The Black Sea Germans (German: Schwarzmeerdeutsche; Russian: Черноморские немцы) are ethnic Germans who left their homeland in the 18th and 19th centuries, and settled in territories off the north coast of the Black Sea, mostly in southern Ukraine. Included in the category of Black Sea Germans are the following groups from the Black Sea area: the Bessarabia Germans, Dobrujan Germans, and the Russian Mennonites.
The Black Sea Germans are distinct from the Volga Germans, who were separate both geographically and culturally, although both groups moved to Russia at about the same time and for the same reasons.
The Germans settled in southern Ukraine which at that time was part of the Russian Empire and on the Crimean Peninsula. This land was gained for Russia by Catherine the Great through her two wars with the Ottoman Empire (1768-1774) and from the annexation of the Crimean Khanates (1783). The area of settlement was not settled as compactly as that of the Volga territory, rather it was home to a chain of colonies. The first German settlers arrived in 1787, first from West Prussia, then later from Western and Southwestern Germany, as well as from the Warsaw area. Catholics, Lutherans and Mennonites were all known as capable farmers (see Molotschna, for Mennonite settlements in the Melitopol area); Empress Catherine herself sent them a personal invitation to immigrate to Russia.
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