© Mennonite Heritage Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba (Last updated August 12, 2009)
Artur Laser was born on 13 February 1925 in the village of Sorotschin, Shitomir, Ukraine (Volynia). His family settled in the village of Tiegerweide in the Mennonite Molotschna settlement in 1933, where he attended the first 4 years of his elementary schooling, followed by classes in Rueckenau for Grades 5, 6 and 7. By age 15 in 1940 he worked as a full labourer in the local collective farm. From 1941-1946 he worked in a concentration camp at Solikamsk, first as a labourer, then a locksmith, and finally as a repair locksmith, once the entire armament manufacturing was in full operation. After 1945 a paper mill was also built at Solikamsk where he worked as a repair locksmith for 18 years. He married Helen Lieder on 3 August 1948. They lived in the city of Solikamsk-Borowsk from 1948-1964, and then moved to Ergana, Usbekistan.
After Joseph Stalin's death in 1953, Artur Laser started actively identifying with the German Baptist and Mennonite Christians who often met privately in homes. He was baptized in 1955 by a Jacob Goerzen and continued to identify with the Baptist congregation, both during a period of the church being unregistered and during a time of being registered with the Soviet authorities.
During the Second World War, he and his father lost contact with his mother and siblings. In 1956 Artur heard that his mother and siblings had survived the war and were living in Winnipeg, Canada. Artur and his wife joine them when they emigrated from the USSR in 1973. Artur became a Canadian citizen in 1978.
Artur Laser worked for Monarch Industry in Winnipeg for a short period in 1973-74, and then at Washtronics. He retired in 1990 at the age of 65, and spent significant time in the subsequent years writing his memoirs.
This fonds consists of the memoirs of Artur Laser, a German Baptist Christian, who moved into a Mennonite community as a child, lived and went to school in Tiegerweide and Rueckenau, Molotschna, was commandeered to work in a Russian concentration camp in 1940, and who continued to meet and live among German-speaking Baptists and Mennonites, as religious life began to re-organize after Stalin's death. The memoirs provide political background against which many experiences are described from 1933 up until he immigrated to Canada in 1973. The memoirs includes notes on each change of Soviet leadership from Stalin through to Gorbechev, and how it affected religious and social life in the Soviet Union.
Inventory file list available
The material is this fonds was initially sent to Michael Miller, Director and Bibliographer, The Libraries Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND around 2007. Mr. Miller delivered them to the Mennonite Heritage Centre on 7 August 2009.
Arranged and described by Alf Redekopp, August 2009.
none to access
Acc. No. 09-044
- Erklarung über die Information in (auf) den Blättern meines Briefes. [To Michael Miller from Artur Laser.]
- Eine ungefähre Zeichnung unseres Dorfes Tiegerweide in der Molotschna Mennonitensiedlung – dazu auch die Karte der Siedlung, die an 1914 gemacht wurde.
- Mein Lebenslauf [my memoirs] / Artur Laser. – 1992. – 75 pp. Also, included are sketch drawings of the family residence in Sorotschin. Shitomir, Volynia in which they lived 1928-1933, before moving to Tiegerweide, in the Mennonite settlement of Moloschna.
- Lebenslauf (eine Biographie) [Mutter] Ida Laser (1903-1990). 7 pp.
- Etwas aus dem Leben Vaters Daniel Laser (1895-1965). -- 1 pp.
- Das Dorf Sorotschin, Gebiet Shitomir, Wolhynien. – 3 pp.
- Information über die Ansiedlung der Deutschen ins russische Zarenreich.—2 pp.
- Die Ereignisse in Moskau am 3-4 Oktober 1993 (Das Ende der Ara des Kommunismus in Russland?) – 2 pp.
- Etliche Jahre zurück fiel mir zufällig ein Buch in die Hand gescrieben an die 1963 von der Tochter Stalins, Swetlana Allilujewa. Ich habe mir etliche Notizen daraus gemacht. – 2 pp.
ENGLISH SUMMARY OF INVENTORY
- Explanatory notes from Artur Laser to Michael Miller, NDSU, director of the Libraries Germans from Russia Heritage Collections, re. the writings.
- About Tiegerweide [village map]
- Artur Laser’s memoirs / autobiography. – 1992. – 75 pp.
- About Ida Laser (1903-1990). – 7 pp.
- About Daniel Laser (1895-1965). -- 1 p.
- About Sorotschin, Shitomir, Volynia. – 3 pp.
- About the settlement of Germans in Czarist Russia. – 2 pp.
- About the end of communism (?), Moscow, 3-4 Oct. 1993. – 2 pp.
- Notes on the 1963 book by Stalin’s daughter Swetlana Allilujewa. – 22 pp.