VOL XXXIII, NO. 1 - MARCH 2007 80th Birthday Tribute for Otto Klassen – Mennonite Filmmaker by Peter Letkemann (Winnipeg) O n 7 April 2007 the well known Mennonite filmmaker Otto Klassen of Winnipeg will celebrate his 80th birthday. On Sunday, 15 April 2007, his most recent film “Remembering Russia, 1928-1938: Collectivization and Mass Arrest” will be premiered at the Springfield Heights Mennonite Church in North Kildonan. I first got to know Otto Klassen as a master bricklayer and stone mason – my father was a building contractor in North Kildonan and Otto Klassen was his bricklayer of choice. I watched as Otto and his crew unloaded the bricks or limestone blocks, mixed the mortar, and began constructing the walls and chimney of the house. In retrospect, it seems to me that Otto was able to visualize the entire wall in his mind even before he laid the first brick – it was all done in his head, it just required careful and patient work to complete physically. These walls and chimneys are still standing all over North Kildonan, East Kildonan and other parts of the city, and if you look at them you will see that all the lines, both horizontal and vertical, are perfect – Otto is a Anna Thiessen and young girls outside the North End chapel (Winnipeg) NP045-01-20 perfectionist! One of the best examples of Pioneering an Urban Environment: The Beginning of the his work is the beautiful white limestone obelisk standing at the entrance of the Mennonite Brethren Church in Winnipeg Steinbach Museum – this monument to By Abe Dueck Mennonite Victims of Terror and Repression was designed and built by Beginning of the 20th Century Otto Klassen. T he city of Winnipeg was a vibrant and growing city at the turn of the 20th century. The Canadian Pacific Railway become the third largest city in Canada, with only Montreal and Toronto exceeding its population. I got to know Otto Klassen the film director in 1992, when I saw what is probably his masterpiece, “The Great had been completed in 1885, making Trek.” When I read the film credits, I was Winnipeg a very significant transportation Note: In 1871 the population of Winnipeg was amazed, but not surprised, to see that Otto centre. The grandiose railway station on about 250, making it the 62nd largest population centre in Canada. In 1901 the was not only the producer and director of Higgins Ave. was completed in 1904 and population had swollen to 42,000, making it the film; he also wrote the script, edited immigrants from many European coun- the 6th largest city. By 1911 it had more than the film and even chose the music for the tries were arriving in the city and the tripled in 10 years to 136,000 ranking 3rd , soundtrack. population grew rapidly. Most of the and in 1921 the population stood at 179,000. As a filmmaker Otto exhibits the same population was centred on both sides of At that time Vancouver had a population of 117,000 and Calgary 63,000. dedication, hard work, skill, attention to the railroad tracks, with the area north of detail, careful preparation, and long-range the tracks known as the North End. Most Public transportation was still in its planning that he had displayed as a master of the area south of the tracks was infancy. The Louise Bridge, which then mason. considered the West End, whereas the was a railway bridge, was the first bridge He has the outline of the story and the area south of the Assiniboine River, across the Red River and was built in entire film worked out in his head before where the wealthier class lived, was 1881. In 1903 the Winnipeg Electric he starts filming. Then he goes about the known as the South End. The area that is Street Railway had its first run over the detailed work of researching and writing now Elmwood was incorporated into the Louise Bridge. In 1908 the Redwood the script, compiling and “building” his city in 1906, with the present Talbot Ave. Bridge was built and the electric railway visual resources, recording the soundtrack then called Central Ave. Winnipeg had (cont’d on p. 8) (cont’d on p. 2) Page 2 and final editing – being sensitive to that era, whom I have met and nique when he started out on his own film pacing and mood – making sure the story interviewed, Otto felt that he had survived career. When Otto came to Canada, he gets told and keeps moving. for a reason; it was his responsibility to told me he loved watching the beautiful Where did he learn to do this? tell the story of the Mennonite people – of Walt Disney nature documentaries – soon, Certainly not in school! the suffering and hardships they endured, he started analyzing these films, with a Otto, like many other men of his of their cultural and economic achieve- stop watch in hand – paying careful generation never completed more than 6 ments, and above all of their faith. Given attention to timing, pacing, photography or 7 grades of formal schooling. But this his skills and talents, he felt that he could techniques, etc. He traveled to studios in does not mean that they were uneducated. best do this through the medium of film. Disney World and Hollywood to watch By the time he was a teenager, in the As a boy Otto saw his first films in the film crews in action. He observed closely, Mennonite village of Schöneberg village school or local church in southern and said to himself: I can do that! (Chortitza), Otto already spoke four Ukraine. By the mid-1930s all churches in And he did! Over the past 30 years, languages – German, Low German, the Soviet Union had been closed, of Otto has produced over 50 documentary Russian and Ukrainian. Later he added course, and converted into granaries, films, telling the story of his people – the Spanish and English to the mix. But like stables, dance clubs or movie theatres. Mennonite people of Russia, Paraguay, most young people of that generation, he The Soviet leadership, beginning with Mexico and Manitoba – the story of learned most through keen observation, Lenin and Stalin, quickly recognized the ordinary people, living ordinary lives, self study, experience and the application propaganda value of the motion picture as experiencing extraordinary events, and of common sense. a powerful new medium to reach people, achieving the extraordinary under the Otto was good in all subjects at school, many of whom could neither read nor most adverse of conditions. He himself but his favourites were math and history. write. The Soviet propaganda films of the lived through many of these events The math stood him in good stead later in 1930s showed, for example, smiling himself, and was able to tell the story with his business work; but history was his real happy peasants – working and singing in a deep and honest conviction. passion. He did not only read about the fields – happy to be part of the new Otto’s films are not made for history, he personally experienced some collective farms. Of course the films were commercial use on television or in of the most momentous historical events all lies, but the leaders knew that if you theatres – they are intended to be shown of the 20th century – he lived through the tell the story powerfully enough and in churches, schools, and community terrible famine of 1932-33 in Ukraine, he repeat it often enough, people will halls. His goal has never been to make experienced the horrors of war in Europe, believe; the same thing happened in Nazi money – in fact he has spent thousands of and endured the hardships of pioneer Germany, and the same thing goes on dollars, of his own money, to finance work in Paraguay. Hundreds and today – a film can be used to tell a these films. Instead, his goal has been to thousands around him perished. He powerful truth or to cover up the truth. tell the Mennonite story for succeeding survived! And like so many others of Later, while serving in the German generations – the generation of his own army, Otto observed German camera children and grand-children on their Mennonite Historian is published by the crews in action, filming documentaries for history. He has donated complimentary Mennonite Heritage Centre of Mennonite the weekly newsreels back home; he was copies of his films to countless Mennonite Church Canada and the Centre for Mennonite intrigued! Much later, Otto met a member schools and churches in Canada, South Brethren Studies of the Canadian Conference of one of these film crews working right America and Europe, so that they in turn of Mennonite Brethren Churches. here in Winnipeg at CBC-TV. This friend can educate their people, especially their Editor: Alf Redekopp (MHC) was able to offer Otto many suggestions young people, about their past. Ken Reddig (CMBS) and tips on the fine points of film tech- Peter Letkemann lives in Winnipeg. Associate Editor: Conrad Stoesz (CMBS/MHC) All correspondence and manuscripts