© Mennonite Heritage Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba (Last updated 23 June 2009)
Bargen Letter Collection
Retrieval numbers: Vol. 4232-4234,
Title: Bargen Letter Collection
Extent: 40 cm of textual records
Repository: Mennonite Heritage Centre Archives
The letters in this collecton were written by Mennonites in the Soviet Union. They were written by family and friends of Franz Bargen (1894-1976) and his wife Liese (Regehr) Bargen (1897-1976), who had immigrated to Canada in 1930 and settled at Carlyle, Saskatchewan and later moved to Winnipeg. This letter collection was stored in a cardboard Campbell's Soup box, which was moved from attic to attic until 1989, when their son Peter Bargen (1922-2004) and his wife Anne (Peters) Bargen (1925-1997) found them and set out to translate and publish them. (See "From Russia With Tears: Letters from Home and Exile, 1930-1938" in the Mennonite Historical Library at Canadian Mennonite University). The main body of this collection sorted, arranged and translated by Peter and Anne Bargen was deposited at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Archive in 1992.
This collection of letters is divided into two sections -- over 500 letters written between 1930-1938 and almost 800 letters written between 1939-1977, covering especially the post-World War II period and up to the early 1970s. There is also one file containing family travel documents for Franz and Liese Bargen's immigration to Canada in 1930.
The letters written between 1930 and 1938 present a cross section of the experiences of over 30 families -- relatives of Franz and Liese Bargen. The letters originate in Sagradowka (a Mennonite settlement in Ukraine) and from families in exile. Letters to and from family outside the forced-labour camps operated by Joseph Stalin were the lifeline for many prisoners during this time of terror. The writers of the letters knew the risks of making contact with "the West" -- prison or execution, yet the letters continued to arrive in Canada through circuitous and covert routes. The Bargen family responded with letters, money and packages, knowing that much material would not reach its destination. (See "Remember Us as We Remember You: Letters from the Gulag" by Ruth Derksen Siemens published in Geist, Volume 12, Number 56, Spring 2005, p. 39-45.)
Each item in the Bargen Letter Collection is numbered for easy reference. The post-war letters are not totally sorted as the earlier ones. The "pre-war" letters have also been digitally reproduced by the MHC staff in 2005.
Inventory file list available
From Russia with Tears: Letters from Home and Exile (1930-1938), by Anne Bargen (Trans.) and Peter Bargen (Ed.) (1992)
The self-published book with 461 translated letters (549 pp) and the accompanying originals were donated to the Mennonite Heritage Centre Archives by Peter and Anne Bargen of Winfield, BC in June 1992. Letters from the post-World War II period, a CD with translations of the "post-war" letters, and some original travel documents belonging to Franz & Liese Bargen were donated in June 2004 by Peter Bargen's son, Neil Bargen of Edmonton.
German in Gothic script
no restrictions to access
Some publication restrictions.
Peter Bargen of Winfield, BC and Neil Bargen of Edmonton, AB
Selected letters have been translated from the post war period and some of the letters have been scanned. The translations are with the originals. Both digital formats also reside on a server.
