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The Russian Mennonites
Mennonites
(German: "Russlandmennoniten" occasionally Ukrainian Mennonites)[1][2][3] are a group of Mennonites
Mennonites
of German language, tradition and ethnicity, who are descendants of German-Dutch Anabaptists
Anabaptists
who settled for about 250 years in West Prussia
West Prussia
and established colonies in the south west of the Russian Empire (present-day Ukraine) beginning in 1789. Since the late 19th century, many of them have come to countries throughout the Western Hemisphere. The rest were forcibly relocated, so that few of their descendants now live at the location of the original colonies. Russian Mennonites
Mennonites
are traditionally multilingual with Plautdietsch
Plautdietsch
( Mennonite
Mennonite
Low German) as their first language and lingua franca. The term "Russian Mennonite" refers to the country where they resided after the split from Germany and not to their ethnic heritage. In 2014 there are several hundred thousand Russian Mennonites: about 200,000 in Germany, 100,000 in Mexico, 70,000 in Bolivia, 40,000 in Paraguay, 10,000 in Belize and tens of thousands in Canada and the US and a few thousand in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.

Contents

1 Origins in the Vistula
Vistula
Delta 2 Migration to Russia 3 Economy 4 Local government 5 Education 6 Religious life

6.1 Kleine Gemeinde 6.2 Mennonite
Mennonite
Brethren 6.3 General Conference

7 First wave of emigration 8 World War I 9 Famine 10 Second wave of emigration 11 Collectivization 12 World War II
World War II
to the Stalin
Stalin
era 13 North America 14 Latin America 15 See also 16 Notes 17 References 18 Further reading 19 External links

Origins in the Vistula
Vistula
Delta[edit]

