The diaspora of Moscow Germans is over five centuries old and has been one of the largest expat communities in the Russian capital. The history of the city still has traces of the influences of lawyer Caspar von Elferfeldt, founder Hans Falk, doctor Friedrich Joseph Haass, architect Fyodor Schechtel, and many others. Present-day Moscow treasures the memory of its Russian Germans: Vvedenskoye CemeteryRussian: Vvedenskoe Kladbishche or Введенское кладбище with its unique mausoleums and sculptures is still maintained in a wonderful condition, worship services have been resumed in the completely restored St. Peter and St. Paul’s ChurchRussian: khram svv. Petra i Pavla or храм свв. Петра и Павла and beautiful collections of pieces of art by German craftsmen are displayed in Moscow museums.
FAMOUS RUSSIAN GERMANS
Among Moscow Germans, there are some who stand out. The famous doctor Friedrich Joseph Haass (1780–1853) was born in the small town of Bad Münstereifel near Cologne, obtained his medical education in the universities of Jena, Göttingen, and Vienna, and worked for half a century in Moscow. Haass was a member of the Guardian Committee that supervised prisons. He devoted many years to improve the conditions of confinement, donated all of his savings to the poor, and spent his earnings on humanitarian aid. There was saying about him, which was: ‘Haass says no to no one.’ When he died, twenty thousand people filed past his coffin during the funeral procession. Haass is buried in Vvedenskoye Cemetery in Moscow (section 10, 1 Nalichnaya StRussian: ulitsa Nalichnaya or улица Наличная). A memorial to him was erected in the courtyard of the former Police Hospital (presently Research Center of Child and Adolescent Hygiene and Health ProtectionRussian: NII gigieny i ohrany zdorovya detey i podrostkov or НИИ гигиены и охраны здоровья детей и подростков, 5 Maly Kazenny LaneRussian: Malyi Kazennyi pereulok or Малый Казенный переулок ) in 1909. In 1998, the beatification (a declaration by the Pope that a dead person is in a state of bliss, permitting public veneration) of Dr Haass was initiated by Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne.
A deep mark in the history of Moscow was left by architect Franz Albert Schechtel (1859—1926), whose ancestors had come to Russia from Bavaria during the reign of Catherine the GreatEmpress of Russia from 1762 until 1796.
His designs lie behind dozens of great Moscow buildings and recognised monuments of architecture, particularly his own home (28 Yermolaevsky LaneRussian: Ermolaevskiy pereulok or Ермолаевский переулок) and Savva Morozova Russian textiles magnate and philanthropist’s mansion in the Gothic style (17 Spiridonovka StRussian: ulitsa Spiridonovka or улица Спиридоновка). In 1915, he became an Orthodox Christian, going by the name of Fyodor Osipovich.
Names of other German-born architects are also known to Moscow: Ernst-Richard Nirnsee, who built the famous Nirnsee HouseRussian: dom Nirnzee or дом Нирнзее, the first Moscow ‘skyscraper’ (10 Bolshoy Gnezdikovsky LaneRussian: Bolshoy Gnezdnikovskiy pereulok or Большой Гнездниковский переулок), Anatoly Gunst, Karl Gippius, Roman Klein, Bernhard Freudenberg, August Weber, and others.
Berliner Gustav List (1835–1913) came to Russia at the age of 23 to work as a technician and later founded a fire extinguishing equipment factory. Situated opposite the Kremlin, in Sofiyskaya EmbankmentRussian: Sofiyskaya naberezhnaya or Софийская набережная (12 Sofiyskaya Embankment), the factory employed over 1,000 people. The quality of equipment was so high that the factory was allowed to use the coat of arms of the Russian Empire in their advertisements. Gustav List contributed to the arrangement of the first electric illumination of Moscow in 1883. List’s mansion in Glazovsky LaneRussian: Glazovskiy pereulok or Глазовский переулок (8 Glazovsky Lane) designed by Lev Kekusheva Russian architect, notable for his Art Nouveau buildings in Moscow is considered to be an exemplary piece of early modernist architecture. Today, the building is a public institution.
