Saturday, August 04, 2012

Russian-German Heroes of the Soviet Union

Over 33,500 Russian-Germans, most of them from the Volga region, served in the Soviet military fighting against Nazi Germany during World War II. Almost all of them were removed from the ranks of the Soviet armed forces before the end of 1941 and mobilized into forced labor detachments during 1942. Despite this prohibition on military service a large number of Russian-Germans managed to earn prestigious medals and orders from the Soviet government for their role in defending the USSR against Nazi Germany. Ethnic Germans in the Red Army bravely fought against the Nazis during the first months of the war before their almost complete purge from the military. A total of eight Russian-Germans received the award Hero of the Soviet Union. I have listed their names below.

A. Bohrmann
W. Wentzel
S. Wolkenstein
A. Hermann
N. Gastello
I. Garwahrt
R. Klein
N. Okhmann


A.A. German, 2011, "Rossiskie nemtsy v gody Velikoi Otechestsvennoi Voiny: Vklad v Pobedy", in A.A. German (ed.), Grazhdanskaia identichnost' i vnuternnii mir rossiskikh nemtsev v gody Velikoi Otechestvennoi Voiny i v istoricheskoi pamiati potomkov, Moscow: MSNK-Press, p. 14, fn. 6.

I.I. Shulga, 2011, "Massovye geroism rossiskikh nemtsev na fronte i v tylu protivnika kak proiavlenie patriotizma i grazhdanskoi identichnosti", in A.A. German (ed), Grazhdanskia identichnost' i vnuternii mir rossiskikh nemtsev v gody Velikoi Otechestvennoi Voiny i v istoricheskoi pamiati potomkov, Moscow: MSNK-Press, pp. 22-25.


Anonymous said...

Isn't it a bit of a problem that you operate in the same framework as NKVD (in respect to those "Russian-Germans") and other ethnocentric entities - when you identify these people as "Russian-Germans"?

I mean, you have no idea whatsoever what they identified themselves as. Some of them might've never thought of themselves as either 'Russian' or 'German' or 'Russian-German'. They might've thought of themselves primarily as 'Soviets', or something else altogether.

I mean, to me the moral of the story is that pre-judging, and even merely identifying people on the basis of their ethnic background is wrong and meaningless, not that "Russian-Germans" are this or that, that they were innocent, or heroes. They were just random people grouped together by a meaningless criterion, so why keep applying it?

Unknown said...

I don't trust German so much. But it is true- Germans from Russia were loyal to the soviet government despite all what they had to suffer.Because of massive brainwashing I think.

J. Otto Pohl said...


The category of Soviet citizens of German nationality had been given very concrete legal meaning by the government at this time. Having German on entry number five of one's passport regardless of self identification meant a severe restriction of legal rights. In other historical contexts the criteria was meaningless, but in 1941 and 1942 in the USSR it meant deportation, removal from the military, and mobilization into the labor army.


A.A. German does some good work. In particular editing the conference papers from Moscow. Note, I cite the Shulga article as well as German's. But, yes he has some stands that are untenable.

Anonymous said...

Legal meaning, so what. The fact that your passport says that you're German, or Jew, or Kalmyk, or whatever doesn't mean that you identify yourself as such, in any meaningful sense. It's a misnomer, as far as I'm concerned. It also means, to me, that I should avoid, wherever is possible, to identify people by these fictional attributes.

Figureheadme said...

The Volga Germans were ethnic Germans living along the River Volga in southeastern Russia around Saratov. Imigrants recruited by Russia in the 18th century.

My ancestors wrote many passages in the back of the family bible re: family/life in Norka. My German ancestors did in fact relocate from Germany to Russia. Legal meaning!
Quite meaningful!
Nonfictional attributes I'm glad people use today. German-Russians. Or vice versa. Now, Data, go learn some manners.