Mennonites
Mennonites
on New River, Belize

Main article: Vistula
Vistula
delta Mennonites In the early-to-mid 16th century, Mennonites
Mennonites
began to move from the Low Countries
Low Countries
(especially Friesland) and Flanders
Flanders
to the Vistula
Vistula
delta region, seeking religious freedom and exemption from military service. They gradually replaced their Dutch and Frisian languages
Frisian languages
with the Plautdietsch
Plautdietsch
dialect spoken in the area, blending into it elements of their native tongues. Today Plautdietsch
Plautdietsch
is the distinct Mennonite language which developed over a period of 300 years in the Vistula delta region and south Russia. The Mennonites
Mennonites
of Dutch origin were joined by Mennonites
Mennonites
from other parts of Germany, including the German-speaking parts of what is today Switzerland. Some few Poles became Mennonites
Mennonites
and were assimilated into the Vistula
Vistula
delta Mennonites. In 1772, most of the West-Prussian Mennonites' land in the Vistula area became part of the Kingdom of Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
in the first of the Partitions of Poland. Frederick William II of Prussia
Frederick William II of Prussia
ascended the throne in 1786 and imposed heavy fees on the Mennonites
Mennonites
in exchange for continued military exemption. Migration to Russia[edit] Main articles: Chortitza
Chortitza
and Molotschna Catherine the Great
Catherine the Great
of Russia issued a manifesto in 1763 inviting all Europeans to come and settle various pieces of land within Russia, especially in the Volga River
Volga River
region. For a variety of reasons, Germans
Germans
responded to this in large numbers. Mennonites
Mennonites
from the Vistula
Vistula
delta region of Prussia later sent delegates to negotiate an extension of this manifesto and, in 1789, Crown Prince Paul signed a new agreement with them.[4] The Mennonite
Mennonite
migration to Russia from Prussia was led by Jacob Hoeppner and Johann Bartsch. Their settlement territory was northwest of the Sea of Azov, and had just been acquired from the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
in the Russo-Turkish War, 1768–1774. Many of the Mennonites
Mennonites
in Prussia accepted this invitation, establishing Chortitza
Chortitza
on the Dnieper River
Dnieper River
as their first colony in 1789. A second larger colony, Molotschna, was founded in 1803. Mennonites
Mennonites
lived alongside Nogais—semi-nomadic pastoralists—in the Molochna
Molochna
region of southern Ukraine
Ukraine
starting from 1803, when Mennonites
Mennonites
first arrived, until 1860, when the Nogai Tatars departed.[5] Mennonites
Mennonites
provided agricultural jobs to Nogais
Nogais
and rented pasture from them. Nogai raids on Mennonite
Mennonite
herds were a constant problem in the first two decades of settlement.[6] Two Mennonite
Mennonite
settlements on the Vistula
Vistula
near Warsaw, Deutsch-Kazun and Deutsch-Wymysle, came under Russian control when the border was readjusted at the Congress of Vienna. Some of these families emigrated to the Molotschna
Molotschna
settlement after it was established. Deutsch-Michalin near Machnovka was founded in 1787.[7] Many families from this settlement moved to nearby Volhynia
Volhynia
in 1802. Swiss Mennonites
Mennonites
of Amish
Amish
descent from Galicia settled near Dubno, Volhynia province in 1815. Other Galician Mennonites
Mennonites
lived near Lviv. When the Prussian government eliminated exemption from military service on religious grounds, the remaining Mennonites
Mennonites
were eager to emigrate to Russia. They were offered land along the Volga River
Volga River
in Samara and exemption from military service for twenty years, after which they could pay a special exemption tax.[8] Two settlements, Trakt and Alt-Samara (to distinguish it from Neu Samara Colony), were founded in 1853 and 1861 respectively. By 1870 about 9000 individuals had immigrated to Russia, mostly to the Chortitza
Chortitza
and Molotschna
Molotschna
settlements which, with population increase, numbered about 45,000. Forty daughter colonies were established by 1914, occupying nearly 12,000 square kilometres (4,600 sq mi), with a total population of 100,000.[9] Economy[edit] The colonists formed villages of fifteen to thirty families, each with 70 ha (175 acres) of land. The settlements retained some communal land and a common granary for use by the poor in lean years. Income from communal property provided funding for large projects, such as forming daughter colonies for the growing population. Insurance was also organized separately and outside of the control of the Russian government.[10] Initially the settlers raised cattle, sheep and general crops to provide for their household. The barren steppes were much drier than their Vistula
Vistula
delta homeland and it took years to work out the proper dry-land farming practices. They grew mulberries for the silk industry, produced honey, flax and tobacco, and marketed fruits and vegetables for city markets. By the 1830s wheat became the dominant crop.[11] Expanding population and the associated pressure for more farmland became a problem by 1860. The terms of the settlement agreement prevented farms from being divided; they were required to pass intact from one generation to the next. Since agriculture was the main economic activity, an expanding class of discontented, landless poor arose. Their problems tended to be ignored by the village assembly, which consisted of voting landowners. By the early 1860s the problem became so acute that the landless organized a party that petitioned the Russian government for relief. A combination of factors relieved their plight. The Russian government permitted farms to be divided in half or quarters and ordered release of the village's communal land. The colonies themselves purchased land and formed daughter colonies on the eastern frontier extending into Siberia
Siberia
and Turkestan. These new colonies included Bergtal, Neu Samara Colony and the Mennonite settlements of Altai.[12] As wheat farming expanded, the demand for mills and farm equipment grew. The first large foundry was established in Chortitza
Chortitza
in 1860 and other firms followed. By 1911 the eight largest Mennonite-owned factories produced 6% of the total Russian output (over 3 million rubles), shipped machinery to all parts of the empire and employed 1744 workers.[13] The annual output of Lepp and Wallman of Schönwiese was 50,000 mowers, 3000 threshing machines, thousands of gangplows in addition to other farm equipment. Flour and feed mills were originally wind-powered, a skill transplanted from Prussia. These were eventually replaced with motor- and steam-driven mills. Milling and its supporting industries grew to dominate the industrial economy of the colonies and nearby communities. Local government[edit] Mennonite
Mennonite
colonies were self-governing with little intervention from the Russian authorities. The village, the basic unit of government, was headed by an elected magistrate who oversaw village affairs. Each village controlled its own school, roads and cared for the poor. Male landowners decided local matters at village assemblies. Villages were grouped into districts. All of the Chortitza
Chortitza
villages formed one district; Molotschna
Molotschna
was divided into two districts: Halbstadt and Gnadenfeld. A district superintendent headed a regional bureau that could administer corporal punishment and handle other matters affecting the villages in common. Insurance and fire protection were handled at the regional level, as well as dealing with delinquents and other social problems. The Mennonite