Jacob Reck (1867–1913) is famous for setting up a trade and construction joint-stock company in 1899 to build modernist mansions in the center of Moscow, mostly in OstozhenkaRussian: Остоженка and PrechistenkaRussian: Пречистенка streets. In 1901, he established the Nikolsky Rows PartnershipRussian: Tovarischestvo Nikolskih ryadov or Товарищество Никольских рядов and opened trading galleries. The house where Jacob Reck used to live now serves as the residence of the Egyptian Ambassador (56 Bolshaya Nikitskaya StRussian: ulitsa Bolshaya Nikitskaya or улица Большая Никитская).
Karl Ferrein (1802–1887) founded a pharmacy (21 Nikolskaya StRussian: ulitsa Nikolskaya or улица Никольская), which was famous not only for the quality of the service provided but also for the beauty of its eclectic building designed by Adolf Erichson (1893–1895). Ferrein owned a herb farm and a pharmaceutical factory in Moscow.
Another German merchant, Baron Johann Ludwig Knoop (1821–1894), arrived in Moscow as a representative of the English trading company De Jersey & Co. He engaged in supplying equipment for Russian textile manufacturers and soon acquired a dominant position in the market, becoming one of the richest people in Russia. His exquisite mansion in the English gothic style (5 Kolpachny LaneRussian: Kolpachnyiy pereulok or Колпачный переулок ) still adorns the Russian capital. There was even a saying, ‘Where there’s a church, there’s a priest; where there’s a factory, there’s Knoop.’ The confectionery plant founded by Theodor Ferdinand von Einem (1826–1876) is still active in Moscow. The merchant came to Moscow in 1850 to produce lump sugar and later chocolate and candies. He subsequently opened a confectionery shop in Teatralnaya SquareRussian: Teatral’naya ploshchad’ or Театральная площадь together with Julius Heuss. In the second half of the 19th century, von Einem’s company erected buildings of its confectionery plant in Sofiyskaya Embankment, opposite the Kremlin. After 1917, the plant acquired its present name, Red OctoberRussian: Krasnyi Oktyabr' or Красный Октябрь.
- Bauman GardenRussian: sad Baumana or сад Баумана and Baumana StreetRussian: ulitsa Baumana or улица Баумана: named after Nikolay Bauman, one of the Bolshevik Party leaders;
- Sorge StreetRussian: ulitsa Zorge or улица Зорге: named after Richard Sorge, Soviet intelligence officer, hero of the Soviet Union, and grandson of Friedrich Sorge, General Secretary of the International Workingmen’s Association and comrade of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels);
- Schmidta StreetRussian: ulitsa Shmidta or улица Шмидта: named after Otto Schmidt (1896–1956), academician and Arctic explorer;
- Shmitovsky PassageRussian: Shmitovskiy proyezd or Шмитовский проезд: named after Nikolay Shmit (1883–1907), owner of a furniture plant and participant in the Moscow uprising of 1905the culminating point of the Revolution of 1905;
- Roterta StreetRussian: ulitsa Roterta or улица Ротерта: named after Pavel Rotert (1880–1954), the first president and chief engineer of Metrostroythe company which engaged in the construction of metro and other underground and surface facilities;
- Krenkel StreetsRussian: ulitsy Krenkelya or улицы Кренкеля: named after Ernst Krenkel (1903–1971), Arctic explorer and hero of the Soviet Union;
- Tsandera StreetRussian: ulitsa Tsandera or улица Цандера: named after Friedrich Zander (1887–1933), a pioneer of rocketry;
- Mark PlatformRussian: platforma Marka or платформа Марка, Savelovo direction of Moscow Railway: named after entrepreneur Hugo Mark (1869–1918), who initiated and sponsored the construction of a way station near the Arkhangelskoye EstateRussian: usadba Arhangelskoe or усадьба Архангельское.
ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL’S CHURCH
Most Moscow Germans attended the Lutheran St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church in the Old GardensRussian: Starye sady or Старые сады (7/10 Starosadsky LaneRussian: Starosadskiy pereulok or Старосадский переулок) for their primary place of worship. The foundation stone of this church was laid in 1818 in the presence of Frederick William III of Prussia. The modern building was constructed in 1903 to the design of architect Viktor Kossov with the participation of William Walcot. The small chapel nearby was designed by Schechtel.
