Russian Germans are a global minority. Their history is often characterized by migration within and outside the Russian Empire spanning several generations. In the last third of the 19th century, popular migration destinations included North and South America as well as new settlement areas in Siberia and Kazakhstan. It was here that all Russian Germans were then exiled during and after the Second World War. Since the latest period of resettlement in the 1980s and 1990s, most Russian Germans have settled in Germany.
When Ursula Herzog died in
rus. Караганда, rus. Karaganda, kaz. Қарағанды

Qaraghandy is the fifth largest city in Kazakhstan and an important transportation and economic center in the northeast of the country.

, Kazakhstan, on May 18, 1965, her children and grandchildren on three continents mourned her passing, as we learn from her obituary in Volk auf dem Weg, the journal of the organization “Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland” (the Association of Germans from 
deu. Russland, rus. Rossija, rus. Россия

The Russian Federation is the largest territorial state in the world and is inhabited by about 145 million people. The capital and largest city is Moscow, with about 11.5 million inhabitants, followed by St. Petersburg with more than 5.3 million inhabitants. The majority of the population lives in the European part of Russia, which is much more densely populated than the Asian part.

Since 1992, the Russian Federation has been the successor state to the Russian Soviet Republic (Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, RSFSR), by far the largest constituent state of the former Soviet Union. It is also the legal successor of the Soviet Union in the sense of international law.

 Her passing is mourned by her daughter Celestine Wolf and her children Valentin, Joseph and Lorenz together with their wives and children, who live in and around Karaganda, as well as Michael Wolf and family, who live in Jesberg, West Germany. She is also missed by her son Valentin Herzog and his wife and children, who are residing in Spokane, USA, by her daughters-in-law and by her children Elisabeth and Alvine Herzog, Thekla and the Diwold family, all residing in Siberia, except Valentin Herzog, who also lives with his family in Spokane USA.1 
The Herzog family, with its far-reaching branches spread throughout the world, in many ways embodies the migration history of the “Russian Germans“ “Russian Germans“ is a collective term for migrant groups who settled in various areas of the Russian Empire during the 18th and 19th centuries. They belonged to different denominations and spoke a range of dialects and therefore did not see themselves as a unified group for a long time. The designation "Russian Germans" stems from the ethnic thinking of the interwar period, which reconceptualized heterogeneous German-speaking diaspora groups as "ethnic groups." However, this homogenizing external view was also adopted and promoted by the Russian and Soviet state, where, from the late 19th century onward, the label "colonists" was increasingly replaced with "Germans" (nemcy). The deportations of the Second World War were then constitutive for the self-perception of the Russian Germans as a community with a shared destiny. . This is a history spanning around 250 years of sometimes voluntary, sometimes forced migrations across "dry" and "wet" borders, which brought people from the pre-national German lands to the 
Russian Empire
rus. Росси́йская импе́рия, rus. Rossijskaja imperija, deu. Russisches Kaiserreich, deu. Russländisches Reich, deu. Russländisches Kaiserreich

The Russian Empire (also Russian Empire or Empire of Russia) was a state that existed from 1721 to 1917 in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and North America. The country was the largest contiguous empire in modern history in the mid-19th century. It was dissolved after the February Revolution in 1917. The state was regarded as autocratically ruled and was inhabited by about 181 million people.

 on both sides of the
Ural Mountains
rus. Ура́льские го́ры, deu. Uralgebirge, rus. Урал, deu. Ural

The Ural Mountains extend more than 2,500 kilometers in a north-south direction between the East European and Siberian land plains. It has been defined as the border between Europe and Asia since the 18th century.

The map shows North Asia, the Ural Mountains are highlighted. CIA World Factbook, edited by Veliath (2006), Ulamm (2008) and Copernico (2022). CC0 1.0.

, to the Americas and finally, many generations later, back to Germany.
Ursula was born in 1871 in Krassna, a German colony in the Black Sea region, which was at that time part of the Russian Empire. German colonists had been settling in Russia since 1763, when the then empress Catherine the Great issued her "Invitation Manifesto”, which granted them, among other things, land, exemption from taxes and freedom of religion, as well as exemption from military service. Russia thus became an attractive destination, on the one hand for so-called "poverty refugees" from the areas of German-speaking Central Europe devastated by the Seven Years' War, and, on the other hand, increasingly for religious minorities such as the “Mennonites“ “Mennonites“ The origins of the Mennonites lie in the Reformation. The free church goes back to the Anabaptist movement of the 16th century and is named after the priest Menno Simons (1496-1561). Due to various emigration movements since the 17th century, Mennonite congregations are now spread worldwide. , who were allowed to pursue their faith and practice pacifism thanks to the above-mentioned privileges. The first colonies were established on the Volga. From the 1780s, German settlers also settled in the "New Russian" territories on the Black Sea coast, which the Russian Empire had recently conquered._  
Emigration efforts at the end of the 19th century
Until 1871, the year of Ursula's birth, the colonists enjoyed extensive autonomy in their various settlement areas. However, their privileges were abolished in the course of the modernizing reforms of Tsar Alexander II, which included the liberation of serf peasants and the introduction of universal conscription. As a result, a significant number of Germans emigrated from Russia to North and South America. In the novel "Volga Children" (Deti moi) by Gusel Jachina, the protagonist, Jakob Bach, describes this urge to emigrate as follows:

