German Russians have played a significant role in the development of Northern Colorado, said Vladimir A. Mitrokhin, vice president of Saratov State University in Russia.
Mitrokhin and three of his colleagues from Saratov State are visiting CSU this week to discuss the cooperation of the two universities in sharing an information database about the German-Russian population.
“I hope that we can help the younger generation to open their eyes and see both sides of the ocean,” Mitrokhin said on Tuesday.
Many German Russians immigrated to the United States and one of the largest populations is in Colorado.
Saratov State has one of the most extensive archives in the world about the German Russians, and the collaboration of the two universities could open up information that had been locked away for over 50 years.
The project was coordinated by Dr. Alex Kuraev-Maxah, who also translated.
On Tuesday afternoon in the Lory Student Center, Arkadiy A. German, director of the Center for the Study of History and Culture of German Russians at Saratov State, gave a presentation on the German-Russian community today. He said that it is “actually and actively researched. It’s not a dead topic.”
In the early ’90s, archives were discovered containing years of information and records about the German-Russian population that had previously been hidden. German said that “we had no idea what existed. Researchers had to rewrite history and restudy history.”
German said that during World War II, more than two million German Russians were “purged” and transported to Siberia. For 50 years after the war, all information about the German Russians “ceased to exist.”
He also said that it is the “unfortunate reality” that many Americans don’t know about their “Russian brothers and sisters,” and he said while you sit here someone in Russia may be your relative and you’re not even aware of it.
“Through combined efforts we can have a better understanding,” said German.
The sharing of this information is “a global event,” he said. He doesn’t want the information about the German Russians to just sit on the shelves in some library, but be of use to people who are interested
Senior international studies major Taryn McQueen, who spent a year in Russia, said that she didn’t know anything about the German Russians. “That’s why I came to find out,” she said.
So where exactly does CSU fit into all of this?
“They’re part of the richness of our past. It’s important to know where you come from,” said Corinne Koehler, a member of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, who came to CSU from Arvada to meet with the Russian delegates.
Koehler said that it’s important for young people to broaden their horizons. “It’s important to represent all cultures.”
Martha Denney, director of International Education said that a partnership with Saratov State would create so many possibilities for CSU. “There’s an incredible potential for research,” she said.
The College of Agricultural Sciences is also exploring possible collaboration with Saratov State University and Saratov Agricultural University.
Mitrokhin said that he considers all people of German-Russian heritage to be his countrymen, no matter where they are. He said that many people share a heritage that they may not even know about, and because of that, this database is so important.
But whether one is German-Russian or not, Mitrokhin noted that “we’re all only separated by geography.”
Staff writer Lindsay McComb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.