should be sent to the editorial offices at: 600 Shaftesbury Blvd. Winnipeg, MB R3P 0M4 P: 204-888-6781 E: email@example.com W: www.mennonitechurch.ca/programs/archives or 1310 Taylor Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3M 3Z6 P: 204-669-6575 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.mbconf.ca/mbstudies Subscription rates: $12.00 per year, $22.00 for two years, $30.00 for three years. Individual subscriptions may be ordered from these addresses. ISSB 07008066 Otto Klassen making a film Page 3 Wiebe - Searching for ancestors and Genealogy and Family History siblings of Gerhard Wiebe (1858-1921) b. Halbstadt, Molotschna, migrated to By Alf Redekopp Munich, ND in 1907 with wife and 4 children, and d. in Walla Walla, WA. His Recent Books Les Plett. Family Register of the wife’s name was Elisabeth Richert. Con- Descendants of Our Grandparents Peter tact: Richard Vorwerk at richardvorwerk David Schroeder. The Family Records of L. and Agatha (Koop) Susanna (Friesen) @hotmail.com, 512-750-5562, or 1808 W. Heinrich and Maria (Kehler) Schroeder Plett #13 (Calgary, AB: Private Lake Dr, Taylor,TX 76574. and The Ancestors of Heinrich and Maria Publication, 2006) 322 pp. (Kehler) Schroeder (1888-1974) (Winni- peg, MB: Private publication, 2006) T his book traces the family history of the descendants of Peter L. Plett ********** A Genealogical DNA T hese two compilations contain the family history for Heinrich Schroeder (1888-1974) and his wife Maria Kehler (1859-1944) who first married Aganetha B. Koop (1859-1883) and then Susanna R. Friesen (1864-1936), who came to Project for Low-German (1890-1978) who were born in Canada from Russia in 1875, settling in Mennonites Sommerfeld, Manitoba, lived in various Blumenhof, Manitoba with the Mennonite places – Blumenthal and Austin in Mani- Kleinegemeinde. The book includes by Glenn Penner toba and in Aldergrove and Clearbrook, genealogical data, photographs, biograph- BC and died in Altona, Manitoba. The compiler has also provided the Mennonite Heritage Centre with A Tribute of ical sketches and a comprehensive index. Contact: Les Plett, 923 Midridge Dr. SE, Calgary, AB T2X 1H5 I n the Dec. 2004 issue of the Mennonite Historian I announced the start of a genealogical DNA project for Menno- Thanksgiving by Heinrich and Maria nites. At that time there was a significant Schroeder edited and translated from the A Day of Pilgrimage June 11, 2005: A cost associated with the testing and the diaries. Contact: D. Schroeder, 745 Co- Document commemorating the 75th project covered all Mennonite/Anabaptist ventry Road, Winnipeg, MB R3R 1B8. Anniversary of the Arrival of the David groups. Since that time a new project has and Agatha Fast Family in Canada been started which specializes in the use Con Hildebrandt. Hildebrandt 1726-2006: 1930-2005 (Winnipeg, MB: Private of DNA analysis to help genealogical A Genealogical History of the Descen- Publication, 2005) 93 pp. and 44 pp. research among Mennonites of Low- dants of Heinrich and Maria (Guenther) Hildebrandt 1866-2006 (No Publication place given, 2006) 365 pp. T he first part of this compilation consists of the “Day of Pilgrimage” which includes the genealogical data for German background. The good news is that participation is now free. So far nearly 500 people of Low-German T his book focuses on the family the family of David Fast (1899-1979) and Mennonite background from Canada, the history of Heinrich Hildebrandt his wife Agatha Schroeder (1903-1996), United States, Paraguay, Mexico and (1866-1945) and his wife Maria Guenther as well as chronological survey of their Germany have participated. For more (1870-1949). The Hildebrandt family life starting in the Memrick Colony of information on this project and what kind have Old Colony Mennonite roots and Russia to settlement and subsequent of information it can provide visit the migrated from Manitoba to Saskatchewan stages of their life in Manitoba. The Low-German Mennonite DNA Project where they lived about half way between second part of this compilation, entitled website at www.mennonitedna.com. You Hepburn and Hague. Contact: W. “Appendix” includes interviews, copies of can also find the Y-DNA results for the Hildebrandt, 2143 Mayflower Blvd., documents, maps, charts and other items first 91 men on this website. Y-DNA is Oakville, ON L6H 4E6 or whildebrandt of interest. The third part which is inclu- the DNA that is passed on from father to @sympatico.ca ded only in the limited family edition son and is particularly useful for consists of the “Elkhorn Tapes” – a series genealogical research since Mennonite The Klippenstein Sisters (No publication of 4 sessions where the children share family names have also been passed down place given, 2003) 200 pp. memories. Contact: P. Fast, 529-445 from father to son for at least the last 400 T his compilation comes in a 3-ringed Stafford St., Winnipeg, MB R3M 3V9 years. Also note that mtDNA is also binder prepared for a family reunion tested for both men and women. This is which was held August 9 and 10, 2003. Queries the DNA that is passed from mother to The purpose of the reunion was to Schroeder - Looking for the family of child and follows the maternal ancestry of maintain family ties with the families of Cornelius Schroeder, born July 22, 1899 the person who is tested. Those who are three Klippenstein sisters who came to married Helena Bergen 5th July 1925. interested in participating in this project Canada – Sara (Klippenstein) Isaak Children from this union were: Kenneth, are encouraged to contact me at gpenner (1905-1951) in 1930, Katharina (Klip- Terence and Winnifred Constance. These @uoguelph.ca or 519-824-4120 ext. penstein) Letkemann (1907-1982) in 1948 three children are all first cousins of my 52602. and Anna (Klippenstein) Loewen (1911-) husband Dennis Schroeder. I am doing Send inquiries to Alf Redekopp, 600 who also came during the 1920s genealogy on the family and would Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB R3P 0M4 or migration from Russia. Contact: Gwen appreciate contact. Contact: Esther e-mail: aredekopp@ mennonitechurch.ca Rempel, 2910-51st B Ave., Lloydminister, Schroeder. Unit 7A, 46354 Brooks Ave. AB T9V 1M2. Chilliwack B.C. V29 7S9. Page 4 Encyclopedia on Paraguayan personnel, as well as for persons interested in informing Mennonites in Paraguay themselves on Mennonites in Paraguay. The publication of an encyclopedia on T he society for the history and culture of the Mennonites in Paraguay [Ver- ein fuer Geschichte und Kultur der Mennonites in Paraguay requires good organization, many willing writers and good financial support. The Historical Mennoniten in Paraguay] agreed a Society would value the active partici- number of years ago to publish a pation and support of the churches, the Diary showing water-damaged pages and reference work on Mennonites in Para- Gothic hand-writing from edge to edge. Ed colonies and individual persons. It will be and Elisabeth Enns worked with guay. The people appointed to this task a work by the Mennonites, for the photocopies from this ledger. were: Gundolf Niebuhr, Filadelfia, Hans Mennonites and beyond that, for all of Theodor Regier, Friesland, Uwe Friesen, Paraguay. epidemic, he became greatly interested in Menno, Jakob Warkentin, Neuland and eschatological topics and was deeply Gerhard Ratzlaff, Asuncion. Beate Penner Based on excerpts from an article entitled: taken in by visiting speakers such as the from Friesland has also become a part of “Mennonitishces Lexikon – Paraguay” by Mennonite Brethren minister Jakob this group. The goal is to publish this Gerhard Ratzlaff published in Neuland Reimer and Enns and others of the Informiert und Diskutiert, July 2006, pp.16- work, first in German, then, when it is 17, translated by Linda Huebert Hecht. Zeltmission (Tent mission). Their strong possible, in Spanish and finally also in emphasis on the end-times and on “clear English. The content need not be the same *********** conversions” brought on a revival of in each of the languages. The working Janzen diary considerable proportions in theirs and committee for this Mennonite Encyclo- surrounding villages, and with it the (cont’d from p. 6) pedia met on 10 July 2006 in order to categorizing even of church members into period, the terror brought on by the war, consider the task and make plans for the “saved” and “unsaved”. Janzen appre- the roving bands and the shortages. To future. It hopes to have the German ciated this kind of evangelistic thrust, but that was added the famine and the typhus edition complete by 2008 at the latest. was very distressed and disgusted when epidemic. Finally relief supplies began to The goal is to inform the reader on some from his church were re-baptized by trickle