At the end of the 19th century, many hearts beat faster when they heard names like Brazil, United States or Canada – names that sounded like music to the ears. Many Russian Germans, who had drunk in the stories of their forefathers’ intrepid and adventurous resettlements with their mother’s milk, understood these terms as a kind of fateful summons. In their naïve hearts there lived an enduring hope for a happiness that awaited them behind the mountains and beyond the oceans.2

Migration here becomes the "inherited" urge, as it were, of the Russian Germans to set out again and again in search of a better life far away. In fact, however, most of the colonists remained in Russia. From the 1890s on, some of them went east, to so-called daughter colonies in the Asian part of the Russian Empire, in Siberia and Kazakhstan. As early as the beginning of the 20th century, Russian Germans thus found themselves on four continents (if North and South America are considered separately). These overseas settlement centers also became the destinations of Russian-German emigrants and refugees after the Russian Revolution of 1917 – as did the German Reich, which for a time welcomed them as "repatriates".
Forced migrations in the 20th century
While their migrations in the 18th and 19th centuries were still mostly voluntary – albeit under the pressure of trying economic and political conditions – forced migrations characterized the 20th century for the Russian Germans. As early as World War I, they were identified as a supposedly disloyal population group and became the first victims of collective resettlement. After the revolution, as often comparatively wealthy peasants, they were also affected by the repressive crackdown on the so-called “kulaks“ “kulaks“ Kulak is a Russian-language term for a large-scale farmer, which had pejorative connotations in the Soviet Union but was never clearly defined. Many comparatively wealthy, or even just self-employed farmers were murdered or deported to penal camps under Stalinism as kulaks and thus "class enemies". in the 1920s and 1930s, which often meant deportation to the East. Then, in August 1941, after the invasion of the
Soviet Union
deu. Sowjetunion, rus. Sovetskiy Soyuz, rus. Советский Союз

The Soviet Union (SU or USSR, Russian: Союз Советских Социалистических Республик (СССР) was a state in Eastern Europe, Central and Northern Asia existing from 1922 to 1991. The USSR was inhabited by about 290 million people and formed the largest territorial state in the world, with about 22.5 million square km. The Soviet Union was a socialist soviet republic with a one-party system.

by Nazi Germany, the Germans were collectively deported from the
rus. Во́лга, deu. Wolga

The Volga River originates about 300 km northeast of Moscow in the Waldai Heights, a plateau in the European part of Russia. It is 3530 km long. At Astrakhan, the Volga fans out into the various arms of the Volga Delta and finally flows into the Caspian Sea.

region, where the Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic had existed since 1924. This Republic, in which the Russian Germans were to be taught socialism in their mother tongue in accordance with the guidelines of Lenin's nationalities policy, was dissolved, and about 900,000 Germans were taken to
rus. Казахстан, deu. Kasachstan

Kazakhstan today is a landlocked Central Asian country located between Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. In the past, the region was ruled by various steppe peoples until the Kazakhs subordinated themselves to the Russian Tsarist Empire in several steps between 1731 and 1742. From 1936, Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union as the Kazakh SSR; since its disintegration in 1991, Kazakhstan has been independent.

rus. Sibir, rus. Сиби́рь, deu. Sibirien

Siberia covers an area of 12.8 million square kilometers between the Urals, the Pacific Ocean, the North Polar Sea, China and Mongolia.The Russian conquest of Siberia began in 1581/82. At the time of the Enlightenment mainly a source of raw materials and space for trade with Asia, Siberia gained importance from the 19th century as a place for penal colonies and exiles. With the development of the Trans-Siberian Railway and steam navigation at the end of the 19th century, industrialization and thus new settlers came to Siberia. Further industrialization under Stalin was implemented primarily with the labor of Gulag prisoners and prisoners of war.

The map shows North Asia, centrally located Siberia. CIA World Factbook, edited by Veliath (2006) and Ulamm (2008). CC0 1.0.

for forced resettlement. This first mass deportation was followed by the conscription, firstly of the Russian-German men, then also of many women, for forced labor in the so-called "labor army" or "Trudar army," as the deportees in the German-Russian mishmash called it. Many families were torn apart and as many as 150,000 people died. Even after the end of the war, the deportees remained under a strict regime of exile, the "Kommandantur".
The Black Sea Germans were also collectively resettled during World War II, but initially in a different direction. Due to the rapid advance of the Wehrmacht, they came under German (and Romanian) occupation in 1941, which in some cases also entailed participation in the murder of the local Jewish populations. Beginning in 1943, Nazi authorities resettled the Black Sea Germans to the west, in occupied 
deu. Polen, pol. Polska

Poland is a state in Central Eastern Europe and is home to approximately 38 million people. The country is the sixth largest member state of the European Union. The capital and biggest city of Poland is Warsaw. Poland is made up of 16 voivodships. The largest river in the country is the Vistula (Polish: Wisła).

