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)