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Emigration of ethnic Germans returning to Germany
Ruth Klötzel, Speaker
Landsmannschaft der Deutschen ans Russland; Stuttgart, Germany

Germans from Russia Heritage Society Convention
Bismarck, North Dakota, 14 July 1995

Transcribed by Marcie Franklund
Edited by Linda Haag


Michael Miller: It’s certainly a historic one to have Ruth Klötzel from the [?2]lund. Yesterday Ruth spoke about the Germans from Russia Society in Stuttgart, Germany, it has 25,000 memberships, and of course you’re welcome to join the society of our colleagues; of our brothers and sisters in Germany.

Today she’s going to speak on a topic that I could sense was of high interest yesterday. We can certainly sense in the recent conventions of GRHS, that whenever there is a workshop showing slides of our people visiting in the former Soviet Union or whenever there is a presentation relating to the out[?7] or people coming back to Germany, there is high attendance. So we know that they’re interested in this. This is important because in North Dakota and amongst the Germans from Russia community, there needs to be more known about the plight of the many people who stayed in the former Soviet Union and who are now returning to Germany.

But before I do that I wanted to tell you some announcements there are, and maybe you could tell some of your friends. First of all, we, tomorrow afternoon at the Luthric and Christina Schwan Welk homestead, near Strasburg, North Dakota State University is going to sponsor a special program on the textiles and clothing of the pioneer German Russians, which will be very interesting. That will be from 3 to 4 o’clock at the homestead on Sunday.

Then in the future, for many of you, you are retired and some of you go to Arizona and so on March 2 of 1996, NDSU is going to sponsor a special gathering at the Mesa Royal RV Resort. And you’ll hear a lot more about it and if you’re down there in Arizona, I’m sure you’ll be reminded by other German Russians. But it is going to be on March 2, 1996, in Mesa, Arizona at the Mesa Royal RV Resort from 2 to 4 o’clock.

Then on March 3, we will have our NDSU sponsored table at the North Dakota picnic. We tried this last year and it was well received, and we want to continue that in the future because we know that there are many people in Arizona that should be interviewed and so forth.

But I do want to recognize a couple people that are here today and that is a colleague who was with me to Ukraine. He also spoke at our luncheon and so elegantly told the story of the political situation in other areas, and that’s Carter Wood. I think Carter should be commended for the outstanding series of seven articles which was published, and we need to thank the Grand Forks Herald for allowing him to join us in June of 1994 to Ukraine and the [?27]. Those articles have been republished in the journal of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia. So we’re grateful that he’s with us today covering such an important topic of interest to him and to us.

Then I do want to recognize Betty Meier, are you here today? I see Mr. Meier’s here. Would you stand, Betty and Chris? Betty and Chris Meier are going to become volunteers for the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection as oral history interviewers. They are now studying tapes that we got and they are going to cover parts of south central North Dakota. They’re going to help us with doing interviews in Arizona.

So we’re grateful to them, and of course we have other people here. Dr. Rippley is here today and he will be recognized this evening as the feature speaker.

Ruth Klötzel and I go back in almost her complete career as at the Lunsmanshaft. I remember Ruth Klötzel when she was still working with Dr. Stumpf in preparing his book that we all know. She has been at the [?38] for many years, she is a [?39], she’s a German German, she married a German Russian, his name is [?40], and he was born in the village of [?40].

So we’re thrilled to have a Lunsman here today, I think, speaking for the Klötzel’s, I think they have been a little overwhelmed with the warm reception from our friendly North Dakotans and our Germans from Russia throughout America—and that is going to continue because we’re going to go on a little tour next week of other German Russian communities. If you have people you know, on Monday at 12 o’clock at the senior citizen center in Ashley, ND come join us because we’re going to be there in Ashley to meet our German Russians in Ashley. Then from 2:30 to 4 we’re going to be in Eureka, SD at the museum, so if you know of anyone down there come and join us and greet the Klötzels’ and others on the tour.

Ruth’s presentation today will focus on the emigration of the Germans returning from the former Soviet Union to Germany and her involvement. Let us bring a warm welcome to Ruth Klötzel from the Landsmanschaft, Stuttgart, Germany.

Ruth Klötzel: Thank you. Dear countrymen, dear friends, I wish to thank whole heartedly Professor Michael Miller from North Dakota State University Libraries and director John Beacher, Clarence Bauman and Pat Feist of the Germans from Russia Heritage Society for the kind invitation. We are pleased that finally we were able to join you in one of your conferences.