Mennonite
colonies functioned as a democratic state, enjoying freedoms beyond those of ordinary Russian peasants.[14] In addition to village schools, the Mennonite
Mennonite
colonies established their own hospitals, a mental hospital and a school for the deaf. They cared for orphans and elderly and provided an insurance program. By being largely self-sufficient in these local matters, they were able to minimize their burden on and contact with the Russian government. Mennonites
Mennonites
stayed out of Russian politics and social movements that preceded the Russian revolution. After the Russian Revolution of 1905 they did exercise their right to vote. Most aligned themselves with the Octobrist Party
Octobrist Party
because of its guarantee of religious freedoms and freedom of the press for minority groups. Hermann Bergmann was an Octobrist member of the Third and Fourth State Dumas; Peter Schröder, a Constitutional Democratic party member from Crimea, was a member of the fourth Duma.[15] Education[edit] At a time when compulsory education was unknown in Europe, the Mennonite
Mennonite
colonies formed an elementary school in each village. Students learned practical skills such as reading and writing German and arithmetic. Religion was included as was singing in many schools. The teacher was typically a craftsperson or herder, untrained in teaching, who fit class time around his occupation. In 1820 the Molotschna
Molotschna
colony started a secondary school at Ohrloff, bringing a trained teacher from Prussia. The Central School was started in Chortitza
Chortitza
in 1842. Over three thousand pupils attended the Central School with up to 8% of the colonists receiving a secondary education.[16] A school of commerce was started in Halbstadt employing a faculty with full graduate education. Those who wanted to pursue post-secondary education attended universities in Switzerland, Germany as well as Russia. Religious life[edit] Typically each village or group of villages organized an independent congregation. Cultural and traditional differences between Frisian, Flemish and West Prussian Mennonites
Mennonites
were also reflected in those of their churches. They all agreed on fundamental Mennonite
Mennonite
beliefs such as believer's baptism, nonresistance and avoidance of oaths. Pastors of Flemish congregations read sermons from a book while seated at a table. Frisian pastors stood while delivering the sermon.[17] Pastors were untrained and chosen from within the congregation. Unpaid pastors were selected from among the wealthier members—large landowners, sometimes teachers—allowing them to make a living while serving the congregation. The combined effect of respect for their position and material wealth gave them substantial influence over the community. The religious and secular leadership within a village often colluded against the poorer members. Church discipline was exercised in the form of excommunication against those committing gross sins. The most conservative congregations practiced "avoidance", which entailed cutting all business and social ties with an unrepentant member.[18] Because being part of a Mennonite congregation was required to enjoy the special benefits the Russian government provided to colonists, excommunication had broader implications. This was softened by the various internal factions, which allowed a person banned from one congregation to join another. Kleine Gemeinde[edit] Main article: Kleine Gemeinde Klaas Reimer and a group of eighteen followers broke from the main group and formed the Kleine Gemeinde. Reimer's main complaint was that Mennonite
Mennonite
leaders were straying from their traditional nonresistant stance when they turned lawbreakers over to the government for punishment while at the same time church leaders were lax in enforcing spiritual discipline. In 1860 a portion of this group moved to Crimea, adopted baptism by immersion and became known as the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren. Mennonite
Mennonite
Brethren[edit] Main article: Mennonite
Mennonite
Brethren Church Pietistic influences, introduced earlier among the West Prussian Mennonites, were transplanted to the Molotschna
Molotschna
colony. The pastor of a neighboring congregation, Eduard Wüst, reinforced this pietism. Wüst was a revivalist who stressed repentance and Christ as a personal savior, influencing Catholics, Lutherans and Mennonites
Mennonites
in the area. He associated with many Mennonite
Mennonite
leaders, including Leonhard Sudermann. In 1859, Joseph Höttmann, a former associate of Wüst met with a group of Mennonites
Mennonites
to discuss problems within the main Mennonite body. Their discussion centered on participating in closed communion with church members who were unholy or not converted and baptism of adults by immersion. The Mennonite Brethren Church
Mennonite Brethren Church
formally broke with the main church on January 6, 1860 when this growing group of dissenters presented a document to the elders of the Molotschna
Molotschna
Mennonite
Mennonite
Churches which indicated "that the total Mennonite
Mennonite
brotherhood has decayed to the extent that we can no more be part of it" and fear the "approach of an unavoidable judgment of God."[19] The Mennonite
Mennonite
Brethren movement spread throughout the Mennonite
Mennonite
colonies and produced many distinguished leaders, particularly in Molotschna. By breaking religious and cultural patterns that had become a hindrance to Mennonite
Mennonite
society, the contribution of the Mennonite
Mennonite
Brethren allowed all Mennonites
Mennonites
groups to pursue a more wholesome Christian life.[20] General Conference[edit] The main body of Mennonites
Mennonites
continued to be congregational in organization until 1882 when the General Conference of Mennonite Congregations in Russia was formed. Cooperation among Mennonite congregations throughout the empire became necessary for dealing with common interests such as publishing a hymnal, adopting a confession of faith, preserving the German language, education and running the forestry service, an alternative to military service. The conference adopted the motto Unity in essentials, tolerance in non-essentials, moderation in all things.[21] The Russianization program of Stolypin required the conference to publish its proceedings in Russian, certify all delegates with the imperial government and allow a government representative to attend all sessions. The conference found itself devoting more time to dealing with changing government policies and protecting the special privileges of Mennonites. An important task was to convince the government that Mennonitism was an established religion and not a sect, a label applied to small religious groups who were regularly mistreated within the Russian empire. First wave of emigration[edit] As nationalism grew in central Europe, the Russian government could no longer justify the special status of its German colonists. In 1870 they announced a Russification plan that would end all special privileges by 1880. Mennonites
Mennonites
were particularly alarmed at the possibility of losing their exemption from military service and their right for schools to use the German language, which they believed was necessary to maintain their cultural and religious life. Delegates were sent to Petersburg in 1871 to meet with the czar and appeal for relief on religious grounds. They met with high officials, but failed to present the czar with their petition. A similar attempt the next year was also unsuccessful, but were assured by the Tsar's brother Grand Duke Konstantin that the new law would provide a way to address the concerns of the Mennonites
