In the ongoing quest of the monarches of Russia to provide a stimulus for modernizing what was then a backwards country, Catherine the Great encouraged an immigration of the far more up-to-date Germans into the Volga River region around Minsk. This was in the 18th century. Almost two hundred years later, the immigrants were still there, and by 1924 they had formed an autonomous region within Russia. However, when the alliance between Hitler and Stalin broke down in 1941, Stalin exiled these Russian-born Germans to Kazakhstan and Siberia. Those who didn't die on the journey to these places often died once they got there. The survivors and their children are now (in the early 1990s) slowly migrating back to the only homeland they know, while others want to emigrate to Germany. One thing is certain, however: the Russians in the region reportedly don't want them back.
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