Acc. no. 92-148, 04-044
Letters from RecipientsVOLUME 4233
Letters from Regehr Clan
- Letters from Liese (Regehr) Bargen, Muntau, Ukraine
- A. Letters from Kornelius and Liese Regehr, Sagradowka [A1-75]
- B. Letters from Johann and Susie Regehr, Sagradovka [B1-21]
- C. Letters from Abram and Hulda Regehr [C1-12]
- D. Letters from Abram and Lena Boldt, Sagradovka [D1-12]
- E. Letters from Johann and Mariechen Koop, Sagradovka(?) [E1-13]
Letters from Bargen Clan
- F. Letters from Jakob and Maria Regehr, Urals [F1-40]
- F.Letters from Jakob and Marie Regehr, Urals [F41-80]
- F. Letters from Jakob and Marie Regehr, Urals [F81-131]
- G. Letters from Benjamin and Tina Klassen, Prenzlau, Germany [G1-4]
- A. Letters from Maria Bargen, Sagradovka [A1-17]
- B. Letters from Wilhelm and Margareta Bargen, Sagradovka and Cherson [B1-26]
Section 2. Bargen Letter Collection (1939-1977) (Acc. No. 04-044)
The House Friend
- C. Letters from Jakob and Maria Bargen, Sagradovka [C1-44]
- D. Letters from Aron and Katherina Regehr, Sagradovka [D1-28]
- E. Letter from Peter and Liese Bargen, Carlyle, Saskatchewan [E1]
The Friends and Neighbours
- Letters from Johann J. Toews, Siberia [1-9]
- A. Letters from Johann and Liese Regehr, Sagradovka [A1-8]
- B. Letters from Peter and Maria Dueckman, Sagradovka [B1-5]
- C. Letters from Peter and Maria Klassen, Sagradovka [C1-10]
- D. Letters from Johann Ott, Tiege, Sagradovka [D1-6]
- E. Letters from F. K. Klassen, Sagradovka [E1-3]
- F. Letters from Jakob and Helena Baerg, Sagradovka [F1-5]
- G. Letters from Ab. and Tina Klassen, Sagradovka [G1-5]
- H. Letters from Susie Friesen, Sagradovka [H1-3]
- I. Letters from Anna Wieler, Marie Martens, Family Hechtel, Daniel Martens, Tina Dueck, Jakob and Susa Braun, David Penner, Helena Janzen and Anna Dirks, P. and M. Petkau, Maria Loewen and Richard Lynchnt [I-S]
- T. Letters to Franz and Liese Bargen [T1-5]
- Bolt and family letters. -- 1942-1973. -- Note: from binder "Post WWII Bolts and family; Post WWII Marie Regehr". Includes English translation.
- Marie Regehr post WWII letters. -- 1956-1968.-- Note: from binder "Post WWII Bolts and family Post WWII Marie Regehr"
- Letters by unknown author. -- 1930-1932. -- Note: from binder "Tina Bargen Unsorted; Book VI from page 401-500; Book VII From 501-600".
- Tina Bargen letters.-- 1956-1964. -- -- Note: from binder "Tina Bargen Unsorted; Book VI from page 401-500; Book VII From 501-600".
- Letters from Russia "still needs to be sorted 501-600" from various authors. -- 1949-1957,1963. -- -- Note: from binder "Tina Bargen Unsorted; Book VI from page 401-500; Book VII From 501-600".
- Letters from Russia "still needs to be sorted 1-400" from various authors. -- 1949-1957,1963. -- -- Note: from binder "Tina Bargen Unsorted; Book VI from page 401-500; Book VII From 501-600".
- Letters from Russia "Still to be sorted 1-400" by various authors. -- 1937-1957, 1977. -- Note: from binder "Tina Bargen Unsorted; Book VI from page 401-500; Book VII From 501-600".
- Letters from Susie Regehr and family. -- 1958-1969. -- Note: taken from binder "Susie Regehr + ; From 605-775".
- Letters from various authors "Still to be sorted 605-775". -- 1930, 1964-1968. -- Note: taken from binder "Susie Regehr + ; From 605-775".
- Letters from Hans and Marichen, (Mary) Koop. -- 1947- 1957.
- Letters from Hans and Marichen, (Mary) Koop. -- 1958-1969, 1974.
- Franz and Lise (Elizabeth) Bargen and family travel documents -- 1930.
- Canadian naturalization document for Elizabeth Bargen (1897-). -- 1945.
- "Remember Us as We Remember You: Letters from the Gulag" by Ruth Derksen Siemens published in Geist, Volume 12, Number 56, Spring 2005, p. 39-45.
- "Motherlode of original source material: Cache of letters found before they were to be thrown out" by Glenn Bohn and published in the Vancouver Sun, Sat. April, 15, 2006, together with 3 other pieces by Glen Bohn related to the Soviet system of prisons and the survival of Mennonites during the deadly regime of Joseph Stalin.
- Personal recollections by family members. -- 1989-2001.
- "Postcards from Hell" by Deirdre Fernand, The Sunday Times Magazine (London, UK). -- 31 May 2009.
Compact Disk 120
Post War Letters, selected translations and some recollections by family members/ Peter Bargen. -- [2004?]. -- Note the original compact disk consists of 13 files in Apple format. This was transferred to plain text files (txt) which is on a second CD. -- Note: also saved on server along with selected scaned images of the letters.