Catherine II (accidental or not) Germanisation of Russia

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Grand Archduke of Austria, Jul 10, 2019.

  1. Grand Archduke of Austria Jimmy Fever 105

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2016
    Location:
    Heaven (land of peace)
    German migration to Russia:

    I quote, the following passage:

    The Germans migrated to Russia in several waves, all spurred by promises of jobs and land from the Tsars. The first period of migration from Germany to Russia occurred between 1533-1584 under Ivan the Terrible, who hired a wide variety of tradesmen to build up Moscow. The second wave of immigrants came between 1672-1725 under Tsar Peter the Great. By that time, there were 50,000 Germans living in St. Petersburg. The third wave was a result of Catherine the Great’s attempt to buffer the eastern parts of the empire against Asiatic tribes. Alexander I continued this endeavour. Germans poured into Russia between 1762 and 1796, and waves continued after that. Many went to the Volga and Black Sea regions (see map 1). By 1897, there were almost 2 million people of German descent in Russia.

    Part of the appeal for the Germans to move to Russia is tied to conditions of their the settlement as set out by Catherine the Great in 1763. According to historian Richard Sallet, for about a century after this, Germans in Russia were entitled to:
    1. Religious liberty
    2. Tax exemptions for ten years in cities and thirty years on the land
    3. Exemption from military service or civil service, against their will, for all time
    4. Cash grants for the purchase of buildings and cattle
    5. Equality with native Russians
    6. Exemptions on import duty for colonists up to 300 rubles per family in addition to the moveable property of each family
    7. Permission of professional people to join guilds and unions in the Russian empire
    8. All lands allotted for the settlement of colonists were to be given for eternal time, not however as personal property but as the communal property of each colony
    9. Settlers were permitted to depart at any time after payment of a portion of assets they had acquired in the Russian empire.
    The houses the Germans built in Russia were typically one story in height, and usually made of sandstone, limestone or brick. The walls were stuccoed on the outside and whitewashed on the inside. The gable end of houses faced the straight village street, which was up to one hundred yards wide. The Germanic people were industrious and used their surroundings to their advantage. For example, in forest regions of the Volga, such as the Volhynian region, the buildings were largely constructed with wood.

    The distinctive features of particular settlements resulted from clusters of families coming either from particular regions in Germany, from a particular religious background, or often both. Eventually, there were over three thousand distinctive Germanic settlements in Russia. While these settlements differed in terms of their religion and particularly features, the settlers shared the native German language and held on to many German customs, at least initially. By 1871, when Tsar Alexander II revoked the privileges granted to the German-Russians under Catherine the Great’s charter, some accommodation to Russian language and lifeways had occurred but the swift action prompted many of Germanic descent to migrate again in search of new opportunities.

    Proposal:

    This information explains that the German migration was very sporadic going into Russia. The migration occurring in waves over a long period of time probably did not help smaller German communities to grow because the migration was not concentrated in one location. The best analogy to draw from this problem is the German settling on the Rhine and how they industrialized the area in the 19th century. The Russian equivalent is the Volga River which encompasses the Volga basin and would go on to hold a large amount of Russian population. Therefore it is ironic that the only large German settlement in Russia settled on the Volga River. (Volga Germans)

    The only real problem is to settle the Volga River you need millions of Germans to migrate. I am thinking about 5 million, I came up with the idea that somehow the Thirty Years war does not happen resulting in higher German population by 1762. If the migration can happen without the Thirty Years war happening then great but it will be down to something else other than a higher German population.

    Looking forward if the Germans become self-sustaining within Russia and begin building a ‘society’ they could build the Volga-Don canal connecting the Volga and Don Rivers and begin populating the Don River towards the Sea of Azov. There were plans in the late 1690s and early 1700 but nothing materialized. The Don River includes Rostov-On-Don and Volgodonsk.

    This scenario is basically German migration towards the east without ethnic cleansing, just getting there before the Russians do.

    Tsaritsyn (Volgograd) was a great migration target. According to the census in 1720, the city had a population of 408 people. In 1773 the city became a provincial and district town. From 1779 it belonged to the Saratov Viceroyalty. In 1780 the city came under the newly-established Saratov Governorate.

    Information relating to population:

    Thirty years war casualties: 3,000,000 (low estimate) - 11,500,000 (high estimate) - 5,673,870 - (Geometric mean estimate)

    I quote, the following passage:

    The Thirty Years War resulted in eight million fatalities not only from military engagements but also from violence, famine, and plague. Casualties were overwhelmingly and disproportionately inhabitants of the Holy Roman Empire, most of the rest being battle deaths from various foreign armies. The deadly clashes ravaged Europe; 20 percent of the total population of Germany died during the conflict and there were losses up to 50 percent in a corridor between Pomerania and the Black Forest.

