Glossary
Glossary

Bergseite - a German geographical term referring in general to the territory occupied by the Volga German colonies on the west side of the Volga River. Translated, it means "mountainous side" or "hilly side" of the river.

Canton - roughly equivalent to a U.S. county. German = Kanton.

Chetvert - 209.91 liters; 5.957 bushels.

Chutor - see Khutor.

Daughter Colony - When the German colonies were established along the Volga River in the 1760s, each colony was alloted a certain amount of land. This land allotment changed little over time. During the early years, the land was periodically redistributed according to the number of men of the colony who were of a certain age. Consequently the amount of land allotted to each person decreased substantially as the colony's population grew. By the 1850s, this land shortage was becoming critical. Additional land was allotted south and east of the original "Mother Colonies" for expansion. The colonies established in these new areas became known as "Daughter Colonies."

Desyatina - land measurement used in tsarist Russia equal to 2400 square sazhens; approximately equivalent to 2.702 English acres or 10,925 square metres.

Gubernia - roughly equivalent to a province or state in North America, but in Russian generally translated as "District." When the colonies were founded in the 1760s, they were originally part of the Kazan District (Gubernia). In 1780, the Saratov District was established. It was made smaller in 1797, but still included all of the Volga German colonies. In 1851, the Samara District was created (out of parts of the Saratov, Orenburg, and Stavropol Districts) – with the Volga German colonies being divided by the Volga River. Those on the west remained in the Saratov District and those on the east became part of the new Samara District.

GULag - an acronym for Glavnoe Upravlenie Ispravitelno-trudovykh Lagerej [Chief Directorate of Corrective Labor Camps].

Kanton - see Canton.

Khutor - farmstead located some distance from the colony; originally used only during the summer farming season, later becoming a year-round residence. German = Chutor.

Makhorka - very cheap tobacco for the masses. The Russian State decreed that any tobacco factory that made expensive cigarettes must also produce a certain amount of cheap tobacco for the poor.

Masloboi - "butter-beating" or "creamery," but it also means "oil-mill."

Mother Colony - Between 1764 and 1772, 106 colonies were established along the Volga River near Saratov. Historically, these colonies became known as "Mother Colonies."

NKVD - an acronym for Narodnyi Kommissariat Vnutrennikh Del [People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs]. The NKVD is best known for the Main Directorate for State Security (GUGB) which succeeded the OGPU and the Cheka as the secret police agency of the Soviet Union.

OGPU - an acronym for Ob'edinennoe Gosudarstvennoe Politicheskoe Upravlenie [Joint State Political Directorate]. The OGPU was responsible for the creation of the GULag system. The OGPU was succeeded by the NKVD as the secret police agency of the Soviet Union.

Papirossy - cigarettes with a Mundstück or mouthpiece of cardboard, which elegant people smoked.

Posad - a "free trading village."

Pud or Pood - 16.38 kilograms or 36.121 pounds.

Ruble or rouble – the common currency of Russia, made up of 100 kopeks.

Sazhen - 2.1336 meters; 7 feet.

Slaboda - as in Pokrovsk/Engels, means a settlement of "free people" – non-serfs.

Solovezki Islands - a group of islands in the White Sea of which six of the larger are inhabited. The islands lie about 530 kilometers north of St. Petersburg and 160 kilometers south the polar circle. When Alexander Solzhenizyn coined the term Archipelago Gulag, he thought of the archipelago Solovezki. This prison camp there was Russia's first large prison camp, a model used as the Soviet prison system developed.

Uezd - roughly equivalent to a district or county.

Verst - 500 sazhen long, equal to 1.0668 kilometres or 0.6629 miles or 3,500 feet.

Volost - an administrative concept of a few villages in a rural area that share the same administrative office. For example, 4 neighboring villages could make up a "volost."

Wiesenseite - a German geographical term referring in general to the territory occupied by the Volga German colonies on the east side of the Volga River. Translated, it means "plains side" or "meadow side" of the river.

Last updated 7 March 2013.