[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] germans from russia from ukraine and so on

Dave Obee daveobee at shaw.ca
Thu Feb 10 23:48:50 PST 2011

Interesting discussion on how to refer to Volhynians, although I think it is important that we don't get too bogged down in too much detail on the basic points.

The ethnic Germans living in Volhynia can be called Germans from Russia, or Russian Germans, or German Russians, and so on. I also agree with Jerry Frank when he says that context is important. To that end, when we talk about Volhynian ancestry, we should note that about 98 per cent of the old Volhynia gubernia is in present-day Ukraine. The German families in Volhynia were German Russians, living in what is now Ukraine. Simple. 

Beyond that, I think there are some other generalizations that should be avoided. It cannot be said that Poland or Ukraine did not exist in the 19th century; they did. They came under the Russian Empire, and were not independent countries as they are today, but there can be no doubt that they existed.

In the same way, when I visited the Soviet Union in 1985, well before Ukraine became independent, Kiev (now Kyiv) was the capital of Ukraine, as it is now -- although now, Ukraine is a country on its own. I have been to Volhynia a half-dozen times since independence, and every time, it's been in Ukraine. It would be wrong to talk about Volhynia without telling people where it is. Context matters.

Also, the statement that Volhynians were Polish citizens between the wars is not correct. Western Volhynia came under Poland, eastern Volhynia came under the Soviet Union.

Dave Obee

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