in from the Dutch Mennonites and topics on Mennonites in Paraguay, their immersion in local ponds by Mennonite from American Mennonites including history, institutions, organizations and Brethren ministers. seed grain and some tractors. Orie Miller leading persons. The committee has put Janzen remained single all his life, but and Hiebert and others from America together a list of 700 subjects that should in the diary he admits that he very much came on the scene, as well as the effective be covered, which will be expanded and wanted to get married. He describes how coordinating efforts of B.B. Janz in the edited as needed. Some topics will take a one or more times he identifies a certain distribution. whole page, for example on the colonies, young woman as the one and makes some The establishment of the Soviet system and some only a few sentences. In general approaches, but is turned down each time of village and regional control continued it will inform readers quickly and easily and goes into depression and questioning to erode the independence of the farmers about what Mennonites have done in the as to why his prayers in this regard are through taxation and exorbitantly high past and what they are still doing today. never answered. levies on literally everything, together Wherever possible, each topic will also Since it is a diary and he no doubt wrote with rampant corruption, impoverished include a bibliography for further reading. it primarily for himself, the reader 90 the farmers prior to the establishment of Such an encyclopedia would be particu- years later often wishes for more context the collective system. larly useful in the school libraries, for when he alludes to certain problems, or Emigration to Canada and Mexico students and researchers, as a basic and militia groupings during the fighting, or eventually became possible and the valuable source of information. the various foreign elements involved Janzen family emigrated to Mexico in In the German edition, we naturally (i.e., Bulgarians. Germans. British fleet, mid-1923. Pioneering as farmers was very think of including articles on our etc.). To the reader today he also seems difficult and sustained only by MCC relief Mennonite churches and colonies in Para- tedious by recording the temperature three supplies from the USA. The diary ends in guay, in order to inform ourselves about times a day, plus the wind direction, or the midst of that struggle and other our history and identity. The Spanish the number of desjatins plowed each day, records indicate their travel to Canada in edition will primarily serve the Spanish the amount of grain threshed daily over the spring of 1926 and their settling at population with accurate information. It three weeks and the price of every item he Springridge. would be good if there were the financial buys or sells. That to him was diary! Janzen was a devout Christian and means to provide each school in Paraguay On the other hand, in translating him, in faithful and active member of the with a copy. The English edition would seeking to understand him in his time and kirchliche congregation in Rudnerweide. have international significance. Menno- circumstances, one learns to appreciate He was keenly interested in newer trends nite researchers, reporters, journalists and his courage and Christian stance and such as the establishment of Sunday other foreigners would value such a work service to his family and the community - School, youth programs, choirs and Bible and the information would benefit the - - and he becomes a friend. conferences. As times became more Mennonites in Paraguay as well. All Para- Edward and Elisabeth Enns have difficult and serious due to changes guayan embassies and consulates world- translated the Jakob Janzen diary for the brought on by the revolution and the new wide could and should be given such a years 1916-1925 as volunteers of the system, the famine and the typhus book, as a source of information of their Mennonite Heritage Centre. Page 5 Another view of ‘MB/GC’ With the emergence of the Mennonite stayed away. Too bad for them. This was Brethren in 1860, the leaders of the how we actually organized as a church.”5 Beginnings… existing church were forced to reconsider Throughout their history the Mennonite by Ed Lenzmann their understanding of the church. Elder Brethren have agonized over those among August Lenzmann of Gnadenfeld con- their friends and loved ones in the other I n “MB/GC Beginnings in Western Canada: Convenience Unites What the ‘Spirit’ Divides” (Mennonite Historian, ceded that, given the existing situation, some unbelievers might find their way into the church. Given his Lutheran/ church who have not experienced what is now sometimes called “a Mennonite Brethren conversion”. My own father had Vol. XXXII No. 3, Sept. 2006) Donovan Moravian heritage with its universal a favorite aunt who was not open to Giesbrecht notes that in many cases infant baptism and confirmation, he could “getting saved” in the Mennonite Brethren Mennonite families immigrating to Can- live with the situation provided that sense. But late in life she shared that at ada from the Soviet Union in the 1920s church members were not living “… in the time of her baptism she had made “a settled in small and isolated clusters, open and apparent sin.” Based on the covenant with God” (einen Bund mit Gott). especially on the prairies. At the start Parable of the Tares (Matthew 13) he and Was this another way of becoming a these families worshiped together. But Elder Heinrich Dirks, his successor, Christian? He desperately hoped so. when it came to organizing formally they argued that the church would always be Others, however, had little to say about continued the practice of having two an undisciplined body made up of be- the need to become right with God. churches, namely the Mennonite Brethren lievers and unbelievers. In the view of People from the other church have and the kirchlich (increasingly referred to Elder David H. Epp a particle of faith – responded with concerns of their own as the General Conference or GC). which presumably could be built upon - about the Mennonite Brethren. Why are Giesbrecht asks why the practice of should constitute a sufficient reason for they so ready and eager to baptize their having two churches continued in Canada, baptism and church membership.2 Mean- young teens and even pre-teens? Is this even when the numbers were small. Upon while, Bernhard Harder who had himself not an adult decision? How different is the discussing this question with him and he experienced a conversion did not pressure coming from peers and from suggested that I share my views in a sub- encourage re-baptism and joining the adults (including pastors) in Mennonite sequent issue of the Mennonite Historian. Mennonite Brethren. Rather, he promoted Brethren churches to be baptized, from It was the Mennonite Brethren who reform of the old church and engaged in simply baptizing everyone at a set age in insisted on two churches; in so doing they aggressive evangelism within his church. the other church? How different is a once maintained in essence – whether con- His efforts, however, brought a significant saved but later wayward teen age member sciously or not - the Anabaptist under- increase to the ranks of the Mennonite of the Mennonite Brethren church from an standing of a true believers’ church. Brethren.3 Taken together, these views adult church member in the other church Almost all of these Mennonite Brethren, might be seen as the response to the Men- who has never been saved and cares little or at least their parents, had earlier been nonite Brethren view that the old church about the Christian life? How often has kirchlich, to use their term. But then they reconsider the nature of the church. the pressure to be saved and baptized led had crossed over and been re-baptized by Aside from military exemption during to young people being saved over and immersion because, in their view, war there were no ‘Mennonite privileges’ over again? (When asked about this, A.H. Bekehrung, a personal experience of the associated with church membership in Unruh, Mennonite Brethren leader of an new birth at a specific time and place, had Canada. But all those who had been earlier time, deflected the question by not been seen as requisite for baptism and catechized and baptized in Russia re- suggesting it was better to be saved many church membership in the existing mained in the church and all of the young times than not at all.) church. Rather, all who had been born and people continued to be baptized.4 Clearly, While I am not suggesting that the raised in Mennonite homes were, at a this was not acceptable to the Mennonite concerns of each side cancel out the more or less set age, instructed over a Brethren. They worshiped initially with concerns of the other, I am suggesting that period of weeks or months in the Menno- the other side much as Mennonites today each side can learn from the other. nite catechism and then baptized and might ‘worship’ with churches that reject received into the church, usually on Pen- Endnotes nonresistance or practice infant baptism – 1 Quoted in John B. Toews, With Courage to tecost Sunday. In essence, this constituted as in the recent Franklin Graham Festival Spare. (Winnipeg: The Board of Christian a universal rite of passage into adulthood. in Winnipeg - without being prepared to Literature of the General Conference of the The result was a mixed church lacking in form one church with them. Martin Mennonite Brethren Churches of North discipline. Mennonite Brethren leader America, 1978) p. 83. Hamm, writing about the 1920s settlers in 2 For a fuller explanation and assessment of B.B. Janz noted that he had joined the the LaGlace, Alberta area, shows how a their views on the subject see Abraham Mennonite Brethren because in the set conversion was central to the Menno- Friesen, In Defense of Privilege (Winnipeg: existing church “…one already knew that nite Brethren. The settlers at first met in Kindred Productions, 2006) Chapter 7. 