The first immigrants from Germany appeared during the foundation of the town, on the
banks of the Neva. With pleasure, Peter I invited specialists from Western Europe to
Russia, also his successors continued this policy. Little by little, a community was
established of people with the same language, the same traditions and the same
religion belonging to St. Petersburg – the Protestant-Lutheran church and her followers.
The first wave of the immigrants from Germany was dated to about 1720. Besides, the
undiminished stream of middle-class Germans, also taught others to come increasingly
to Russia: In the 18th century, of the 111 active members of the academy of sciences
that came to Russia, 67 of them were Germans.
The second mighty wave of the immigration fell at the middle of the 1730s – during the
rule of Anna Ivanovna. At this time a whole series of aristocrats and their families settled
down in Russia. The important streams of the emigration begin to show during the reign
of Catherine II, she was a born princess of Anhalt-Zerbst. The manifesto inviting
foreigners in Russia celebrates its 250th anniversary in 2013. However, the immigration
process stopped under Paul I.
At the end of the18. Century, the German community in St. Petersburg was very
numerous. Germans represented almost the half of all foreigners. In this environment
arose a number of statesmen, scholars, architects, executives of the military, financiers,
businessmen and factory owners. The German community in Petersburg amounted to
more than 50,000 people at the beginning of 19 century. Among them one can find
representatives of the nobility, various businessmen, as well as the petty bourgeoisie.
Typically German social classes were at this time doctors, pharmacists and bakers.
Germans settled all over St. Petersburg. The number German neighbourhoods in the
St. Petersburg area reached 23, and their role in the development and the supply of the
life cycles of the town became more and more significant until 1917. The liquidation of
these communities prompted the decentralisation of the their descendants throughout
the territory of the Soviet Union at the beginning 1940 years.
The Second World War – a very special period of the life of the Germans in Russia.
German surnames became fateful for many. The deportation, the repression and the
return have stretched as destinies of many generations of the German families away.
For many years the German life of St. Petersburg was forgotten till the end of 1980/in
the beginning of 1990.
At the moment, the building of the Cathedral of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul unites
the life of Germans in Petersburg. Beside the 600 members of the Protestant-Lutheran
community, the Office of the Archbishop and the Foundation of the Support and
Development of German-Russian Relations, the ‘German-Russian meeting centre’
support this community.