At the beginning of the 20th century, St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church had over 17,000 parishioners, 14,000 of whom were German. The church was financed by the Mark, Wogau, and Knoop families. Educational institutions were built close by to provide instruction in the German language.
After the execution of Pastor Alexander Streck and the members of the church council by firing squad in 1936, no worship services were delivered there until 1991. Nowadays, the fully renovated church serves as a cathedral of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in European Russia (http://elkras.ru).
In 1998, the cathedral was presented with an altar Bible of 1665, a relic from the protestant St. Michael’s ChurchRussian: tserkov Arhangela Mihaila or церковь Архангела Михаила destroyed in the Soviet times, which is laid onto the altar for especially solemn occasions. The church is filled with the sounds of an organ built by Wilhelm Sauer in 1898, which was also transferred from St. Michael’s Church in the German QuarterRussian: Nemetskaya sloboda or Немецкая слобода.
In the 18th century, most Catholic Germans were part of the parish of St. Peter and St. Paul’s Catholic Church (18 Milyutinsky PassageRussian: Milutinskiy pereulok or Милютинский переулок). At present, the parish holds services in the Church of St. Louis of the FrenchRussian: khram Svyatogo Lyudovika Frantsuzskogo or храм Святого Людовика Французского (http://peterpaul.msk.ru).
Vvedenskoye Cemetery (1 Nalichnaya St) in Moscow is almost 250 years old. It was established near the German Quarter in the 1870s and is the burial ground for thousands of Germans, both Muscovites and soldiers who were killed in action on the battlefield or died of their wounds. A lot of tourists are attracted by the elegant architecture of the chapels and tombstone sculptures. A gothic gate built in the late 19th–early 20th centuries provides access to the cemetery. A Lutheran church was constructed there in the mid-19th century to the design of the famous architect Mikhail Bykovsky, and a committal chapel was added in 1911.
In the cemetery, you can see the mausoleum of the Ferreins (1900s, section 5) and that of the Erlangers, owners of a flour-milling factory (1911, with a mosaic image of Christ the Sower by Kuzma Petrov-VodkinRussian and Soviet painter and writer inside) designed by Schechtel, Karl Röder’s tombstone (section 2, sculptor V. Kafka), the graves of von Einem (section 13), the families of Fulda and Wetter (section 14, tombstone designed by Anna Golubkina), doctor Haass (section 10), and others.
The dramatic story of the military confrontation between Germany and Russia of 1941–1945 is presented in the Museum of the Great Patriotic WarRussian: Tsentral’ny muzey Velikoy Otechestvennoy voyny or Центральный музей Великой Отечественной войны at Poklonnaya HillRussian: Poklonnaya gora or Поклонная гора (10 Bratyev Fonchenko St Russian: ulitsa Bratyev Fonchenko or улица Братьев ФонченкоMoscow, http://www.poklonnayagora.ru). Unique items and belongings of German soldiers and generals are displayed in the permanent exhibition of the Memorial Museum of German Anti-FascistsRussian: Memorial’ny muzey nemetskikh antifashistov or Мемориальный музей немецких антифашистов in KrasnogorskRussian: Красногорск; a city located on the Moskva River, adjacent to the northwestern boundary of Moscow (15 Narodnogo opolcheniya StRussian: ulitsa Narodnogo Opolcheniya or улица Народного Ополчения, Krasnogorsk, Moscow OblastRussian: Moskovskaya oblast' or Московская область, http://www.mmna.ru). The Museum was established in the territory that was once occupied by a camp for German internees and the central antifascist school. The Central Armed Forces MuseumRussian: Tsentral’ny muzey vooruzhennykh sil or Центральный музей вооруженных сил exhibits colours of defeated German troops and German standards of the Third Reich (Bld. 1, 2 Sovetskoy Armii StRussian: ulitsa Sovetskoy Armii or улица Советской Армии, http://www.cmaf.ru).
