Mennonites (German: "Russlandmennoniten" occasionally
Ukrainian Mennonites) are a group of
Mennonites of German
language, tradition and ethnicity, who are descendants of German-Dutch
Anabaptists who settled for about 250 years in
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
traditionally multilingual with
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.
1 Origins in the
2 Migration to Russia
4 Local government
6 Religious life
6.1 Kleine Gemeinde
6.3 General Conference
7 First wave of emigration
8 World War I
10 Second wave of emigration
World War II
World War II to the
13 North America
14 Latin America
15 See also
18 Further reading
19 External links
Origins in the
Mennonites on New River, Belize
Vistula delta Mennonites
In the early-to-mid 16th century,
Mennonites began to move from the
Low Countries (especially Friesland) and
Flanders to the
region, seeking religious freedom and exemption from military service.
They gradually replaced their Dutch and
Frisian languages with the
Plautdietsch dialect spoken in the area, blending into it elements of
their native tongues. Today
Plautdietsch is the distinct Mennonite
language which developed over a period of 300 years in the Vistula
delta region and south Russia. The
Mennonites of Dutch origin were
Mennonites from other parts of Germany, including the
German-speaking parts of what is today Switzerland. Some few Poles
Mennonites and were assimilated into the
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 in exchange
for continued military exemption.
Migration to Russia
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 region. For a variety of reasons,
Germans responded to this in large numbers.
Mennonites from the
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. The
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
Ottoman Empire in the Russo-Turkish War, 1768–1774. Many of
Mennonites in Prussia accepted this invitation, establishing
Chortitza on the
Dnieper River as their first colony in 1789. A second
larger colony, Molotschna, was founded in 1803.
Mennonites lived alongside Nogais—semi-nomadic pastoralists—in the
Molochna region of southern
Ukraine starting from 1803, when
Mennonites first arrived, until 1860, when the Nogai Tatars
Mennonites provided agricultural jobs to
rented pasture from them. Nogai raids on
Mennonite herds were a
constant problem in the first two decades of settlement.
Mennonite settlements on the
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
Molotschna settlement after it was established.
Deutsch-Michalin near Machnovka was founded in 1787. Many families
from this settlement moved to nearby
Volhynia in 1802. Swiss
Amish descent from Galicia settled near Dubno, Volhynia
province in 1815. Other Galician
Mennonites lived near Lviv.
When the Prussian government eliminated exemption from military
service on religious grounds, the remaining
Mennonites were eager to
emigrate to Russia. They were offered land along the
Volga River in
Samara and exemption from military service for twenty years, after
which they could pay a special exemption tax. 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
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.
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
Initially the settlers raised cattle, sheep and general crops to
provide for their household. The barren steppes were much drier than
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
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 and Turkestan. These new
colonies included Bergtal,
Neu Samara Colony and the Mennonite
settlements of Altai.
As wheat farming expanded, the demand for mills and farm equipment
grew. The first large foundry was established in
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. 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.
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
formed one district;
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
functioned as a democratic state, enjoying freedoms beyond those of
ordinary Russian peasants.
In addition to village schools, the
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 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
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,
Constitutional Democratic party member from Crimea, was a member of
the fourth Duma.
At a time when compulsory education was unknown in Europe, the
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 colony started a secondary school at Ohrloff,
bringing a trained teacher from Prussia. The Central School was
Chortitza in 1842. Over three thousand pupils attended the
Central School with up to 8% of the colonists receiving a secondary
education. 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.
Typically each village or group of villages organized an independent
congregation. Cultural and traditional differences between Frisian,
Flemish and West Prussian
Mennonites were also reflected in those of
their churches. They all agreed on fundamental
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.
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. 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.
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 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
Mennonite Brethren Church
Pietistic influences, introduced earlier among the West Prussian
Mennonites, were transplanted to the
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
the area. He associated with many
Mennonite leaders, including
In 1859, Joseph Höttmann, a former associate of Wüst met with a
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.
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
Mennonite Churches which
indicated "that the total
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." The
Mennonite Brethren movement
spread throughout the
Mennonite colonies and produced many
distinguished leaders, particularly in Molotschna. By breaking
religious and cultural patterns that had become a hindrance to
Mennonite society, the contribution of the
Mennonite Brethren allowed
Mennonites groups to pursue a more wholesome Christian life.
The main body of
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.
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
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 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 in the form of noncombatant
The most conscientious
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 settlement; Tobias Unruh from
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. This group returned with positive
reports of good land available in Manitoba, Minnesota, South Dakota,
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
Hutterites chose the United States. Entire
communities such as Alexanderwohl and
Bergtal prepared to move as a
unit as well as many individual families from among the other
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 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 to stay.
Between 1874 and 1880, of the approximately 45,000
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 in 1869. Others looked
east, and in one of the strangest chapters of
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 and in the
Khanate of Khiva. 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.
