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Double Detachment? German and Jewish Emigration from the Soviet Union after the Second World War


After the establishment of the Soviet Union, state policy was essentially against any form of exodus. The emigration of Soviet citizens was considered to be a threat to the Soviet regime, particularly as its underlying ideology upheld the union of individual and state. This made accepting the abscondment of citizens near impossible. Leaving the USSR was deemed to be an act of disloyalty, frequently even treason, and an attack on the Soviet authorities.[1] Jews and Germans were among the few population groups in the multi-ethnic state of the Soviet Union, for whom, however, an opportunity for emigration in the post-war decades arose on the grounds of family reunification. As a result of this, the 1960’s saw a growing number of the Jewish and German minorities[2] seeking to obtain an emigration permit. Between 1970 and 1984, a total of 74.000 Germans and 260.000 Jews emigrated.[3]

Yet, in the time period considered here, the number of applicants within both populations was notably higher than the number of actual emigrants. Given the arbitrary nature of how these applications were processed by the Soviet authorities, almost every applicant grew to expect reprisals and having the application rejected. For those seeking to emigrate, this procedure therefore usually represented a lengthy and multi-faceted process of "detachment" from the Soviet Union – from the time of the first desire to emigrate to the point of emigration itself. This tended to range from internal and psychological detachment to complete rejection in the form of external, physical detachment and the exiting of the Soviet Union. As the chance to emigrate was subject to numerous restrictions, protest movements arose within both populations.[4]

The following article examines the context in which the Jewish and German emigration movements developed, which parallels and differences can be identified, and which connections and interdependencies become apparent when comparing the two detachment processes.


The situation for German and Jewish minorities in the decades after the Second World War

Jews and Germans experienced a very changeable history in the Soviet era: There were phases of cultural prosperity and acceptance on the side of the state as well as periods of radical curtailment of national rights, repression and persecution. The domestic and foreign policy inclination of the Soviet government always had a significant influence on the attitude held towards both minorities.[5] The Second World War, which witnessed the massacre of Jews and deportation of Germans, had a deep impact on these minorities. Even after the war, and for some considerable time, both groups continued to be exposed to negative propaganda with anti-Semitism and German hatred directly or indirectly promoted by the state, and little being done to combat this atmosphere. In the post-war period both populations were dispersed: The autonomous German Volga Republic [s. Illustration 1] had not been re-established after the Second World War and Birobidžan – the remote autonomous Jewish territory on the Chinese border – played an alibi role. In the 1970 census, Jews were ranked the twelfth largest of 100 Soviet nationalities (2.139.627 inhabitants)[6] and the Germans fourteenth (1.846.317 inhabitants)[7]. Yet despite their strong representation amongst the population both were denied essential minority rights.

While the majority of Jews lived in large cities in the RSFSR, Ukraine and Belarus, the main German settlement areas were Kazakhstan, the RSFSR (especially Siberia) and Kyrgyzstan – which demonstrates the comparatively low degree of urbanity typical of the German population at the time. In the early years of the Soviet Union, both the German and Jewish minorities had their own education systems and national cultural institutions. However, under Stalin's rule these foundational systems were gradually destroyed. In both populations, the use of the native language declined. The linguistic russification of the Jewish population had already become prevalent due to the state offering no possibility to acquire knowledge of Yiddish or Hebrew. The German language situation was somewhat better. Teaching German as a native language was allowed, but how this was achieved in principle was often insufficient, so that even amongst Germans the native language knowledge declined.

In the 1960s and 1970s, national cultural institutions existed neither for the German nor for the Jewish minorities. Additionally, and in both cases, there was a lack of any focus on history. In particular, the fate of Jews and Germans during the Second World War was officially concealed or falsified, and the commemoration of war victims disallowed.

Restrictions on the practice of religion affected both Jews and Germans, albeit to varying degrees. That is not to say that religion did not play an important role within the Jewish and German populations. The common religious practices of the time played a significant role in preserving German national identity during and after the war. And for many Jews, religion provided a platform to gather and search for identity.

