Peter Petroff November 1936

The Volga Germans

Source: Letters to the Editor, The Times, November 30 1936, p. 8;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

Sir, – As one of the initiators of the Autonomous Republic, of the Volga Germans in 1918 and head of its Education Department in 1919 I have read with great interest the article of your correspondent in The Times of November 25.

I may say that in those difficult years, when the villages of the German peasants were threatened by Koltchak and Denikin, they proved to be the most loyal citizens of Soviet Russia. While the neighbouring province of Samara supplied 5 per cent. of the grain quota demanded by the Government our German peasants gave 100 per cent. and voluntarily sent additional 63,000 poods of wheat for the starving children of Moscow. At that time the Volga Republic was one of the few districts of Russia where Soviet democracy was a reality.

I notice that your Correspondent does not mention the nine Mennonite villages. These were once the pride of the German Volga Republic having attained a higher level of agriculture than any neighbouring district. Their thoroughbred cattle were remarkable. Of course their houses were well-built, neat and clean, and it is possible that under the Stalin regime these hard-working peasants have been regarded as kulaks and “liquidated.”

In 1919, as a result of the autonomy granted by the Soviet Government, there was a remarkable cultural revival among the German peasants on the Volga and we cherished great hopes for their further development.

I am, Sir, yours faithfully,

77, Tabley Road, Tufnell Park, N.7.