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Ukrainian Genealogical Society
Odessa City

Odessa is the 5th largest city in Ukraine and it is the most important port city for  trade.  Also, Odessa is the largest city along the entire Black Sea.  Odessa was once the 3rd leading city in old Russia, following Moscow and St. Petersburg.  Due to the influence of French and Italian styles, Odessa looks more like a city that may be located on the Mediterranean.  It has always had a spirit of freedom, probably endowed to her by her location and by her ability to accept many different peoples. 

Over 1500 years ago, an ancient Greek colony settled near the place where later the city was founded.  The Crimean Tartars traded in the Odessa region In the 14th Century.  It was   during the Russo-Turkish War, from 1787-1791, that the Ukrainian Black Sea Cossaks conquered the Tartar settlement of Khadzhibei and the Turkish fortress of Eni-Dunai, which was located near the city's present-day location.  The city was officially founded in 1794 as a Russian naval fortress on lands annexed from Turkey during the Treaty of Jassy in 1792.  The city was named after an ancient Greek colony Odessos, and in 1795 Queen Catherine II's had the name changed to a feminine gender, thus Odessa.  Because of his service in the Russian Army against the Turks, a French politician, Duke de Richelieu, was nominated governor of Odessa, from 1803-1814. He is considered one of the founding fathers of Odessa because of his efforts to promote the integrity and wellness of the city.  For a period of time, 1823-1824, the poet, Alexander Pushkin, lived and wrote in Odessa.  British and French naval forces bombarded Odessa during the Crimean War. 

As trade grew, so did Odessa and she became the largest grain-exporting port for Russia.  In 1866, the city was linked by rail with Kiev and Kharkov as well as Jassy, Romania.  In 1905, Odessa was the site of a workers' revolution, supported by the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin and Lenin's Iskra.  Following the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 during World War I, Odessa was occupied by several groups, including the Central Powers, the French, the Red Army and the White Army.  Then, in 1920, the Communists took control of Odessa and united her with the Ukrainian SSR, later becoming part of the USSR.  From 1921-1922, the inhabitants suffered from a great famine that occurred as a result of the War. 

During the WWII, Odessa was occupied by Romanian and German forcesOdessa.  During the 1960's and 1970's the city grew tremendously.  In 1991, the city became part of newly-independent Ukraine, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

View a current city map of Odessa here.



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The following are extracts taken from the St. Petersburg Lutheran Evangelical archives published by the LDS by the members of the project.  All information compiled by Dale Lee Wahl, Ralph Wiseman, & William A. Swirsky.


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