Blinova A., Smirnova T., Shlegel E. Post-Soviet Identities of the Germans of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine: Ethnonyms, Language, Symbols

A. Blinova
Omsk laboratory of Archeology, Ethnografy and Museology
Institute of Archeology and Ethnography SB RAS
Omsk, Russian Federation
ORCID: 0000-0001-8284-7042


T. Smirnova
Dostoevsky Omsk State University
Siberian Branch of the Heritage Institute
Omsk, Russian Federation
ORCID: 0000-0001-7533-5364


E. Shlegel
Dostoevsky Omsk State University
Omsk, Russian Federation
ORCID: 0000-0002-5972-0120


  Download  |  Go to Issue #4. 2021


ABSTRACT. The identities of Germans in the post-Soviet territory represent a multifaceted and fluid phenomenon. On the basis of field research, ethno-sociological survey, and Internet sources, the article examines the mechanism of constructing the German ethnic identity in the context of the emergence of new political realities associated with the collapse of the USSR and the Germans’ residence in different states. This process has led to the fact that the “ethnic Germans of Kazakhstan”, or “Kazakh Germans”, and the “Germans of Ukraine” came to replace the “Soviet” and “Russian” Germans in the former Soviet republics. Today, the main factors affecting the identities of Germans in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine include the national policy of the state of residence, the policy of support and assistance pursued by the German government, the historical memory of the tragic events of the Soviet period (experienced in different ways in the three countries), the state of ethnic culture and language, and the activities of public organizations. The article pays special attention to the dynamics of linguistic processes in the post-Soviet territory, the authors pointing out the diminishing role of language as the main ethnomarking attribute. At the same time, the importance of the other components of ethnic identity increases, first of all, that of the shared historical past and culture. The key moments in history for the Germans are deportation, mobilization into the labor army, and the special settlement regime. The authors of the article analyze the forms of presentation and maintenance of the memory of these events. Ethnic culture is still the most important resource for the construction of identity. The most stable ethnic markers include elements of national cuisine, as well as wedding and calendar rituals.


 KEYWORDS: identity, postSoviet space, Germans, ethnic history, markers of ethnicity, language


DOI 10.31250/2618-8600-2021-4(14)-249-271
УДК 316.752




  • Berend N. Russlanddeutsches Dialektbuch. Die Herkunft, Entstehung und Vielfalt einer ehemals blühenden Sprachlandschaft weit außerhalb des geschlossenen deutschen Sprachgebiets [Russian German dialect book. The origin, emergence and diversity of a formerly flourishing language landscape far outside the closed German language area]. Halle: Projects Cornelius Publ., 2011. (In German).
  • Boni R. A. [Some features of German-Russian bilingualism]. Voprosy dialektologii i istorii nemetskogo iazyka [Questions of dialectology and history of the German language]. Omsk: OGPI Publ., 1983, pp. 18–24. (In Russian).
  • Cherkaz’ianova I. V. [Memories of V.P. Wilmsen as a source for the daily history of the Mennonites of Crimea and Siberia]. Izvestiia Omskogo gosudarstvennogo istoriko-kraevedcheskogo muzeia [News of the Omsk State Historical and Local Lore Museum]. Vol. 11. Omsk: OGIK muzei Publ., 2005, pp. 279–290. (In Russian).
  • Diatlova V. A. Nekotorye voprosy otechestvennoi nemetskoi dialektologii [Some questions domestic German dialectology]. Moscow: MSNK-press Publ., 2011. (In Russian).
  • Dzhusupov M. [School polylingual education in Kazakhstan (Turkic-Russian, TurkicEnglish, Turkic-Russian-English)]. Vestnik Rossiiskogo universiteta druzhby narodov [Bulletin of the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia], 2015, no. 5, pp. 64–71. (In Russian).
  • Erikson E. Identichnost’: iunost’ i krizis [Identity: youth and crisis]. Moscow: Flinta; MPSI; Progress Publ., 2006. (In Russian).
  • Golovnev A. V. [Ethnicity and identity in the Urals]. Ural’skii istoricheskii vestnik [Ural Historical Journal], 2011, no. 2 (31), pp. 40–49. (In Russian).
  • Guboglo M. N. Identifikatsiia identichnosti: etnosotsiologicheskie ocherki [Identification of identity: ethnosociological essays]. Moscow: Nauka Publ., 2003. (In Russian).
  • Kovalenko-Shnaider L. [German national cuisine]. InfoBiZ-Ukraine [InfoBiZ-Ukraine], 2017, no. 33, pp. 38–42. (In Russian).
  • Leongart T. Ya. Vkus iz detstva. Kniga retseptov [A taste from childhood. Book of recipes]. Omsk: Zolotoi tirazh Publ., 2017. (In Russian).
  • Moskaliuk L. I. Sovremennoe sostoianie ostrovnykh nemetskikh dialektov [The current state of the insular German dialects]. Barnaul: Izdatel’stvo BGPU, 2002. (In Russian).
  • Natsional’nyi sostav, veroispovedanie i vladenie iazykami v Respublike Kazakhstan. Itogi natsional’noi perepisi naseleniia 2009 goda v Respublike Kazakhstan [Ethnic composition, religion and language skills in the Republic of Kazakhstan. Results of the 2009 National Population Census in the Republic of Kazakhstan]. Astana, 2010. (In Russian).
  • Smirnova T. B. [25th anniversary of the International Union of German Culture]. Ezhegodnik Mezhdunarodnoy assotsiatsii issledovateley istorii i kultury rossiyskikh nemtsev [Yearbook of the International Association of Researchers of the History and Culture of Russian Germans], 2016, no. 2, pp. 8–17. (In Russian).
  • Smirnova T. B., Kisser T. S. [Russian Germans diversity]. Ural’skii istoricheskii vestnik [Ural Historical Journal], 2017, no. 2 (55), pp. 44–53. (In Russian).
  • Smirnova T. B., Shlegel’ E. A. [Bilingualism of the Russian Germans (According to the Sociological Surveys)]. Vestnik antropologii [The Herald of Anthropology], 2021, no. 1 (53), pp. 149–165. (In Russian).
  • Tendentsii razvitiia iazykovykh variantov povolzhskikh nemtsev v pervoi polovine 20 veka [Trends in the development of language variants of the Volga Germans in the 20th century]. Ed. by A. Ya. Minor, L. I. Tetiuev. Saratov: Izdatel’stvo Saratovskii istochnik, 2015. (In Russian).
  • Tishkov V. A. [Ethnicity, Nationalism and the State in Post-Communist Society]. Voprosy sotsiologii [Sociological issues], 1993, no. 1/2, pp. 3–38. (In Russian).
  • Tishkov V. A. Rekviem po etnosu: issledovaniia po sotsial’no-kul’turnoi antropologii [Requiem for ethnos: studies in socio-cultural anthropology]. Moscow: Nauka Publ., 2003. (In Russian).