World War I
During the period of the 'Great War', the
Mennonites in Russia were
well advanced socially and economically. Many large agricultural
estates and business entities were controlled by
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 therefore had a system to
handle military service requests at the outbreak of war. During World
War I, 5000
Mennonite men served in both forestry and hospital units
and transported wounded from the battlefield to
Ekaterinoslav hospitals. The
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 colonies and social and
financial pressure began to take their effect on the
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 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
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
Makhno himself had served on a
Mennonite estate in
childhood and harbored negative feelings based on treatment he
received while employed there. Hundreds of
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.
Based on the tragedy unfolding around them, some of the avowed
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 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 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 were dispossessed and ultimately their remaining properties
and possessions were nationalized (collectivization) by the Soviet
Molotschna sent a commission to North America in the
summer of 1920 to alert American
Mennonites of the dire conditions of
war-torn Ukraine. Their plight succeeded in uniting various branches
Mennonites to form
Mennonite Central Committee in an effort to
The new organization planned to provide aid to
Ukraine via existing
Mennonite relief work in Istanbul. The
Istanbul group, mainly Goshen
College graduates, produced three volunteers, who at great risk
Ukraine during the ongoing Russian Civil War. They arrived in
Mennonite village of Halbstadt in the
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
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 tractor and
plow combinations were sent to
Mennonite villages to replace horses
that had been stolen and confiscated during the war. The cost of this
relief effort was $1.2 million.
Second wave of emigration
As conditions improved,
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
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 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 in England until they were
healthy. By 1930, twenty-one thousand
Mennonites had arrived in
Canada, most on credit provided by the Canadian Pacific Railway.
A group of
Mennonites from western
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.
Those that remained in their home villages were subject to exile to
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
With the onset of economic and agricultural reforms, large estates and
the communal land of the
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
often communist party members. These new villagers soon controlled the
local government, further confiscating land and rights from the
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
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
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 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 colonies. Villages
lost control of their schools; all religious content was prohibited.
Sunday was abolished as a holiday.
World War I
World War I the Russians had permitted
Mennonites to serve in
non-combat capacities in the military. This practice was not
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 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, by
World War II
World War II to the
In 1937 and 1938 the NKVD carried out ethnically motivated purges of
German descendants and
German language speakers, including
Stalin fomented cooperation with the Russian
Orthodox Church in World War II,
Mennonites and Protestants were seen
as more dangerous. During the
Holodomor in Ukraine, there was
active persecution of German-speaking people as a potential threat to
the state, increased tensions with ethnic
Ukrainians due to the
hostilities of World War I, and targeting during the
Great Purge of
those who might become German or Western agents, including Mennonites
with ties abroad. As pacifists within an increasingly military regime
Stalin and then (after invasion of
Ukraine and parts of Russia
by Hitler) the Nazis, and as "Volga Germans" whose abuse Hitler had
used as pretense to invade,
Mennonites were subject to special
pressure to join military units. A few did. By
World War II
World War II some
Mennonite descendants were even successfully recruited
by Nazis into SS units and helped execute the Holocaust.
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
 and letters from the Gulags.
Peter Letkemann of University of Winnipeg characterizes the casualties
and abuses of this period as "victims of terror and repression in the
Soviet Union during the 40-year period from 1917-1956." This would
overlap somewhat with the "Siberian Germans" deported to that region
who have lost touch entirely with the
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
Mennonite Church near Goessel, Kansas
Mennonites settled much of South Central Kansas, which owes
its reputation as a wheat-producing state in large measure to its
Mennonite settlers. Winter wheat was introduced to
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.
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 remains a top producer of wheat in
America to this day.
The more conservative Old Colony and Bergthal
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
Mennonites settled mostly in
Manitoba in areas east
and west of the Red River, called East Reserve and West Reserve.
They brought with them many of their institutions and practices,
especially their traditional settling pattern which meant that they
settled in vast exclusively
Mennonite areas where they formed villages
with German names such as Blumenort, Steinbach and Grünthal.
The more conservative fraction of the
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
Mennonites today form the majority of Conservative Mennonites
in Latin America, counting more than 200,000. Because many of these
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 element in the Canadian
With the Russian
Mennonites came separate denominations previously
unseen in North America, such as the
A second wave of Russian
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,
British Columbia and
Ontario and in many
regions of the United States. Some joined with
Mennonite groups, while others formed their own.[citation
Mennonite children in San Ignacio, Paraguay
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
Mennonites saw as a threat to the religious basis of
The first colony in a Latin American country was established by
Mennonites from Canada between 1922 and 1925 in Mexico in the state of
Chihuahua near the city of Cuauhtémoc. The next country was Paraguay,
Menno Colony was formed 1927 by
Mennonites from Canada, whereas
Friesland Colonies were formed in the 1930s by Mennonites
Soviet Union who were fleeing starvation (Holodomor),
persecution of religion and
Collectivization under Stalin. Neuland
and Volendam Colonies were founded 1947 by
Mennonites who fled the
Soviet Union at the end of World War II. All other
in Latin America were formed by
Mennonites who settled in North
America since 1870, partly via Mexico and Belize.