Mennonites
in the form of noncombatant military service.[22] The most conscientious Mennonites
Mennonites
could not accept any form of service that supported making war, prompting their community leaders to seek immigration options. In 1873 a delegation of twelve explored North America, seeking large tracts of fertile farmland. This group consisted of Leonhard Sudermann and Jacob Buller of the Alexanderwohl congregation representing the Molotschna
Molotschna
settlement; Tobias Unruh from Volhynia
Volhynia
settlements; Andreas Schrag of the Swiss Volhynia congregations; Heinrich Wiebe, Jacob Peters and Cornelius Buhr from the Bergthal Colony; William Ewert from West Prussia; Cornelius Toews and David Klassen of the Kleine Gemeinde and Paul and Lorenz Tschetter representing the Hutterites.[23] This group returned with positive reports of good land available in Manitoba, Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska
Nebraska
and Kansas. The more conservative groups—those from Kleine Gemeinde, Bergthal and Chortitza—chose Canada, which promised privileges equal to those previously held in Russia and a large tract of land to reestablish colonies in Manitoba. The more liberal groups—those from Molotschna—and the Hutterites
Hutterites
chose the United States. Entire communities such as Alexanderwohl and Bergtal
Bergtal
prepared to move as a unit as well as many individual families from among the other Mennonite
Mennonite
villages. They sold their property, often at reduced prices and worked through the red tape and high fees of procuring passports. Realizing that 40,000 of Russia's most industrious farmers were preparing to leave for North America, the Russian government sent Eduard Totleben
Eduard Totleben
to the colonies in May 1874. Meeting with community leaders, he exaggerated the difficulties that would be encountered in North America and offered an alternative national service that would not be connected in any way to the military. His intervention convinced the more liberal Mennonites
Mennonites
to stay.[24] Between 1874 and 1880, of the approximately 45,000 Mennonites
Mennonites
in South Russia, ten thousand departed for the United States and eight thousand for Manitoba. The settlement of Mennonites, primarily in the central United States, where available cropland had similarity to that in the Crimean Peninsula, coincided with the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad
Transcontinental Railroad
in 1869.[citation needed] Others looked east, and in one of the strangest chapters of Mennonite
Mennonite
history, Claas Epp, Jr., Abraham Peters and other leaders led hundreds of Mennonites to Central Asia in the 1880s, where they expected Christ's imminent return. They settled in the Talas Valley of Turkestan
Turkestan
and in the Khanate of Khiva.[25] For those who remained in Russia, the military service question was resolved by 1880 with a substitute four-year forestry service program for men of military age.[citation needed] World War I[edit] During the period of the 'Great War', the Mennonites
Mennonites
in Russia were well advanced socially and economically. Many large agricultural estates and business entities were controlled by Mennonite
Mennonite
interests. They had a reputation for outstanding efficiency and quality and were noted across Russia for their agricultural and organizational abilities. The precedent of non-resistant national service had been established years before and the Mennonites
Mennonites
therefore had a system to handle military service requests at the outbreak of war. During World War I, 5000 Mennonite
Mennonite
men served in both forestry and hospital units and transported wounded from the battlefield to Moscow
Moscow
and Ekaterinoslav
Ekaterinoslav
hospitals.[26] The Mennonite
Mennonite
congregations were responsible for funding these forms of alternative service, as well as supporting the men's families during their absence, a burden of 3.5 million rubles annually. During this time there was a progressive breakdown in the autonomy of the Mennonite
Mennonite
colonies and social and financial pressure began to take their effect on the Mennonite
Mennonite
people and their institutions. Property and possessions began to be confiscated for the war effort and certain industrial complexes turned to military production (some voluntary). Much of the Mennonite
Mennonite
hope at that time was based on the preservation of the existing Russian Provisional Government. However, as the war progressed, the social tide turned against the existing power structure and Russia began a march toward structural discord. The chaos that followed the collapse of the Russian Provisional Government was devastating to much of Ukraine, including the Mennonite colonies. The Red and White armies moved through the region, confiscating food and livestock. Nestor Makhno's anarchist army generally targeted Mennonites
Mennonites
because they were thought of as "Kulaks" and an entity generally more advanced and wealthy than the surrounding Ukrainian peasants. The Mennonites' Germanic background also served to inflame negative sentiment during the period of revolution. It is also rumored that Makhno
Makhno
himself had served on a Mennonite
Mennonite
estate in childhood and harbored negative feelings based on treatment he received while employed there. Hundreds of Mennonites
Mennonites
were murdered, robbed, imprisoned and raped during this period, and villages including (and around) Chortitza, Zagradovka and Nikolaipol were damaged and destroyed. Many more lives were lost to typhus, cholera and sexually transmitted diseases, spread by the armies warring throughout the colonies.[27] Based on the tragedy unfolding around them, some of the avowed pacifist Mennonites
Mennonites
turned to self-defense and established militia units (Selbstschutz) to ward off raiding forces with the help of the German Army. While generally regarded as a failure of spiritual commitment by many within the community (currently and at the time), the forces initially achieved some military success in defending Mennonite
Mennonite
colonies and families while the communities tried to escape and/or relocate. Ultimately the self-defence militia was overwhelmed once Makhno's anarchists aligned themselves with the Red Army
Red Army
early in 1919. While the resistance certainly helped defend Mennonite communities against initial attacks, it may also have served to inflame some of the atrocities that followed. After this period, many Mennonites
Mennonites
were dispossessed and ultimately their remaining properties and possessions were nationalized (collectivization) by the Soviet authorities.[28][29] Famine[edit] Mennonites
Mennonites
of Molotschna
Molotschna
sent a commission to North America in the summer of 1920 to alert American Mennonites
Mennonites
of the dire conditions of war-torn Ukraine. Their plight succeeded in uniting various branches of Mennonites
Mennonites
to form Mennonite
Mennonite
Central Committee in an effort to coordinate aid. The new organization planned to provide aid to Ukraine
Ukraine
via existing Mennonite
Mennonite
relief work in Istanbul. The Istanbul
Istanbul
group, mainly Goshen College graduates, produced three volunteers, who at great risk entered Ukraine
Ukraine
during the ongoing Russian Civil War. They arrived in the Mennonite
Mennonite
village of Halbstadt in the Molotschna
Molotschna