While the Jewish population in the Soviet Union had an extremely high level of education, that of the German population was relatively low – made worse by the number of deportations. As a result, a comparison of the professional structure of the two minorities reveals major disparities. Jews were strongly represented in technical professions, in teaching and sciences, and in the arts. Germans worked more in crafts, were drivers and tractor drivers and were more commonly industrial or agricultural workers. With regard to state participation, it is important to note that Germans and Jews, as ethnic populations, were not proportionally represented in political bodies. And such restrictions could be seen in many other areas as well. In particular, certain positions – especially management posts – were not accessible to members of these minorities.


Between the search for identity and the desire to emigrate

By the late 1960s, a great proportion of the Jews and many Germans were already largely assimilated. However, total adaption and assimilation into the majority society was often inhibited by passport entries which, in the cases of Germans and Jews, carried a foreign designation under nationality and thus acted as an obstacle to career development in certain professions.

In the post-war decades, especially after the 1960s, parts of the Jewish and German populations experienced a "national awakening", which found its expression in different forms on the grounds of various reasons. These ranged in spectrum from efforts to preserve Jewish and German identity to the rediscovery of national consciousness – especially within the younger generation. Various factors can be attributed to this which relate to the experiences of the past and how the situation for both minorities had developed since the Second World War. They manifested themselves in a tendency towards dissimilation within parts of the Jewish and German populations. Now Jews and Germans who had previously been completely or partially assimilated – or russified – were once again searching for their ethnic roots and endeavoring to preserve linguistic and cultural elements associated with their nationalities. The ignorance of both populations’ fate during the Second World War, which had actively been pursued by the state in the post-war decades, was a critical factor behind this "national awakening". Affecting both populations, it was commonly accompanied by a newly emerging interest in religion.

Within both the Jewish and German populations, ethnic reasons played an important role in the motivation to emigrate. Many Germans that no longer saw the potential in preserving their ethnic identity in the Soviet Union, considered emigration to the Federal Republic of Germany as being their only way out. Commonly, in the first application phase of emigration, Jewish emigrants emphasized their religious and traditional ties to the State of Israel. Along with Jews from other countries, they wanted to have the opportunity to help build their own state and live among the Jewish people. Of the German and Jewish emigrants that cited national reasons, both commonly spoke of "repatriation", and of emigration to the "historical homeland". Germany and Israel became the chief sources of identification. For those seeking to leave the Soviet Union, both target countries were regarded to be national-cultural ideals.[8]

Other motivations aside from ethnic reasons also prompted the Germans and Jews to emigrate. These were religious, family-related, economic and political. Although German emigrants were by no means a solid, homogeneous group and the reasons for emigration naturally individual, a far more differentiated picture emerges when looking at Jewish emigration. Unlike the pattern of German emigration, Jewish emigration can be divided into two phases: Until 1973, most Jews from the Soviet Union emigrated to Israel, after which the number of emigrants to the USA rose sharply. During this second phase, emigrants increasingly came from USSR heartland or geographies where Jews were considered to have assimilated. Around the same time, there was a shift in motivation to emigrate: Now, increasingly, people were prompted to emigrate for pragmatic reasons such as the desire to live in a democracy or a country known for cultural freedom or a higher standard of living. When considering the motivation for Jewish emigration it is therefore particularly important to take the appeal of the respective target country into account.[9]


Emigration and the conflict between concession and restriction

Although the Soviet Union recognized the right to free movement after the Second World War and signed international agreements such as the Declaration of Human Rights, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Helsinki Final Act, until the second half of the 1980s the Soviet authorities were restrictive on the issue of emigration. During this period, namely in the post-war decades up to the beginning of Perestroika, emigration for Germans and Jews alike was limited to family reunification.

