[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Why Did They Leave?

Richard Benert benovich at imt.net
Thu Apr 24 11:05:33 PDT 2008


You're absolutely right about the law of 1892 giving rise to verbal 
contracts.  According to Neutatz, General Governor Ignatiev admitted by late 
1892 that the law passed in March of that year had given rise to a lot of 
verbal rental agreements, but that local officials were allowing this to 
happen because expelling all these farmers (in the absence of an organized 
program of replacing them with Russian peasants) was damaging to the local 
economy (that is, the gentry landowners).  Surely these local officials 
exacted a reward for their generosity!  By March 1894 both Ignatiev and the 
Minister of the Interior expressed an acceptance of this practice, bowing to 

But things only got murkier.  Apparently Ignatiev by 1895 believed that the 
German "threat" to Volhynia had been sufficiently stemmed by the laws of 
1887 and 1892, and that at the time there were only 26,000 colonists out of 
192,000 who were not Russian subjects (a Russian-subject German being 
somewhat less suspicious than a foreign-subject).  The Interior Ministry 
took his word for it and decided to annul the 1892 law.  The law of 1895 
carried basically the same stipulations as that for 1892, except that it was 
to apply only to NEW settlers who came after March 19, 1895.  The 26,000, 
however, were still to be forbidden to renew rental contracts in any form. 
The Governor of Volhynia could administratively expel anyone who made verbal 
contracts.  The Governor General (of Kiev, Podolia and Volhynia) had the 
power to decide exactly how to enforce the law by his own discretion.

I get confused just reading about this, and it doesn't take much imagination 
to see how this welter of conflicting laws and discretionary enforcement 
could give rise to all sorts of difficulties.  For those who did not become 
Russian subjects, it was pretty clear--no verbal contracts, no extension of 
rents after the lease ran out.  For Russian-subject Germans, a verbal 
agreement made in, say, 1893, was illegal at the start, was winked at, and 
then became legal (or at least not illegal) in 1895.  When such a contract 
ran out about 1903 or 05 or 07, and a landlord wanted (or was being 
pressured) to rent to a Russian or sell his land to the Peasant Land Bank, 
or had some other gripe against the German, the German renter may have faced 
eviction charges based on the 1892 law, but then had the charges dropped 
after he appealed to the law of March 19, 1895.     This might explain why 
only about 6% of the cases that Kostiuk refers to were successfully carried 
out against the colonist.  I'm only guessing, of course, Only a careful 
study of documents in the archives can tell us what really happened.  We do 
know that lots of Germans got evicted.  Even whole villages were wiped out 
when rented land was sold out from under them. How nice it would be if 
anyone had, in their family lore, stories dealing with this matter of land. 
Hint, hint...

By the way, a long-cherished dream of mine is coming true.  Neutatz's book 
(Die "deutsche Frage") IS being translated by the AHSGR and will be required 
reading for all SGGEEers.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Howard Krushel" <krushelh at telus.net>
To: "'Richard Benert'" <benovich at imt.net>; "'Ger-Poland-Volhynia List'" 
<ger-poland-volhynia at eclipse.sggee.org>
Sent: Wednesday, April 23, 2008 9:52 PM
Subject: RE: [Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Why Did They Leave?

This 1892law and the subsequent clamp down likely explains why so many of
the land contracts were not written up and registered; something I
discovered while searching for Land contracts in the Archives; but then it
seems there was always another regulation or law on the books for most every
thing which then necessitated a bribe to a Czarist Bureaucrat in order to
have him look the other way.
Howard Krushel

-----Original Message-----
From: ger-poland-volhynia-bounces at eclipse.sggee.org
[mailto:ger-poland-volhynia-bounces at eclipse.sggee.org] On Behalf Of Richard
Sent: Wednesday, April 23, 2008 12:28 PM
To: Jerry Frank; Darrel Goth; Ger-Poland-Volhynia List
Subject: Re: [Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Why Did They Leave?

  We know that the government (or rather some
officials) tried to clamp down on German landholding in Volhynia (again) in
1907.  Between 1901 and 1907, says Kostiuk, 8043 colonists were accused of
violating the 1892 law forbidding rental of land by Germans.  But of these
cases, only 503  actually made it to court

No virus found in this incoming message.
Checked by AVG.
Version: 7.5.524 / Virus Database: 269.23.4/1395 - Release Date: 4/24/2008 
7:24 AM

More information about the Ger-Poland-Volhynia mailing list