64 Johann Burghardt Kraus

This page last updated 15 April 2001 -- rak.

64 Johann Burghardt Kraus (   

"'A German is like a willow tree, stick it anywhere and it will take,' an old Russian saying ... quoted in Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archigelago, 1918-1956, V-VII (New York, 1979), p.400," as quoted by William G. Chrystal, "German Congregationalism," AHSGR Journal, Vol.6, no.2 (Summer 1983), p.31.  Mr. Chrystal says this was "a tribute to the industriousness of the thousands of Germans who emigrated to Russia beginning in the mid-eighteenth century ..."  Johann Burghardt and his descendants were some of those Willows!

Although they had no way of knowing, the area the Krauses chose for their new homeland was exactly in the middle of the area increasingly seen by scholars as the original homeland of western civilization.  Scholars for some time have been convinced that there was a people ... of Caucasoid physical type ... who spoke a language, Proto-Indo-European (PIE), from which the Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit languages, among others, developed.  These seminal people thrived "from 4000 to 2500 BC".  The latest scholarship "suggests that the speakers of PIE lived somewhere between the Caucasus and Ural mountains, probably closer to the Urals."  [They lived in] hamlets of small, lightly built houses ... [and their" pottery was simple and plain" ...  [Their] region ... consists largely of the European steppe north of the Black and Caspian seas--the North Pontic region.... 

[Known to anthropologists as] "the Yamnaya culture" [the PIE-speakers] played a critical role in the development of steppe economies across Eurasia" ... It was [in their area where three] fundamental economic innovations first appeared ...  [1] domesticated sheep and cattle by 5000 BC, [2] horseback riding by 3500 BC (perhaps earlier), and wagons by 3000 BC. ... the PIE speakers ... first ... [combined] grazing stock, horseback riding, and wagon transport [and thus] opened the steppes to a kind of exploitation that could extract significant wealth from what had earlie been almost useless grassland ... as the new economy spread across the steppes, Indo-European languages spread with it" ... [through Europe, much of the Middle East, parts of Asia, and India].

"Other possible PIE homelands will continue to have their supporters, but his one ... seems to get stronger as more archaeological evidence becomes available." 

The preceding PIE/Yamnaya information is taken from "Tracking the Tarim Mummies," Archaeology (March/April 2001), pp. 76-79, 82-84, written by David W. Anthony, a professor of anthropology at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York ... co-director of excavations for the Samara Valley Project in Russia.  This was an extensive review of The Tarim Mummies New York: Thames and Hudson, 2000, by J.P. Mallory and Victor Mair.

Catherine put together an attractive package to attract Germans to Russia.  It was summarized by Adam Giesinger, "The Broken Promises" AHSGR Journal 6.3 (Fall 1983), pp. 1-2:

1) Foreigners coming to Russia are granted the free exercise of their religion according to the precepts and practices of their church. Those who settle in colonies in areas at present unoccupied will be permitted to build churches and bell-towers and to keep the needed number of priests and sacristans. They will not be permitted to build monasteries nor to proselytize among the Orthodox, but may make converts among the Mohammedans.


2) The foreign immigrants are granted freedom from taxation and from ordinary and extraordinary services and from the billeting of troops, for thirty years if they settle in colonies in regions presently unoccupied; for five years if they establish themselves in the cities of St. Petersburg and the Baltic provinces or in Moscow; for ten years if they settle in other regions or cities.


3) The foreign immigrants who come to Russia to engage in agriculture or a trade or to build factories will receive help in the form of land and loans to get established. Factories of a type not now existing in Russia will receive special favors.


4) The immigrants will receive interest-free loans for the buildings of houses, the purchase of livestock and of tools and equipment needed by farmers and tradesmen. Repayment of the loans will not be expected till ten years have elapsed and will then be spread over three years in equal installments.