3 the child in the crib would join the church various homes. After awhile the Menno- Helmut T. Huebert, Events and People (Win- between the ages of seventeen to twenty- nipeg: Springfield Publishers, 1999) p. 51-52. nite Brethren decided to organize. “We 4 Indeed, one young man told me not long ago one. That is Volkskirche.”1 Apparently the agreed”, he writes, “that each one would that in the General Conference congregation of situation had developed because in Russia relate the story of his conversion. That his youth all of the young people were one could not partake of the Mennonite way we would get to know each other baptized in grade 12, while, as he came to ‘privileges’ - one could not marry, one realize, in the neighbouring M.B. congregation better. It took several Sundays until we people were baptized “whenever”. could not own land, one could not gain were finished. How this bound us 5 Martin Hamm, Aus der alten in die neue exemption from the military - unless one together! There were also some who now Heimat (Winnipeg: Christian Press) p. 81. were a member of the church. Page 6 Mennonite Genealogy Inc. (MGI) Jakob Janzen Diary (1916-1925) T he MGI collection is by far the largest collection acquired by the Mennonite by Edward Enns Heritage Centre in recent years. MGI was the only organization in Canada (and possibly anywhere in the world) that J akob Janzen (1889-1963), originally of Rudnerweide in the Molotschna Colony, emigrating to Mexico in 1924 worked exclusively at helping individuals and then to Springridge, Alberta in 1926, research Mennonite genealogy and family was very keen on keeping a diary of history. The collection is likely the largest events around him, as well as of daily MHC Projects Mennonite genealogical collection any- personal experiences and thinking. In this where in the world. The collection diary from 1916 to 1925 he misses only National Catalogue Cooperative Program two days in the first four years. T he Heritage Centre has hired Joanne includes a 200,000 card index file, over 300 Mennonite-related periodicals, 37 He possibly wrote six diaries of varying Moyer for a 9-week project which lengths between 1911 and 1946, this one consists of re-describing and updating the maps, ca. 1500 photographs, ca. 1500 family registers and 21 filing cabinet being the most extensive, covering his descriptions of 24 small collections which time in an alternative service forestry are significant for studying Canadian drawers of family, community, and church-related historical materials. The camp followed by his taking over the Mennonites. The funding for the project family farm, including the experiences came through a cooperative grant collection contains genealogical inform- ation for Canadian Mennonites of Dutch, during the revolution and the famine and proposal that the Association for Mani- epidemic and finally their emigration to toba Archives submitted to the National North German, Prussian and Russian ancestry. They are important to people of Mexico in 1924. Archival Development Program. The diary is contained in a hard-cover The collection descriptions are being this ancestry who currently live in North or South America as well as Europe. ledger-sized book of just under 500 pages. entered into a national catalogue of He wrotes in Gothic German in small archival holdings which is accessible at Some parts of the collection will be integrated with existing collections at the script crowded from edge to edge and top www.archivescanada.ca, which includes to bottom, always compressing the last descriptions of archival holdings from Heritage Centre (i.e. books, periodicals and maps) and duplicates shared with few lines into minute and frequently across Canada. The full inventory listing illegible words. Water damage has wiped will also be on our Centre’s website at: other Mennonite archival centres. Plans are also being made to scan the card index out the lower corners of many pages. He www.mennonitechurch.ca/tiny/172. used a considerable number of Russian Among the collections which are file for ease of access by computer and also to share with other Centres. words and expressions and practically already completed are the papers of Anna ignored punctuation except for commas. Baerg (1897-1972), Esther (Klaassen) The Centre is very grateful to MGI Board of Directors who saw the In 1916 and most of 1917 he served in a Bergen (1921-2005), Jacob Gerbrandt forestry camp near Kasan, northeast of (1888-1963), Jacob J. Hildebrandt (1880- importance of donating the collection to our Centre where it will continue to be Moscow. He served primarily as a cook 1976), C.C. Neufeld (1906-1977), I.G. which included much time spent in Neufeld (1910-1991) and many more. used as it was intended. A.R. finding and buying supplies in surrounding towns. He was also the camp handyman who repaired shoes, cut hair, soldered, sharpened saws, did carpentry work, repaired watches and did accounts. Prior to this he had done a term of alternative service at the Bethania Mental Institute (recorded in a pre-1916 diary). Janzen was a committed pacifist, a stance that was sorely tested during the time of the revolution and the marauding bandits. When the Selbstschutz (self- defense unit) was organized in the Mennonite villages, Janzen and his brothers and the majority of Rudnerweide men refused to join and ironically suffered harassment from their fellow Mennonites who did join, as well as from some clergy, but they stood their ground. However, during the fighting in their area between the opposing forces, they did Joanne Moyer, archival assistant, displaying one of the most unusual and surprising transport prisoners and wounded soldiers discoveries in one of the MHC small collections – 4.9 million Deutsch Mark!!! Tucked away away from and towards the battle lines. in the collection of C.C. Neufeld was an envelope with 49 banknotes each with a value of Janzen describes their community and 100,000 DM. These Weimar Republic German Reichbanknotes dated 1 February 1923 were issued during a period of hyperinflation. Photo credit: Conrad Stoesz farming difficulties during the civil war (cont’d on p. 5) Page 7 Farewell to a Faithful Documenting Institutional Servant Change W hat do you say when a faithful companion of almost 130 years dies? Do you grieve or do you celebrate C hurch institutions and agencies constantly change—but often we fail to properly document these changes—no its long life? Do you protest its death or matter how important they may be. do you look forward to how it can However sometimes people think of continue to serve. documenting important changes and that With such mixed emotions a group of makes historians and archivists very some 50 people gathered in the Centre for happy. Mennonite Brethren Studies on January A good example is the change from 30 to say goodbye, and yet celebrate, the Concord College and Canadian closing of the Mennonitische Rundschau. Mennonite Bible College to the present- The reasons for its closure were due to day Canadian Mennonite University. In declining subscriptions—as was noted in between was the transition college called our December 2006 issue, page 7. Mennonite College Federation which also There were some wonderful testi- included Menno Simons College. The monials at the event noting the Rund- records of Mennonite College Federation schau’s heart-felt ministry to immigrant and Concord College it appears, at this Mennonites from Russia, and