Württemberg Emigration to Bessarabia
under Tsar Alexander I1

New Russia
New Russia

In the first Russo-Turkish War (1768-1774) Russia gained access to the Black Sea and by the end of the second Russo-Turkish War (1787-1792) possessed the whole of the northern Black Sea coast to the River Dniester. To exploit these newly acquired large tracts of land, called ‘Novorossiya’ (New Russia.) took tremendous efforts on the part of the Russian crown. At a strategic coastal location, the port city of Odessa, founded in 1794, rapidly became the most important trading center for goods all over southern Russia and became a global city with an international flair: Odessa had a suburb for German craftsmen, foreign trading posts and even streets named after the nationalities living there. Odessa, the pearl of the Black Sea, was a prime example of the Europeanization of Russia at that time.

Alexander I
Alexander I

Tsar Alexander I (1801-1825) on 20 February 1804, at the beginning of his rule, issued a decree regarding the policy on colonization, which had significant restrictions, from the manifest of Tsarina Catherine II of 22 July 1763, to avoid the weaknesses that had occurred in the settlement of the Volga region.

In the same year, 1804, immigration from southern Germany to New Russia started. The proportion from Württemberg was high in some urban areas. Of two groups of settlements in the Odessa region, in which further migration took place in later years in the province of Bessarabia, the ratio of those who originated from Württemberg are reported by Stumpp, as:

Großliebental settlements: 13 villages of which 10 were founded from 1804-1810; ratio from Württemberger: about 40 percent.

• Glückstal colonies: 6 settlements of which 5 were founded from 1804-1810; ratio from Württemberg: about 55 percent.


Russia won the third Russo-Turkish War (1806-1812) expanding to other areas west of the Dniester.

Bessarabia in Europe
Bessarabia in Europe

The threat of military conflict with Napoleon forced Tsar Alexander I to a rapid conclusion of peace (28 May 1812) with the Sublime Porte of the Ottoman Empire. Russia received only the strip of land between the rivers Prut and Dniester. This area called Bessarabia was the last major territorial gain at the expense of the Ottoman Empire. The other wars brought only minor shifts, sometimes in favor, sometimes to the detriment of Russia. The non-Christian Turks and Tatars left Bessarabia during the six-year war. The South was now largely deserted, while in the center and in the north the native Orthodox Christian Moldovans remained unmolested.

Deserted areas cried out for settlement! So in the western part of Southern Bessarabia Bulgarians and Gagauz from the Ottoman Empire were settled and Ukrainians and Russians in the eastern part. In the middle, between these peoples, an area was provided for German development. But in addition to those Germans who arrived in 1814 in large numbers, did not come from Württemberg, as the following chapters will explain.  

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1 Thanks to S. Winkler for help with the English translation of this page