I want to inform you on my work as head of the department for social matters and with the problems I have to deal with everyday. The Germans from Russia are among all immigrants who had to suffer most, only in recent years they were granted exit permits in large numbers for [?61].

Exit from Russia and integration in Germany are closely linked. For your better understanding, it is necessary to explain to you the duration of those who want to leave Russia. I presume that you are aware of the fate of those who have been deported. The exit from the former Soviet Union always causes an enormous risk for the reunion of families the relatives had to fill for several years requests or results until the Soviets finally permitted the exit. Very often an application for an exit permit resulted in the loss of their job or/and their apartment. Further retaliation brought a consequence which should intimidate. Persons willing to leave the country were discriminated and invited as fascists.

Until the 80s, the principle of close relationship was at the table for only those who had families of the first degree in Germany. Parents, children or brothers and sisters were able for making an application for family reunion; cousins, for instance, cannot file an application. Some families in Germany have sent their relatives in the former Soviet Union, more than twenty results which have been rejected often about a signing any reasons.

The exit process was extremely sluggish. This can be seen by looking at some figures. Between 1950 and 1959, only 13,500 persons were granted exit permits. From 1960 to 1969, the total number of persons who were granted exit permits reached 22,151. Until 1979 the total number of exit permits was 7,736. We saw an increase of the number of immigrants after 1972 reaching a peak in 1976 with 9,704 persons, thereafter the numbers decreased again to reach in 1985 an absolute low of 416 immigrants in 4 years. Until 1986, within 37 years, 95,107 German immigrants returned to Germany. Following Gorbachev the number of persons who were granted exit permits increased considerately, here are just some figures: in 1986 came 98,134 persons, in 1993 came 207,347 persons, in 1994 came 213,214 persons, in 1995 we have an average approximately 15,000 late immigrants per month, the quota of 200,000 persons per year which has been agreed by the federal government should be achieved.

The break down of the former German democratic republic and the eastern block and the desolation of the former Soviet Union, generated an immense flow of refugees which required desolation. On 1st July 1990, the act reparation of immigrants, the AAG [?110] came into force. Other acts were repealed in effect from 31st December 1992 and substituted by the act on the settlement of the consequences of the war which came into force on 1st January 1993. I had the vocation for being admitted to the federal republic of Germany until 1990 rather simple, but under the AAG an application for having 54 pages had to be completed in order to examine at an early stage where whether the conditions of being recognized as a late immigrant are complete.

Meanwhile as a consequence of our protest, a new form has been dead locked with 20 or 36 pages for only a positive pre-examination of the federal administration of the authority. Five of it transferred to the respective federal state for approval, if the application is approved the file will be returned to the federal administration authority for the procure of granting a permit to stay in Germany.

Normally this procedure takes 2 to 3 years. If a federal state does not approve the application, the federal administration authority has to make a negative ruling which may be the check of an appeal and examination of the administrative curves. Very often applicants do not observe the statutory deadlines. Read and advise what to do, normally an attorney has to make an application for restitution.

If the countryman is suspected by a negative ruling, immediately consult us. What happens often, we assist in preparing a proper appeal and the reasons for the appeal. Frequent grounds for negative rulings are poor or not existing knowledge of the German language or the entry of Russian citizenship in the passport.

According to the statute the following conditions have to be fulfilled in order to be recognized as a late immigrant: parentage of German national or a member of the German ethnical group, confirming future suturing: such as language, education, culture, continued confession to German culture. The confirming futures must have been passed on to the children a confirming confession is to have been made if the 16 years old child up for the German nationality passport in Russia is issued.

Conflicts arise if children are born in mixed marriages with different nationalities. The exit process may either be done by an authorized person that [?153] in Germany if now relatives or friends are a resident in Germany by the confident German consulate in the common world of independence states. In the last case, the cries regarding language and preservation of German cultures are often misinterpreted, mistakes are made, contradictions exist and the result is a negative ruling.

As you may know following amnesty in 1955, and the perpetual rehabilitation in 1964 our countrymen experienced a brainwashing process in order to make them good Russians. The prohibition to return to the old settlements in Ukraine, Volga, Crème, [?164] and the use of the German language had dreadful results. The deportation of the Germans from the Volga to Siberia and to form settlements in the Asian refugees of Pakistan, K[?168] and the promotion of mixed marriages between different nationalities served to accelerate this process.

The offer to learn German as a foreign language, which was introduced at a later stage could only be accepted by German children very rarely. They were often compelled to learn English or French. Slowly, but surely, the existing knowledge of German dialect that was passed orally was existing.