settlement just as General Wrangel of the White Army was retreating. Two of the volunteers withdrew with the Wrangel army, while Clayton Kratz, who remained in Halbstadt as it was overrun by the Red Army, was never heard from again. A year passed before official permission was received from the Soviet government to do relief work among the villages of Ukraine
Ukraine
(see Russian famine of 1921). Kitchens provided 25,000 people a day with rations over a period of three years beginning in 1922, with a peak of 40,000 servings during August of that year. Fifty Fordson
Fordson
tractor and plow combinations were sent to Mennonite
Mennonite
villages to replace horses that had been stolen and confiscated during the war. The cost of this relief effort was $1.2 million.[30] Second wave of emigration[edit] As conditions improved, Mennonites
Mennonites
turned their attention from survival to emigration. Though the New Economic Policy
New Economic Policy
appeared to be less radical than previous Soviet reforms, thousands of Mennonites
Mennonites
saw no future under the communists. After years of negotiation with foreign governments and Moscow, arrangements were made for emigration to Canada, Paraguay and Argentina. Because Canada had not recognized the Soviet government, Moscow
Moscow
would not deal with them directly. Emigrants bound for Canada were processed through Riga. Those who could not pass the medical exam—usually because of trachoma—were allowed to stay in Germany and Southampton
Southampton
in England until they were healthy. By 1930, twenty-one thousand Mennonites
Mennonites
had arrived in Canada, most on credit provided by the Canadian Pacific Railway.[31] A group of Mennonites
Mennonites
from western Siberia
Siberia
who subsequently settled along the Amur in unrealized hopes of better living conditions, escaped over the frozen river to Harbin, China. A few hundred were allowed entry into California and Washington. The majority remained as refugees until the Nansen International Office for Refugees
Nansen International Office for Refugees
of the League of Nations
League of Nations
intervened and arranged resettlement in Paraguay and Brazil in 1932.[32] Those that remained in their home villages were subject to exile to Siberia
Siberia
and other remote regions east of the Urals. From 1929 to 1940, one in eight men were removed, usually under the pretext of political accusations, to labor camps from which few ever returned or were heard from again.[33] Collectivization[edit] With the onset of economic and agricultural reforms, large estates and the communal land of the Mennonite
Mennonite
colonies were confiscated. The next step was to reduce the model farms by 60% and then another 50% percent—an insufficient size to support a family. The confiscated land was given to peasants from outside the Mennonite
Mennonite
communities, often communist party members. These new villagers soon controlled the local government, further confiscating land and rights from the Mennonite
Mennonite
majority by labeling landowners and leaders kulaks and sending them into exile. The government taxed the remaining landowners so heavily that they could not possibly produce enough to meet the obligation and their land was confiscated as payment. As collectivization proceeded, there was some hope that Mennonites
Mennonites
could run their own collective farms, but with the introduction of Stalin's first five-year plan there was no hope that such a scheme would be allowed. Starting in 1918 religious freedoms were restricted. Churches and congregations had to be registered with the government. Ministers were disenfranchised and lost their rights as citizens. Ministers could not be teachers, which was the livelihood of many Mennonite
Mennonite
pastors. They and their family members could not join cooperatives or craft guilds. Because of these restrictions, ministers had a strong incentive to emigrate, and few were willing to replace them. Congregations could no longer do charitable work of any kind, which destroyed the well developed social institutions with the Mennonite
Mennonite
colonies. Villages lost control of their schools; all religious content was prohibited. Sunday was abolished as a holiday. During World War I
World War I
the Russians had permitted Mennonites
Mennonites
to serve in non-combat capacities in the military. This practice was not continued.[34] Following the Russian withdrawal from World War I, the Russian Civil War ensued, with an ultimate Red victory. The Russian Mennonites, many of whom were also known as being part of the one million or so Volga Germans
Germans
living in their own established communities, were approached by the Soviet authorities and issued new standards and expectations. Education was to be controlled according to these new directives by the State, and families were eventually to be separated, with children sent to various live-in schools, while parents were to be assigned according to State needs. These directives were described by a Volga German teacher, Henry Wieler, who attended these State meetings and related the events in his detailed Journal, Tagabook, which today is partially translated but available in the published book, The Quiet in the Land,[35] by Henry Wieler. World War II
World War II
to the Stalin
Stalin
era[edit] In 1937 and 1938 the NKVD carried out ethnically motivated purges of German descendants and German language
German language
speakers, including Mennonites.[36] As Stalin
Stalin
fomented cooperation with the Russian Orthodox Church in World War II, Mennonites
Mennonites
and Protestants were seen as more dangerous.[36] During the Holodomor
Holodomor
in Ukraine, there was active persecution of German-speaking people as a potential threat to the state, increased tensions with ethnic Ukrainians
Ukrainians
due to the hostilities of World War I, and targeting during the Great Purge
Great Purge
of those who might become German or Western agents, including Mennonites with ties abroad. As pacifists within an increasingly military regime under Stalin
Stalin
and then (after invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine
and parts of Russia by Hitler) the Nazis, and as "Volga Germans" whose abuse Hitler had used as pretense to invade, Mennonites
Mennonites
were subject to special pressure to join military units. A few did. By World War II
World War II
some German-speaking Mennonite
Mennonite
descendants were even successfully recruited by Nazis into SS units and helped execute the Holocaust.[37] Far more common were stories of forced conscription into German units as support and shock troops and (from the few survivors who were not shot by Soviets) participation in exterminating or deporting families. Most history of this period is anecdotal and based on family memoirs [38] and letters from the Gulags.[34] Peter Letkemann of University of Winnipeg characterizes the casualties and abuses of this period as "victims of terror and repression in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
during the 40-year period from 1917-1956."[39] This would overlap somewhat with the "Siberian Germans" deported to that region who have lost touch entirely with the Mennonite
Mennonite
mainstream worldwide.[40] North America[edit] After 1870 about 18,000 Russian Mennonites, fearing conscription into military service and state influence on their education systems, emigrated to the Plains States of the US and the Western Provinces of Canada. The more liberal went in general to the US where the majority over a period of several decades assimilated more or less into the mainstream society.

