German Volga Republic

German Volga Republic

German Volga Republic, former autonomous republic of the USSR, c.18,000 sq mi (46,600 sq km), along the lower Volga of SW Russia. Its largely German population was descended from the German colonists whom Catherine II had invited to settle there in 1762. The autonomous republic was formed in 1924. As a result of the German invasion of the USSR, the republic was dissolved (1941), and the entire German population (about 440,000) was deported to Siberia and Kazakhstan. The Volga Germans were then stripped of their citizenship and did not regain their civil rights until after Stalin's death. Most of Russia's ethnic Germans (some 2 million) emigrated after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, largely to Germany.
The Coat of Arms of the German Democratic Republic featured a hammer and a compass, surrounded by a ring of rye. The hammer represented the workers in the factories. The compass represented the intelligentsia, and the ring of rye the farmers. The first designs included only the hammer and ring of rye, as an expression of the GDR as a communist "Workers' and Farmers' state" (Arbeiter- und Bauernstaat). Surrounded by a wreath, the state coat of arms also acted as the coat of arms for the East German National People's Army, and when surrounded by a twelve pointed white star, for the People's Police. It was adopted as the GDR's coat of arms by a law of 26 September 1955, and added to the national flag by a law of 1 October 1959. The coat of arms was officially abolished on 31 May, 1990, by a decision of the first freely-elected GDR Parliament (Volkskammer).

The display of this coat of arms was for some years regarded as unconstitutional in West Germany and West Berlin and was prevented by the police. Only in 1969 did the West German government of Willy Brandt reverse this policy in what was known as Ostpolitik.

In 2004 a German businessman's trademarking of the GDR coat of arms was repealed on the grounds that it was a symbol in common use to represent the regional origin of eastern German goods and services.

The logo has been compared to that of the Freemasons Square and Compasses insignia, the main similarity being the open pair of compasses. However, the similarity has been dismissed as a coincidence.

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