Russian became the language of the family and was considered as normal as it was a precondition for the several and the existence and the exit times for generations. We have protested against a narrow interpretation of the act as a concerning future for the German language was overvalued by presuming set only by way of the German language a German introduction can be achieved and German culture can be preserved. In order to be considered as of being of German origin or a member of the German ethnical group, the knowledge of the German language is not essential; nevertheless, German Embassies or Consulates continue the command of the German language.

The language is still an important element of being recognized as a late immigrant. If the family was staying together for a long period and had a German-speaking grandmother, then the integration into the federal republic of Germany will be completed shortly. I know they’ll come back again to being permitted to Germany. If the application for [?17] has been made by a representative chief in Germany if the written procedure has been completed and if a positive ruling has been made, then the German Red Cross issues a request or [?20]. Then to the competent Russian authority, no, the request has to be completed in German and Russian and has to be submitted to the competent Russian authority through [?22] which shall grant an exit permit.

The relative, who wishes to emigrate, from Russia to Germany, requires a positive ruling and an exit permit. It may take several months until the [?26] issues a passport for the exit and for the embassy visa for the entry to Germany.

The federal government offers free flights for the return; often they are available in Germany. Our late immigrants were welcomed by members of the Red Cross and are confined to the resection pound. There in an order it will be in a [?32] will be examined whether the conditions of the application for recognition are correctly complete, [?34] and knowledge of the German language exists.

If everything is in order, the late immigrants receive a certificate of registration and are transferred to a Federal State which has a capacity for taking care of them. Often their [?38] in the respective Federal State, the late immigrants move into entering hostels, each family is attributed one room with a bed, a table, a wardrobe, chairs, etc. On each floor is one kitchen and bathroom. The immigrants are a registry of citizens and so the vigorous applications for social benefits are language occurs in German and with the labor office.

As school children, you need to attend your local school. Their integration normally does not cause any problem. They learn the German language very fast, teachers have told us that these children are [?48] and keen. Up until graduation, the young person starts their professional career or goes to the university. The Russian diplomats of late immigrants who were teachers, engineers, doctors, scientists, nurses, are recognized normally and the search for a job can start. This may be difficult; one reason is that the professional training and requirements in Russia are different from the qualifications necessary in Germany.

The main problem is a change from dictatorship to a free society, the independent thinking and acting is completely lacking. If it has not been learned to cope with the freedom of our present, societies can be a painful learning process. The integration into a new social system may take some time but the road to new situations [?64] to have escaped from a oppressive regimen and to have been able to provide to the children a chance in a future in the country of their ancestors give the power to overcome all difficulties.

In these cases, the process of integration is completed within several years. Late immigrants received a lump sum financial support of 6,000 marks or 4,000 marks if they are born before 1 April 1956. Things are different with the so called offspring who enters into Germany with the ruling for integration but resulting having their own [?75]. They are recognized, received financial support to a language class of six months and are granted social benefits which must be paid back now a days as soon as a job has been found, their times of employment in Russia will not be recognized for the statutory pension chain, thirty Plumas are not accepted, the German schools are considered for foreigner.

We help in these cases with an application to be recognized as late immigrant with own status in order to mitigate hardship. If a late immigrant, the parent, or the grandparent dies before leaving Russia, the offspring cannot leave the country anymore or be registered. He is then subject to the regular immigration laws applicable to any foreigner.

A further problem they have to deal with everyday is a problem of southern nationalities. The nature of the Asians and the [?95] from the respective state of the common lord of independent states. Further problems are caused if only a part of the family leaves Russia and the rest remain there. Spouses and children will only receive a visa under immigration law if subsequent income and housing can be shown. Those who enter Germany with a visa for a visit and think that they can stay may run into trouble upon expiration of the visa.

At present it is very difficult to be recognized in Germany as a German if there is no sufficient knowledge of the German language. We know how difficult it is to maintain a good knowledge of a language in a few of the budget cuts, only six month language courses can be provided, as it slows down integration.

The situation on the chop market and the problems of housing are additional adverse sectors for a speedy integration. A further obstacle of finding work, are newspapers that use the Russian language and to negate the German language. This change over to the Russian language, which makes things easier and which means therefore, very often is not helpful.

Another problem for a speedy integration is the late immigrants are reprimanded in former military barracks or newly built simple residential area, this lead to the creation of ghettos, which are called by the German population, “Little Russia” or “Little Siberia” and causes isolation. Our countrymen consider it as a big insult if they are called Russians. In Russia, they are Fascist. In the headquarters of our association and our [?6] have to come forth to show new ways and to provide supper everyday. We have not an easy job. But we try to help wherever we can.

