Social movement of Ural Germans in 19892019 (ethnic projects and leaders)

Kisser T.S. (St. Petersburg, Russian Federation)


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The present article considers the history of the social movement of Russian Germans in the Urals, as well as the factors in its formation, on the basis of previously unknown sources (archival and field materials obtained by the author). The Germans of the Urals formed as a single community in the second half of the 20th century, as a result of deportation, labour mobilisation (19421946) and a special settlement regime (19481955). The author concludes that the modern social movement contributes to the ethnocultural development of the German population in Russia through various projects aimed at the preservation of history, memory, language and culture. As a result of the activists' activities in the Urals, a network of German associations has formed: centres of German culture, meeting centres, national-cultural autonomies, Rebirth society, Russian-German houses, etc. The social movement of Ural Germans plays a key role in ethnocultural development. It emerged in the setting of the mass emigration of Germans to their homeland, both from below at the initiative of Germans themselves aiming to preserve the history and culture of their people, and from above with the aim of unifying and controlling the mood of the German population. Currently, German organisations initiate their ethnocultural projects directed at the preservation of historical memory, culture, language, as well as other foundations for ethnocultural heritage. For example, creative groups have become a place where ethnicity is updated, where Germans feel like Germans, using their native language and preserving folk traditions. In all projects, a significant, if not decisive, role is played by the personal position of leaders. To some extent, ethnic leaders devote themselves to their people and find self-fulfilment in the field of ethnicity, complementing and revitalising it with their initiatives. Our studies show that the ethnocultural potential of Ural Germans is most effectively realised if ethnic leaders, both socio-political and in the cultural sphere, are active, which helps preserve the cultural heritage of the community. The socio-political leaders of Ural Germans represented by E.A. Grib and O.F. Shtraler emerged at the height of the ethnic movement and the establishment of self-organisation of Russian Germans in the late 1990s early 2000s. The areas and motives of their activities, on the one hand, were associated with personal self-realisation and, on the other, were explained by the desire to preserve the ethnocultural heritage of Germans whose number reduced sharply due to mass emigration. Their activities are reflected in numerous projects whose success contributes to the formation of the regional identity of the Germans in the Urals through a system of self-organisation.

Key words: Russian Germans, Ural, social movement, self-organization, national-cultural autonomy, leaders, ethnoprojects.


Funding. The article has been written within the RFFI Grant No. 18-39-20004.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted: 19.11.2019

Accepted: 19.12.2019

Article is published: 02.03.2020


Kisser T.S.

Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (the Kunstkamera) of the RAS, Universitetskaya nab., 3, Saint-Petersburg, 199034, Russian Federation