Much is written about Germans from Russia.

Most of the time it's about her attitude towards migration, her relationship with the AfD and most recently her position on Russia and Putin.

Sometimes there is talk of Germans from Russia, (late) resettlers or erroneously also of German-Russians.

Generic terms such as "postost" and "post-Soviet" are intended to take account of the heterogeneity within the group.

Natalia Wenzel Warkentin

Editor on duty at FAZ.NET.

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There are a variety of terms, some are self-designations, others foreign attributions.

It is hardly known that it makes a difference which of the terms is used for one of the largest migrant groups in the Federal Republic.

And the media visibility experienced by a group that was previously invisible and considered to be optimally integrated for a long time cannot only be interpreted positively.

They often appear in connection with negative events and developments.

Shortly after her arrival, there were concerns about rising crime rates, reports in 2016 on the xenophobic demonstrations in the "Lisa case", during which protests were made against the alleged cover-up after a thirteen-year-old girl was accused of raping refugees, and pro-Russian motorcades were observed in the spring where men appeared in Putin shirts.

Political scientist Felix Riefer speaks at the symposium “Opinion.


Impact – Germans from Russia in Public Perception” about the “perceptual darkness” in which Germans from Russia have found themselves since the great migration movement of the 1990s.

At the conference in Fulda, representatives from politics, culture and the media discussed the cause of a representation that usually puts a loud minority in the foreground, but has consequences for everyone.

Almost invisible

A current study presented by Arne Friedrichs from the Advisory Council on Integration and Migration confirms this and certifies that (late) resettlers have a high level of labor market participation, good social contacts with locals and closeness to the Union parties, although a not inconsiderable percentage lean towards the political fringes is.

The researchers are also unable to prove the mass consumption of pro-Russian propaganda.

However, about a quarter of immigrants are accessible for reporting from their country of origin.

This number is likely to increase against the background of the war of aggression against Ukraine.

To make matters worse, a majority of Germans from Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union describe themselves as neither competent nor interested in politics.

In fact, Germans from Russia were considered almost invisible for so long because they had hardly any representatives in politics and the media who could articulate their needs and concerns.

It was only in 2013 that the first MP with a Russian-German migration background made it into the Bundestag.

So when the question of more political participation is raised at the symposium, it must also be remembered that the Russian Germans, as a minority who have been oppressed for decades in their countries of origin, were well advised to behave as inconspicuously as possible for a long time.

The entry of their ethnicity in the passport was a stigma and often prevented access to universities and public office.

The collective legacy of deportation and persecution froze an entire population group and paralyzed their ability to act.

These stories are also told in Fulda.

Torn Identities

They are tales of torn identities and false names that no one but authorities would ever use.

It's about a new self-image and arguing with yourself - hidden from the majority of society.

It is the fate of the war that unites the Germans from Russia.

Hardly any family group was spared from deportation and persecution.

The reason for the migration to their “historical homeland” Germany is here.

The journalist Katharina Heinrich, who was born in Kyrgyzstan and emigrated to Germany in the 1970s, puts it this way: "The fact that I'm here today is a way in which the Germans are making amends to my family and my identity."

However, a large part of the German population still knows too little about the background of this migration movement.

That's also part of being German-Russian: having to keep explaining yourself and your family history.

In Fulda, too, complex family trees are broken down into the most important key data.

In order to be able to carry out extensive reconnaissance, resources are needed.

Even if a lot has happened in recent years in terms of sources and publicly funded educational projects, more funding is needed to be able to think in other formats, according to Fulda, for example a TV film that addresses the realities of life in Russia and Germany.

While important research projects such as the junior professorship for migration and integration of Russian-Germans at the University of Osnabrück are being phased out, young actors are forming in the social networks who do mediation work in podcasts and on platforms such as "ostklick", involving both the majority of society and people from their own Clarify series that have not yet dealt with their history.

Edwin Warkentin, education consultant at the Museum for Russian-German Cultural History in Detmold and co-founder of the Steppenkinder podcast, sums up: “We are no longer drilling thick boards like we were a few years ago.

Today we are weaving a carpet of noise that has the potential to tie in with other carpets.”