then more writing, will receive a federal government recently German-speaking Mennonite grant to hire a student to properly archive Brethren mostly in Canada. Together with and write a detailed finding aid to their cake and coffee we said goodbye and yet contents. were amazed at the more than 80,000 Important transitions such as this can pages of ministry the Mennonitische very easily be lost in the “mists of time.” North End Chapels at Burrows and Andrew Rundschau represents. Then many years later someone is looking (See Abe Dueck’s article this issue) Photo credit: CMBS NP20-1-4 and NP18-1-7. However, there still is life beyond the for important information, or perhaps grave. Given its incredible documentation writing the story of the agency or Come Celebrate: The First of the thousands of people the paper institution, and the search begins for the witnessed to, the Centre is committing transition records. Mennonite Brethren “City itself to moving forward the indexing Al Doerksen was the chair of the Church” in Canada project it began earlier. Ed Lenzmann, a Mennonite College Federation and it was volunteer from Winnipeg, together with a number of other individuals, will work at indexing its contents so that scholars, his clear vision and intent that these records be carefully kept and then transferred to the Centre so that the E veryone is welcome June 1 - 3, 2007 as the Mennonite Brethren Churches of Manitoba celebrate the centennial of genealogists and church historians will important story they tell be made the first Mennonite Brethren city church, have better access to its contents. The available to future researchers. We thank and as far as we know the first Mennonite completed indices will be made available Al for his diligence and foresight. city church, in Canada. Events include: freely on the Centre website. KR KR A Friday evening gathering with stories and singing in the old North End Menno- nite Brethren Church (now Heritage Baptist), 621 College Ave., Winnipeg beginning at 7:30 PM, June 1, 2007. A bus tour of historic Mennonite Brethren sites in Winnipeg beginning at 1:00 PM Saturday, June 2, 2007. Departure from the Elmwood Mennonite Brethren Church parking lot. (2 ½ hours) Banquet, celebration and inspiration of Mennonite Brethren Church planting in Manitoba at the North Kildonan Mennonite Brethren Church, 6:30 PM Saturday, June 2, 2007. A Sunday afternoon public service of music and stories at the Elmwood MB Church, 3:00 PM, June 3, 2007. Contact Dan Block at the Manitoba Mennonite Brethren Conference offices at Event celebrating the ministry of the Mennonitische Rundschau held at the Centre on (204) 654-5777 or Ken Reddig (204) 669- January 30, 2007. Photo credit: Lorie Mayer. 6575 for further details. Page 8 Winnipeg Mennonite Brethren Brethren in Winnipeg was at 584 Talbot Tilitzky reported on a visit by Brother and (cont’d from p. 1) Ave. (then Central Ave.), beginning at Sister Franz Wiens as well as J. Ewert. cars soon made their way across the least as early as Easter, 1906. The first Frank and Agnes Wiens presumably were bridge, connecting via Kelvin St. (later known Mennonite family to move to the couple who later served as mission- Henderson Hwy.) and Midwinter Ave. Winnipeg was the Bernhard Tilitzky aries in China from 1911 to 1940. A with the Louise Bridge. By 1914 the family, coming sometime in 1905 and liv- regular morning service was held and the population of East Kildonan, not yet a ing at 713 McCallum Ave. They moved to evening service was held in “a small part of Winnipeg, was over 3,000 and the Winnipeg from Winkler where they had chapel”, possibly a mission chapel of the railcars traveled all the way to Foxgrove. lived for about a year after arriving from German Baptist Church. On Tuesday In 1919 the Greater Winnipeg Aqueduct Rosenthal, Russia (Chortitza colony) in evening Wiens spoke in the German to Shoal Lake was completed. That was 1904. About the same time several others Baptist Church. also the year of the Winnipeg General arrived, including the Peter Ewert family, A report on 20 January 1909, by Jakob Strike. also originally from Rosenthal and living Ewert gives information about his visit to These were some of the circumstances at 580-584 Talbot (now the site of the Winnipeg in December, during a time that formed the context for the arrival of Serbian Orthodox Church), the Frank when H. S. Voth and Peter Neufeld were the first Mennonite Brethren into Winni- Ewerts (563 Chalmers), and the David ministering to the group. A small chapel peg. They were also the first Mennonites Penners (720 Talbot). The Peter Ewerts had been rented which continued to be in Winnipeg and the first Mennonites in operated a small sausage factory adjacent used. On 13 December a service was held Canada to establish themselves in a major to their home. in the home of the Tilitzkys and Peter urban environment. Winnipeg eventually The Peter Ewert home was quite large Penner from Herbert also preached. became the city with the largest Menno- and had a room that could accommodate In October, 1909 Anna Tilitzky in- nite population of any major urban centre at least 40 people and was used as an formed readers about a Thanksgiving in the world. The three founding assembly room for some time, at least service in the home of Peter Ewert. Mennonite Brethren churches in Winni- until 1909. The first report of a group Johann Warkentin and a Brother peg were the North End (Elmwood), meeting for a service was from “Louise Karlenzig preached at the service. One which was the “mother” church, South Bridge” and was published in the sermon was in Russian. End (Portage Avenue), and North Zionsbote on 2 May 1906. Bernhard It is clear, therefore, that the Louise Kildonan churches. In the early years a Tilitzky reported that a group was Bridge/Elmwood area was an important number of nearby rural churches (e.g., gathering every Sunday at 2:00 p.m. in the centre for the early Mennonite Brethren in Domain) also functioned as affiliates of home of Peter Ewerts for Sunday School Winnipeg. After 1909, however, the the North End church. with some 40 children in attendance. The centre of activity shifted to another area of Mennonites came to rural Manitoba report also stated that H.S. Voth and P. H. the city, the North End, which since 1908 long before the turn of the century. The Neufeld from Winkler had ministered to was linked with the Elmwood area by the first group of Mennonites arrived in them during Easter week. Redwood Bridge. Manitoba beginning in 1873 and soon The next information comes from the 2. The North End established what became known as the diary of H.S. Voth, who reported that on The shift of the centre of Mennonite East Reserve (east of the Red River, 22 December 1906, he boarded a street Brethren activity to the North End is not including the Steinbach area) and the car and made his way to the Ewerts. well documented, but seems to have West Reserve (west of the Red River in Finding no one home, he went to the begun around 1910. The first official areas around Winkler and Altona). They Tilitzky home for lunch and stayed there minutes of the North End Mennonite came from Russia via the United States. the following night. The next day, which Brethren Church are dated 20 May 1909 The last leg of their journey was onboard was Sunday, he went to the Peter Ewerts and took place in the home of John a steamer on the Red River, which first for a service, then stayed for lunch and for Trottno. Thereafter regular sets of minutes docked in Winnipeg for supplies before the Sunday School in the afternoon. were kept in the Gothic script. Although establishing themselves in rural Manitoba. Another service was held in the evening the homes where congregational meetings The first Mennonite Brethren church in with good attendance. took place and where services were held Manitoba was established in 1888 in More than a year later, on 29 April are often identified the exact locations of Burwalde near Winkler. It resulted from 1908, a report written by Anna Tilitzky, many are hard to determine. evangelistic efforts of Heinrich Voth, who also posted from Louise Bridge, appeared. One of the interesting developments in came to Manitoba as a result of a decision It again referred to Easter services with the years from 1910 is that the names that by the U.S. Conference in 1883. The visiting ministers Jakob Ewert and Peter appear in the minutes and other records Winkler Mennonite Brethren Church, Neufeld from Winkler. A service was held are often not the usual Mennonite names. therefore, became the mother church of at the Tilitzky residence on Good Friday. Some of the names that appear in the the Mennonite Brethren in Manitoba as Services were also held on Easter Sunday various