The granting of an exit permit usually occurred as some sort of concession on the part of the authorities and depended on various foreign and domestic policy-related factors. For emigrants from minorities, the application process afforded the authorities plenty of scope for arbitrary conduct. The entry and exit procedure itself was regulated by a Council of Ministers ordinance. This made emigration from the Soviet Union subject to approval by the competent authorities but left the decision criteria open [s. Illustration 2].[10] The process was not built around a fast and hassle-free approach. Instead there were numerous obstacles put in the way of those seeking to emigrate meaning that the permit application itself became a road block – difficult to ever overcome. Submitting an application, tended to have different negative consequences in terms of the state of living for those concerned. The refusal of an application to leave the country – often verbal and without justification – was often accompanied by an attempt to pressure the applicant to cease with their emigration efforts.[11]

Such reprisals associated with applications affected Jews and Germans in a similar manner. However, due to different baseline conditions placed on each (level of education and professional structure, party membership), it was the Jews who were more strongly affected by party exclusion, the withdrawal of diplomas and exclusion from professional associations. That said, German applicants also experienced working conditions changing regularly. This restrictive Soviet government approach to the issue of emigration acted, on the one hand, as a deterrent. On the other hand, however, it also led to protests within the Jewish and German emigration movements.


Protests by German and Jewish emigrants

For the Jewish emigration movement, which had begun a few years earlier than the German one, the model upon which the Soviet human rights movement was based played an important role. Those Jews seeking to emigrate could fall back on suggestions and experiences of human rights activists when organizing activities and protests. The success of the Jewish movement in the early years – evidenced by the growing number of emigrants – also had an impact on the German emigration movement. Initially efforts were made within both movements to organize cross-city or cross-republic activities for those seeking to leave the country. This soon came to an end for both movements, as the state reacted with trials and reprisals putting an end to associations for those looking to emigrate.

For both groups writing petitions for the attention of recipients both within the Soviet Union and the West was a fundamental course of action. Both German and Jewish petitioners justified their desire to emigrate in writing, describing the steps taken so far, complaining about discrimination and reprisals and asking for support. A first wave of Jewish collective appeals began in the second half of 1969 with a petition concerning eighteen Jewish families from Georgia which was sent to the UN on 6th August 1969.[12] Shortly after the petition’s publication, numerous other collective letters – all demanding emigration – reached the West. After the early 1970s, German emigrants also tried to reach a broad public at home and abroad with their petitions.[13]

People from both movements who wanted to emigrate tried to draw particular attention to their concerns through protest activities in Moscow, the capital of the Union. Speeches to the central government authorities were intended to illustrate the urgency of the problem, and applicants sought to attract public attention in the Soviet Union and abroad with "marches" and demonstrations.[14]

Hunger striking was used by emigrants from both movements as a means to emphasizing the severity of their situation and indicate their level of determination. Larger-scale hunger strikes, often in different cities, as well as widespread hunger protests became more typical. These were used as a sign of solidarity for those imprisoned whilst seeking emigration and became more common amongst the Jewish movement.[15] Both Jewish and German applicants took a stance against being refused exit and the state's repressive measures by giving up their citizenship altogether. However, this method, as well as conscientious objection to military service, seems to have been more widespread in the Jewish movement. Mass denouncement of citizenship was prevalent amongst both movements.[16]

Counted amongst the rejected Jewish emigrants were numerous academics, artists and scientists who were prevented from pursuing their professions because of their emigration attempts. These individuals tended to be involved in the Jewish movement in different ways. Due to their education, knowledge and their – often extensive – network of contacts they had completely different options available to them than their Germans counterparts. This essential difference must be considered when comparing protest activities especially those associated with the samizdat[17]-activities of German and Jewish emigration seekers. The Jewish samizdat contained numerous journals, all very different in approach, dealing with the broad spectrum of problems experience by Jews in the Soviet Union, the emigration movement, the question of Jewish identity as well as with cultural topics. These diverse samizdat publications, available across multiple cities, reported on the problems of Jewish emigrants, their protests and reprisals against applicants. They provided a kind of platform for the emigration movement. Potential applicants were informed of the complications of emigration and how to overcome them; foreign readers were given a detailed picture of the emigration movement and the issues of those seeking to leave the country.[18]