 (the so-called "Warthegau"). Ursula Herzog's family was also affected by this so-called "administrative resettlement." Her husband Michael died there in February 1945. Like most other Black Sea Germans, the surviving Herzogs were then returned to the Soviet Union at the end of the war by the Soviet authorities and also exiled to Siberia, to the same camps as the Volga Germans. Ursula Herzog's path is depicted in her obituary as follows: "Deported back to Russia, she was taken to a camp where she was first found by one of her nephews, who took care of her until her daughter Celestine also learned of her, took her in, and cared for her until her death."
Migration after the Second World War
The fact that Ursula Herzog eventually died in Karaganda was again no coincidence. After the Kommandantur was lifted in 1955, many Russian Germans settled in Kazakhstan, where the Soviet Union under Khrushchev was opening up "new territory" on a large scale. New centers of settlement also formed in the other Central Asian republics, as well as in the Urals and Siberia. Returning to the old settlement areas on the Volga and the Black Sea, on the other hand, was not permitted.
However, some of the Russian Germans who had resettled in the West during the war escaped the grasp of the Soviet authorities and repatriation to the Soviet Union. This was the case with Ursula's son Valentin, who, after being released from American captivity, lived with his family in Jesberg, Hesse, until 1953. From there, the Herzogs emigrated to the United States, first to Montana in 1953, then to Kansas, and finally to Spokane, Washington. In doing so, they took advantage of existing family networks in the USA.
 Some of the resettlers also remained in Germany, like Ursula's grandson Michael Wolf. This small group of Russian-Germans in the Federal Republic (and in some cases in the GDR) became a "bridgehead" for the immigration of relatives from the Soviet Union from the beginning of the 1970s. In the context of the East-West policy of rapprochement and détente, the USSR, which otherwise maintained a very restrictive emigration regime, allowed several tens of thousands of Russian Germans to emigrate and join their family members. Some members of the Herzog family were also among them.
Migration from the 1990s
However, the Russian Germans began to move on a large scale, firstly in the course of the reforms and then, finally, during the collapse of the 
Soviet Union
deu. Sowjetunion, rus. Sovetskiy Soyuz, rus. Советский Союз

The Soviet Union (SU or USSR, Russian: Союз Советских Социалистических Республик (СССР) was a state in Eastern Europe, Central and Northern Asia existing from 1922 to 1991. The USSR was inhabited by about 290 million people and formed the largest territorial state in the world, with about 22.5 million square km. The Soviet Union was a socialist soviet republic with a one-party system.

 after 1985. While hardly anyone was able to leave the country in the mid-1980s, the liberalizations under Gorbachev made a growing number of departures possible from 1987 onward. A kind of "snowball effect" developed: emigrated Russian Germans were joined by their family members (emigration was still primarily family reunification), and entire villages moved to Germany. They were helped in this by the liberal admission policies of the Federal Republic, which allowed them to enter Germany as "Aussiedler" (repatriates) – called "Spätaussiedler" (late repatriates) from 1993 on – on the basis of their "German ethnicity" (which had to be proven individually) and granted them German citizenship.
The numbers grew so rapidly that the Federal Republic, which until then had complained that Germans in the Soviet Union did not have the right to leave the country, in turn tightened the rules of admission. Starting in 1990, resettlement applications could only be submitted from the country of origin, and people sometimes had to wait for years to hear back. As of 1993, a maximum of only 220,000 ethnic German repatriates were allowed to enter Germany each year. In 1996, passing a language test became a condition of admission. This was difficult for many Russian Germans because their knowledge of German had declined sharply in the decades after the war due to a lack of educational opportunities in their native language. Anyone who spoke only Russian was now no longer to be considered a German in the eyes of the German state.
Despite these restrictions, the Federal Republic has taken in over 2.3 million ethnic Germans from the former Soviet Union since 1987, most of them in the 1990s. At the time of the 2010 census, there were only about 400,000 people in Russia who identified as Germans; in Kazakhstan, there were 180,000 in 2009. The majority of Russian Germans therefore now live in Germany, where they have integrated quite well after initial difficulties and where most of them want to stay.
However, a number of Russian-Germans are now moving on again, some back to the Soviet Union’s successor states, others to the places overseas that they and their families have dreamed of for years, places that have become attractive again, especially for the strongly religious among them. Some Russian-German Mennonites and Pentecostals are drawn to North and South America, especially to Canada, but also, for example, to Bolivia. The history of Russian-German migration is thus, to a certain extent, an ongoing story. For the majority of the group, however, it has come to an end with their establishment in the Federal Republic of Germany.
English translation: William Connor