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German/Russian Geography

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mmillerao View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mmillerao Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: German/Russian Geography
    Posted: 18 Jan 2013 at 18:11
My wife, who's maiden name is Bennick, her family has always associated themselves with German heritage although it doesn't appear anyone living can tell us any specifics as to where in Germany they might be from.

An elderly aunt who is close to passing has started talking about family history no one else knew about.  The most startling revelation was that there was another branch of the family, her grandfather's brother, and the two sides had stopped talking many years ago.  One thing that came out of that was that the brother's side says they are Russian, not German.  The Aunt said that when she found out about this, when she was in her late 20's, she asked some other family members about it and was told that "the land is the same, at times it's been German, at times it's been Russian, but we're German."

So my question is this:  What part of the world has been both German and Russian?  I'm sure there are multiple answers so it might narrow it down to give dates.  I would assume this gentleman and his brother would have been alive around late 1800's, maybe into early 1900's.  

Kinda makes me wish I had studied harder in school many years ago but if anyone has an answer, my wife and I would appreciate your input.
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gcle2003 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jan 2013 at 18:49
Parts of present-day Poland (and present-day Kaliningrad). 
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork.

Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.

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mmillerao View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mmillerao Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2013 at 13:50
Thank you for your reply.
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Styrbiorn View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Styrbiorn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2013 at 14:45
Also consider that plenty of Germans moved to Russia during Peter's rule and the following century, especially to S:t Petersburg.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2013 at 04:20
Keep in mind also that invaded the Baltic states in the Middle Ages and were highly successful at installing themselves as the region's elite. You often had prosperous German landowners administering large tracts of territory that was worked and peopled by Baltic peasants. The Germans continued in this role during the Russian annexation until Communism and Stalin's deportations broke their power and influence in those territories.

With some justice, your ancestors could have seen the land as German land (having been colonised and run by Germans) despite the nominal suzereignty of a greater power like Russia or Lithuania.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Styrbiorn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2013 at 12:34
The Baltic seaboard seems indeed like the area should search in.
 
To help you further, Bennick is probably an anglified version of the German Benecke, a name that exists at least in Germany and Sweden (which by the way became the home of a number of German-Baltic families - there is incidently a Swedish translator of Russian literature with the name Benecke).  Anyhow, the name was definitely existing in the Baltic area as there was a professor of anatomy, Berthold Benecke, in Königsberg in the latter half of the 1800s.  I suggest you direct your search in that direction.
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Sarmat View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Feb 2013 at 22:44
Originally posted by Constantine XI Constantine XI wrote:

Keep in mind also that invaded the Baltic states in the Middle Ages and were highly successful at installing themselves as the region's elite. You often had prosperous German landowners administering large tracts of territory that was worked and peopled by Baltic peasants. The Germans continued in this role during the Russian annexation until Communism and Stalin's deportations broke their power and influence in those territories.

With some justice, your ancestors could have seen the land as German land (having been colonised and run by Germans) despite the nominal suzereignty of a greater power like Russia or Lithuania.

Actually, German power and influence "was broken" after the Baltic states declared their independence in 1920th most of Baltic natives had very negative view of German "colonizers" which forced the overwhelming majority of Baltic Germans to immigrate to Germany in 1920th and 1930th. There was just a handful of Baltic Germans left when the Baltic States were annexed by the USSR in 1939.

But you are right that the Germans almost completely dominated the Baltic region up until the start of 1920th and they were very well integrated into the Russian society as well. Their role was very prominent in military, culture and science of the Russian Empire. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wildrover Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jun 2013 at 00:33
Is the answer perhaps Riga, now part of Latvia, but formerly both German and Russian?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Goral Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jul 2013 at 07:05
Originally posted by Sarmat Sarmat wrote:


Actually, German power and influence "was broken" after the Baltic states declared their independence in 1920th most of Baltic natives had very negative view of German "colonizers" which forced the overwhelming majority of Baltic Germans to immigrate to Germany in 1920th and 1930th. There was just a handful of Baltic Germans left when the Baltic States were annexed by the USSR in 1939.

But you are right that the Germans almost completely dominated the Baltic region up until the start of 1920th and they were very well integrated into the Russian society as well. Their role was very prominent in military, culture and science of the Russian Empire. 

After annexation of Baltic States in 1940 by Soviet Union, Baltic Germans has been allowed to emigrate to the area controlled by III Reich. Most of them has been settled in annexed (by Germany) areas of western Poland, taking over farms and apartments of expelled Poles.

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