You dear countrymen, my [?11] to our future job in Israel, we need you—your understanding, your solidarity, your friendship, and the contact with you. Thank you for you attention.

End of Speech

Michael Miller: Are there any questions? And I’m sure there may be a question on membership, and she has materials here for you that are interested, you can speak to her afterwards for membership to the Society at Stuttgart.

Question: For the amount of people over there, it is worth while, they can take care of those people, that immigration [?32]. I was wondering how they can cope with that many immigrants in a short while from Russia to Germany.

Ruth Klötzel: It’s a big problem, so before 1993 our [?37] got more money and language of one and a half years and now only six men so they got money for integration, but now the young people after the huge [?43] got nothing—financial help, separate money. To six months [?46] moneys.

Michael Miller: Did you understand that? The English course for example has gone from 18 months to 6 months, and of course that lessens their ability to speak German.

Also I think a problem that is existing today is the more Germans coming back, the more they want to cling to where their Russian collogues are, which is a problem for instance, in the city of Lar. In the city of Lar, which is near Friberk, the Canadians have left and so this large military coast of Canada is now [?59] not only from Germany, from other countries, so it becomes like a little Russia, so the longer they stick together, the longer they’ll speak only Russian. But the children don’t like that either; they go to school and speak German, they’re the ones who are picking it up.

Question: How long did they stay in the dorms before the moved out into the country of Germany and what determines to what part of Germany do they go to, for example go locally to the former West Germany, or are some going to the former East Germany?

Ruth Klötzel: It’s different, many people are now in newer East Germany, former East Germany but the relatives are in West Germany and it is a problem and East Germany has money for our people and West Germany has now the cost of when people change.

Michael Miller: My experience is that those that go to East Germany their mind is again on, I want to go to West Germany. So they want to go to West Germany, they don’t want to go to East Germany, they’re not satisfied, but many are becoming satisfied because it’s that or there’s no where else to go.

Each state in Germany has to take so many of these immigrants and then each county assigns so many, like for instance: [?20] maybe at least 15,000 that come that month they might have to take a certain percentage and then that local town has to take a certain percentage and they have to then, their social services is responsible to work with those people, but they sometimes stay in these loggers for up to two years. This is not a short term period; first there is a camp, and introduction camp place, and then they go to the loggers and then it’s to apartments. But the conditions vary a great deal; some are quite nice and some are not very good.

Question: You are saying 15,000 people a month are immigrating, how many people were ethnic Germans were there in Russia to have that many people coming out a month?

???: 2 million

Michael Miller: Well I can answer that for Ruth because, [?34] that’s difficult to say, we always heard that there were 2 million German Russians in the former Soviet Union. Well if there is 2 million German Russians in the former Soviet Union, since 1991, close to 1.2 million have returned to Germany. So then there should be only 800,000 and they still say there is close to 2 million.

So I think there was many more Germans then there ever were known, because they were afraid to pronounce their nationality. So it is difficult to say that—for example when Bishop Joseph Werth was here in June, people asked him in Fargo as the press and so forth, how many German Russians are there in your dioceses, which is all of Siberia? And he said there are close to 800,000 German Russians in Siberia, and about 200,000 of those are originally of Catholic faith. So that’s just in Siberia. And then in Kazakhstan there are many more at this point.

Question: If they have anything of importance in the CI Estate or if they have any money; are they allowed to take it out and to bring it to Germany with them?

[?57]

Michael Miller: They can bring about 90 U.S. dollars along to Germany. But they pretty much give everything away to their friends and relatives, there’s not too much that they come with, they came with practically nothing—one suitcase and that’s about it.

And they usually—I remember in December of this past year I visited a logger in Germany where people had just arrived from the former Soviet Union, had just come from the airport in Frankfurt. That was a deeply emotional experience for me because I went into one of the rooms, and I spoke in German and I spoke [?68] and they immediately recognized me, and I told them what I was trying to do and just wanted to see. And they opened their suitcases and on top of the suitcase was a cross, was the bible, was the few pictures they had, was some pillow cases, it was amazing, they want to take a pillow along so they bring their linens and things like that, but clothing—very basic, but they bring their priceless little things. They have some porcelain; they want to bring something back that still signifies that I lived in Kazakhstan or I lived in Siberia, or something of their ethnic heritage, and they usually bring utensils so that they can cook, and usually a teapot.

Audience member comment: I was over in Germany and the one that Kazakhstan, and the money they had left, they tried to turn into something that was valuable, like gold-plated silver and things like that were brought out.