minutes of 1909 and 1910 are well as Canada. It was also the church that and from Tuesday to Thursday in the Trottno, Hunza, Reich, Schott, Horch, nurtured the early development of the first evenings and a small prayer meeting on Huget, Mandau, Reich, Murtin, Pauli, truly urban Mennonite church in Canada. Friday. The following Sunday Jakob Schlimming, Munsil (or Mumsel). The Ewert ministered to the group. The report other names are mostly those involved in 1. Elmwood/Louise Bridge (1906-1009) concluded by stating that they were a the earlier records– Jakob Ewert, Peter (Peter Ewerts) small group which met every Sunday Neufeld, Peter Ewert, B. Tilitzky, Frank The first meeting place for Mennonite morning and evening. Ewert, Johan Warkentin (as moderator). Later that year (12 August 1908) Anna Evidently a significant shift had taken Page 9 place and new individuals were taking 23, 1917, the new hall was dedicated, was one of several established in major important leadership roles. although only the first floor (basement) cities in Canada. It grew from very small In terms of places of worship, the was completed and the remainder was beginnings and gradually expanded and record is somewhat confusing. According never built. This building is still in moved to new addresses on Boyd and to the minutes of 21 December 1909, two existence and is used as a meat shop. Mountain Avenues. (413 Boyd -1928; 398 individuals, W.A. Huget and J. Trottno, In the meantime another significant step Mountain-1929; 437 Mountain-1931). were asked to find a suitable place for was taken when Anna Thiessen was The ministry of this home met an impor- worship in the area of Selkirk and Bur- invited by Bestvater to help with the tant need and shaped the lives of many rows. The minutes of 10 February 1910 missionary work in the city, since the women until it finally closed in 1959. indicate that the group approved the ministry had grown and the needs were 2. South End purchase of a house for $1,500, offered by great. In December 1915, she arrived in A number of Mennonite Brethren and John Trottno. The exact location is not Winnipeg and soon she was busy with other Mennonites began settling south of known, but it was in the vicinity of Sunday School work, house and hospital the CPR tracks, particularly some of those Burrows and Selkirk and probably was at visitation, sewing classes, tract distribu- who came in the 1920s. These found it the corner of Burrows and Andrews. A tion, etc. Music also became a strong more difficult to make their way to the building committee was also formed, but component of worship and ministry, North End since they were often without it is not clear whether anything concrete particularly as the Horch family joined the automobiles and public transportation was followed. In January the group offered to North End group. limited. This prompted them to schedule pay Peter Ewert for the previous use of In 1921 the Bestvaters left to go to separate services in various homes from his house. At some point Johann Herbert and teach in the Bible school time to time. But as the group grew in Warkentin of Winkler purchased the there and the Erdman Nikkels replaced number the need for a regular place of empty lot at the corner of Burrows and them for a short while. Four years later, in worship grew. The first regular meeting Andrews and also purchased a small 1925, the C.N. Hieberts were invited to place of the South End group, beginning chapel which was moved to the site from assume the task as city missionaries in 1928, was a rented United Church (pre- St. Vital in 1911 (Neufeld, p. 37), al- (parents of Esther Horch). viously the Pt. Douglas Presbyterian) at though Anna Thiessen states that it began The mid-1920s brought a major chal- 95 MacDonald, not far from the CPR to be used in 1913 (p.15). lenge to the Winnipeg church as the station. This building was erected in 1906. In 1913 an important decision was Mennonite refugees from Russia began (See Mennonitsche Rundschau, 12 Nov made to strengthen the work in Winnipeg. arriving in Canada. Many of them stopped 1930 and report of Peter Kornelsen in William Bestvater from Mountain Lake, in Winnipeg for a time or made Winnipeg Anna Thiessen scrapbook). Minnesota, was appointed as city mission- their permanent home. This resulted in a Although the reasons are not stated, the ary by the Northern District Conference very rapid growth of the church. By 1929 group moved to another site late in 1930. (Canadian Conference). The Bestvaters the group was in dire need of a larger The church met at 41 Maple St., only arrived in October when there were 22 place of worship and a new church was about a block from the previous address, members in the group. According to Anna built at 621 College Ave. This location until 1932 or early 1933. The church Thiessen there was only one “Mennonite” was the home of the mother Mennonite which they rented was called the All in the group. What had happened to the Brethren Church of Winnipeg for the next People’s Mission (1904). Later it became others? Had they moved or had they gone 25 years. In 1954 the church finally a Baptist Mission Church. When the lease elsewhere? Why? returned to the area where it was birthed– terminated in 1933, the church apparently Whatever the circumstances, the group the Elmwood area, in the heart of the met at a number of locations, including a grew rapidly after the arrival of Bestvater quadrant of the city in which most of the second floor location on Princess St., a so that within a year they needed more Mennonites had settled in the meantime. Kindergarten room at 294 Ellen (now space. It also becomes clear that there was It was also only a few blocks from the Chief Cornerstone House), and possibly increasing interaction with the First headquarters of Mennonite Brethren Logan and Ellen (268 Ellen). German Baptist Church, which became institutional and conference life for both After a lengthy search, the church was McDermot Ave. Baptist Church (located Manitoba and Canada. The Mennonite finally able to purchase its own property at McDermot and Tecumseh, earlier Brethren Bible College was founded in at 344 Ross Ave., in June, 1933, where it Monkman). The building, which is still in 1944 and was located at 77 Kelvin St. remained until 1940. Several years later, use today, was dedicated in 1908. This Next door was the Mennonite Brethren in 1936, the South End Mennonite church, however, also had a number of Collegiate Institute, founded in 1947. Brethren Church became an independent other mission stations, including a North Other agencies such as Christian Press End Chapel and an Elmwood Chapel and Gospel Light also established their (anniversary book). The North End homes in the area. Chapel was located at Manitoba and But the mid-1920s also brought another McKenzie. The Baptist church agreed to significant development. In 1925 the Mis- rent the chapel to the Mennonite Brethren sion to Young Girls (Mary Martha Home) group and they used it from 1914 until began at 608 Mountain Ave. This was September 1917. essentially the work of Anna Thiessen, the In 1916 the Conference decided to build matron of the home. The home became a its own mission hall in Winnipeg. Work residence and meeting place for many was soon begun at the previous site on young girls who came to the city to find Maple Street mission later South End MB Burrows and Andrews and on September work, mostly as domestics. This home now Pilgrim Baptist Church. Page 10 church and was no longer an affiliate of Tombstone of Mennonite the North End Church. In 1940 the church had again outgrown its facility and moved Brethren founder located. to William and Juno, the site of a former by Katherine Martens Methodist and United Church. After two decades at this site, a more drastic step was taken with a move to 1420 Portage Ave. in 1961. The church soon became O n 10 October 2006, at 9:09 a.m. Helen and Ed Wiens, and Gert and Katherine Martens, all passengers on the named the Portage Avenue Mennonite Mennonite Heritage Cruise left Dnepro- Brethren Church. Those who decided to petrovsk, Ukraine to look for Wiesenfeld. remain at William and Juno became the It was the village which Gert’s great great Central Mennonite Brethren Church. grandparents, Jakob and Wilhelmine 3. North Kildonan Reimer founded. The North Kildonan Mennonite Breth- Together with Viktor our translator and ren Church had its beginnings at about the driver we drove north but eventually same time and for similar reasons as the turned east in the direction of Donetsk and South End group. Some new immigrants then south on the road to Limanskoe. We had begun settling on small acreages in saw the valley Wiesenfelder had written the area much of which was still heavily about, that