5) The immigrants establishing themselves in colonies will be permitted to have local self-government according to their customs, with no interference by Russian officials, but they will be subject to Russian civil law. If they should ask for an official to provide security for them and a protective guard of soldiers to defend them against unfriendly neighbors, such requests will be granted.

6) Every immigrant will be permitted to bring into Russia without payment of customs duties all property that is useful for his own purposes, but not for sale. For property beyond his own needs, an immigrant will receive an exemption from customs duties for articles of value up to 300 rubles, provided that he stays in Russia for ten years. If he leaves before the ten years are up, the duty will have to be paid.


7) The immigrants settling in Russia, for the whole time of their stay here, will not be drafted into military service against their will, but those who enter the service voluntarily will be given 30 rubles beyond the normal pay.


8) As soon as the immigrants report to our guardianship office or at one of the border cities and indicate that they wish to settle in Russia, they will receive money for sustenance and travel expenses until they reach their destination.

9) Those foreigners who establish types of factories or industries not now existing in Russia will receive freedom to export goods from Russia for ten years without paying export taxes.

10) Foreign capitalists who establish factories and industries in Russia at their own expense will be permitted to acquire serfs and peasants according to their needs.

11) The immigrants settling in colonies will be permitted to establish market days or annual markets, as they wish, without paying taxes to the crown treasury,


Section VII of the manifesto adds the very important statement that all the promises made to the immigrants apply also to their children and descendants, even those born in Russia. The years of freedom from taxation, however, apply only from the day of arrival of the immigrants forefathers.


These were the promises made to the immigrants of the 1760's, the Volga Germans and the small groups who came with them and settled near St. Petersburg, at Belowesh in the Chernigov region and at Riebensdorf near Voronezh. These totalled about 30,000 people. It should be noted that their thirty-year freedom from taxation expired in the 1790's. From that time on their only special privileges still remaining were freedom of religion, local self-government according to their own customs, and exemption from military service." [end of Journal excerpt.]

"At first [1760's] every family was given thirty dessiatines of land, but on 12 March 1812 the 'Mir system' was introduced, by which land was periodically re-divided among all male persons.  As population increased, the allotments became smaller and smaller.... [It was not until] 9 November 1906, [that] it became possible for all farmers to buy the land they had received in the last division." -- taken from an Emma S. Haynes' AHSGR Journal (6.3, p.50) review of Alexander Bier, "Die Landfrage in den deutschen Wolgakolonien von 1764-1923," Der Wolgadeutsche, September 15 and October 15, 1923.

Reasons for the migration from Germany: "Until the 18th century the population of Germany remained relatively constant, but from 1750 to 1900 it tripled in size.  It was at this time that many people left for foreign countries." -- taken from an Emma S. Haynes' AHSGR Journal (6.3, p.52) review of Herman van Ham, "Die Stellung des Staats und der Regierrungsbehoerden im Rheinland zum Auswandererproblem im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert," Deutsches Archiv fuer Landes- und Volksforschung, VI, Heft 3 (Nov. 1943), pp. 261-309.

Alexandertal was part of the Rosenberg parish: one of its ministers was "Rev. Johannes Schlundt was born in 1900 in the German village of Bauer on the Bergseite of the Volga. He attended a Gymnasium in Saratov and later completed his studies in a theological school in Leningrad. After graduation he became pastor in the parish of Rosenberg-Kamyshin (Volga), which consisted of nine communities with a population of 10,000 to 11,000. When all the churches were closed around the year 1931, he fled to Siberia to avoid arrest, but he was seized in 1934 and sent to Vorkuta in the far north to a forced labor camp." Reviewed in this is Schulundt's book in which "the pastor describes the origin of the Brotherhood Movement in the Volga region around the year 1872, with special mention of the work of Pastor Starkel and Brother Ehlers."-- AHSGR Journal 6(4), winter 1983, p.41.

Johann Burghardt first settled in Stahl-am-Karaman.  Click on it for more.

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