    In terms of proportional German casualties and destruction, it was surpassed only by the period January to May 1945; one of its enduring results was 19th-century Pan-Germanism, when it served as an example of the dangers of a divided Germany and became a key justification for the 1871 creation of the German Empire.

    Russian population in 1762: 19 million

    Russian population in 1800: 35.5 million

    German population in 1700: 20 million (with the thirty years war)

    German population in 1762: 24-25 million (with the thirty years war)

    German estimate population in 1762 without the thirty years war: 29-33 million

    German population in 1800: 27-29 million (with the thirty years war)

    German Immigration Map.jpg

    The light purple areas show the broad German settlement areas. Compare with the last image for comparison. The red lines show alternative settlement areas along the Volga and Don Rivers.

    Cities along the Volga river include Tsaritsyn, (Volgograd) Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Samara, Saratov, Tolyatti, Yaroslavl, Astrakhan, Ulyanovsk, Cheboksary and Tver. It also has hundreds of small towns.

    Volgarivermap.png

    The Volga river in dark blue overlayed the Volga basin in cream.

    Germans.jpg

    800px-Volga_German_area.gif

    This is Volga German settlements along the Volga River. Notice Kamyshin in the bottom left-hand corner, Tsaritsyn (Volgograd) in only just down the Volga River.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
  2. Koprulu Mustafa Pasha Sadrazam of the Roman Empire Gone Fishin'

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2017
    Location:
    Sarajevo
  3. Paschalis Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2019
    Very intresting Idea, gonna keep an eye on this
     
  4. Koprulu Mustafa Pasha Sadrazam of the Roman Empire Gone Fishin'

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2017
    Location:
    Sarajevo
    Other than it is a huge attempt needing lots of resources and will cause some anger among the Russian nobles... Is this desirable? And will the Russians Germanize or the Germans Russify? In order to Germanize it the Germans may need to adopt Russian Orthodoxy, to get closer with the Russians. But this may trigger Russification of the newly arrived Germans.

    The biggest advantage is, not everyone is Russian. There are Tatars, Ukrainians (if they are counted), Mongols in Russia which means that not all of the 19 million population are Russians. But again, unlikely. There really needs to government attempts to Germanize it and it won't go of lightly.

    The idea sounds really interesting, not gonna lie.
     
  5. Gloss Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2014
    I think you could get more Germans in Ukraine, Caucasus and Lower Volga but that's it, millions of Germans migrating is unlikely.
     
    kholieken likes this.
  6. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2018
    Germans as a solution to all problems or as creators of the state within Russian Empire, give me a break. :)

    Mixture of the names from different times. Ulyanovsk was Simbirsk and Tolyatti - Stavropol-on-Volga; it should be clear that the names are modern.

    An idea of the early Volga-Don canal appeared in don’t know how many threads but looking at a small map gives a misleading picture: the difference in the levels made pre-modern construction impossible due to the need of numerous pumping stations. Even in modern (post-wwii times) it required 900,000 workers to accomplish. However, statement that connection of Don and Volga never was tried is wrong. During the reign of Peter I Ivanovsky canal was created upstream. It was not very good but in 1707 300 ships passed through it. With a loss of access to the Sea of Azov canal became meaningless and fell into ruin. So the German settlers of the XVIII hardly would be able to perform the job. Not to mention that in a reality canal would not make too much practical sense in the premodern times: approximately half of the carried volume are petroleum products and big part of the rest is coal. None of them had been extracted or important until the very end of the XIX.

    As for the migrations, it is not like there was none between Ivan IV and Peter I: immediately after the ToT the first Romanov tsars had been actively hiring the foreigners both on military and civic service and Peter just continued the trend. Conquest of the Baltic provinces added more German speakers and Catherine was looking for the people everywhere to help populating the newly conquered Novorossia: Albanians, Serbs, Hungarians, Greeks, Germans, etc. The main problem with them or anybody else settling all over the low Volga is that it is very difficult to settle there due to a harsh climate: the summers are extremely hot and the winters are very cold (as quite a few Germans had a chance to find out in 1942 - 43) while the soil is not very rich and famines In the area were not uniques events. Basically, a big part of the area is semi-desert and “getting ahead” would not work because the Tatars already had been there (still are).