Moscow museums dispose of standalone collections created by German masters. The Pushkin State Museum of Fine ArtsRussian: Gosudarstvenny muzey A. S. Pushkina or Государственный музей А. С. Пушкина (12 Volkhonka StRussian: ulitsa Volhonka or улица Волхонка, http://www.arts-museum.ru) houses German paintings by 15th–20th century artists: Martin Schongauer, Christian Wilhelm, Ernst Dietrich, Alexander Molinari, Franz von Stuck, and others. Original masterpieces include The Flagellation of Christ by Johann Kerbeke, Madonna and Child by Loucas Cranach Snr, In the Luxembourg Gardens by Adolf Menzel, etc. The museum collection also boasts German wooden sculptures of the 16th–19th centuries as well as bronze ones dating back to the 17th–20th centuries. The Italian Courtyard (hall 15) contains replicas of the 13th-century crucifixes enshrined in the church of the Wechselburg Castle, the Episcopal see of the Ulm Minster (15th c., Jörg Syrlin), and the Golden Gate portal from the Freiberg Cathedral.
The Kremlin ArmouryRussian: Oruzheynaya palata or Оружейная палата (www.kreml.ru) displays German arts and crafts as well as gifts from ambassadors dating back to the 15th–18th centuries. Showcase #35 contains outstanding artifacts by Nürnberg goldsmiths; Nürnberg used to be the center of European silver artwork production in the 16th–first half of the 17th centuries. The sculptural receptacle Eagle made by Christoph Jamnitzer is the gem of this collection. Showcase #39 demonstrates items manufactured by Hamburg silversmiths of the 16th–17th centuries: a mountain-shaped censer, refrigerator buckets, square platters, soup bowls, loving cups, etc. Showcase #40 contains Baroque silverware of the 17th–early 18th centuries from Augsburg. The gem of this collection is a platter by Lorenz Biller II depicting captured Turks coming before Emperor Leopold I. In the Kremlin Armoury, you can see two state coaches made in the 1740s in Berlin and presented to Elizabeth Petrovnathe Empress of Russia from 1741 until 1762 by Frederick II, as well as examples of German plate armour and weapons dating back to the 15th–16th centuries.
THE HISTORY OF THE GERMAN DIASPORA
In the 15th–17th centuries, Germans were invited to the Russian capital to inculcate European technology in Muscovy. The word nemetsRussian: немец was originally used to refer to anyone of West-European descent: Germans, French, Dutch, etc. It was only later that it became to be applied to Germans exclusively. The word derived from the Old Russian word ‘nemchina’, meaning ‘mute’. Ignorance of the language put up barriers to communication, hence the etymology of the word. Germans settled on the banks of the river YauzaRussian: reka Yauza or река Яуза, tributary of the Moskva River, and had a cemetery near ShabolovkaRussian: Шаболовка. At that time, the land was countryside. Under the reign of Ivan the Terrible, Germans were allowed to set up their first Protestant churches; it is known that the German Quarter had at least two churches in the 16th–17th centuries. Some natives of West-European countries began to inhabit PokrovkaRussian: Покровка and Myasnitskaya StreetRussian: Myasnitskaya ulitsa or Мясницкая улица. However, Tsar Aleksey Mikhailovichthe tsar of Russia from 1645 until 1676 ordered all foreigners to be moved to Nemetskaya (German) Sloboda, or the German Quarter, along the same Yauza River in 1652. About the same time, a Tsar’s decree forbade Germans to wear ‘Russian clothes’ and Russians were not permitted to enter the German Quarter without special permission.
The former German Quarter differs from its neighbouring city districts even today. It was arranged around Nemetskaya StreetRussian: Nemetskaya ulitsa or Немецкая улица, which is nowadays called Baumana Street. Over 200 German yards stretched along this street in the mid-1960s. It was a real German town developed to a specific design. Even today, such names as PoslannikovRussian: Посланников, meaning ‘envoys’, StarokirochnyRussian: Старокирочный, meaning ‘the old Kirche’ or NovokirochnyRussian: Новокирочный, meaning ‘the new Kirche’ Lanes will remind you of the former inhabitants of the German Quarter. Novokirochny Lane was where St. Michael’s Church (Michael-Kirche), the oldest Protestant church in Moscow and the center of the German diaspora in the 17th–18th centuries, used to be situated. Peter the Great’s associates Jacob Bruce and Franz Lefort were buried here. The parish of St. Michael’s Church was patronised by the Hamburg City Council and included over 4,000 Germans at the beginning of the 20th century.
