Archiver > RUS-SARATOV-SCHILLING > 2010-02 > 1266039684

Subject: [SCHILLING] Military service in the Russian Army
Date: Fri, 12 Feb 2010 23:41:24 -0600

How many of you have heard stories about your male ancestors where they
were supposed to have served in the Russian Army, fought in wars, etc.
Here is information on the rules under which German-Russians in the Volga
were drafted.


This information is from the book "From Privileged to Dispossessed, The
Volga Germans, 1860 -1917", by James W. Long, Copyright 1988,
University of
Nebraska Press.

The universal conscription law of 1874 was based on peacetime conditions,
and in fact, did not enroll many recruits. The number of men conscripted
each year depended on the contingent required by the military: in 1874 it
was 150,000; it rose in 1900 to 320,000. However, the law's shorter term of
service and maintenance of a large reserve component had tremendous
implications, in that many more individuals served in the armed forces.
Because the prosperity of peasant families, and therefore the state
primarily on the number of workers, the 1874 conscription law drafted men
only from families with several workers. Also, the costs of equipping and
training every draft-age youth would have been prohibitive. Therefore, each
year approximately 54 percent of the draft-age men were exempted from
duty in the military service. Most exemptions (48 percent) were granted on
the basis of domestic or family reasons; 6 percent were based on failure to
meet physical standards. Sole surviving sons, married men, or sons and
grandsons who were the only workers in their households were
exempted from military service. Others, such as sons who were the second
workers in their households, next eldest sons with brothers on active duty,
and sons whose elder brothers had died while on active duty, received
conditional exemption. They would be drafted only if the number of
non-exempted recruits was inadequate to meet the military's annual
contingent. While sole surviving sons were never liable for military
service. The conditional exemptees could be called up in time of war.

The annual conscription levy took place in the fall after the harvest. Any
young man having his twenty-first birthday before October 1 of that year was
subject to the draft. On November 12, 1874, the first Volga German draft
lottery occurred in the colony of Linevo Ozero. The colonies had ten draft
centers, all except one including both Russian and German settlements.

Data from the Saratov and Samara provinces indicate that between 1874
1914 the Volga Germans annually supplied 800 to 1500 recruits to the
military, depending on the annual levy set by military authorities. Thus,
every year about one of every five draft-eligible, twenty-one year old male
colonists entered the Russian Army. By 1914, then, conservatively
50,000 Volga Germans had spent time in the ranks.

Mobilization of reservists, not conscription, drove more Volga Germans from
Russia, and until 1904-three decades after the introduction of the
draft-their reservists had never been activated. The Russo-Japanese War
1904-5 generated such consternation and dismay among the Volga
because it represented the first encounter with mobilization; at the time
of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 no Volga German reservists existed,
one had completed the six-year term of active duty.

Beginning in 1904, many Volga German reservists-men between the ages
twenty-five and forty-three, some of whom had been discharged as far back
1886-decided to emigrate illegally rather than face being reactivated to
fight in some distant war of no concern to them.

My grandfather was in the Russian Army from approximately November
until sometime before May 1910. A picture of him in his Russian Army
uniform is here:

Gary Martens

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