    Then, of course, goes an obvious question why would the German city-dwellers move into the relatively unsettled areas when there was a clear demand for their skills in more “civilized” parts of the Tsardom/Empire? Even at the time of Catherine II these areas were reasonably dangerous due to the proximity to the (rather porous) borders and inadequate security even on the Russian side of the border. The artisans needed customers and fellow migrants to nowhere would not have enough of a purchasing power while in the big cities there were ready markets for their goods. And those with the “strategic” skills would be placed where state needed them. Of course, the peasants would go to the places with a decent chance for a good agricultural development. In other words, state within the state is unlikely scenario especially ally taking into an account that they were coming from the different German states and had different religions. The city dwellers would assimilate, as happened in OTL and only the peasants would preserve some of their language and customs (it worth noticing that in OTL the Germans of Volga, being predominantly farmers, did not create a single big city).
     
  7. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2018
    In OTL, with the exception of the farmers the trend was toward assimilation. Look at how many prominent Germans were on the government service by the mid-XVIII.

    Settlement by definition was and would be happening in the rural areas without significant Russian (or “native”) population to avoid conflicts you mentioned. But these areas had to be reasonably suitable for the agricultural development, which puts serious limitations on where they could happen. Then, of course, Russian government in the XVIII simply did not have finances needed to accommodate couple millions settlers with rather generous OTL allowances.
     
  8. Grand Archduke of Austria Jimmy Fever 105

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2016
    Location:
    Heaven (land of peace)
    Looking at it objectively it seems as if Catherine became Russian even though she was German, therefore we have a none-German patriotic Empress. Therefore from my objective, there are two routes:

    Accidental: The Germans restore the Teutonic state and ask Catherine for access in order to protect the Volga Germans because they are being kidnapped and murdered by Asian tribes. She accepts. The Teutonic administration attracts all other Germans who have already immigrated but they also make diplomatic connections with the many German states in the Holy Roman Empire. This single administration attracts a steady stream of Germans from the Holy Roman Empire. The Teutonic state begins to expand up and down the Volga river. The Teutonic state holds elections to elect the Grand Master but eventually, Volga aristocratic families begin to attain status, wealth and power. The state turns into a kingdom through a legislative vote.

    None accidental: Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst has a very patriotic and nationalistic upbringing. Catherine makes purposefully diplomatic connections with all German states in the Holy Roman Empire for migrations to settle on the Volga River and she sets up a German-led administration to receive them. Controversially after the coup against her husband Peter III of Russia, she marries a German prince and creates a German dynasty in Russia. In her reign, there are Russian assertions to remove this dynasty but before Catherine dies she declares a German kingdom and allocates her first German son as king. (Remember Kingdoms can be within empires.)

    This administration, Teutonic State or kingdom makes assertive efforts to connect itself via the sea by building the Volga-Don canal and populate the Don River, or alternatively, the canal does not have to be built and where the canal would be would have to be walked. Nevertheless, Rostov-On-Don becomes the main entry route for all Germans gaining access to the Kingdom instead of trekking hundreds of miles eastward past extremely hostile Russians. The Germans in central Europe are now connected to the Germans in Eastern Europe and this trading link keeps all that it is to be German by commercial trading. The central Germans trade them clothes, cuisine, arms, furniture, paintings, fabrics, 'entertainment', tobacco, sugar, salt, spices and whatever else is on offer. In vice versa, Eastern Germans trade with whatever the central Germans what or require from whatever the cultures around them have.

    For a very long time, the Russians restore the emperor with a Russian but a divide begins to appear where the Russians and Germans begin to fight for power by installing there respective national candidates. This begins to facilitate a sovereign spilt within the Russian Empire and this German Kingdom attains independence.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
  9. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2018
    Unfortunately, neither scenario has traction with the Russian realities and not sure about traction about the German realities either because while Teutonic Order never ceased to exist but there would be no conditions under which it could restore its military power and became a state again (surely, Prussia would have something to say about that).

    Scenario under which Catherine agrees to presence of some foreign military power as a protector of the Russian subjects (no matter of which descent) belongs to ASB category. Needless to say that the Germans migrating to Russia would not have any diplomatic relations with the foreign states: they are Russian subjects, not some politically independent entity. The same goes for an attempt of any state to get involved in what becomes Russian internal affairs and the chances that this restored Teutonic Order is powerful enough to dictate Russia conditions is not even funny: at that time Russia is the strongest regional power.

