Das Mütterchen's Gurkensalat

24 November, 2017

My Mother and Grandmother's Cucumber Salad. A Wolgadeutsche Holiday Favorite!



2 large cucumbers sliced thin

1/2 onion sliced thin


1/2 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 teaspoon dried dill

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon paprika


Slice cucumbers thin and add salt. Let cucumbers sit for a few hours in a colander with paper towel underneath. This is my Mom's secret step to keeping the cucumbers from getting soggy.

Rinse off excess salt. Next combine the rest of the ingredients and mix. Let sit in the fridge overnight. 


Nathan Smith-Manley (nathan@americanwolgadeutsche.com)

The Ethnic Cleansing of the Wolgadeutsche

31 October, 2017

In the 1700's Katherine the Great, the Russian Czar, invited her fellow Germans to settle in Russia. It was all downhill for the Wolgadeutsche (Volga Germans) after they migrated to Russia. The fertile pastures and autonomy promised to the Germans turned out to be a bust.

My existence (and likewise the existence of every human on this planet) was luck. In the 1800's My disappointed ancestors were smart enough to cash in their life savings and immigrate to the U.S. and Canada. Our ancestors knew the time to leave to avoid the wars.

Those who stayed in Russia faced oppression and "ethnic cleansing". In 1941 during the war with Germany, Russia announced that the Autonomous Wolgaseutsche region no longer exists, and the Germans are no longer welcome in Russia. Some Wolgadeutsche were forcefully relocated to Kazakhstan and those were the lucky ones. The majority were sent to SIberia or killed. Clergy were among the first to face imprisonment and execution.

The Germans settlements on the Volga river no longer exist. Churches were turned into Soviet Government Centers or burned to the ground. Whole villages were wiped off the map.

I never knew that I was in an ethnic group that was subject to "ethnic cleansing" and bigotry. It isn't surprising that I haven't make any connections with cousins in Russia. I don't believe any survived.

Nathan Smith-Manley (nathan@americanwolgadeutsche.com)

Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic

28 October, 2017

The Republic known as the Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Sowjetrepublik der Wolgadeutschen) was established in 1918 by the Soviet Union and lasted until the war with Germany in 1941 when the Republic was dissolved and many of the Wolgadeutsche were accused of collaborating with Nazis and were sent to prisons in Siberia or killed. It's capital was Engels, Saratov Oblast.  


My Wolgadeutsche Heritage

28 October, 2017

My maternal line (Strefling and Seip) are Wolgadeutsche. My paternal line consists of ethnic Germans and eastern Europeans who are "close cousins" of the Wolgadeutsche.

Strefling & Ratz

My 2nd Great Grandfather Karl Strefling, was born in 1844, near Zhitomir, Volhynia, Zhytomyrs'ka, Ukraine. Karl married Rosalie Giesbrecht who died of cancer in 1888, in the old country, near Zhitomir, Volhynia, Zhytomyrs'ka, Ukraine.

My American born Great Grandfather Michael Strefling married, Paulina Ratz, who was born in 1887, near Zhitomir, Volhynia, Zhytomyrs'ka, Ukraine.

Seip & Stöhr

My Great Grandfather Heinrich Seip, was born in 1884, Stepnoye, Saratov, Russia. His wife and my Great Grandmother is Katharina Stöhr, born 1885, near Zaumorye, Bangert, Saratov, Russia. Katharina is also my Great-Aunt via 2nd marriage to a Strefling.

Nathan Smith-Manley (nathan@americanwolgadeutsche.com)

Welcome to American Wolgadeutsche

28 October, 2017

The Volga-Germans or Wolgadeutsche are an ethnic group of Germans who lived near the Volga river in Russia/Ukraine/Belarus.

Wolgadeutsche decendants can be found all over the world, the majority of which are in now in North America as our ancestors fled the political and religious oppression of Germans living in Russia.

Like many Wolgadeutsche, my ancestors immigrated to Volhynia (Volyn Oblast) during the reign of Catherine the Great. Russia's Tsarina, Catherine the Great, was herself a German, and she invited the German people to join her in Russia. Seeking religious freedom and the promise of fertile land and prosperity, they immigrated to Russia in the late 1700s and early 1800s. They were Protestant Lutherans during a time period where there was a post-reformation resurgence of Catholicism resulting in religious conflicts in Germany. It was also the promise of religious freedom and the opportunity for prosperity that brought them to North America in the late 1800s and early 1900s during a time of secularization and political instability in Russia and Europe.

Nathan Smith-Manley (nathan@americanwolgadeutsche.com)