Alexy Köhler Letter (2009)
Alexy Köhler Letter – English (2020)
Just a Reminder!
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This section presents a synopsis of a period in the lives of ethnic Germans who remained in Russia during the twentieth century. During this time, they were subjugated to massive repression, to a level that was a clear case of ethnic cleansing and genocide. For a number of years, I have been working with several researchers in Odessa to retrieve NKVD (People’s Commissariat for State Security) and MVD (Ministry of Defense) arrest records. These records provide a wealth of information on the fate of many of our ancestors and relatives who were living in Russia during this period.
The information contained within most of these documents is copyright and you will find various documents that contain such a watermark. If you’re interested in obtaining a source document that does not contain the watermark, please contact me directly.
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The Russian Revolution began in 1917 and ravaged Russia until 1920. However, the revolution left its lasting consequences on everyone. With the emergence of power, the Communists began to collectivize and socialize all aspects of the Russian society.
Along with all the hardships associated with the Revolution, this also was the period in which the hardest of repressions were inflicted on the people in Russia, and especially directed at the minority ethnicities. During this period hundreds of thousands of people were executed in Russia and countless other people were sent to labor camps and to the infamous Gulag prison system. The term Gulag is the acronym for Glavone Upravlenie Lagerei, which in generic terms means prison in English.
In 1941 Hitler invaded Russia. The paranoid Stalin in turn deported all of the Germans from the regions of the Volga, Caucasia, Crimea and such areas to points in Siberia and Kazakhstan. All of these Germans were placed in forced labor camps. I do not have any ancestral connections to the areas of the Volga, Caucasia, and Crimea. Therefore, I have not researched the arrests of these people and do not know whether the arrests stopped when they were placed in the labor camps or whether the arrests continued.
When Hitler invaded Russia in 1941, he, along with the help of the Romanian Army, controlled most of the area of current day Ukraine. The ethnic Germans (known as the Black Sea Germans) living in this area were allowed to remain in their villages. However, when the German Army was forced to retreat in 1944, the German Authorities evacuated these German civilians, first to Poland and later to Germany. After WWII, in 1945, Stalin, acting under the agreed terms of the Yalta and Potsdam treaties, had his Armed Forces gather many of these Germans under the pretense of repatriation and telling them that they would be allowed to return to their homes. However, in a circuitous scheme, he had them deported to labor camps in Siberia, Kazakhstan, and other Asian countries.
Any sane human would have considered that having placed these people in labor camps would have been sufficient repression. However, such was not the case with Stalin. Even though these people were in the labor camps, the arrests continued; again under the litany of fabricated charges. The most common charge during this period was that the individual had betrayed the motherland by living in the area controlled by the invading Germans. My research shows that these arrests took place from 1945 and continued into the 1950s. The sentences from the arrests of this period varied greatly. They ranged from a short term loss of some privileges to extended work requirements, with the harshest being terms of 10 to 25 years in the Gulag.
I have been fortunate that for the past several years, with the help of researchers in Odessa, I have been able to retrieve the names of ethnic Germans who were arrested and also many of their arrest records. During the Soviet era, the documentation of these arrests had been kept in the files of the USSR Committee for State Security (KGB) Odessa Region Department. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the Ukrainian Security Service Administration (USBU) took control of these documents. Through the hard work of groups such as the Institute of Ethnic Research and other researchers in Odessa, we now have access to many arrest records, most of which are archived in Ukraine. In cooperation with these generous individuals in Odessa, I have been able to obtain the names of thousands of ethnic Germans who were arrested throughout Russia. The authorities in Ukraine are releasing this information relating to these cases. Unfortunately, Russia is much less forthcoming in releasing such information, which is making it most difficult to research such matters.
In my web site, I have lists of repressed people under the titles NKVD Arrests, MVD Arrests and Filtration Camp lists.
The NKVD arrest page consists of two Arrest lists. They are the Odessa NKVD arrest list and the Kiev arrest list. The Odessa NKVD arrest list consists of approximately 11,000 names which have been extracted from a list of over 60,000 ethnic Germans arrested throughout Russia. I have narrowed my list to people who lived in the current areas of Ukraine and Moldova. These arrests occurred from the late 1920s to 1940s and were conducted by the People’s Commissariat for State Security (NKVD). Copies of typical arrest records conducted by the NKVD can be found in my book, Our Relatives – The Persecuted. The Kiev arrest list consists of approximately 1,000 names which have been extracted from a list of over 3,000 names of people who were arrested in the Kiev jurisdiction.
The MVD arrest list consists of approximately 4,500 names. These names were extracted from a list of over 20,000 ethnic Germans who, either had remained in Russia during WWII and were later arrested or people who after the War were forcibly returned to Russia and were arrested while in the labor camps. I have narrowed my list to that of people who mostly had originated from the Kutschurgan villages. These arrests were conducted by the Ministry of Defense (MVD). Copies of arrest records conducted by the MVD for people taken to the filtration camps can be found in my book, The Sander Family History.
In addition to the repression records the web site also contains typical EWZ records (Einwanderungszentralstelle Antrage or Central Immigration Process Control) and typical Odessa Civil birth, death and marriage records for the 1920s and 1930s.
I am sure that many of you will find this information depressing. Unfortunately, it was part of the lives of our ancestors and relatives who lived in Russia during a period of repressed human rights. I hope that you will find this intriguing and captivating information beneficial to your research. I also wish to thank Mr. Alexey Köhler and The Institute of Ethnic Studies for conducting this research and making it available. Additionally, his generous statement validating the authenticity of the research and his approval for my use of the information. However, please be advised that the posting of this information on this web site does not authorize the reproduction, reposting or the use of these names for personal gain.
In addition to the NKVD arrest lists which appear on the web site, I have also published a book with the names of 4,700 ethnic Germans who had lived and were arrested in the Odessa jurisdiction by the NKVD and were arrested from the 1920s to 1940s. The title of the book is Our Relatives – The Persecuted. The book also contains copies of the actual arrest records for over forty of my relatives. For the sake of time and space efficiency, I have not repeated the names on this web site.