    2nd scenario. “German-led administration” in ASB-free context means one thing: Russian administration with some bureaucratists speaking German. An idea of marrying the German Prince and creation of a German dynasty does not make a slightest sense because (a) there was already legitimate heir to the throne and (b) the main tool for Catherine’s political survival was to be as Russian as was physically possible. Of course, it is going without saying that the dynasty was already German: Peter III was only 25% Russian and Catherine 100% German so Paul was almost pure German, married German princesses, etc. Why would Catherine allow a hostile state within Russian Empire is an open question but the logic is anything but clear. BTW, Don region already was populated by the Cossacks of Don and an idea of the German emigrants entering Russia through Rostov-on-Don implies a rather convoluted route, not to mention that the settlement was chartered only in 1796 and the name appeared only in 1806.

    I already commented on practicality of the Volga-Don canal in the XVIII century.
     
  10. Grand Archduke of Austria Jimmy Fever 105

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2016
    Location:
    Heaven (land of peace)
    This idea just happen to float outside my head today. I can make it work easy, my brain is a paradox of ideas.
     
    SeaCambrian likes this.
  11. water123 The Biggest Normie on this Website

    Joined:
    May 11, 2014
    Location:
    Space
    Oh god, we're gonna have someone write a TL where Russia ends up unifying the German states, aren't we?
     
    Gabingston likes this.
  12. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2018
    Well, so far you are in ASB territory which gives credit to your inventiveness but breaks rules of the game (I must admit that, a complete impracticality aside, these scenarios are inventive).

    :)
     
  13. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2018
    Or Russia is being occupied by the German states and then unifying the Germany.
     
  14. Grand Archduke of Austria Jimmy Fever 105

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2016
    Location:
    Heaven (land of peace)
    First off explain to me very precisely why it is ASB.

    I see it very differently. You have the Volga river, no many people are living on it. You had waves of migration from Germany which were sporadic and not concentrated. This equals a different migration pattern of Germans to a different geopolitical area. It is well known people live on rivers to survive. The Rhine and Mississippi rivers and basins are a great example of that.

    It seems from first sight that accidental scenario is the best solution. I don’t completely want Germanise the Russians that would be very unrealistic. I would have to look into it to see if it’s possible. Someone would have persuade me of that scenario. I think the best outcome would be to have a German kingdom along part of the Volga river but also the Don River.
     
  15. Jan Olbracht Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2012
    Location:
    Polska
    There is good reason why few people lived along lower Volga before 19th century, same with southern Ukraine-it was dangerous place, which witnessed population loses that make 30YW a joke. For example-Dnepr Ukraine lost 90% of population within generation as result of Khmielnitsky Uprising.
    Surely, Tatars would be very happy about mass migration of Germans to the steppes-slave markets in Constantinopole would be full of them soon.
     
    kholieken, Gabingston and RGB like this.
  16. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2018
    It is ASB because it completely ignoring historical realities and specifics of the relevant geography and climate.

    An idea of the Teutonic Order suddenly uppearing in the XVIII as a meaningful and reasonably powerful German state is unrealistic.

    An idea that Catherine II would allow creation of de facto foreign state with its own administration and military force deep within the Russian empire is unrealistic and contradicts to the patterns of the OTL immigration of that or any other period. Any attempt of creating the “German kingdom” within the Russian empire would be crushed by a military force.

    An argument that we have river and not too many people are living on it clearly indicates that you did not bother to figure out why this happens. And the answer should be obvious: because it is very difficult to live on that part of Volga. I already posted some information on the local climate and agricultural opportunities. Analogs of the Rhine and Mississippi are silly: how about the great Siberian rivers or Amazon River? Don’t you think that climate has something to do with the density of the population? And in the XVIII there was an additional factor of the area being practically a border land regularly raided by the neighbor nomads.

    Plans about the German expansion to the Don belong to the same group of “the first sight”: the area was already populated by the Cossacks of Don.
     
    Djacir, von Adler, darthfanta and 7 others like this.
  17. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2018
    The Kazakh-Kirkuz tribes had been very happy with the existing Volga settlers of which only in 1774 they kidnapped more than 1,500. And we are not even talking really lower Volga, the settlements were to the North of it. On the lower Volga, besides greater exposure to these neighbors, a climate and difficulties with the agriculture would be taking their own toll.
     
  18. Grand Archduke of Austria Jimmy Fever 105

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2016
    Location:
    Heaven (land of peace)
    I got my angry face on.

    Thanks for the answers. The solution is simple yet your unable to see it.
     
  19. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2018
    Simple solutions are quite often result of inadequate knowledge.
     
  20. Grand Archduke of Austria Jimmy Fever 105

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2016
    Location:
    Heaven (land of peace)
    Really...