With these underground journals, Jewish intellectuals created an important foundation for the Jewish national movement. Other unofficial cultural activities, such as Hebrew courses and seminars on Jewish culture and history, also helped to compensate for the lack of official Jewish culture in the Soviet Union. Although only a small number of those who wanted to leave the country were involved in samizdat publications or were active in the cultural field, these activities had a particular influence on the Jewish emigration movement. On the one hand, they contributed to the building and preservation of Jewish identity among Soviet Jews. On the other hand, they were an expression of protest against the reality of the Soviet Union, that is, against the restricted right to emigration and the cultural rights of Soviet Jews. In addition, the importance of language and culture seminars as places for Jewish emigrants to gather should not be underestimated; like the unofficial activities in the scientific field, they represented a binding element between rejected individuals within the Jewish community. Due of their desire to leave the country, Jewish scientists who had become unemployed tried to circumvent the state ban by organizing unofficial scientific seminars, lectures and conferences themselves. Although these events primarily served scientific purposes, the participants also expressed their protest in this way. They were determined to change their situation themselves. Through taking their own initiative, they signaled a certain independence from the state – circumventing state guidelines and bans – and clearly demonstrating that they did not wish to accept the decisions of the state.[19]

In addition to a large number of petitions, the German samizdat contained only one magazine issue from Re Patria, some essays on the situation of Germans in the Soviet Union and some reports on reprisals – showing how less well documented the German emigration movement was as compared to the Jewish one. The magazine Re Patria[20] was really a first concept. When it came to addressing the different rubrics on legal matters, history and culture, and topics surrounding the emigration movement, the Jewish samizdat appears to have been the role model.

Unofficial cultural activities within the German movement appear to have hardly existed. This is certainly largely due to the variety of baseline conditions placed upon them and mentioned above (level of education, professional structure, socio-demographic distribution of the population, lower degree of urbanisation). Yet, it should also be considered, that such engagements were more dangerous for German activists unknown within Soviet dissident circles and abroad than for well-known Jewish intellectuals. This is because Soviet authorities could take action against anyone without an extensive network far more easily without raising public suspicion.

Overall the high degree of urbanization among the Jewish population of the Soviet Union and connections to the human rights movement meant that it was Jewish activists that attracted more attention than German protesters. Jewish activists for the emigration movement in Moscow had good contacts to foreign journalists, to whom they passed on information and for whom they organized press conferences. A few exceptions aside, the German movement lacked contacts in Moscow and an information network as developed as that of the Jewish movement. News of activities led by German emigration seekers therefore often reached the West after significant delay; with often inaccurate information about only some of the protests being shared.


Reactions of the Soviet authorities

In the initial phase, Soviet leadership adopted similar tactics with regard to the Jewish and German emigration movements: Prominent activists were granted emigration permits, and an increasing number of Jews and Germans were allowed to emigrate. In so doing, the Soviet government clearly hoped to reduce pressure in the Soviet Union and bring the movements to a standstill. Throughout this period trials against a selection of activists – known as "show trials" within the movements themselves – were supposed to act as deterrents to potential emigrants and encourage them to abandon their plans. However, in the case of both movements, this approach failed to achieve the desired success instead having the reverse effect by encouraging more to apply for emigration permits and fueling the protest movements.

Court action led by the Soviet authorities against Jewish and German activists was quite similar across the board. In both cases, for example, the first trials concerned allegations of a more political nature ("knowingly sharing false claims", "anti-Soviet propaganda", etc.). These were then followed up by efforts to criminalize those wanting to leave the country, all the same by charging them with crimes of a non-political nature. The repressive steps taken by the state against those wanting to emigrate were also comparable across the movements. It is virtually impossible to make statements regarding the manner in which security forces acted at the time and whether different degrees of severity were applied against the movements. This is due to lack of substantial sources and because this was invariably handled on a case by case basis.

That said, the level of action taken by the authorities against an activist was certainly determined by several factors such as the place of residence, activist’s reputation – especially abroad – and previous record. It is possible, however, to conclude that security forces used similar repressive steps to suppress emigration and protest movements. Both Jews and Germans were affected by the unpredictability and arbitrariness of the authorities, and there was little opportunity to retaliate by taking legal action against them.[21]

