Black Sea Germans

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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 the territories of the southern Russian Empire (including modern-day Ukraine).[1] Included in the category of Black Sea Germans are the following groups from the Black Sea area: the Bessarabia Germans, Crimea 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. Both groups are referred to as Germans from Russia.


Germans began settling in southern Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula around 1800. At the time, southern Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire. These lands had been annexed by the Russian Empire during the reign of Catherine the Great after successful wars against the Ottoman Empire (1768–1774) and the Crimean Khanate (1783). The area of settlement was not as compact 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.

A refugee trek of Black Sea Germans during the Second World War in Hungary, July 1944

After the Bolshevik Revolution and the formation of the Soviet Union, Black Sea Germans, prior to World War II, 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]

Many were deported as a result of the collectivization of all Soviet agricultural land in 1930/1931 by Stalin's first five-year plan. The German farmers were labeled kulaks (rich peasants) by the Communist regime and those who did not agree to voluntarily give their land to the collective were expelled to Siberia and Central Asia. Although the mass deportation of the kulaks was based on social and not ethnic criteria, the German Russian settlements probably suffered more than any other communities. About 1.2 percent of the Soviet population was classified as kulak and deported to the Gulag (slave labor camps), based on a total Soviet population of 147 million, according to the 1926 census. The number of ethnic Germans sent to the camps as kulaks was about 50,000 out of a German population in the Soviet Union at the time of the same census of 1.239 million, that is, about 4 percent of the German population. The Germans were not the only ethnic group deported in large numbers during the collectivization drive, as many ethnic Poles also suffered the same fate. However, the Germans comprised the single largest foreign minority sent to internal exile in the Soviet Union. There appeared to have been a deep prejudice against German communities because many Soviet officials considered all German farmers kulaks, no doubt because they appeared better off than average Russian peasants.

After Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the Soviet leadership decided to evacuate all ethnic Germans from the western regions of the Soviet Union. The Supreme Soviet decreed the first evacuations, which were really expulsions, as the inhabitants were never allowed to return. Action to deport every ethnic German from the Crimea began on August 15, 1941. Although the decree stated that old people would not have to leave, everyone was expelled, first to Stavropol, and then to Rostov in southeastern Ukraine, near the Crimea, but then all were sent on to camps and special settlements in Kazakhstan. Given only three or four hours to pack, the deportees were not told where they were going, how long they would stay there, or how much food to take. The result was starvation for many and, due to the confusion, the separation of many families. In all, as many as perhaps 60,000 ethnic Germans were expelled from the Crimea at this time.

Although the majority of the Black Sea Germans avoided deportation due to the rapid advance of the German Army, Stalin, nevertheless, had sufficient time to arrest and exile those living east of the Dnieper River. Between September 25 and October 10, 1941, about 105,000 ethnic Germans were exiled and deported from this region. In terms of total numbers deported to Siberia and Central Asia, between August 15 and December 25, 1941, the Soviet government expelled and exiled 856,000 German Russians. Included in this figure were many members of the Communist Party and the Komsomol (the student organization for Communist Party candidates).

Because of the Axis quick conquest of Soviet territory in the early months of the war, the Soviet regime was not able to deport the majority of the ethnic Germans from the western part of the Soviet Union. The German towns and villages in the Western Ukraine, in Volhynia, and the Black Sea region all came under Nazi German rule, first under a military government and then under that of the Nazi Party or the SS.

With the defeat of the German Army at Stalingrad in the winter of 1942–1943, Red Army forces began their offensive, recapturing more and more German-occupied territory. SS Head Heinrich Himmler made a decision to evacuate all ethnic Germans and bring them to the Reich. Evacuations began in scattered German communities in the North Caucasus, where in February 1943, 11,000 people were transferred. Shortly thereafter, 40,000 German Russians were sent westward from the area between the Don and Dnieper Rivers. When the Soviet troops neared the Dnieper River in October 1943, the Chortitza Mennonite communities, totaling about 35,000 people, had to flee. In October, 45,000 ethnic Germans from Volhynia (Western Ukraine) were also forced to leave, and by February 1944, it became clear to the Germans in Southern Ukraine that the Red Army could not be stopped; thus, they began their evacuation. About 135,000 fled to the West. Approximately 280,000 ethnic Germans were successfully brought out of the occupied Soviet Union, which represented almost 90 percent of the registered German population, according to the 1943 Reich census.