Beginning in 1954 conservative
Mennonites settled in East-Bolivia, in
the Santa Cruz Department. Bolivia soon became the refuge for
Mennonites who wanted to flee the influences of modern society. In
2006 there were 41
Mennonite colonies in Bolivia. Old Colony
Mennonites went from Mexico to Belize in 1959 and to Argentina in
100,000 in Mexico,
70,000 in Bolivia,
40,000 in Paraguay,
10,000 in Belize
10,000 in Brazil
2,000 in Argentina,
A distinguished writer and historian about the Russian
Latin America, especially in Paraguay, is Peter P. Klassen.
Mennonite Church and U.S. Conference of Mennonite
German minority in Russia and
Soviet Union and History of
Russia and the Soviet Union
Mennonite settlements of Altai
Plautdietsch (the dialect of
Low German spoken by the
Living in A Perfect World (National Geographic documentary about
Mennonites in Mexico
Mennonites in Mexico and Bolivia)
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 and the
Eichenfeld Massacre: A Civil War Tragedy in a Ukrainian Mennonite
^ "Catherine's Manifesto and Paul's
Members.aol.com. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
Mennonite Life". Bethelks.edu. 2004-06-03. Retrieved
^ ""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 (1981), p. 260.
^ Smith, C. Henry, p. 261.
^ Jonas Stadling (1897). In the Land of Tolstoi. p. 155 – via
^ 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.??,
^ Smith, p. 311.
^ Smith, p. 314-315.
^ Smith, p. 316.
^ Krahn, Cornelius & Al Reimer (1989). "Selbstschutz, Global
Mennonite Encyclopedia Online". Gameo.org. Retrieved
^ Smith, p. 320.
^ Smith, p. 324.
^ Smith, p. 335-336.
^ Smith, p. 336.
^ a b "
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.
^ a b "Lecturer tells the story of
Siberia FPU News".
News.fresno.edu. Retrieved 2014-05-28.
Mennonites and the Holocaust". Themennonite.org. Retrieved
Mennonites in The World".
Mennonite Heritage Village. Retrieved
^ [dead link]
^ "Orientation - Siberian Germans". Everyculture.com. Retrieved
^ Origins of winter wheat in
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,
^ 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 settlements, composed of
colonists from the Chortitz, Bergthal and Fuerstenthal communities and
a group of
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
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.
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 (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 resent 'fast
buck' outsiders". Latinamericanstudies.org. Retrieved
^ Romero, Simon (21 December 2006). "Bolivian Reforms Raise Anxiety on
Mennonite Frontier". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
^ "Belize - GAMEO". Gameo.org. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
^ The 'Green Hell' Becomes Home:
Mennonites in Paraguay as Described
in the Writings of Peter P. Klassen,
Mennonite Quarterly Review 2002
Kaufman, Edmund G. (1973), General Conference
Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas.
Smith, C. Henry (1981). Smith's Story of the Mennonites. Newton,
Kansas: Faith and Life Press. pp. 249–356.
Barlett, Roger. Human Capital
Dyck, Cornelius J. An Introduction to
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 Historical Society, 2000. ISBN 0-920718-67-1
Huebert, Helmut T.
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.
Sawatzky, Harry Leonard: They Sought a Country:
in Mexico, with an appendix on
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 Historical Atlas,
Springfield Publishers, 1996. ISBN 0-920643-04-3
Toews, Aron A.
Mennonite Martyrs: People Who Suffered for Their Faith
1920–1940, Kindred Press, 1990. ISBN 0-919797-98-9
Toews, John B. Journeys:
Mennonite Stories of Faith and Survival in
Stalin's Russia, Kindred Press, 1998. ISBN 0-921788-48-7
Voth, Norma Jost,
Mennonite Foods & Folkways from South Russia,
Volumes I & II, Good Books, 1990 & 1991.
ISBN 0-934672-89-X & ISBN 1-56148-012-6
Mennonite Genealogical Resources
Plautdietsch-Freunde e.V. (Russian
Mennonites in Germany)
Mennonite Center in Ukraine
Old Order Mennonites
Schwarzenau (German Baptist) Brethren
Brethren in Christ Church
Apostolic Christian Church
German Peasants' War
Dordrecht Confession of Faith
Theology of Anabaptism
Apostolic succession/Great Apostasy
Freedom of religion
Nonconformity to the world
Priesthood of all believers
Separation of church and state/free church
Ethnic and national minorities of Ukraine
Indigenous people of Ukraine:
Ukrainians (Carpatho-Rusyns, Boykos,
Hutsuls, Lemkos) and Crimean Tatars
National or ethnic groups in
Ukraine of over 1,000 people are shown.
Banat (including Walser)
Italy (South Tyrol)
Central and Eastern
United Arab Emirates
Partitions of Poland
Flight and expulsion of G