For Soviet leadership, the rapidly growing spirit of emigration within the Jewish population represented a grave danger to the idea of internationalism held by the Soviet Union. They perceived this Jewish spirit as being carried across to other nationalities in the USSR, especially the German population.[22] The propaganda surrounding Jewish emigration at the time was accompanied by general anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli propaganda.[23] Concurrently, efforts were made to reduce the influence of Jews in Soviet society, to further suppress Jewish culture and thus to promote assimilation – possibly in the hope of reducing mounting emigration pressure. With regard to the Germans, anti-emigration propaganda was accompanied by steps to improve the German population’s situation – specifically their places of residence – in order to persuade people to stay.[24] Nevertheless, the actual situation rarely changed, and the spirit of emigration remained undiminished amongst the German population. Although the repressive steps and propaganda adopted by the Soviet state certainly deterred a lot of people, they failed to stop the protest movements altogether. Indeed, stronger repression often resulted in an intensification of the activities of those affected. The imposition of prison sentences frequently gave rise to further protests and the Jewish movement in particular was strengthened by broad support from abroad [s. Illustration 3, s. Illustration 4, s. Illustration 5].

As these efforts continued over time, so the Jews and Germans wishing to emigrate started to use protests differently. Not only were they now venting against the refusal to issue exit permits, but increasingly also against reprisals made by the authorities and security organs as well as expressing skepticism around Soviet bureaucracy and legal practice. Any steps to apply pressure and suppress these protests, reinforced their view that there was no future for them in the Soviet Union. As it turned out in practice, reprisals often led to an increase in emigration and to a growing rejection of the Soviet state system.

For the Jewish and German minorities, even Perestroika came with only gradual changes to their situation. It really was not until 1987 that the number of exit permits granted started to increase and that the simultaneous early release of emigration-related detainees signaled an easing of the state's position on those wanting to emigrate.


Detachment processes within the Jewish and German population

In the post-war decades, neither the Jewish nor the German populations in the Soviet Union consisted of what might be considered a homogeneous group in terms of their identity. That said, there were various predispositions that fluctuated between the extremes of assimilation at one end of the scale and the emphasis on national consciousness at the other. For the Jewish and German populations wishing to emigrate this emerging desire shaped the first phase of detachment from the Soviet Union. For many Jews and Germans national reasons or dissatisfaction with certain areas of life created a desire to leave the country. Negative experiences in the Soviet Union, but also the appeal of the respective target countries, led to a new understanding of home. A certain aversion to the internal situation in the Soviet Union and a simultaneous inclination towards the target country developed. This aversion was not necessarily associated with a complete rejection of the Soviet state.

In the event of physical detachment – namely emigration – being rejected, this came hand in hand with more distancing from the Soviet state. In the course of their efforts to obtain emigration permits, and in the fight for the right to exit, applicants were confronted, in particular, with the realities of the system, above all in the legal arena. Some of the emigrants expressed their dissatisfaction in protests and openly demonstrated their distance to the state. By giving up Soviet citizenship, rejecting state honors and refusing to fulfil certain duties as citizens, some emigrants made it clear that they no longer felt a sense of belonging to the state, and that they had already completely turned their backs on it.

In the two populations examined here, neither emigration movements were organized efforts with a uniform approach. Instead, the processes of detachment amongst Jewish and German emigrants manifested itself in various activities and protests by individuals, families or groups. The Jewish and German emigration movements each emerged from nationalist movements. However, it should be noted that only some of those who wanted to emigrate had national or ethnic motivations and that not all supporters of the national movements actually wished to emigrate. Instead, some primarily just wanted the opportunity to preserve ethnic identity within the Soviet Union.

Nevertheless, emigration movements and national movements went hand in hand. Although a large proportion of those wishing to emigrate saw the only solution to their problems as being outside the Soviet Union – through emigration especially to Israel, the USA or Germany – applicants also repeatedly demanded improvements for those Jewish and German minorities in the Soviet Union itself. The demands coming from those more on the periphery of the Jewish and German movements were often concerned with addressing issues affecting minorities within the framework of the Soviet system. Criticism primarily concerned the inadequate execution of existing principles, as well as the violation of the constitution, laws and international agreements. Of the Jews and Germans seeking to emigrate, few of them appeared to advocate for the general observance of human rights. Instead, in addition to their personal right to emigration, they focused on certain rights that specifically affected their own national groups. Only a few were also committed to the rights of other population groups and, in general, the respect of human and civil rights in the USSR. These came predominantly from the ranks of the Jewish movement.

