The German Spring festival is taking place in Saratov (Russia's Volga area) on Saturday. The festival designed as a traditional German spring carnival is part of the series of cultural and other events entitled Germany's Year in Russia.
A carnival procession accompanied by the Golden Trumpets orchestra from the town of Engels will march along the city's main thoroughfare, Nemetskaya street. Popular fairy-tale characters will be discernible in the procession.
The program of amusements envisages a contest for the best costume. People are invited to take part in numerous fun contests, watch a knights contest and have a piece of traditional German pastry and fresh beer.
A large "German" disco dancing will round off the festival late at night.
Germans have inhabited Russia since the medieval centuries. Merchants from Germany's Hansa settled down in Novgorod, northern Russia, at that time. Craftsmen, builders, architects, medics and the military were often invited to work in Russia under Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584). There was a large German community in Moscow. Tsar Peter the Great (1672-1727) frequented the district when a young boy. Tsar Peter promoted a lot of Germans when he launched European-oriented reforms in Russia.
Russian Empress Catherine the Great issued a manifesto on July 22, 1763, which encouraged foreigners to re-settle to Russia's Volga area. The German peasants who arrived in Russia were not slaves unlike local peasants.
The planned peopling of Russia by Germans, which began in 1763, lasted into 1842. Separate German communities emerged until 1862.
Apart from the Volga area, Germans settled down in the Caucasus. There are also more modern German settlements to the south of the Urals and in West Siberia. By the late 19th century, Germans have founded their settlements on the Volga River, near the Black Sea, in the North Caucasus, the Urals, Siberia, Kazakhstan and Central Asia. The latest settlement emerged on the Amur River (Russia's Far East) in 1927-1928.
Russia's German ethnic group has grown from 100,000 to 1.7 million people over 150 years (according to the 1914 census). Unlike ethnic German re-settlers in the United States or Canada, Russian Germans did not want to assimilate with the Russian environment.
Russian Germans suffered repressions in the early 20th century, during World War I and the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany.
A lot of Germans left the Soviet Union during perestroika. 1,056,000 Germans left the country between 1987 and 1990. New opportunities for establishing a German autonomy appeared in Russia after the disintegration of the USSR.