Alexanderwohl Mennonite
Mennonite
Church near Goessel, Kansas

Russian Mennonites
Mennonites
settled much of South Central Kansas, which owes its reputation as a wheat-producing state in large measure to its early Mennonite
Mennonite
settlers. Winter wheat was introduced to Kansas
Kansas
in 1873. The following year the Mennonites, who had experience with dry land farming in Russia, quickly took advantage of its characteristics, resulting in rapid expansion of the milling industry in the state.[41] It is planted in the fall and harvested in June and July of the following summer, and is therefore ideally suited to cold winters and the hot, dry Kansas
Kansas
summers. Kansas
Kansas
remains a top producer of wheat in America to this day.[42] The more conservative Old Colony and Bergthal Mennonites
Mennonites
went to Canada which promised privileges equal to those previously held in Russia (no conscription into military service and German language private schools) and a large tract of land divided into two "Reserves". The Mennonites
Mennonites
settled mostly in Manitoba
Manitoba
in areas east and west of the Red River, called East Reserve and West Reserve.[43] They brought with them many of their institutions and practices, especially their traditional settling pattern which meant that they settled in vast exclusively Mennonite
Mennonite
areas where they formed villages with German names such as Blumenort, Steinbach and Grünthal.[44] The more conservative fraction of the Manitoba
Manitoba
Mennonites
Mennonites
decided to leave Canada after the World War I
World War I
and moved to Mexico.[citation needed] The main reason for that was compulsory attendance of public schools and anti-German sentiments because of the war. After the more conservative fraction had left for Mexico, the remaining Mennonites quickly assimilated into the mainstream society. Descendants of Manitoba
Manitoba
Mennonites
Mennonites
today form the majority of Conservative Mennonites in Latin America, counting more than 200,000. Because many of these Mennonites
Mennonites
from Canada still hold Canadian passports, there was and still is a steady flow back to Canada fed by the high birth rates of conservative Mennonites. These emigrants strengthen the Russian Mennonite
Mennonite
element in the Canadian Mennonite
Mennonite
churches.[45] With the Russian Mennonites
Mennonites
came separate denominations previously unseen in North America, such as the Mennonite
Mennonite
Brethren.[46] A second wave of Russian Mennonites
Mennonites
came out of Russia after the bloody strife following the Russian Revolution of 1917
Russian Revolution of 1917
and a third wave in the aftermath of World War I. These people, having lost everything they had known, found their way to settlements in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Columbia
British Columbia
and Ontario
Ontario
and in many regions of the United States.[citation needed] Some joined with previous Mennonite
Mennonite
groups, while others formed their own.[citation needed] Latin America[edit]

Mennonite
Mennonite
children in San Ignacio, Paraguay

Mennonite
Mennonite
children selling peanuts to tourists near Lamanai, Belize

The emigration from Canada to Mexico and Paraguay in the 1920s was a reaction to the introduction of universal, secular compulsory education in 1917 requiring the use of the English language, which the more conservative Mennonites
Mennonites
saw as a threat to the religious basis of their community. The first colony in a Latin American country was established by Mennonites
Mennonites
from Canada between 1922 and 1925 in Mexico in the state of Chihuahua near the city of Cuauhtémoc. The next country was Paraguay, where Menno Colony
Menno Colony
was formed 1927 by Mennonites
Mennonites
from Canada, whereas Fernheim and Friesland
Friesland
Colonies were formed in the 1930s by Mennonites from the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
who were fleeing starvation (Holodomor), persecution of religion and Collectivization
Collectivization
under Stalin.[47] Neuland and Volendam Colonies were founded 1947 by Mennonites
Mennonites
who fled the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
at the end of World War II. All other Mennonite
Mennonite
colonies in Latin America were formed by Mennonites
Mennonites
who settled in North America since 1870, partly via Mexico and Belize. Beginning in 1954 conservative Mennonites
Mennonites
settled in East-Bolivia, in the Santa Cruz Department. Bolivia soon became the refuge for Mennonites
Mennonites
who wanted to flee the influences of modern society. In 2006 there were 41 Mennonite
Mennonite
colonies in Bolivia.[48] Old Colony Mennonites
Mennonites
went from Mexico to Belize in 1959[49] and to Argentina in 1986.

