Accessibility links

German 'Sex Refugee' Family Lured Back To Russia, This Time With Palatial Home


Eugen Martens and his family have been welcomed with largesse in Stavropol.

Eugen Martens, his wife, and their 10 kids have arrived with all the fanfare of celebrities as the "sex refugees" from Germany returned to settle down in Russia once more.

The family, which has hopscotched from place to place in its effort to flee the "sexually permissive" West, was serenaded by a local choir in traditional peasant garb, and offered bread and salt -- a Slavic tradition -- as the family entered Stavropol airport's arrival hall to a throng of media on November 19.

Martens, who along with his wife, Louisa, is a Russian-born German national, became a sensation when he first left Germany in early 2017 to carve out a new life for his family in the wilds of Siberia free from loose morals and refugees.

That foray into clean-living Russia only lasted two months, but Martens told reporters that he was returning to Russia due to the "spiritual" deficiencies in Germany.

"Germany does a lot to ensure that people are taken care of materially," Martens explained. "But in a spiritual sense, Germany is poor."

He made reference to a recent ruling by Germany's top court that birth certificates must give the option of registering a gender that is neither male nor female.

"And this is taught to our children, and I do not agree with this. I believe that such a course leads to the destruction of the country," he said. "I have a pain in my heart for Germany. And in Russia, I feel at home. Here, emphasis is placed on family values and the birth of children."

Martens and Louisa were both born in Siberia's Omsk region and were among hundreds of thousands of ethnic Germans who emigrated from the former Soviet Union to Germany in the 1990s.

A Warm Welcome

Martens and his family struggled to adjust to the harsh conditions in Siberia. A wood-burning stove was all they had to heat their spartanly furnished home.

The family can't complain about the conditions they've been offered this time, however. They will now be living in a lavishly equipped home bequeathed to the local authorities by a businessman in the southern region of Stavropol. Local farmers and businessmen sweetened the pot by stocking it with groceries.

Vladimir Poluboyarenko tracked down the Martenses via social media soon after reading about the family's trying times in Siberia and their return to Germany.

He said the house was built for his family, but had been empty for five years after the kids grew up and moved away. "I live with my wife and daughter in a smaller house on a neighboring plot," Poluboyarenko was quoted as saying by RFE/RL's Russian Service.

"I didn't gift this home to the Martenses. I transferred it to the Stavropol regional government exclusively for social purposes, for helping refugees arriving in the region. The home is 500 square meters, has four kitchens, six bathrooms, and two pools -- so they should have enough room."

Vladimir Poluboyarenko (right) wants to show that Russia is not "pathetic" and hopes to welcome more families back to Russia.
Vladimir Poluboyarenko (right) wants to show that Russia is not "pathetic" and hopes to welcome more families back to Russia.

The Martenses will be joined by other German families that, according to Poluboyarenko, are clamoring to return to the homeland. "Given the requests I have already received, three more German families will be arriving here," he said. "I will gladly welcome them."

"What do I get out of it? My wife and I love children. We have a huge garden, with over a 100 trees. It's difficult for us to take care of them, both of us are disabled. And we like Zhenya's family very much."

Looking To Help

Martens visited Stavropol in June to check it out. At the time, he found out he would also get a dacha, a traditional Russian cottage, in the mountains.

Poluboyarenko said that local officials and businessmen were eager to prove that "Russia is not pathetic, not filled with drunks, and that we have decent living conditions."

The shelves in the pantry are stocked with canned fruits, milk, vegetables, sacks of potatoes and flour, and even "salo," or cured fatback, a Slavic delicacy. Poluboyarenko said local farmers donated much of it.

A week before the Martenses arrived, local officials paved a road leading to the house.

The pantry is stocked and waiting.
The pantry is stocked and waiting.

According to Irina Kuvaldina, the first deputy chairwoman of the regional government in charge of social welfare and education, the local branch of the Union of Women of Russia was key in organizing details of the Martenses' arrival.

Kuvaldina said the role of the women's group may soften any public criticism of the largesse bestowed on the Martenses in Stavropol, where an estimated 2,000 families with children are in need of help.

Kuvaldina said local families in need are not being ignored. "Last year, we bought refrigerators and washing machines for several families," she noted.

Kuvaldina said that the Martenses, traveling to the region with nothing, were a special case. "It is always harder for those who traveled, especially from a different country," she said. "They need some time to adjust, settle in, and, I hope, in time they will become fully independent."

What will the Martens family do in Stavropol? "Live," the patriarch of the family told reporters. "We are going to try very hard to contribute to the town, and also educate our kids so that they contribute too. Right now, I'm taking care of paperwork. After that, we'll start working."

Martens is a carpenter by trade, and built furniture in Germany. However, he and his family have also tried raising livestock and farming.

Martens has no plans to reject his German citizenship, explaining that the family had many relatives, including grandmothers, in Germany. "I don't plan to burn all bridges."

But he said that if push came to shove, he would opt for Russian citizenship. "I understand that Russia has its own problems. But I don't plan to avoid them," he said. "Life generally is a struggle, and I hold no illusions. I try to look at things objectively. The main thing is that we are home."

Written by Tony Wesolowsky based on reporting by RFE/RL's Russian Service correspondent Timur Sazonov
XS
SM
MD
LG