04 February 2005

Volga Germans Steer for Home

The invaluable Argus notes a story about Volga Germans in Kazakhstan.
ALMATY, 1 February (IRIN) - For Irina Geisler, a young ethnic German in the Kazakh commercial capital of Almaty, 'returning' to Germany, couldn't be more natural. "I feel German. It's my dream," the 19-year-old linguistics student told IRIN. Her application for German citizenship currently awaits approval.

"All my life I've heard about Germany. It's part of my life," she said with a German accent heavily influenced by the Schwabian roots of her ancestors. Such dreams remain strong for thousands of such ethnic Germans in today's Kazakhstan, with many of Irina's friends torn between both countries. "Half of the young ethnic Germans would like to return, the other half don't want to leave Kazakhstan," Geisler conceded, describing it as an individual decision many young people like her still face.

"I've thought about going to Germany but I've finished my education already," 29-year-old Evgenija Mayer, an employee at the Fredrich Ebert Stiftung in Almaty, told IRIN. "I worry I would have to start all over again." But starting again is precisely what hundreds of thousands like her have done already. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, more than 900,000 ethnic Germans and their families have emigrated to Germany, the German Embassy in Almaty told IRIN.

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