November 4, 2017 - Fresno, California - 250th Anniversary of Dinkel, Jost, Kukkus, Laub, Lauwe, Stahl am Tarlyk, Straub, & Warenburg

Warenburg Lutheran Church (2005)
Source: David Karber.

Celebrating the 250th Anniversary of the Founding of the Volga German Colonies of
Dinkel, Jost, Kukkus, Laub, Lauwe,
Stahl am Tarlyk, Straub, and Warenburg

Saturday, 4 November 2017
Fresno, California

The Volga German Institute at Fairfield University is hosting a day-long celebration of the 250th Anniversary of the founding of the Volga German colonies of Dinkel, Jost, Kukkus, Laub, Lauwe, Stahl am Tarlyk, Straub, and Warenburg in Fresno, California, on Saturday, 4 November 2017.

The public is invited to attend.  Attendence is limited, so register early to guarantee your seat.


Advance Registration: $75 per person if registration is received on or before 20 October 2017 [$10 for children 12 & under].

Regular Registration: $100 per person for registration received after 20 October 2017 or at the door [$10 for children 12 & under].

Registration includes all programs for the day and the evening banquet.

* * * To register children, please call Jill at 203.254.4000 x.2648. * * *

To register & pay by credit/debit card, please follow this link for Online Registration.

If you prefer to pay by check, print the Registration Form, complete it, and mail it along with your check. To qualify for the Early Registration rate, payment must be received by October 20.

If you have questions, please call Jill at 203.254.4000 x2648.

[Note: There is no discount for partial attendance of this event. Notice of cancellation on or before 20 October 2017 will receive a full refund; after 20 October 2017 will receive no refund.]

Piccadilly Inn Shaw - Fresno


Registration, all sessions, and the banquet will be at the Piccadilly Inn Shaw.

      2305 W. Shaw Avenue
      Fresno, CA 93711
      Phone: 559.348.5520


Parking: On-site parking is free for all registered participants.


Dr. Brent Mai


Speaker for the workshop will be Dr. Brent Mai.  Dr. Mai serves as the Dean of Libraries and University Librarian at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, where he also leads the Volga German Institute.  Dr. Mai has spoken world-wide on many topics related to Volga German history and culture, authored dozens of articles and several books, and translated hundreds of documents. Dr. Mai, whose father's side is Volga German, grew up in Western Kansas, graduated from Bethany College in Lindsborg, and continued graduate studies at George Washington University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Vanderbilt University. He came to Fairfield from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, where he had been the founding director of the Center for Volga German Studies.


Schedule for Saturday, 4 November 2017

8:30 - 9:00 Registration & Visiting
9:00 - 9:45 Session 1: Introduction to the Volga Germans and their Heritage
Everyone starts on a different page when it comes to their knowledge of who the Volga Germans are and how they came to be in Russia. This session will bring all attendees to the same place in that understanding - and we'll continue our exploration from there.
10:00 - 10:45 Session 2: Catherine the Great
Catherine the Great plays a big role in the history of the Volga Germans, both in reality and myth.  This session will delve into her life.  How did this minor German princess end up in Russia?  What brought her to the throne?  Why was there interest in inviting foreigners to Russia?  How did she interact with and govern the Volga Germans after their arrival?  During this session we'll address these and other topics surrounding the life of Catherine the Great.
11:00 - Noon Session 3: Resources for Volga German Genealogy
Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, there were few resources available to those interested in researching the genealogies of Volga Germans.  Since about 1990, Western researchers have had access to several archives in the Volga region where many documents have been located.  For most, using them is complicated by language - either German or Russian - and the corresponding Latin or Cyrillic alphabets. This session will deal primarily with the resources that are available from Russian Archives - where to get them and how to use them.
Noon - 1:30 Lunch
Lunch will be on your own. There are dining opportunities at nearby restaurants where you can also meet fellow seminar attendees and share personal stories.
1:30 - 2:30 Session 4: Volga Germans and the Bolsheviks
2017 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution.  This event had a profound impact on the ethnic Germans living along the Volga River.  From 1917 to 1941 is a timulteous time in Volga German history.  The Revolutionary battles between the Red and White Armies, famines in 1921 and again in 1931, the formation of the Autonomious Republic of the Volga Germans, Collectivization, and the beginning of World War II all had profound impacts on our relatives who did not emigrate.
2:30 - 3:15 Session 5: The Western European Origins of the Volga Germans
When the Volga German colonies were founded (1764-1772), Germany did not exist. Rather, the ethnic Germans were living in a plethora of jurisdictions, kingdoms, duchies, and independent cities - many without contiguous borders. Today's Germany did not exist until these areas were unified in 1871 by Otto von Bismarck. Furthermore, not all Volga Germans were actually German. French, Italian, Polish, Dutch, British, Austrian, Swiss, and Scandinavian colonists also lived among them. During this session, we'll explore the origins of the Volga German immigrants who settled in Dinkel, Jost, Kukkus, Laub, Lauwe, Stahl am Tarlyk, Straub, and Warenburg.
3:30 - 4:30 Session 6: Volga German Architecture
When they immigrated to Russia in the 1760s, the Volga Germans brought with them the German architectural style of their ancestors. The Volga German colonies existed for 177 years, and the colonists incorporated many elements of local architectural style into their homes, churches, and public buildings.  We'll take a visual journey through this architectural evolution and look for examples of it in the Western Hemisphere as well.
4:30 - 5:30 Session 7: The 1941 Deportation and Today's Volga German Descendants
Hitler's invasion of Russia in June of 1941 was the beginning of the end for the Volga Germans who remained in Russia.  An edict of 28 August 1941 called for their deportation to Asiatic Russia and by the 3rd week in September, the entire region had been emptied of the Germans who had lived there for 177 years.  This session will explore this journey and uncover what has become of the Volga Germans of today.
5:30 - 6:30 Break
6:30 - 8:30 Banquet
A delicious meal will be served (included in the registration fee).  We will celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the founding of Dinkel, Jost, Kukkus, Laub, Lauwe, Stahl am Tarlyk, Straub, and Warenburg.  Dr. Mai will speak about the history of these colonies from their founding in 1767 and the settlement of their descendants in Central California beginning in 1886.

Area Hotels

Piccadilly Inn Shaw
2305 W. Shaw Ave.
Telephone: 559.348.5520

Best Western Plus
4800 E. Shaw Ave.
Telephone: 559.229.5811

Marriott Courtyard
140 E. Shaw Ave.
Telephone: 559.221.6000

Garden Inn & Suites
4949 N. Forestiere Ave.
Telephone: 559.277.3888