ST. LOUIS PUBLIC LIBRARY
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Fall 2002
A Publication of the St. Louis Public Library

Vol. 2   No. 4

ETHNIC SPOTLIGHT

A subject of special interest in the history of German settlement in North America is the story of the Germans from Russia. The story begins in 1762, when Russia’s Catherine the Great issued a first manifesto inviting Germans to settle in the recently acquired area on the lower Volga River. This manifesto offered little besides land to prospective settlers, however, so there were few takers. Catherine then issued a second manifesto in 1763. In this prospective, settlers were offered special incentives: free transportation to Russia, free land and interest-free loans, exemption from military service, the right to settle in all-German enclaves, the right to build their own churches and schools, and the all-important right to leave Russia should they desire to do so.

Other Germans settled in Russia in 1803, at the invitation of Czar Alexander I. These Germans settled in the Crimea Peninsula and Bessarabia, on the Black Sea, in land recently acquired from Turkey. There would eventually be 3,000 German settlements in various parts of Russia.

In 1871, Czar Alexander II revoked the special privileges granted to Germans in Russia by Catherine the Great and Alexander I. This began a migration of Germans in Russia to destinations in the U. S., Canada, and South America, which continued without interruption until the 1914 outbreak of World War I.

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