On the basis of the articles pertaining to the repatriation of nationals in the Yalta Agreement, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to return each other's nationals at the end of the war. Of the almost 300,000 ethnic Germans who were evacuated by the Germans from the Soviet Union, about 200,000 were caught and sent to the Gulag by the Red Army, either as they fled from the Warthegau in Western Poland, previously incorporated into the German state, (about 120,000), or elsewhere in Eastern Europe or when they were forcibly repatriated from occupied Germany to the Soviet Union. [2]



  • Glückstal (today Hlinaia, Russian Glinoe/Глиное – Moldova/Transnistria)
  • Neudorf (today Carmanova, Russian Karmanowa/Карманова – Moldova/Transnistria)
  • Bergdorf (today Colosova, Russian Kolossowa/Колосова – Moldova/Transnistria)
  • Kassel (today Welykokomariwka/Великокомарівка – Ukraine)
    and their daughter colonies:
  • Hoffnungstal (today Zebrykowe/Цебрикове – Ukraine)
  • Hoffnungsfeld (today Lenine/Леніне – Ukraine)
  • Klein Neudorf (today Nowoseliwka/Новоселівка – Ukraine)
  • Neu-Beresina (today Malosymenowe/Малозименове – Ukraine)
  • Neu-Glückstal (today Zybuliwka/Цибулівка – Ukraine)
  • Neu-Berlin (today Worobjowe/Воробйове – Ukraine)
  • Neu-Kassel (today Sofijiwka/Софіївка – Ukraine)
  • Rosenfeld (today Konopljane/Конопляне – Ukraine)
  • Gnadenfeld (today Nejkowe/Нейкове – Ukraine)
  • Kleinbergdorf (today Crasnoe, Russian Krasnoje/Красное – Moldova/Transnistria)
  • Friedenstal (today Tryhrady/Тригради – Ukraine)
  • Krontal (destroyed – east of Grigoriopol located in – Moldova/Transnistria)
  • Neu-Glückstal (today Wowtsche/Вовче as part of Rymariwka/Римарівка – Ukraine)
  • Koscharka (today Koscharka/Кошарка – Ukraine)
  • Saratow (destroyed, northeast of Koscharka) [3]


  • Strassburg (today part of Kuchurhan/Кучурган)
  • Selz (today part of Lymanske/Лиманське)
  • Kandel (today part of Lymanske/Лиманське)
  • Baden (today part of Kuchurhan/Кучурган)
  • Mannheim (today Kam'yanka/Кам'янка)
  • Elsass (today Shcherbanka/Щербанка)
    and their daughter colonies:
  • Ambrose Khutor
  • Balmas, Bessarabia
  • Bezilajweka
  • Bischofsfeld (today Yeremiivka/Єреміївка)
  • Bogunskoje
  • Brilowa
  • Brinnowka
  • Dikowa
  • Diminski
  • Fischer Khuter
  • Fischer-Franz Khutor
  • Georgental (today Sekretarivka/Секретарівка)
  • Jeremejewka
  • Johannestal
  • Kamenka
  • Kaschary
  • Kellersheim (destroyed)
  • Kosenka
  • Koslowka
  • Kutschurgan Khutor
  • Langenberg
  • Larga, Bessarabia
  • Linejewka
  • Mandrowo
  • Marjanowka
  • Matischowka
  • Miller Khutor
  • Milliardowka
  • Miroljubowka
  • Neu Baden
  • Neu Elsass
  • Neu Kandel (today Bohunove/Богунове)
  • Neu Mannheim (today Novostepanivka/Новостепанівка)
  • Neu Schlossel Khutor
  • Neu Selz
  • Neu Strassburg
  • Nowo Andreaschewka
  • Ponjatowka
  • Rosaljewka
  • Sachalski
  • Schatzen Khutor
  • Schemiott
  • Schwowe Khutor
  • Severinovka (today Severynivka/Северинівка)
  • Stepanowka
  • Sturpelz
  • Susanowka
  • Tschebanka
  • Wasiljewka
  • Welter Khutor
  • Wolkowo


(1803 founded by Lutherans from Württemberg)
  • Kleinliebental (today Malodolynske/Малодолинське)
(1803 founded by Catholics from Alsace)
(1803 founded by Catholics from Alsace)
  • Mariental (today Marjaniwka/Мар'янівка)
(1803 founded by Catholics from Alsace)
  • Lustdorf (today Burlacha Balka/Бурлача Балка, district of Odessa)
(1805 founded by Württemberger)
(1805/06 founded by Württemberger)
(1806 founded by Württemberger)
  • Peterstal (today Petrodolynske/Петродолинське)
  • Franzfeld (today Nadlymanske/Надлиманське)
  • Annental (today Biljary/Білярі)
  • Güldendorf (today Krasnosilka/Красносілка)
  • Freudental (today Myrne/Мирне)
    as well as the daughter colonies:
  • Friedensfeld (today Syliwka/Силівка)
  • Neu-Freudental (today Marynowe/Маринове)


