September 23, 2017 - Hays, Kansas - 250th Anniversary of Luzern, Ober-Monjou, Pfeifer, Schönchen, Wittmann, and Zug
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church
Ober-Monjou, Russia

Celebrating the 250th Anniversary of the
Founding of the Volga German Colonies of
Ober-Monjou, Pfeifer, Luzern
Schönchen, Wittmann, & Zug

Saturday, 23 September 2017
Hays, Kansas

The Volga German Institute at Fairfield University is hosting a celebration of the 250th Anniversary of the founding of six Volga German colonies: Ober-Monjou (March 5), Pfeifer (June 15), Luzern (June 20), Schönchen (August 3), Wittmann (August 3), and Zug (August 10).  The day-long seminar series will include a traditional Volga German luncheon and will be held in Hays, Kansas, on Saturday, 23 September 2017.

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


Advance Registration: $35 per person if registration is received on or before 8 September 2017 [$10 for children 12 & under].

Regular Registration: $45 per person for registration received after 8 September 2017 or at the door [$10 for children 12 & under].

Registration includes all programs for the day and lunch.

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

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

If you prefer to pay by check, print the Registration Form, and mail it along with your check. To qualify for the Early Registration rate, payment must be received by September 8.

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 8 September 2017 will receive a full refund; after 8 September 2017 will receive no refund.]


Registration, lunch, and all sessions will be held at the Rose Garden Banquet Hall.

2250 E. 8th St.
Hays, Kansas 67601

Parking: free on-site parking.


Dr. Brent Mai


Speaker for the day 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, 23 September 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: A 250th Anniversary Celebration
We'll take a look at the history of six of Roman Catholic colonies that were founded along the Volga River in 1767: Luzern, Ober-Monjou, Pfeifer, Schönchen, Wittmann, and Zug.  We will investigate their founding and development, their inhabitants, and their descendants.
Noon - 1:00 Lunch
An anniversary luncheon will be provided for those who pre-register.  It will feature Volga German traditional cuisine: Bierocks, Galushkies, beans and noodles, potatoes and dumplings, and green bean dumpling soup, coffee/tea/water, and dessert.
1:00 - 2:00 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.
2:00 - 3:00 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 Luzern, Ober-Monjou, Pfeifer, Schönchen, Wittmann, and Zug.
3:00 - 4:00 Session 6: 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.
4:00 - 5:00 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.

Area Hotels

There are many hotels in Hays. Here is the contact information for several of them:

Baymont Inn & Suites
3801 N. Vine St.
Hays, Kansas

Best Western Butterfield Inn
1010 E. 41st St.
Hays, Kansas

Fairfield Inn
377 Mopar Dr.
Hays, Kansas

Hampton Inn
4002 General Hays Rd.
Hays, Kansas

Holiday Inn Express
4650 Roth Ave.
Hays, Kansas