lay west of the former village. wooded. In 1928 they began to meet in We then headed for the village of private homes because the distance to the Oktyabrskoe. North End congregation was too great. When we saw three men working in They first met in the home of J. J. Klassen Gert Martens of Winnipeg beside his great- their front yard, our driver stopped the great-grandparents’ tombstone. van and asked them if they knew of a on Edison Ave., under the leadership of Gerhard Klassen. *********** former Mennonite village nearby. One The group quickly increased in size and man said he knew that his neighbour a in 1929 they erected their first church MB: McDermot Avenue Baptist Church, few doors over had a Mennonite 1989. tombstone from earlier times and he could building on Edison Ave. Rapid growth Thiessen, Anna. “Die Enstehung und Ent- continued for the next several decades so wikelung der Mennoniten Brueder take us there. He walked us over to the that a series of additions followed until a Gemeinde in Winnipeg, 1907-1966.” fence beside the gate and pulled a plank large new church was erected at 217 Unpublished manuscript, CMBS, nd. away from a pillar that stood beside the Thiessen, Anna. The City Mission in Winnipeg gate. We crowded around it and began to Kingsford in 1957. Warkentin, Lawrence. “Beginnings of the For a number of years the North Kildo- Mennonite Brethren Church in Winnipeg, read the inscription on the side of the nan church together with the South End Manitoba.” Mennonite Historian, XXX, 4 stone facing us as follows: church functioned as affiliates of the (December, 2004):1;6. Durch Kreuz zur Krone Zionsbote [Kreuz was in the shape of a cross] North End church with a common gover- Hier ruhen unsere Eltern nance structure. Other small nearby rural Abe Dueck is the former director of the Jakob und Wilhelmine groups, such as the one at Springstein, Reimer Centre for MB Studies in Winnipeg. geborne Strauß also related to the North End Church. The geb. 29. Januar 1818 - 22. April 1818 North Kildonan Church became inde- gest. am 13 Nov. 1891-gest. am 11. Nov. 1889 pendent in 1938, two years after the South Funfzig Jahre gemeinsam tragen End Church had taken that step. Durch manch Leiden Christi Tod 4. Rundschau Publishing House Macht das nun, wir Kinder sagen: "Tod sind sie und leben doch!" (Christian Press) While I was reading the inscription I When the Mennonitische Rundschau clapped my hands with joy and a wave of first was transferred to Winnipeg from emotion swept over me. The persons Scottdale, PA, it was located at 672 whose tombstone we had been led to so Arlington, where it remained until it miraculously were Gert’s paternal great- moved to 157 Kelvin St. in January, 1951. great-grandparents. Jakob and Wilhelmine Sources Reimer who founded the village of Artibise, Alan. Winnipeg: A Social History of Wiesenfeld in 1880. Urban Growth, 1873-1914. Montreal, PQ: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1975. Viktor asked the farmer if he could Dueck, Abe. “Rewriting History:Alberta and show us the place where he had found the Manitoba Mennonite Brethren.” Mennonite A Film by Otto Klassen tombstone. He drove with us and pointed Historian, XXVII,4 (December, 2001):5. Premiere Showing to a place in an open field of winter Fiftieth Anniversary of the Mennonite Settlement in North Kildonan. n.p., 1978. Sunday, 15 April 2007 7:00 p.m. wheat. With our map we could then tell Neufeld, William. From Faith to Faith: The where the village street had been. It was History of the Manitoba Mennonite Springfield Heights Mennonite Church now a trail about a kilometre or more Brethren Church. Winnipeg, MB: Kindred 570 Sharron Bay running south to north. Our Ukrainian Press,1989. Winnipeg, Manitoba guide pointed to depressions in the ground Rogalski, Maria. 100 Years and Growing: Celebrating a Century of Grace. Winnipeg, (cont’d on p. 11) Page 11 Book Notes page supplement, published by Bertha Diakonisches Werk Teltow-Fläming e.V., Toews in 2004. 2005) is a modest 105-page two-in-one by Adolf Ens My Life Story in Brief by Jakob A. booklet gathering memories of the T he following East European items Loewen, written at Kaluga, Russia, in experiences of German settlers in the will be of interest to many readers. 1996 is available in coil-bound format USSR, especially during World War II, Adalbert Goertz, “Zur Einrichtung der (8½ x 11, 61 pages) and in English and describing the slow integration into Grund- und Hypothekenakten – 1783 – translation by Gerhard I. Peters (58 German society of those who have Klein Lublin, Amt Graudenz,” is a 14- pages). Loewen (1903-2001) voluntarily returned to the land of their ancestors. remained in the USSR when his parents While dealing primarily with the Volga page reprint from Altpreuβische Ge- and family emigrated to Canada in the German settlement, there are many par- schlechterkunde. It illustrates the rich 1920s. Making his way in scientific and allels with the experiences of Mennonite source of family information that can be academic circles as a “German” geologist Aussiedler in Germany, and more recently found in West Prussian mortgage and was never easy, and especially difficult in a number of communities (like Winkler inheritance “contracts.” Readers who find during World War II. “I paid a lot of and Steinbach) in Canada. ordinary German texts difficult to navi- attention to the police,” he writes. Yet, gate (let alone old German technical legal looking back on his life, he says “I must Tombstone ones) but are interested in such sources (cont’d from p. 10) admit that it was good.” He and his wife should check Goertz’s articles (similar to where there had been basements or more of 62 years “had a good (ignoring the bad) the one above, but in English) in Menno- likely wells and/or root cellars. He found and happy life.” Loewen’s story provides nite Family History back to the year 2000. remnants of red bricks which he gave us. a perspective on life in the USSR seldom The East German Genealogical Society Through Viktor, the farmer explained portrayed by Mennonite memoirists. and the Federation of East European that he had moved the tombstone to his John Jacob Bergen, A Slice out of My Family History Societies held their annual yard in the village because the plow Life (Edmonton: by the Author, 2006) had Conference in Winnipeg in Summer 2006. would eventually have damaged the stone his first birthday at the Lechfeld barracks The 129-page Conference Syllabus con- where it stood in what is now an open in Bavaria, Germany, where his family tains a wide variety of useful information field. Gert used a Global Positioning to stopped over on their way to Canada in for family and group studies of people get the following coordinates: the field 1923 from Neuendorf, Chortitza, South from Hungary, Prussia, Poland and where the tombstone was before it was Russia. An educator and academic, Russia. Included are two papers on the moved is at N48° 30.930'; E 35° 36.691; Bergen taught in various schools in Hutterites by retired CMU professor, John the northern edge of trees lining the Manitoba before joining the Faculty of J. Friesen. former village is at N 48° 31.382'; E 35° Education at the University of Alberta in Sergej Terojochin, Deutsche Architek- 36.473'. Directions to the site of the Edmonton. This 284-page memoir is of tur an der Wolga (Berlin: Westkreuz- former village of Wiesenfeld from Oktya- interest to the larger public because of Verlag GmbH, 1993), 88 pages, is an brske are: 2 km north, then 1.5 km east Bergen’s deep commitment and service to illustrative survey of architecture in the and 0.5 km south. the Mennonite church and the larger German colonies of the Volga River It should be noted that Jakob Reimer Canadian society. Some of the extensive region in Russia. The book is translated (1817-1891) was one of the founders of appendix material has been published (into German) from Russian. While it the Mennonite Brethren Church in Russia. earlier elsewhere. deals largely with German Catholic, Inspired by the revival preaching of Readers who are acquainted with Lutheran and Reformed colonies, there Eduard Wüst he joined the revival Norman Unrau’s Those Were the Days are some references to the Am Trakt movement in the late 1840s and promoted (2002) may be interested in his new Mennonite settlement. it on his travels in the Mennonite churches Paraguay Connection (NP: by the author, Three sets of memoirs, recently pub- with Johannes Claassen and Wilhelm 2007), pb, 124 pp. Unrau joined the lished in limited editions, provide a Bartel. Gradually his group left the large Canadian army in 1948 after he had spectrum of Mennonite experience in church and founded the Mennonite Breth- contemplated joining the Manitoba Russia, the USSR and