  • Alexanderfeld (today Berezivka/Березівка)
  • Felsenburg (today Welidariwka/Велідарівка)
  • Gnadenfeld (today Nejkowe/Нейкове)
  • Halbstadt (today Nowoseliwka/Новоселівка)
  • Neu Karlsruhe (today Tscherwona Sirka/Червона Зірка)
  • Neu Rastadt (today part of Poritschtschja)
  • Friedrichstal (destroyed)
  • Stuttgart (destroyed)


1912 Molotschna Colony map
  • Alt-Montal (today Samoschne/Заможне)
  • Alt-Nassau (today Wynohradne/Виноградне)
  • Blumental (today Riwne/Рівне)
  • Durlach (destroyed, south of Tschapajewka/Чапаєвка)
  • Friedrichsfeld (today Rosdol/Роздол)
  • Grüntal (destroyed, at Tschornosemne/Чорноземне)
  • Heidelberg (today Nowohoriwka/Новогорівка)
  • Hochheim (today Komsomolske/Комсомольське)
  • Hochstädt (today Wyssoke/Високе)
  • Hoffental (today in the northern part of Wynohradne)
  • Karlsruhe (today Sraskowe/Зразкове)
  • Kostheim (today Pokasne/Показне)
  • Kronsfeld (today Marjaniwka/Мар'янівка)
  • Leiterhausen (today Traktorne/Тракторне)
  • Neu-Montal (today Peremoschne/Переможне)
  • Neu-Nassau (today Suwore/Суворе)
  • Prischib (largely destroyed in the northern part of Wynohradne)
  • Reichenfeld (today Plodorodne/Плодородне)
  • Rosental (today Nowe Pole/Нове Поле)
  • Tiefenbrunn (today Tschystopillja/Чистопілля)
(1822 founded by Lutherans from Baden)
  • Waldorf (today Schowtnewe/Жовтневе)
  • Wasserau (today Wodne/Водне)
    Darmstadt Colony
  • Weinau (today Tschapajewka/Чапаєвка)
  • Neudorf (zerstört, south of Wyschnewe/Вишневе)
(already in 1833 disbanded)

Colonies in Ekaterinoslav

  • Billersfeld (today Olexandrivka/Олександрівка)
  • Fischersdorf (today Stadtteil Rybalske/Рибальське as part of the Stadtrajons Samara by Dnipropetrovsk)
  • Jamburg (today Dniprowe/Дніпрове)
  • Josefstal (today Samarivka/Самарівка, largely destroyed) – (Lutherans from Thorn (1780) and Danzig (1789))
  • Kronsgarten (southern part of Pidhorodne/Підгородне) – (Frisian Mennonites from Marienburg (1789))
  • Mariental/Marienfeld (today Majorka/Майорка)

Planer colonies in Mariupol

  • Kirschwald (today Wyschnjuwate/Вишнювате)
  • Tiegenhof (today Asow/Азов)
  • Rosengart (Rajhorod – today northern part of Lystwjanka/Листвянка)
  • Schönbaum (today Lystwjanka/Листвянка)
  • Kronsdorf (Kasjanoselsk – today northern part of Rosiwka/Розівка)
  • Grunau (Alexandronewsk – today in the northeastern part of Rosiwka/Розівка)
  • Rosenberg (today Rosiwka/Розівка)
  • Wickerau (today Kusneziwka/Кузнецівка)
  • Reichenberg (today Bahatiwka/Багатівка)
  • Kampenau (Kamenske – today southern part of Marjaniwka/Мар'янівка)
  • Mirau (today Myrske/Мирське)
  • Kaiserdorf (today Probudschennja/Пробудження)
  • Göttland (today Marjaniwka/Мар'янівка)
  • Neuhof (today Nowodworiwka/Новодворівка)
  • Eichwald (today Uryzke/Урицьке)
  • Tiegenort (today Antoniwka/Антонівка)
  • Tiergart (destroyed – northeast of Antoniwka)
  • Ludwigstal (today Karla Libknechta/Карла Лібкнехта)

Swabia colonies in Berdyansk

  • Neu-Hoffnung (today the western part of Ossypenko/Осипенко)
  • Neu-Hoffnungstal (today Dolynske/Долинське)
  • Neu-Stuttgart (today Jelysawetiwka/Єлизаветівка)
  • Rosenfeld (today Oleniwka/Оленівка)

More colonies

Colonies in Maximovich South of Donetsk:

Notable people

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Germans from Russia Heritage". North Dakota State University. Retrieved 18 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Ulrich Merten, "Voices from the Gulag: the Oppression of the German Minority in the Soviet Union", (American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, Lincoln, Nebraska, 2015) pages 121,159,163,245,246,253.
  3. [1]
  4. Beresan, Cherson, South Russia Map

External links