some of them will be deposited
in the Volga strip.
MOSCOW, Monday, September 8 (AP) — A mass movement into exile in Siberia was ordered today
for the heavily German-derived population of the Volga area, because of its alleged readiness to
sabotage Russia’s war effort. The German Volga territory is an autonomous Soviet Republic in
European Russia, north of the Caspian Sea. Of its population of 571,089 in 1926, about 67 percent
were Germans. The republic covers some 10,329 square miles, about three-fourths lying on the left
bank of the Volga River and the remainder on the right bank. The German population grew from 27,000
colonists settled there in 1760-61 [sic] at the invitation of Catherine the Great by special manifesto when
the population was so much less than today that the government was concerned about the development
of the uncultivated territory.
|Between 1930 and 1937, Russian Germans lost another quarter of their population through murder,
engineered famines or deportation. Two years before they were deported to Central Asia in 1939,
60,000 of the 1.1 million inhabitants of Crimea were German. There were virtually none left there.In
1941, Moscow announced the mass "evacuation" of approximately 440,000 Volga German farmers to
remote regions of Siberia. The Volga German Republic was dissolved and the German population was
deported to Siberia into Trud Army camps, a heinous event reported totally apathetically in the New
York Times (article below). There was also a German minority of about 100,000 people the North
Caucasus, Georgia, and Azerbaijan until 1941, when Stalin ordered those inhabitants with a German
father to be deported, mostly to Siberia or Kazakhstan.
With the start of the war between Germany and the Soviet Union, at least 900,000 ethnic Germans were
deported from the autonomous Volga German Republic and other parts of the Soviet Union to Siberia,
the Urals and Kazakhstan. In addition, about 300,000 refugees were forcibly "repatriated" after the war
(the 1945 Potsdam Agreement allowed each occupation power to repatriate "its own citizens" into its
country and this also led to enslavement and massive slaughter by the Red Army against the forcibly
returned ethnic Germans from Russia who had previously fled to German areas for protection). 40% of
Germans died as a result of massacres or during and after transportation.
By 1949, over a million ethnic Germans had perished in Russia. Khrushchev later admitted that the
famine of 1933 was 'an act of murder' on the part of the government, and the Communist Party of
Ukraine confessed in the 1990's that the famine had been deliberately created. Today, Germans are the
fifth largest Russian ethnic group with about 400,000 Germans alive in Siberia.
|Crimea: Russian and Volga Germans