[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Re: Nationality

albertr7 at juno.com albertr7 at juno.com
Thu Jul 29 16:07:28 PDT 2004

Jerry, thanks for clarifying the difference between nationality and

Here are my comments about how I sometimes handle the question.

When the census taker asked for my ethnic background I told him "German."

When I have time to chat and the subject comes up, I explain that my
maternal grandparents were German Mennonites from Russia, my paternal
grandparents were Germans from Poland (Lutherans, Baptists and
Mennonites).   Most people are rather surprised.

Recently, I was chatting with a gentleman and his ancestors were
Mennonites from Russia.  He of course asked me if I was "Dutch."  The
appropriate answer for him was of course "yes."  This is because the West
Prussian Mennonites who settled in South or New Russia spoke German but
called themselves Dutch.  I would say most of my maternal ancestors'
surnames were Dutch or Flemish in origin.  At least one ancestral surname
is clearly Polish.  My paternal ancestors of Lutheran background have
very Germanic surnames, and the Mennonite names of Baltzer, Buller,
Schmidt, Schellenberg and such do not evidence an origin from the low
countries. Even my own surname originated in Pomerania.  

By the way I glanced in the Multi-Cultural Encyclopedia at the public
library and German-Russians could not be found.  A similar encyclopia for
world cultures had the Mennonites in Paraguay (about 15,000 in
population) but nothing about Germans in Russia.  Now maybe I didn't look
closely enough but I do not think Germans from Russia are considered as
an ethnic group by the compilers of these works.  I'll have to look again
in those two sources to be sure but at first glance I couldn't find
'German Russian.'


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