Canada. Gerhard ren. On 21 May 1861 he was baptized by Mennonites who were leaving for P. Froese (1867–1955) grew up near immersion by Heinrich Hübert. He was Paraguay to find a new home there. Now Alexandrovsk not far from the Dnieper one of the signatories of the petition to the in retirement and having never visited his River. With a strong interest in milling government for permission to settle in the friends and relatives in Sommerfeld and and farming, Froese was in the Kuban, which was granted on 4 March Bergthal colonies in Paraguay, he has agribusiness in Barwenkowo and after 1864 (See “Reimer, Jakob” in Mennonite started to piece together their story, both World War I in the Crimea. The family Encyclopedia. IV: 277-278.) those who remained there and those who was among the last to receive entry Jakob Reimer made important contri- returned. Both the text and the numerous permits into Canada in 1929, living first butions to the development of the photos used are of uneven quality, but the in Winkler and then in Winnipeg. Mennonite Brethren Church. He opposed reader gets a glimpse into the pioneer Froese’s Memoirs were transcribed and the emotional excesses of the early period hardships and more recent successes of translated by granddaughters Edith E. with determination and was excommun- this segment of “Canadian” Mennonites in (Wiens) Schmidt and Bertha Toews and icated for that reason by his opponents. In Latin America. published in 2000. (8½ x 11, coil-bound, the next year he was restored to mem- Auf der Suche nach Heimat: 323 pages.) A companion piece is bership and the differences reconciled. Lebensläufe von Spätaussiedlern and Inte- Froese’s 39-page diary covering his grationsprojekt in Niedergörsdorf und Katherine and Gert Martens live in alternative service 1889-1890, with an 8- Wittstock (Niedergörsdorf, Germany: Winnipeg, Manitoba. Page 12 Book Reviews Constantinople. Here Mennonite Central His volume includes three memoirs: By Lawrence Klippenstein Committee set up a refugee centre which Isaak and Olga Reimer's “Unter dem could serve the escapees for several years, Schutz des Höchsten: Elf Jahre in der Irmgard Epp, ed. Constantinoplers: and become a point of gathering to make Verbannung - 1945 – 1955”, “Erinner- Escape from Bolshevism (Victoria: plans for moving on to permanent new ungen aus schweren Zeiten”, by Jakob Trafford Publishing, 2006), pb., 370 pp. homes, some in Europe, but mostly in Bergen (1895-1974). and a section called North America. The oft-told story of the “‘Genommen’ - Eine Schwere Nacht”. A T he story of how the Civil War in the “62”, a group of young Mennonite short piece titled “Andenken” is next, and Soviet Union ended, with the flight of soldiers of the White Army who made it a brief “Epiloge” concludes the book. We the last several hundred thousands from together to the US, belongs to this section. have before us a needed tribute to some the Crimean peninsula to Constantinople, The final part of the book brings in more families who endured the tortures is known to many. But first hand accounts accounts of a number of people (not all and trials of this experience. of the fortunate individuals who managed former White Army soldiers) who did not The stories of the Reimers take the to save their lives that way, are less leave via the Crimea, but went first to reader to the city of Vorkuta in the Far readily available. This volume contains Batum and then on to Constantinople as North where Isaak (d. 1987) spent time in several dozen tellings about the exper- they left the Soviet Union. The harrowing the Gulag, and Irkutsk in central Siberia, ience which reflect with deep pathos the experiences of delay at Ellice Island in the where Olga (d.1983), Isaak's wife had to often desperate actions of, and personal US form a distinctive part of this endure her term of exile. Both ultimately feelings about, that traumatic escape. experience. were reunited in Tadzhikistan, Central The first two accounts (Gerhard Wiens It is interesting to note that the several Asia, and made their way to Canada in and John P. Unruh) include useful back- dozen accounts here do not include much 1966. In Saskatoon is where this reviewer ground material to create a context for the reflection on the problem for Mennonites learned to know them, and from where the story of Mennonite soldiers who fought in of pacifist background, of going into Reimer papers were procured through the the White Army under General Wrangel, active military service. It seems fairly contacts of the late Dr. George K. Epp, to and how some of them managed to clear that the self-defense initiative during be deposited in the Mennonite Heritage emigrate from the Soviet Union via Makhno times, once tacitly or even Centre in Winnipeg. The total Reimer Sevastopol and Constantinople. Experi- openly sanctioned by leading Mennonite collection at the Centre goes far beyond ences in army service are dealt with in ministers and teachers, seemed to leave the portion included here. extensive accounts by Peter Gerz, John J. the door wide open to take up arms and Reimer’s memoir constitutes the main Dyck, and Peter D. Froese. While these not question it too severely as a section of the volume. Then follows the do not provide a systematic account of compromise of the Christian faith. Bergen piece, subtitled “1917 Krons- what happened during the final year and The material is now at hand to write a garten - GUlag - Karaganda 1955” in six- months of White Army resistance to the more comprehensive history of this part teen short sub-sections, with some photos. Reds, they do give significant windows of the Mennonite story, here still much in Regina, 1964, is cited as the place and for understanding what Mennonite sol- fragments large and small, but waiting, time of writing. Bergen came to Canada a diers had to contend with in military along with other data (e.g. the story of the year before. service during that period. refugee home at Constantinople, which is Johann Rempel’s “Genommen” is the The episode of the so-called Selbst- available elsewhere), for an integrated third feature of the volume. Rempel’s schutz ( Self-defense militia) is not central account which will surely come some day. dates are 1887 - 1963. His home origin- to these reports. However, it is clearly the The editor is to be commended for man- ally was Einlage in the Chortitza most immediate background for Menno- aging an impressive collection of data. settlement. This is a 3-page item taken nite involvement in the White Army. It Trafford Publishers have done a very from Der Mennonit where it was first was the termination of the Selbstschutz creditable job in getting the book out. The published in November 1955. which led to a harsh Red Army inclusion of maps (a useful one right on Heinrich, the editor, is concerned that prosecution of all Mennonites who had the cover), photographs and a very these stories not be forgotten, and been part of the Selbstschutz, even though readable type font, is also a plus for the proposes here, as he has in several other that body intended itself to be an opposing project. instances (Der Bote, Sept. 17 and 24, force only to the Makhno forces, not the 1997), and Chortitza Colony Atlas Red Army itself. This prosecution led to Heinrich Bergen, compiler and editor. (2004), that a special memorial be erected the flight of hundreds southward from the Verbannung: Unschuldig nach Sibirien in the memorial year 2007 (90 years since into the Crimean peninsula as the Civil ins Verderben 1935-1955 (Regina, SK: the Bolshevik Revolution). Zaporozhe War came to an end. By the editor, 2006), pb., 204 pp. would be a fine site to consider. Part Three entitled “The Hollanders’ Desperate Flight”, begins with an account T he Mennonite literature dealing with exile in the former Soviet Union has gained the stature of special genre in the This review does not begin to note details in this publication. The stories need to be read meditatively and with of a reunion of “Constantinoplers”, in Yarrrow, BC in June 1952. It was here sharing of Russian and Soviet experi- thanks to God for those who endured and that an attempt to collect written stories ences. This volume will likely not be the could share about God's grace taking them about that fateful experience was started last to appear in this category. The full through these ordeals. in earnest. Then follow a dozen more story will probably never be told. It is stories, in the course of which one learns good that the stories Heinrich Bergen has Both of these books may be order from the also about the refugee situation in included here are now part of the larger Mennonite Heritage Centre. Contact: account as well. email@example.com.
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