[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] World War1

Richard Benert benovich at imt.net
Wed Nov 15 13:54:30 PST 2006


Yours is the first story I've seen concerning Germans in Suwalki province.  The sum total of what is now known about their deportation, I suspect, is in Eric Lohr's brief comment, which I quote:

"By all indications, a relatively low-rank officer was the first to order a large-scale expulsion of Russian-subject Germans.  [Up to this point, he had been discussing the deportation of individual enemy subjects which began immediately with the declaration of war.]  On September 7, 1914, Suvalki Governor Kuprianov reported that a corps commander had ordered the expulsion of all "German colonists" from areas occupied by [Russian] troops in the province.  Kuprianov eagerly requested permission to extend this order to cover the entire province.  Although at first he was only allowed to deport Germans from areas where troops were present, on November 30 he was granted permission to expel all Germans, including colonists, urban populations, and Germans in government service from the entire province.  This added up to about 34,000 Germans.  This initiative quickly gained suppo9rt from the highest levels of the military command, starting with Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich and his Chief of Staff Ianushkevich."

Lohr got this information in some archives in Moscow.  A Russian historian (it might have been Lohr) suggested to me awhile back that perhaps there might exist in the military archives some records pertaining to specific individuals who were deported.  Many of the Germans expelled from Poland purchased train tickets (rather than being driven out by horse-drawn wagon), and I suppose there is a thousand to one chance that there might be a record of this in some forgotten archive.  It's pretty clear that further information about all of this is not likely to fall out of the sky!

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Bronwyn Klimach 
  To: Richard Benert 
  Cc: Jurgen ; Frank Janke ; ger-poland-volhynia at eclipse.sggee.org 
  Sent: Wednesday, November 15, 2006 6:43 AM
  Subject: Re: [Ger-Poland-Volhynia] World War1


  I have been interested in the treatment of families around Suwalki around the time of the First World War - those involved seem understandably not to have spoken much about it - and so found Ted's posting very moving and enlightening indeed.  I know that my children's grandfather* was left behind as a child (they lived in the village of Szury to the north of Suwalki and he* had been visiting friends - I am not certain of the date but would expect it to be 1914) when his parents were taken as slave labour(?) by the Russians, a move that I had understood to be completely without preparation.  They were away about 4yrs and had a son born in Saratow.  I believe they were able to return to their original farm.  

  I had not worked out how to discover facts around such incidents or other documented stories - thank you for the references you have already given Richard (I do not speak Russian), and any further tips you may be able to give would be most welcome.  In the unlikely event that any other information I have from the time might be new or of interest to you I am more than happy to forward it.  Ironically the same (now elderly) gentleman was (briefly) taken captive by the Russians (and narrowly missed being shot) during the Second World War.  It was my interest in trying to record his story that has seen me become too engrossed in family history! 

  Kind regards, 
  Bronwyn Klimach.

  On 11/14/06, Richard Benert <benovich at imt.net> wrote: 
    Jurgen and all,

    There are village by village lists of German farmers whose lands were
    expropriated in 1915.   They were all published in the Volhynia Gubernia 
    News in July, 1916.  Brent Alan Mai edited a book in which they all appear,
    and I think that individual village lists are available on the online (such
    as Dave Obee's website).  More knowledgeable people than I can tell you 
    whether these lists extended outside of Volhynia into the Chelm area.  I
    think they do not, but I may be wrong.

    Expulsions from the Chelm area seem to have occurred at roughly the same
    time (mid-July, 1915) as they did in Volhynia.  I've seen some evidence that 
    individual males were deported before that, but their families followed soon
    after as the warfront got close.  You can't generalize, however, from Chelm
    to the whole of Poland.  Various Russian commanders were busy expelling 
    Germans from Suwalki Province already in September, 1914, and other military
    officials issued such orders in the rest of Poland in the months that
    followed. It all depended on how close the German/Austrian army was. A final 
    expulsion from Poland was issued February 11, 1915 and was to be completed
    by February 20.  This is roughly 6 months before the expulsion orders were
    given for Volhynia.  At first, if Polish Germans got themselves ready to go 
    in 3 days, they could choose their destination (on paper, at least).  Many
    are supposed to have chosen Volhynia, where they had relatives, but after
    that they suffered the same fate as did the Volhynians Germans. 

    Details of this mass deportation can be found in numerous sources, most of
    them in German.  In English, you have the SGGEE Journal article mentioned by
    Ted Belke and an eye-witness account in the AHSGR Journal, X, no. 4 (Winter, 
    1987).  I'm beginning, finally, to work on a distillation of as many
    accounts as I can collect.  I keep running into more and more of them, so
    please be patient.  The best account of why and how this all happened is 
    that of Eric Lohr, "Nationalizing the Russian Empire.  The Campaign Against
    Enemy Aliens During World War I" (Cambridge, Mass, 2003).  If you read
    Russian (I can't), I can point you towards a few recent articles by Russian 
    scholars.  You can also get a general picture of the refugee experience in
    Peter Gatrell, "A Whole Empire Walking", which reminds us that the ethnic
    Germans were only one group of many who suffered this inhuman treatment at 
    the hands of the Russian military.

    I hope I may take advantage of this opportunity to ask anyone whose family
    story of the expulsion and exile has not come before my eyes to please share
    it with me.

    Dick Benert.

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Jurgen" <jkaut at xplornet.com>
    To: "Frank Janke" < frank_janke at yahoo.de>
    Cc: <ger-poland-volhynia at eclipse.sggee.org>
    Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2006 9:50 AM
    Subject: Re: [Ger-Poland-Volhynia] World War1 

    > hi, frank and everyone else,
    > this is a good question, i also would like to find out more information on
    > when these upheavals took place in the area around chelm,
    > several of my aunts were apparently married in april, 1918 in samara , 
    > russia
    > this was after they were relocated from bukowski las, a small village near
    > chelm earlier,
    > unsure as to when, how, would love to find out details of this mass
    > deportation
    > are there any records surviving that record which families, and family
    > members had their farms, etc taken away from them and were then sent to
    > russia ?
    > a very interesting topic
    > jurgen kaut 
    > ----- Original Message -----
    > From: "Frank Janke" <frank_janke at yahoo.de>
    > To: < ger-poland-volhynia at eclipse.sggee.org>
    > Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2006 8:58 AM
    > Subject: [Ger-Poland-Volhynia] World War1
    >> Hallo,
    >>  I wonder if anybody knows, when the German settlers north of Chelm had 
    >> to
    >> leave their settlements and had to go to Russia in World War 1?
    >>  Was it in July 1915?
    >>  Best regards
    >>  Frank Janke
    >> --------------------------------- 
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