The Volga Germans were ethnic Germans living along the River Volga in the region of southeastrn European Russia around Saratov and to the south. Recruited as immigrants to Russia in the 18th century, they were allowed to maintain German culture, language, traditions and churches: Lutherans, Reformed, Roman Catholics, and Mennonites (Russian Mennonites). In the 19th and early 20th centuries, many Volga Germans emigrated to the Midwestern United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and other countries. Nazi Germany rose in part on a pan-German appeal, claiming interests in lands where ethnic Germans had been long settled. After the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 during World War II, the Soviet government considered the Volga Germans potential collaborators and transported them wholesale to labour camps, where many died. After the war, it expelled some ethnic Germans to the West.
Contributions by Justin levy-smith, Olessi, and Altenmann.