Rot Front, Kyrgyzstan

Believe it or not, in 1985, 200,000 ethnic Germans called Kyrgyzstan home (5 percent of the population at the time) and their former presence is still apparent today. Several villages and towns between Bishkek and Tokmok still have German names and some families still speak German at home. Made up of Mennonites, Germans first came to Kyrgyzstan in 1882 to avoid conscription. They built homes in the Kyrgyz villages in a style quite similar to those built in Germany during the same time period.

When we visited in October, we met with a German man who has lived in the village for several years, teaching German to thirteen local German children once a week in his home. The German the children speak, however, is not like what is spoken in Europe today. Remarkably, the German spoken here is more similar to old German or Prussian. In fact, a few years ago a linguist came to study the German dialect and remarked how amazing it was that the language had been preserved for so long in such a remote region of the world. One of the main goals of our host is to teach proper, academic German to his students, so they can pursue higher education in Germany.

Our host also had a small museum in his house with pictures of Germans from Rott Front in the 1920s. My pictures are below:

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