Although the two minorities had very little direct contact with one another and each of the protest movements had something special about them, the process of detachment for both appears to have taken place in parallel and in many respects followed similar patterns: Detachment from the Soviet Union was primarily a reaction of the people to their situation and the way the state dealt with the Jewish and German minorities, as well as a consequence of the history of these minorities in the Soviet Union. The attempts of the Soviet state to stop this process of detachment – partly by force – intensified the psychological detachment of those seeking to emigrate and aroused resistance. Through protest activities, Jewish and German emigrants stressed both their determination to leave the country and their dwindling willingness to accept the realities of the Soviet Union. Protest movements held by Jews and Germans seeking to emigrate were thus a manifestation of their having internally detached from the state.



[1] Dowty, Alan, The Right to Leave and Return. Political and Social Factors, in: Brunner, Georg, Allan Kagedan (ed.): Die Minderheiten in der Sowjetunion und das Völkerrecht, Köln 1988, pp. 157-176, here 161.

[2] Although the Soviet view was that there were no national minorities, instead just Soviet people living in the Soviet Union, the nationality of any Soviet citizen was nevertheless specified in the Soviet (domestic) passport. Under Soviet law, children from mixed marriages were allowed to choose between the nationalities of their parents at the age of sixteen. No opportunity was presented later to change the registration.

[3] Pinkus, Benjamin, Die Auswanderungsbewegung der Deutschen und Juden seit 1970, in: Kappeler, Andreas, Boris Meissner, Gerhard Simon (ed.), Die Deutschen im Russischen Reich und im Sowjetstaat, Köln 1987, pp. 151-166, here 164.

[4] See in detail Armborst, Kerstin, Ablösung von der Sowjetunion. Die Emigrationsbewegung der Juden und Deutschen vor 1987, Münster et al. 2001.

[5] On the German situation in the Soviet Union refer to Pinkus, Benjamin, Ingeborg Fleischhauer, Die Deutschen in der Sowjetunion: Geschichte einer nationalen Minderheit im 20. Jahrhundert [The Germans in the Soviet Union: History of a National Minority in the 20th Century], ed. by Ruffmann, Karl-Heinz, Baden-Baden 1987. On the history of the Jews in the Soviet Union see Levin, Nora, The Jews in the Soviet Union since 1917. Paradox of Survival, vol. II, London 1990.

[6] Mertens, Lothar, Alija. Die Emigration der Juden aus der UdSSR/GUS, Bochum 1993, p. 36.

[7] Dietz, Barbara, Zwischen Anpassung und Autonomie. Rußlanddeutsche in der vormaligen Sowjetunion und in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Berlin 1995, p. 35.

[8] The reasons given by German emigrants can be found, for example, in AS 1913; AS 1776, pp. 82-84; AS 4020; AS 5181. For those reasons put forward by Jewish emigrants, see, for example, the petitions contained in AS 420 and AS 426. The documents designated here and below with "AS" and a number are contained in the Samizdata Archive, which was founded in 1971 in the Research Department of Radio Liberty in Munich and published in the Sobranie dokumentov Samizdata and Materialy Samizdata collections respectively. Since the documents were carefully checked for factual accuracy before they were included in the Samizdata archive and, if necessary, provided with a commentary, they represent a very reliable source inventory.

[9] Pinkus, Benjamin, National Identity and Emigration Patterns among Soviet Jewry, in: Soviet Jewish Affairs 15 (3), 1985, pp. 3-28.

[10] Luchterhandt, Otto, UN-Menschenrechtskonventionen. Sowjetrecht – Sowjetwirklichkeit. Ein kritischer Vergleich, Baden-Baden 1980, pp. 271f. See the Ordinance of Council of Ministers of the USSR No. 660 from 19th July 1959 in AS 420, pp. 44-46.

[11] See Pinkus/Fleischhauer 1987, pp. 544-546.

[12] AS 268.

[13] See, for example, the petition made by 10 Germans "An den amerikanischen Kongress, an alle Deutschen und alle Bürger der Vereinigten Staaten" on 10th September 1974 (AS 1865).

[14] See, for example, AS 1390, pp. 41-58; AS 4403; AS 4478.

[15] See, for example, AS 1390, pp. 22-40.

