Tsarina Catherine II was a German, born in Stettin in Pomerania, now Szczecin in Poland.She proclaimed open immigration for foreigners wishing to live in the Russian Empire on July 22, 1763, marking the beginning of a much larger presence for Germans in the Empire.
Some became Polonized, however, and their descendants remain in Poland.
After World War II, many of those who retained their German language and customs were forcibly expelled by the Russians and the Poles, with the loss of all their property.
The earliest German settlement in Russia dates back to the reign of Vasili III, Grand Prince of Moscow from 1505 to 1533.
Gradually, this policy extended to a few other major cities.
Consequently, Germany has recently strictly limited their immigration, and a decline in the number of Germans in the Russian Federation has moderated as they no longer emigrate to Germany and as Kazakh Germans move to Russia instead of Germany.
As conditions for the Germans generally deteriorated in the late 19th century and early 20th century, many Germans migrated from Russia to the Americas and elsewhere, collectively known as Germans from Russia.
However, depending on geography and other circumstances, many Russian-Germans spoke Russian as their first or second language.
During the 19th century, many came to identify primarily as Russians, and particularly during and after the Napoleonic Wars, many Russian-Germans embraced Russian patriotism.
It placed the new arrivals outside of Russia's feudal hierarchy and granted them considerable internal autonomy.