The Volga Germans, Pioneers of the Steppes

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Today I am reviewing The Volga Germans, book two of The Volga Flows Forever trilogy by Sigrid Weidenweber. This trilogy is touring with MediaGuests and it is a true privilege to participate with this author. (As always, I take full responsibility for my opinions and comments.)

About the Book The Volga Germans
The Meiningers had set out for Russia seeking to improve their lives, to escape the political and religious turmoil often surrounding their otherwise picturesque German homes and villages. They dreamed of the faraway place awaiting them. They colored the soil beneath the vast steppe rich and black in their minds ready to be tilled. And there would be a neat little house ready to receive them. In their wildest dreams, they could not have imagined what actually awaited their arrival. There were no houses, no fields nothing but grass as far as the eye could see. It was almost evening; they were hungry, wet and cold and felt like orphaned children.

These German immigrants and their descendants civilized this bleak Russian frontier, converted the harsh steppe into fields of waving grain dotted with wind-driven flour mills, and in this isolated place, developed a culture that was uniquely their own. They survived savage attacks of marauding tribes, the unpredictable often harsh climate, and the vagaries of tsarist edicts. Sigrid tells the fascinating story of these remarkable people in The Volga Germans.

The Volga Germans is the second volume in Sigrid Weidenweber’s trilogy The Volga Flows Forever. Catherine, the first volume, brings to life the fascinating historical character of Catherine the Great who invited her native countrymen to settle the Russian frontier.

About the Author
Born in Germany in 1941, Sigrid Weidenwber remembers the horrific aftermath of fascism. At the end of the war, she found herself living under communism. After the Berlin Wall was built, she managed to escape the repressive environment with the help of friends and a French passport. To this day she does not speak French.

She holds degrees in medical technology, psychology and an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Concordia University of Portland, Oregon for her trilogy “The Volga Flows Forever.” In her trilogy she brings to life Catherine the Great in her multiple roles as monarch, woman, lover, mother, grandmother and head of the general staff of the army, in Volume one. The following two historical volumes deal with the Volga Germans brought to Russia by Catherine’s edict.

Three years ago she moved to Santa Rosa Valley, California from Portland Oregon. She has passionately embraced California together with her family that also resides here.

Visit the Author’s Website

My Review
At last, I get to tell you what I think about this book! It may sound morbid to say that I’m thoroughly enjoying this trilogy – in that there is so much suffering that the Volga Germans endured – BUT, I am really liking this trip into a world I have never experienced before. Here in America we think we know the last frontier to be civilized. But the vast steppes of Russia were being settled by pioneers around the same time!

I have gained a new respect for these German immigrants who left war ravaged Germany for a bright future in a lush river territory. They found hardship from the very beginning. Catherine the Great had invited her native countrymen to her adopted home for a dual purpose. Her good intentions were to free them from war while providing a civilized buffer from the marauding nomadic tribes of the Volga region. The reality was far removed from those intentions…

I was touched by the story of the Meininger family and the others in this book. They endured so much and fought to thrive in such harsh conditions. I have fallen in love with this history, not for romantic reasons or because of personal heritage, but because of their true pioneering spirit and courage.

This is a large book full of vivid, textural story. I can feel the incredible cold of the winters, see the never-ending grasses, hear the cheering of the wedding celebrations, shiver with fear at the sounds of the wolves and marauders. Sigrid has again brought to life a rich history in a wonderful book. I have enjoyed reading The Volga Germans and can highly recommend it to you.

To give this trilogy a rating thus far, I would have to give both Catherine and The Volga Germans a five star rating. The historical impact and quality writing have made me a fan. It’s a pleasure to read such a story and come away with knowledge as well as entertainment. Stay tuned for the third book, From Gulag to Freedom.