Germans of Kazakhstan
The Germans of Kazakhstan are a minority in Kazakhstan, and make up a small percentage of the population. Today they live mostly in the northeastern part of the country between the cities of Astana and Oskemen, the majority being urban dwellers.1 Numbering nearly a million at the time of the Soviet collapse, most have emigrated since then, usually to Germany or Russia.
Most of them are descendants of Volga Germans, who were deported to the Kazakh SSR (now the sovereign state of Kazakhstan) from the Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic soon after the Nazi German Invasion during World War II. Large portions of the community were imprisoned in the Soviet labor camp system. About one third of them did not survive the labor camps.citation needed
After the deportation, Volga Germans, as well as other deported minorities, were subject to imposed cultural assimilation into the Russian culture. The methods to achieve that goal included the prohibition of public use of the German language and education in German, the abolition of German ethnic holidays and a prohibition on their observance in public and a ban on relocation among others.
Those measures had been enacted by Joseph Stalin, even though the Volga German community as a whole was in no way affiliated with Nazi Germany, and Volga Germans had been loyal citizens of the Russian Empire and later the USSR for centuries. These restrictions ended, however, during the "Khruschev Thaw".
A proposal in June 1979 called for a new German Autonomous Republic within Kazakhstan, with a capital in Ereymentau. The proposal was aimed at addressing the living conditions of the displaced Volga Germans. At the time, there were approximately 936,000 ethnic Germans living in Kazakhstan, as the republic's third largest ethnic group. On June 16, 1979, demonstrators in Tselinograd (Astana) protested this proposal. Fearing a negative reaction among the majority Kazakhs and calls for a similar autonomy among Kazakhstan's Uyghurs the ruling Communist Party scrapped the proposal for a German autonomy within Kazakhstan.
Due to the German right of return law that enables ethnic Germans abroad who had been forcibly deported to return to Germany, Volga Germans could immigrate to Germany after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.3 But due to widespread abuse of the system and the lack of interest from the part of newly arrived immigrants to assimilate, the repatriation was stopped during the early 21st century. By 2009 Russia had replaced Germany as the major immigrant destination for German Kazakhstanis.4 In 1999, there were 353,441 Germans remaining in Kazakhstan.
A small number of Germans have returned to Kazakhstan from Germany during the last several years, unable to assimilate into the German cultural sphere. The Rebirth organization, founded in 1989, handles cultural and community affairs of the ethnic German community.
Most Germans of Kazakhstan speak only Russian. Most are followers of Protestantism. The heaviest concentrations of Germans in Kazakhstan can be found along the cities and villages in the Northern region, such as Wspen (11.19%), Taran (10.14%), and Borodwlïxа (11.40%).5
- Population: 180,374
- Births: 4,564
- Deaths: 2,447
- Net Immigration: -1,111
- Birth Rate: 25.47 per 1000
- Death Rate: 13.65 per 1000
- Natural Population Growth: +1.18%
- Migratory Population Growth: -0.62%
- Population: 180,832
- Births: 4,396
- Deaths: 2,468
- Net Immigration: -1,465 (-1,175 with CIS, -290 with non-CIS)
- Birth Rate: 24.34 per 1000
- Death Rate: 13.72 per 1000
- Natural Population Growth: +1.06%
- Migratory Population Growth: -0.81%