St. Michael’s Church was demolished in 1928 by the decision of the Soviet government. Today, the place is home to the Central Aerohydrodynamic InstituteRussian: Tsentral’ny Aerogidrodinamicheskiy Institut or Центральный Аэрогидродинамический Институт (16 Radio StRussian: ulitsa Radio or улица Радио).
German-Russian cultural ties grew considerably closer in the late 16th century. Alexis I’s son Peter the Great frequented the German Quarter from his early adolescence and developed a good rapport with the foreigners. That was where he met Anna Mons, the daughter of a German wine merchant, who became the first ever mistress of a Russian tsar. The aptly-named Anna Mons’s ChambersRussian: palaty Anny Mons or палаты Анны Монс still exist in Moscow (6 Starokirochny LaneRussian: Starokirochnyi pereulok or Старокирочный переулок), but they are closed to visitors, being situated in an industrial site.
The Lefort’s PalaceRussian: Lefortovskiy dvorets or Лефортовский дворец (3 2-ya Baumanskaya StRussian: ulitsa Baumanskaya or улица Бауманская), the first classicist palace in Russia, was built in the German Quarter by Peter the Great for state receptions. It was considered to be the home of the Tsar’s personal friend Franz Lefort; after his death, the building belonged to Peter’s favourite, Alexander Menshikov. A State archive is housed in the palace today. The palace is believed to have been faced by the second Lutheran church in Moscow called Novaya ObednyaRussian: Новая обедня (The New Mass), founded by Peter the Great himself in 1694.
Beginning with the late 17th century and the era of Peter the Great’s reforms, Germans in Moscow were given more freedom: they were allowed to serve in the army, become officials and engage in commerce and production. The image of a Russian German can often be found in Russian literature of the 18th–20th centuries (e.g. Stolz in Oblomov by Ivan Goncharova Russian novelist best known for his novels A Common Story, Oblomov, and The Precipice). In the Russian public mind, Germans were associated with physicians, pharmacists, merchants, and scientists (such professors as Johann Schaden, Johannes Schwarz, Wilhelm Richter, and others worked in Moscow).
The 19th and early 20th centuries saw the heyday of the German diaspora in Moscow. German entrepreneurs controlled the development of heavy industry in the capital and set the pace of the city’s business life. They included the Mark, Wogau, Knoop and List families. Unfortunately, tragic events also occurred to the German diaspora in Moscow, including the Anti-German pogroms of 1915, in the thick of World War I. Back then, the most successful German businessmen had their homes vandalised, the damage amounting to millions of rubles, and most companies with German administration had to close down. Luckily, no casualties were reported.
Like other Muscovites, many Germans fell victim to Stalin’s terror in the second half of the 1930s. As soon as the Second World War was over, thousands of Germans found themselves imprisoned. Prisoners were used as manpower to build a whole district near Marshala Biryuzova StreetRussian: ulitsa Marshala Biryuzova or улица Маршала Бирюзова in the northwest of Moscow (presently 6 Marshala Sokolovskogo StRussian: ulitsa Marshala Sokolovskogo or улица Маршала Соколовского, 9 Marshala Koneva StRussian: ulitsa Marshala Koneva or улица Маршала Конева, etc.). Houses built by German prisoners of war can also be found in the city districts of TushinoRussian: Тушино and KuntsevoRussian: Кунцево as well in some towns in the Moscow Oblasti.e. the periphery of the city. In the Garden RingRussian: Sadovoe kol’tso or Садовое кольцо, you can see a residential house constructed by ZavodstroyRussian: Заводстрой in the constructivist style to the design of German architect Hans Remmele (14/7 Bolshaya Sukharevskaya StRussian: ulitsa Bolshaya Suharevskaya or улица Большая Сухаревская).