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Russian Germans

Large numbers of ethnic Germans who had migrated earlier to Russia migrated to the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century. In Russia they had lived mostly in the Ukraine, then a part of Russia, some near Odessa, most on the Volga River, thus the name Volga Germans.

The migration of Germans to Russia was mainly at the initiative of Catherine the Great, a German herself. Settlement by ethnic Russians had been slow in the lands in the Ukraine lately conquered from Turkey. Later when the need for conscription into the Russian army arose in the latter part of the 19th century the Germans, who had little commitment to the Russian Empire, often emigrated to avoid the draft.

In the United States they settled mainly in the Great Plains in eastern Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota often succeeding in dryland farming, a skill learned in Russia. Many of the emigrants who arrived after the turn of the century spent a period doing farm labor, in Northeastern Colorado in the sugar beet fields.

Bernhard Warkentin, a German Russian, was born in a small Russian village in 1847, and traveled to America in his early 20s. Interested in flour mills, he was especially impressed with the wheat growing possibilities in the United States. After visiting Kansas, Warkentin, found the plains much like those he had left behind in his native Russia. Settling in Harvey County, he built a water mill on the banks of the Little Arkansas River - the Halstead Milling and Elevator Company. Warkentin's greatest contribution to Kansas was the introduction of hard Turkey wheat into Kansas, which replaced the soft variety grown exclusively in the State.

Famous descendants of Germans from Russia include John Denver, Lawrence Welk, Angie Dickinson, Steven Dietz, Dawna Friesen, Jeff Friesen, Matt Groening, Jesse M. Unruh, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, Catherine the Great, Tom Daschle, Roy Romer, Cheryl Ladd, and Sergio Denis.

Public persons some not quite so famous include Les Dudek, John Hessler ,John Klein, Leroy Lehr. Adolph Lesser, Svyatoslav Richter, George Henry Sauer, Nancy Jones Schaefer, Willard Schmidt, Alfred Schnittke, Ron Schuele, Armin Mueller-Stahl , Benjamin F. Brack, Oscar Brosz, Al Duerr, Merle Freitag, Charles Gemar, Jim Geringer, Count Hans Moritz Haucke, Richard Hieb, Robert W. Hirsch, Joseph Kessler, Otto Krueger, Roland Kunfeld, Count Petrovich Fydor Litke, Reuben Metter, David J. Miller, Allen Neuharth, Toby Roth, Harvey Wollman, Dr. George P. Epp, and Rudy Wiebe.

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