Supporting the German minority in Ukraine
Until the Second World War, the area along the Black Sea coast in present-day Ukraine was home to one of the largest communities of ethnic Germans in the former Russian Empire, second only in size to the German population of the Volga region. Although around 400,000 Germans lived in the area of present-day Ukraine prior to the Second World War, many were deported to Siberia in the years immediately after 1939. Only a very small number remained in the country itself.
Today, the German minority in Ukraine numbers around 33,000, many of whom emigrated there from Russia and the countries of Central Asia following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In its efforts to make amends for the consequences of the Second World War, the German Government is working hard to improve the livelihoods of the German minority in the post-Soviet states and to provide ethnic Germans with a brighter future.
The German minority represents its interests independently in its country of origin. It is developing its ethno-cultural identity and actively fulfils its role as a bridge between Germany and the country of origin.
To achieve the programme objective, the Odessa-based welfare fund Gesellschaft für Entwicklung (GfE, Society for Development) organises measures aimed at supporting the German minority. The main focus is on cultural activities and youth work, building leadership capacity in the German community, social projects and developing the self-organisation capacity of ethnic Germans living in Ukraine.
Until 2012, GfE acted as a legal subsidiary of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH at local level. Since 2013, the welfare fund has been managed by the Rat der Deutschen der Ukraine (RDU, Council of Germans in Ukraine), the umbrella association for the German minority. The work of the programme is implemented via a network of three nationwide non-governmental organisations representing ethnic Germans, seven regional information centres and more than 60 meeting centres throughout Ukraine for the German minority in the country. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, GIZ provides advisory services to the umbrella association and is responsible for overseeing project finances and monitoring project content.
Training measures and advisory services have enabled RDU, the three nationwide non-governmental organisations and GfE, as well as the regional structures of the German minority, to acquire the skills and make the organisational changes needed to plan, implement and manage support measures themselves.
A comprehensive range of language and training courses as well as extensive leisure activities for young people aim to provide a basis for allowing the ethnic minority to not only preserve its identity, but also develop it further. These measures have been used to establish a close-knit network of youth clubs that are well-integrated in their respective communities. For the members of the ethnic minority, they make an important contribution on a social level as well as to broader aspects of their lives.
Joint cultural projects with other minorities and international exchange programmes are helping to boost the profile of the German minority in Ukraine while at the same time enabling ethnic Germans to act as a link between Ukraine and Germany. A special role here is attributed to leadership figures among Ukraine’s ethnic German community. Individual support programmes provide them with assistance in their academic, cultural and social activities. In return, they promote the interests of the German minority.
Title: Measures to support the German minority in Ukraine
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI); German Federal Office of Administration (BVA)
Lead executing agency: German Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI)
Overall term: Since 1994