Tuesday, July 11, 2017

There is No Such Thing as ‘a Russian German;’ Only Germans from Russia, One of Them Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 11 – Russians and some Germans refer to the Germans of Russia as “’Russian Germans,’” Sergey German says; “but this name is the greatest possible lie and provocation, invented by thodse who for many years have considered us a third-class illiterate tribe capable only of herding cattle, cutting wood, mining coal and cutting timber.”

            German, the son of Germans deported by Stalin who has been living in Germany since 2002, says that “by calling us ‘Russian Germans,’ the Russian authorities are manipulating our feelings” and suggesting we are almost Russians. “This is a lie because we never were Russians and never had the rights given them from birth” (vestnikcivitas.ru/pbls/4087).

            “Therefore, I can assert: ‘Russian Germans’ did not exist a priori. Just as never existed ‘Russian Jews,’ ‘Russian Poles,’ ‘Russian Ukrainians’ or ‘Russian Estonians, Lithuanians and Latvians.’”  Indeed, “a large portion of the population of German colonies [in Russia] didn’t know Russia because they had no need to accept an alien culture and way of life.”

            Even later, German continues, “for a long time, Russian for our fathers and grandfathers remained alien, a language spoken by the bosses, convoy soldiers, and camp guards, and therefore it was precisely in this language and at the beginning of the last century that one heard the slogan ‘Kill the German!’” 

            Even before World War II, Germans in Russia were viewed with suspicion; and then, they were deported. “And after the war, they were prohibited from returning to the places of their former residence or to study in universities and technicums. They were even prohibited from speaking their native language in public places.”

“For many years,” he says, “Soviet power did everything possible so that the Germans would occupy a lower social rank and be more illiterate than other Soviet peoples. More denigrated and more rightless.”  But despite this, now, Russians want to call “all Germans born in the post-Soviet space Russian Germans.”

Millions of Germans lived earlier in Ukraine, in Central Asia, and in the Baltic republics did not have any relationship to Russia and Russians,” raising the question “why then do they still call us ‘Russian Germans?” One reason is that thanks to Soviet oppression, many Germans born in Russia don’t speak their national language but only Russian.

“But these circumstances do not give a sense of attachment to a land and its dominant nation,” he says. Instead, “it gives birth to hatred to the country of one’s birth.” And thus we declare “We are not ‘Russian Germans. Not ‘Germano-Russians’ and not ‘Rosso-Germans.’ We are Germans who were born in the USSR or in Russia.”

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