On 15 September 1941, the NKVD began the forced round up and deportation of the Russian-Germans living in Rostov Oblast in accordance with GKO order 636ss signed by Joseph Stalin nine days previously. In a mere three days the Soviet security forces packed over 38,000 men, women and children into cattle cars bound for Kazakhstan and Siberia. The Russian-Germans living along the Don River joined their ethnic kin from the Volga as special settlers living in Soviet Asia. Like the Volga Germans they suffered from a lack of proper shelter, food, clothing and medicine in their new areas of settlement. Many of them died from the resulting exposure, malnutrition and disease. Their traditional homeland along the Don had been lost forever.
Lutheran settlers from the Black Sea colonies established most of the German villages along the Don in the 1880s and 1890s. A few Catholic and Separatist communities also existed among the Don Germans. These settlements maintained their existence as German cultural islands until 1941.
The Russian-German settlements in Rostov Oblast represented just one of the many German diasporas deliberately annihilated during World War II because its inhabitants were of the wrong blood. The Stalin regime persecuted the innocent Russian-Germans because they shared a distant ethnic relationship with the leadership of the Third Reich. Stalin’s destruction of the Russian-German communities and the mass mortality they suffered due to their persecution deserves no less recognition than the Nazi crimes against the Jews.
N.F. Bugai, ed., Iosif Stalin – Lavrentiiu Berii. “ Ikh nado deportirovat’,” Dokumenty, fakty, kommentarii (Moscow, Druzhba narodov, 1992).
Alfred Eisfeld and Victor Herdt, eds. Deportation, Sondersiedlung, Arbeitsarmee: Deutsche in der Sowjetunion 1941 bis 1956 (Koln: Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik, 1996).
A.A. German and A.N. Kurochkin, Nemtsy SSSR v trudovoi armii (1941-1955) (Moscow: Gotika, 1998).
O.L. Milova, ed., Deportatsii narodov SSSR (1930-1950-e gody). Chast’ 2. Deportatsiia nemtsev (Sentiabr’ 1941-Fevral’ 1942 gg.) (Moscow: RAN, 1995).
Richard Sallet, Russian-German Settlement in the United States (Fargo, ND: North Dakota Institue for Regional Studies, 1974).
V.N. Zemskov, Spetsposelentsy v SSSR, 1930 –1960 (Moscow: Nauk, 2003).