100,000 in Mexico, 70,000 in Bolivia, 40,000 in Paraguay, 10,000 in Belize 10,000 in Brazil 2,000 in Argentina, 1,000 Uruguay

A distinguished writer and historian about the Russian Mennonites
Mennonites
in Latin America, especially in Paraguay, is Peter P. Klassen.[50] See also[edit]

Alexanderwohl Mennonite
Mennonite
Church General Conference Mennonite
Mennonite
Church and U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches German minority in Russia and Soviet Union
Soviet Union
and History of Germans
Germans
in Russia and the Soviet Union Holodomor Mennonite
Mennonite
settlements of Altai New Russia Olędrzy Plautdietsch
Plautdietsch
(the dialect of Low German
Low German
spoken by the Mennonites
Mennonites
from Russia) Schmeckfest Living in A Perfect World (National Geographic documentary about Russian Mennonites in Mexico
Mennonites in Mexico
and Bolivia) Silent Light Threshing stone

Notes[edit]

^ "Ukrainian Mennonite
Mennonite
General Conference — GAMEO". Gameo.org. 1926-10-08. Retrieved 2012-11-13.  ^ "January 7, 2005: Service celebrates Ukrainian-Mennonite experience". MB Herald. Retrieved 2012-11-13.  ^ Staples, and, John R.; Toews, John B. Nestor Makhno
Nestor Makhno
and the Eichenfeld Massacre: A Civil War Tragedy in a Ukrainian Mennonite Village.  ^ "Catherine's Manifesto and Paul's Mennonite
Mennonite
Agreement". Members.aol.com. Retrieved 2012-11-13.  ^ " Mennonite
Mennonite
Life". Bethelks.edu. 2004-06-03. Retrieved 2012-11-13.  ^ ""On Civilizing the Nogais": Mennonite-Nogai Economic Relations, 1825-1860". Goshen.edu. Retrieved 2012-11-13.  ^ Goertz, Adalbert, Deutsch-Michalin Mennonites ^ Smith, C. Henry, Smith's Story of the Mennonites
Mennonites
(1981), p. 260. ^ Smith, C. Henry, p. 261. ^ Jonas Stadling (1897). In the Land of Tolstoi. p. 155 – via Project Runeberg.  ^ Smith, p. 263. ^ Smith, p. 265-7. ^ Smith, p. 305. ^ Smith, p. 268. ^ Smith, p. 302. ^ Smith, p. 270. ^ Smith, p. 273. ^ Smith, p. 274. ^ Smith, p. 280. ^ Smith, p. 281-282. ^ Smith, p. 301. ^ Smith, p. 285. ^ Kaufman p. 78. ^ Smith, p. 291. ^ Ratliff, Walter Pilgrims On The Silk Road p.??, ISBN 978-1606081334 ^ Smith, p. 311. ^ Smith, p. 314-315. ^ Smith, p. 316. ^ Krahn, Cornelius & Al Reimer (1989). "Selbstschutz, Global Anabaptist Mennonite
Mennonite
Encyclopedia Online". Gameo.org. Retrieved 2013-03-21.  ^ Smith, p. 320. ^ Smith, p. 324. ^ Smith, p. 335-336. ^ Smith, p. 336. ^ a b " Mennonite
Mennonite
letters survived Stalin's reign of terror". Canadianchristianity.com. 1933-10-08. Retrieved 2014-05-28.  ^ Wieler, Henry (2005). The Quiet in the Land. Trafford. p. 127. ISBN 978-1412047869.  ^ a b "Lecturer tells the story of Mennonites
Mennonites
in Siberia
Siberia
FPU News". News.fresno.edu. Retrieved 2014-05-28.  ^ " Mennonites
Mennonites
and the Holocaust". Themennonite.org. Retrieved 2014-05-28.  ^ " Mennonites
Mennonites
in The World". Mennonite
Mennonite
Heritage Village. Retrieved 2014-05-28.  ^ [1][dead link] ^ "Orientation - Siberian Germans". Everyculture.com. Retrieved 2014-05-28.  ^ Origins of winter wheat in Kansas
Kansas
( Kansas
Kansas
State Historical Society) ^ "Crop Profile for Wheat in Kansas" (PDF). Regional IPM Centers - National IPM Database. NSF Center for Integrated Pest Management located at North Carolina State University. Retrieved August 31, 2016.  ^ C. Henry Smith, Ph.D., Professor of History at Bluffton College. "The Mennonites: A Brief History of Their Origin and Later Development in Both Europe and America". The Manitoba
Manitoba
settlements, composed of colonists from the Chortitz, Bergthal and Fuerstenthal communities and a group of Molotschna
Molotschna
Kleingemeinder, form a group by themselves and deserve a separate description. As already stated, they were granted by the Canadian Government two reserves (later increased to three) of twenty-six townships, in the fertile Red River valley south of Winnipeg in Manitoba
Manitoba
near the Dakota line. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) ^ Edward M. Ledohowski (2003). "The Heritage Landscape of the Crow Wing Study Region" (PDF). Historic Resources Branch. Manitoba
Manitoba
Culture, Heritage & Tourism. Most of the villages in both the East and West reserves have disappeared over the years. Today, in the former East Reserve, communities such as Kleefeld, New Bothwell, Grunthal and Blumenort are still in existence, but the traditional 'Strassendorf' community plan no longer survives... The Steinbach village became the commercial centre for the East Reserve villages...  ^ "Old Colony Mennonites". Gameo.org. Retrieved 11 January 2018.  ^ Smith, C. Henry (1981). Smith's Story of the Mennonites
Mennonites
(Revised and expanded by Cornelius Krahn ed.). Newton, Kansas: Faith and Life Press. pp. 280–281. ISBN 0-87303-069-9.  ^ Antonio De La Cova (1999-12-28). "Paraguay's Mennonites
Mennonites
resent 'fast buck' outsiders". Latinamericanstudies.org. Retrieved 2012-11-13.  ^ Romero, Simon (21 December 2006). "Bolivian Reforms Raise Anxiety on Mennonite
Mennonite
Frontier". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 11 January 2018.  ^ "Belize - GAMEO". Gameo.org. Retrieved 11 January 2018.  ^ The 'Green Hell' Becomes Home: Mennonites
Mennonites
in Paraguay as Described in the Writings of Peter P. Klassen, Mennonite
Mennonite
Quarterly Review 2002

