Black Sea Germans

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Map of German ethnic minorities in Eastern Europe, 1932.
A German grave (early 19th century) in the village of Pshonyanove, Kominternivskyi Raion, Odessa Oblast, Ukraine

The Black Sea Germans (German: Schwarzmeerdeutsche; Russian: Черноморские немцы; Ukrainian: Чорноморські німці) or Ukrainian Germans are ethnic Germans who left their homelands in the 18th and 19th centuries, and settled in territories off the north coast of the Black Sea, mostly in southern Russia (including the Ukraine).[1] Included in the category of Black Sea Germans are the following groups from the Black Sea area: the Bessarabia Germans, Dobrujan Germans, and the Russian Mennonites.

The Black Sea Germans are distinct from the Volga Germans, who were separate both geographically and culturally, although both groups moved to the Russian Empire at about the same time and for the same reasons and both groups are referred to as Germans from Russia.

The Germans settled in southern Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula, both of which were part of the Russian Empire at the time. These lands had been annexed by the Russian Empire by Catherine the Great through her two wars with the Ottoman Empire (1768–1774) and from the annexation of the Crimean Khanate (1783). The area of settlement was not settled as compactly as that of the Volga territory; rather it was home to a chain of colonies. The first German settlers arrived in 1787, first from West Prussia, then later from Western and Southwestern Germany and Alsace, France, as well as from the Warsaw area. Catholics, Lutherans, and Mennonites were all known as capable farmers (see Molotschna for Mennonite settlements in the Melitopol area); Empress Catherine herself sent them a personal invitation to immigrate to the Russian Empire.

The majority of Black Sea Germans were resettled in Greater Germany in 1940 as a part of Hitler's Heim ins Reich policy.[citation needed] Germans during World War II (starting in 1938) were subjected to forced starvation, closure of German-language churches and schools were forced to change their language of instruction from German to Russian or Ukrainian. The 45,000 Germans in Crimea (along with other Black Sea Germans) were forced into exile in Siberia and Kazakhstan, many in forced labor camps.[1]

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  1. ^ a b "Germans from Russia Heritage". North Dakota State University. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 


This article incorporates information from the German Wikipedia.