The State Administration of the German Colonies of the Russian Empire in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century
German migration to the Russian state has a long history. Between the sixteenth and the mid-eighteenth centuries, prisoners of war captured during the Livonian War (1558–1583) and persons invited to Russia by the Muscovite grand princes and Russian tsars (Ivan III, Ivan IV, Peter I, etc.) settled in Russia. In the second half of the eighteenth century, the resettlement of Germans became part of the state’s migration policy, which determined the fate of one of the empire’s most numerous ethnic minorities for many decades. This article deals with changes to the administration of German rural settlements in the Russian Empire in the second half of the nineteenth century. This period was important for the legal status of foreign colonies due to the adoption of the Statute of Colonies of 1857, which provided detailed regulation of the rights and obligations of foreign colonists. One of the tasks of the political, economic, and social reforms of the 1860s–1870s was the unification of the rural population and the elimination of the social exclusivity of foreign colonists. A pragmatic approach regarding the use of colonists for the settlement and rational development of empty territories brought positive results for these regions. The analysis here makes it possible to consider the measures taken by the Russian authorities to streamline the legislation, norms, and rules for the economic, administrative, everyday, and spiritual life of German colonists. With the help of comparative analysis, the authors study changes in state policy towards foreign colonists and the abolition of privileges as a result of the adoption of the law “the supremely approved rules about the management of settler-owners (former colonists)” on 4 June 1871. The study makes it possible to assess the impact of large-scale administrative changes on various spheres of life and activities of the German colonists, a separate category of the Russian Empire’s population.
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