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Archive exhibit: the deportation of the Volga Germans

August 25, 2011

A new exhibit in the Morgan Library shares the history of the Volga Germans. The exhibit is free and open to the public. It will run through Sept. 12.

Extreme conditions shape Volga Germans

Seventy years ago, Joseph Stalin ordered his army to begin the mass deportation of 440,000 “Volga Germans”—those Russians of German extraction who had settled the banks of the Volga River from the mid-1700s onward. Starting on Sept. 1, 1941, deportees were transported to Siberia by train in cattle cars, with many of the transfers taking place in the harsh fall and winter months.

Those who survived the journey, found themselves with inadequate clothing, no shelter, and no means to support themselves in temperatures as low as -40°C. These harsh conditions were exacerbated by the conscription of many deportees into the forced Labor Army.

New exhibit about Volga Germans

The story of the deportation of the Volga Germans is now on exhibit at CSU Archives and Special Collections in Morgan Library. Among the documents, photos, and correspondence on display are:

  • Letters from one survivor, Ida Hettinger, which details her journey through deportation
  • Photos of deportees and the Labor Army
  • Photos of present-day ruins of Volga German villages
  • Copies of Joseph Stalin’s order for deportation and records of eviction

The exhibit coincides with the Joint Russian-German Project’s Third International Academic Conference—“The Great Patriotic War and Deportation of Russian Germans: Assessments and Opinions 70 Years Later”—scheduled to be held at Saratov State University, in Russa, on Aug. 25-29. 

Additional information

To find out more about the Germans from Russia who settled in northern Colorado, visit the Morgan Library.

The Archives and Special Collections reading room hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays (except holidays), and the exhibit will remain on display through Sept. 12. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Contact: Jane Barber
Phone: (970) 491-5712