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To support research into and preservation of the heritage, history, traditions, and accomplishments
of the Volga Germans.
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The unique resources of the Center for Volga German Studies continue to play a pivotal role in rebuilding family ties severed long ago.

The Center for Volga Germans Studies (CVGS) at Concordia University often serves as a bridge between families that migrated to North America and those who remained in Russia during the turbulent decades of the early 20th century. These families endured the violence of the Russian Revolution, severe famines during the 1920’s and 1930’s and deportation to Siberia in 1941. All communications with family and friends living in America were severed. The family histories of those deported were often lost.

Recently, one of our volunteers was contacted by the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, who in turn had been contacted by Alexey Korostel who lives in Barnaul, Russia. Barnaul is located in Siberia and is the closest city to the village of Gonokhovo where Alexey’s great-grandfather, Peter Maul, was exiled in September 1941.

Peter was born in the Volga German colony of Norka in 1889. His older brother, Johann Georg (George) Maul was born in 1879. George served honorably in the Russian military and immigrated to the United States in July of 1913 with his wife, Magdalena Kilthau. George and Lena settled in Nebraska along with many other Volga German families. George encouraged Peter to join him in America, but Peter decided to stay in Russia.

Peter and his family suffered greatly but survived the famines with assistance sent by George through the American Relief Administration. Greater tragedy would strike the family in August of 1941 when Stalin decreed that the entire Volga German population (over 400,000 women, children and men) would be deported to Siberia.

Despite the fact the Maul family had been Russian citizens since 1766, Peter and his family were sent east in cattle cars to uncertain future. They were forbidden to ever return to their homes on the Volga. Subsequent to the deportation, Peter and his two sons were sent to work in Soviet labor camps which were part of the GULAG system. Both of his sons died in the camps. All communication with George and his family in America was lost.

Alexey sent us an image of a tattered photograph showing his great-granduncle, George Maul in his military uniform. He wanted to know if there were descendants of George’s family still living in the USA.

To his surprise, Alexey discovered another image of George in the CVGS collection. The photograph in our collection was contributed by Debra Stricker Hafling who is the granddaughter of George Maul.

We electronically connected Alexey and Debra who we’ve confirmed are cousins. Given the significant collection of Russian census lists and church records available to researchers in the CVGS, we were also able to provide Alexey with a detailed report about his Volga German ancestry.
CVGS Saves Historical Mural
Mural at St. Pauls in Portland
Mural with restoration in progress.

      The Center for Volga German Studies (CVGS) at Concordia University is the proud new steward of The Lord Is My Shepherd, a large-scale painting by Northwest artist Colista Murray Dowling. The painting depicts Christ holding a lamb, tending both a literal and figurative flock of sheep and children, with his "followers" waving pennants and marching forth on a path in the background. Until recently, the painting adorned the apse behind the choir loft of St. Paul's Evagelical & Reformed Church on the northeast corner of the intersection at Eighth & Failing Street in northeast Portland.

      This neighborhood was originally inhabited by immigrant families, predominately Volga Germans. The church was founded in 1904 by several families, many of whom were originally from the Volga German colonies of Brunnental and Grimm. Rev. Jacob Hergert, the first pastor of St. Paul's, was also an immigrant from Brunnental. He led the congregation for its first 17 years.

      [read more . . . ]

Fundraising for the mural restoration continues. To support this effort, click on the "Support The Center" button above and indicate in the comments box that you want your gift to go toward "mural restoration." Thanks to those who have already contributed!
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Mural at St. Pauls in Portland
Mural as it adorned St. Pauls
from 1938 to 2015

Mural from St. Paul's Evangelical & Reformed Church in Portland, Oregon
The Good Shepherd (restored!)
New German Origins Posted to the CVGS Website
      Newly discovered German origins have been posted for the following Volga German families:
Bitter families that settled in Lauwe
Etzel family that settled in Dietel, Huck, & Hussenbach
Heller family that settled in Dietel
Hetzel family that settled in Dietel, Huck, & Hussenbach
Horst family that settled in Huck, Norka, Schilling, Frank, & Kolb
Kaltner family that settled in Katharinenstadt
Kober family that settled in Grimm & Franzosen
Leonhard(t) family that settled in Grimm
Lotz family that settled in Katharinenstadt
Mill family that settled in Dietel & Hussenbach
Roh family that settled in Schilling
Schmidt family that settled in Dietel
Schultz family that settled in Dönhof
Suppes family that settled in Hussenbach
New Translations Available
Translation of the censuses for Hummel (aka Brockhausen) (1834), Straub (1834), Reinwald (1834), Frank (1850), Yagodnaya Polyana (1857), Kolb (1834 & 1857), and Walter (1834 & 1857) have been completed. Check the CVGS Census List for how to obtain these translated documents.
Contact Information
Mailing Address:
Center for Volga German Studies
Concordia University
2811 NE Holman Street
Portland, OR 97211
Physical Address:
Center for Volga German Studies
Concordia University Library, Suite 300
2800 NE Liberty Street
Portland, OR 97211
Building 19 on the Campus Map


[email protected]
Last updated 10 Jan 2018.