References[edit]

Kaufman, Edmund G. (1973), General Conference Mennonite
Mennonite
Pioneers, Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas. Smith, C. Henry (1981). Smith's Story of the Mennonites. Newton, Kansas: Faith and Life Press. pp. 249–356. ISBN 0-87303-069-9. 

Further reading[edit]

Barlett, Roger. Human Capital Dyck, Cornelius J. An Introduction to Mennonite
Mennonite
History, Herald Press, 1993. ISBN 0-8361-3620-9 Giesinger, Adam. From Catherine to Kruschev Hildebrand, Peter. From Danzig to Russia, CMBC Publications, Manitoba Mennonite
Mennonite
Historical Society, 2000. ISBN 0-920718-67-1 Huebert, Helmut T. Molotschna
Molotschna
Historical Atlas, Springfield Publishers, 2003. ISBN 0-920643-08-6 Kroeker, Wally An Introduction to the Russian Mennonites, Good Books, 2005. ISBN 1-56148-391-5 Peters, Victor, Thiessen, Jack. Mennonitische Namen / Mennoniite Names, N. G. Elwert Verlag, 1987. ISBN 3-7708-0852-5 Ratliff, Walter R. Pilgrims On The Silk Road: A Muslim-Christian Encounter in Khiva, Wipf & Stock, 2010. ISBN 978-1-60608-133-4 Sawatzky, Harry Leonard: They Sought a Country: Mennonite
Mennonite
Colonization in Mexico, with an appendix on Mennonite
Mennonite
colonization in British Honduras. Berkeley, University of California, 1971. Sawatzky, Harry Leonard: Sie suchten eine Heimat : deutsch-mennonitische Kolonisierung in Mexiko, 1922 - 1984. Marburg, 1986. (This book is not just a German translation of "They Sought a Country", as the title seems to indicate, but a work of its own.) Schroeder, William, Huebert, Helmut T. Mennonite
Mennonite
Historical Atlas, Springfield Publishers, 1996. ISBN 0-920643-04-3 Toews, Aron A. Mennonite
Mennonite
Martyrs: People Who Suffered for Their Faith 1920–1940, Kindred Press, 1990. ISBN 0-919797-98-9 Toews, John B. Journeys: Mennonite
Mennonite
Stories of Faith and Survival in Stalin's Russia, Kindred Press, 1998. ISBN 0-921788-48-7 Voth, Norma Jost, Mennonite
Mennonite
Foods & Folkways from South Russia, Volumes I & II, Good Books, 1990 & 1991. ISBN 0-934672-89-X & ISBN 1-56148-012-6

External links[edit]

Russian Mennonite
Mennonite
Genealogical Resources Plautdietsch-Freunde e.V. (Russian Mennonites
Mennonites
in Germany) Mennonite
Mennonite
Center in Ukraine

v t e

Anabaptism

Background

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Movements

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Mennonites

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Practices

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Notable Anabaptists

Felix Manz Conrad Grebel Pilgram Marpeck Michael Sattler Hans Denck Jacob Hutter Balthasar Hubmaier Bernhard Rothmann Dirk Philips Menno Simons Jakob Ammann Alexander Mack

Portal: Anabaptism

v t e

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(Carpatho-Rusyns, Boykos, Hutsuls, Lemkos) and Crimean Tatars

Over 50,000

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Under 50,000

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Black Sea

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under 5,000

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National or ethnic groups in Ukraine
Ukraine
of over 1,000 people are shown.

v t e

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See also

Ostsiedlung Partitions of Poland Flight and expulsion of G

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