[16] See, for example, AS 2745; AS 1391, p. 83.

[17]  Samizdat (sam= self, izdat= editing, izdatel’stvo= publisher) refers to written work that have been produced and distributed by circumventing the state publication system.

[18] See, for example, AS 420; AS 426; AS 1391.

[19] See, for example, Belaja kniga o simpoziume: Evrejskaja kul’tura v SSSR. Sostojanie, Perspektivy, edited by teh Organising Committee of the Symposium (Moscow 1977), in: Evrejskij Samizdat, vol. 15, pp. 1-145; AS 420; AS 426; AS 1391.

[20] AS 1776.

[21] See, for example, AS 1391; AS 4478; AS 4715; AS 2725.

[22] Onikov,Leon, (Advisor to the Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of the CPSU), O vyezde časti evrejskogo naselenija iz SSSR, in: Morozov, Boris (ed.), Evrejskaja Ėmigracija v svete novych dokumentov, Tel Aviv 1998, Dokument No. 57, pp. 199-204.

[23] See, for example, the work of the “Anti-Zionist Committee”, studied by Korey, William, The Soviet Public Anti-Zionist Committee. An Analysis, in: Freedman, Robert (ed.), Soviet Jewry in the 1980s. The Politics of Antisemitism and Emigration and the Dynamics of Resettlement, Durham and London 1989, pp. 26-50.

[24] Proposals of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan to the Central Committee of the CPSU on the Improvement of Work among the German Population, October 25th, 1973 (Document No. 140), in: Iz istorii Nemcev Kazachstana (1921-1975gg.). Sbornik dokumentov [From the History of the Kazakhstan Germans (1921-1975). A Document Collection], ed. by G.A. Karpykova for the Archive of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Almaty and Moscow 1997, pp. 261-265.



Armborst, Kerstin, Ablösung von der Sowjetunion. Die Emigrationsbewegung der Juden und Deutschen vor 1987, Münster et al. 2001.

Dietz, Barbara, Zwischen Anpassung und Autonomie. Rußlanddeutsche in der vormaligen Sowjetunion und in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Berlin 1995.

Dowty, Alan, The Right to Leave and Return. Political and Social Factors, in: Brunner, Georg, Allan Kagedan (ed.): Die Minderheiten in der Sowjetunion und das Völkerrecht, Köln 1988, pp. 157-176.

Korey, William, The Soviet Public Anti-Zionist Committee. An Analysis, in: Freedman, Robert (ed.), Soviet Jewry in the 1980s. The Politics of Antisemitism and Emigration and the Dynamics of Resettlement, Durham and London 1989, pp. 26-50.

Levin, Nora, The Jews in the Soviet Union since 1917. Paradox of Survival, vol. II, London 1990.

Luchterhandt, Otto, UN-Menschenrechtskonventionen. Sowjetrecht – Sowjetwirklichkeit. Ein kritischer Vergleich, Baden-Baden 1980.

Mertens, Lothar, Alija. Die Emigration der Juden aus der UdSSR/GUS, Bochum 1993.

Pinkus, Benjamin, Die Auswanderungsbewegung der Deutschen und Juden seit 1970, in: Kappeler, Andreas, Boris Meissner & Gerhard Simon (ed.), Die Deutschen im Russischen Reich und im Sowjetstaat, Köln 1987, pp. 151-166.

Pinkus, Benjamin, National Identity and Emigration Patterns among Soviet Jewry, in: Soviet Jewish Affairs 15 (3), 1985, pp. 3-28.

Pinkus, Benjamin, Ingeborg Fleischhauer, Die Deutschen in der Sowjetunion: Geschichte einer nationalen Minderheit im 20. Jahrhundert, ed. by Ruffmann, Karl-Heinz, Baden-Baden 1987.



Proposals of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan concerning the improvement of the activity among the German population, 25th of October 1973, Document No. 140, in: Iz istorii Nemcev Kazachstana (1921-1975gg.). Sbornik dokumentov [From the history of the Germans of Kazakhstan (1921–1975). Collection of documents], ed. by the Archive of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and G.A. Karpykova. Almaty / Moskau 1997, pp. 261–265.

