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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A study of the German Lutheran and Catholic immigrants in Canada, formerly residing in Tzarist and Soviet Russia Heier, Edmund

Abstract

After Empress Katherine II of Russia issued a Manifesto in 1763, inviting European settlers to Russia, a substantial number of Germans immigrated and settled, with special privileges, on the left and right hand banks of the lower Volga River. The Napoleonic wars temporarily stopped this first influx of Germans into Russia. With the beginning of the 19th century, a second immigration of Germans started to Russia, which resulted in the foundation of numerous German settlements in the Black Sea region. The high birth rate amongst the German settlers soon made a land shortage apparent with the result that sister colonies were founded in Siberia and Central Asia. Although the German settlers were on a low level culturally, they progressed economically and when compared to their Russian neighbors, the Germans were a prosperous group. The Revolution of 1917 in Russia brought about tremendous changes in the German colonies, nevertheless the colonists remained residing in their original settlements until World War II. With the outbreak of the Second World War, the Volga Germans were termed "unreliables" and were resettled to Siberia. The Black Sea Germans, since that area was occupied by-German forces, were repatriated to Germany. As early as 1#74, when the German colonists' privileges were curtailed in Russia, an immigration to overseas countries had started. The period from 1874 to World War I, marked their first immigration to Canada. As the Russian-Germans were a rural people, they settled exclusively in the three prairie provinces of Canada. They settled according to their religious faith although their settlements in Canada were sporadic when compared to the close, dense settlements in Russia. The period between World War I and World War II marked the second immigration of Russian-Germans to Canada. Very few of these immigrants became farmers, the majority of them settled in the cities. After World War II the third immigration period started. These Russian-German immigrants were of the group who were resettled to Germany during the Second World War. The economic success in Canada culturally elevated the entire Russian-German group. They were leaderless and lacked a national feeling. These two factors caused the rapid adoption of Canadian culture by the Russian-Germans. While the adult immigrants have only reached a level of adjustment, their children, who are Canadian born and educated, no longer differ from any of their fellow Canadians.

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