Question: You may not be able to answer this but there’s kind of true isn’t it that communism destroys human initiative—human ambition—do you see, are these Germans coming back from Russia as hard working as the Germans are hard working? You see what I am saying?

[?7]

Ruth Klötzel: Ya [?15-38]

Michael Miller: I’ll be very brief, but what she’s saying is: First about the employment of the Germans from Russia for example, she gave the example of Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart which she knows about that they are very happy to employ German Russians. People working in hospitals: nurses and so forth, course they have to work with AIDs and so forth but the German Russians don’t look at the clock—they work beyond the clock—this I found to be true and I can say that I think that when they leave Kazakhstan and they leave Siberia, the Russians and the Kazakhs are very sad to see the Germans leaving—they know that they are hard working people.

And I have noticed in what she also said was when they come together each get a certain amount of money like pension and the children get so much, they are very careful. They all watch it; they all put it together in a bunch. They are very careful so that they can set some money aside so they can get there as fast as possible to rent an apartment.

You even see German Russians like you wouldn’t see amongst other people, they come together, when they get out. It’s surprising, not many, but those that can, when they build a house it’s just like Amish coming together and they all build it together and they volunteer their services as they come together and all the sudden they have a home already. There is some resentment from the Germans because you couldn’t get Germans to do that. I don’t know if you could even get our German Russians in North Dakota to do that too often. But when something happens in tragedy which has happened in North Dakota recently, that I know of, the German Russians really come together and put the crops in for example. But I don’t know if you have this amongst the Germans. We are still German but the German Russians are quite unique. I think that if you went over there and you said I’m a German Russian from North Dakota and you came to Ofenburg or Lar, which we did, they would insist—they would take your suitcases and they would say there is no hotel for you, we’ve got room in the house, why waste that money on a hotel?

????: I need the name of that town.

Question: How can I know [?81]

Ruth Klötzel: [?83-95]

Michael Miller: What she is saying is that, what she’s telling you about....

End of Side A {Counter at 97, 0}

Michael Miller: They really had telephone calls from Germany, they were so anxious, they didn’t wait to write, they telephoned, but they may have written. But they can find that out, that’s how—he was looking for certain last names and of course we have a wonderful example in the friars who are here and they talked about that. Yes we are going to have Brother Placid, he is so anxious to ask something.

Brother Placid: Could you imagine 15,000 a month, which equals out to 500 a day, but anyhow, is it just German Russians or does that include Germans from Poland and Germans from Hungary...

Ruth Klötzel: No, no only Germans from Russia. I have only numbers from Germans from Russia—Poland and Romania—no, no.

Brother Placid: But they are coming also from other countries.

Ruth Klötzel: Yes, but not so

Michael Miller: Not in those numbers, no.

Ruth Klötzel: But they came after 1991.

Question: Mike, the Russian newspaper you put ads in says [?105]

Michael Miller: Yes, right. That is published in Moscow, which is helpful too, right.

Question: Are all the Germans from Russia catalogued in your organization? All the names?

Michael Miller: You mean all the German Russians coming back from the former Soviet Union? No, they are not organized in that fashion. The only ones they know are the ones that pay membership to the Society, just like here of course. But there are other sources like that through the Red Cross and so forth, but some of that is somewhat closed information to a certain extent. It’s not public information but there is no computerized listing of the 1.2 million that are coming back—there are ways of doing that but it gets a little complicated. Germany is pretty restrictive on that.

Question: [?112] of the Stuttgart’s, who are very helpful [?113] program, however this is German and I know that some of you will not be able to read it, I thought it would be helpful in America if we have some of this information translated.

Michael Miller: Well we could undertake that, yeah. I am aware, that is a good idea. Right, maybe we can have the reading for the next convention.

???: Yeah, like is North Dakota 66% German and on our ballots everything is in Spanish and English—who are they? Did you notice that?

Michael Miller: Yeah.

???: A few Mexicans come to North Dakota and they are supported—we are not.

Michael Miller: Right.

Ruth Klötzel: [?120-131]

Michael Miller: The problem is that we are going to run out of time because I want to allow you people to come up to see these items and then there is another presentation in this room. So what we will do is we will close our presentation now, come up and see the things and of course she has your membership form if you are interested in the [?134] she has the material here. And then you can visit with her in the hallway if you have private questions. But before we leave we should have [?135] stand up, we have a [?136] here today—a real [?136]. Thanks so much for joining us.

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North Dakota State University Libraries
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
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