Onikov, Leon[propaganda department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union], O vyezde časti evrejskogo naselenija iz SSSR [On the emigration of parts of the Jewish population of the USSR], in: Morozov, Boris (ed.): Evrejskaja Ėmigracija v svete novych dokumentov [The Jewish emigration in the light of new documents], Tel Aviv 1998, document No. 57, pp. 199-204.

Steering committee of the Symposium (ed.), Belaja kniga o simpoziume: Evrejskaja kul’tura v SSSR. Sostojanie, Perspektivy [White book of the symposium: “Jewish culture in the USSR. Condition and perspectives”], in: Evrejskij Samizdat 15, 1977, pp. 1–145.

The archive of the Samizdat (Arkhiv Samizdata), founded 1971 in the Research Department of the station “Radio Liberty” in Munich are today part of the Open Society Archives (OSA), Budapest. They were published in the collections “Sobranie Dokumentov Samizdata” and “Materials of the Samizdat” (“Materialy Samizdata”). Since the documents were closely examined and as well commented on in some cases, they provide a quite reliable source base. The documents are marked with „AS“ and a number.


German emigration

AS 1776 Re Patria

Collection concerning the history and culture of the Soviet Germans, No. 1, Moskau 1974.

AS 1865

Ten members of the committees and unions of Germans, “Appeal to the American Congress, to all Germans and to all citizens of the U.S.” in the name of 7.000 Germans from the Baltic States and 3368 families from Kirghizia and Kazakhstan, who want to emigrate to the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), 10th of September, 1974.

AS 1913

Committee of the “Congregation of the Soviet Citizens of German nationality, living in Estonia” - letter to German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and foreign secretary Hans-Dietrich Genscher, 18th of October, 1974.

AS 2725

Three pleas from Germans to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, Issyk, no date given, (possibly) fall of 1974.

AS 2745

Germans in Kazakhstan, “Appeal to the Federal Government of Germany, to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and to all signatures states of the Helsinki Declaration“, 2nd of October, 1976.

AS 2811

Konstantin Wuckert, Soviet German, 4 documents on the question of the Soviet Germans; Novotroickoe, Džambulskaj Oblast‘, 1971–1976.

AS 4020

Vladimir Bär, German, plea to the broadcasting station “Deutsche Welle”, with another letter attached (anonymous sender), Nartkala, Kabardino-Balkarian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, Northern Caucasus (about 12th of May, 1980)

AS 5181

Marta Miller, whose claim on German nationality was rejected by the authorities, Open letter to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union requesting to accept the application for departure of the family Miller, Alma-Ata, 8th of February, 1984.


Jewish emigration

AS 268

Letter of 18 Georgian Jews to the ambassador of the state of Israel at the United Nations, Tekoa, 6th of August, 1969.

AS 420

Ischod (“Exodus”), No. 1. Collection of documents concerning the Jewish question in the USSR, 1970, 40 p.

AS 426

Ischod (“Exodus”), No. 1. Collection of documents concernung the Jewish question in the USSR, 1970, 40 p.

AS 1391

Journal “Messenger of the Exodus”, No. 3, 101 p.


German and Jewish emigration

AS 4478

three members of the Helsinki-Group from Moscow (among them Elena Bonner). Document No. 182: “Repression against people who were willing to leave the USSR”, Moscow, 5th of September, 1981.

AS 4641

three members of the Helsinki-Group from Moscow (among them Elena Bonner). Document No. 192: “The persecution of citizens who want to leave the USSR continues”, Moscow, 2nd of March, 1982.


Digital Sources 

Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung, Dossier "Russlanddeutsche".

Eisfeld, Alfred, 30.10.2018, Leben und Kultur der Deutschen im Ural und Sibirien nach der Deportation, in: Dossier "Russlanddeutsche", ed. by Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung.

Map Deutsche in der Sowjetunion und deren Nachfolgestaaten nach 1945, in: Dossier "Russlanddeutsche", ed. by Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung.

Map Zwangsaussiedlung deutscher Sowjetbürger aus dem europäischen Teil der UdSSR 1991, in: Dossier "Russlanddeutsche", ed. by Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung.



Dr Kerstin Armborst-Weihs

Published on 23 August 2021