This day in the history and culture
of Germans from Russia

Decree of Emperor Alexander II

January 22, 1859 was issued the highest order of Emperor Alexander II, which allowed 100 families of Prussian Mennonites to move to Russia. The Mennonites founded their colonies in Saratov, Volga and Orenburg region.
Alexander II (Photo in the public domain)

Although by this time the Russian government was no longer interested in settling foreigners in Russia, two more settlements, with some 500 families, were established in the province of Samara, viz., the Am Trakt settlement (begun in 1855) and the Alexandertal settlement (begun in 1859). The total immigration of Mennonites from Danzig and Prussia to Russia during the years 1788-1870 was about 2,300 families, of whom approximately 462 families went to Chortitza, 1,200 to the Molotschna, and 500 to Samara; 80 families supposedly remained in Vilna on their way to the Ukraine. B. H. Unruh (230) estimated that the total number of immigrants was 10,000. These families came from the following communities and churches: Danzig, MarienburgElbingTiegenhofHeubudenOrloffLadekoppFürstenwerder, Rosenort, and Tiegenhagen. By no means all the immigrants were experienced farmers. Particularly the first group settling in Chortitza was largely composed of poorer laborers, primarily because it was harder for the well-to-do class to obtain permission to leave the country. The Molotschna and Samara settlements, having numerous prosperous and experienced farmers and better land, made more rapid progress economically and culturally than did Chortitza. (Source: