Supporting the German minority
Title: Measures to support the German minority in the Russian Federation
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI); German Federal Office of Administration (BVA)
Country: Russian Federation
Lead executing agency: German Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI)
Overall term: Since 1993
Since the early 1990s, around 2.1 million members of the German minority and their families have relocated to Germany from the former Soviet Union. Today, there are around 400,000 ethnic Germans living in the Russian Federation. As a result of displacement in the past, many of them live in rural areas, with poor infrastructure and difficult economic conditions. The German Government is working hard to make amends for the consequences of the Second World War, and is making efforts 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 International Union of German Culture (IVDK), headquartered in Moscow, organises measures aimed at supporting the German minority. The main focus is on cultural activities and youth work, language, building leadership capacity in the German community, social projects and developing the self-organisation capacity of ethnic Germans living in the Russian Federation.
GIZ was responsible for implementing the project until 2008, when responsibility for carrying out the measures was gradually transferred to IVDK. Through a nationwide network of meeting places for ethnic Germans living in the Russian Federation, which is coordinated by six supraregional coordination councils, the programme covers an area reaching from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok. 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 IVDK, the umbrella association for ethnic Germans living in the Russian Federation, as well as the regional structures of the German minority, to make the organisational changes and acquire the skills 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 own 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 at 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 the Russian Federation while at the same time enabling ethnic Germans to act as a link between Russia and Germany. A special role here is attributed to leadership figures among the 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.