Engels, Deutscher Staatsverlag, 1937. 96 pp.: ill., frontispiece. 22.7x14.9 cm. In original illustrated publisher’s cardboards. Worn, rubbed edges, boards slightly loose, several pages detached. Otherwise good.
Scarce. Second edition. First edition published in 1935. Black and white illustrations throughout by A. Diel. In German.
A textbook for German printed in the Soviet Union just a couple of months before the massive deportation wave of the Germans.
This Fibel, or alphabet book, prepared for first graders by an author named N. Bellendir was published in 1937 in the Soviet city of Engels. The territory was inhabited by the Germans, who during the reign of Catherine the Great were encouraged to settle in the Volga region. Recruited as immigrants, the colonists were allowed to maintain their language, traditions, and churches, transforming the area into the major centre of German culture. During the Russian Civil War the region came under control of the communist Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, and in 1918 it became the capital of the newly established Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. By the mid-1930s, the population of the Volga German ASSR exceeded 300,000, which amounted to over 55% of the whole population. With numerous educational institutions, the republic became a hub for the publication of the German-language literature in the USSR.
The alphabet book was printed in the official publishing house of the Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, Nemgosizdat. In a couple of months following the issuance of the edition, almost half of the staff working in the publishing firm were arrested against the background of Soviet repressions andS deemed ‘bourgeois nationalists and servants of fascism’. Before the outbreak of the Second World War, the Volga German Soviet Socialist Republic was dissolved. All Germans were expelled from Engels, with most being sent to Siberia and the Kazakh SSR. The publishing house naturally vanished with the republic.
The book includes numerous verses and short stories for studying German alphabet and is accompanied with multiple black and white illustrations.
Overall, an interesting edition published a couple of months before the massive deportation wave of the Germans from the Soviet Union.
Worldcat shows 1 copy of the edition at Yivo Institute for Jewish Research.