Editors Mark Jantzen and John D. Thiesen
Book, 2021, 352 pp
During the Second World War, Mennonites in the Netherlands, Germany, occupied Poland, and Ukraine lived in communities with Jews and close to various Nazi camps and killing sites. As a result of this proximity, Mennonites were neighbours to and witnessed the destruction of European Jews. In some cases they were beneficiaries or even enablers of the Holocaust. Much of this history was forgotten after the war, as Mennonites sought to rebuild or find new homes as refugees. The result was a myth of Mennonite innocence and ignorance that connected their own suffering during the 1930s and 1940s with earlier centuries of persecution and marginalization.
European Mennonites and the Holocaust identifies a significant number of Mennonite perpetrators, along with a smaller number of Mennonites who helped Jews survive, examining the context in which they acted. In some cases, theology led them to accept or reject Nazi ideals. In others, Mennonites chose a closer embrace of German identity as a strategy to improve their standing with Germans or for material benefit.
A powerful and unflinching examination of a difficult history, European Mennonites and the Holocaust uncovers a more complete picture of Mennonite life in these years, underscoring actions that were not always innocent.
By Judith Fehr
Book, 2018, 208 pp
The Life and Times of David and Margaret Thiessen and Family tells the story of my grandparents. Their story starts on Chapter 18 and tells about how they coped with life in the early 1900s. They lived through many hard times: WWI, the Spanish influenza, the Great Depression, WWII. When they got married in 1915, Canada was only 48 years old; Manitoba was 45. So during this time, for the Mennonites, schools were changing from German to English. Health care was in its infancy. They were fortunate to have two country doctors, but their closest hospital was in Winnipeg. On the positive side, all of their extended family lived nearby and gave help and support.
Chapter 2-13 give a brief background on our people, the area they lived in, churches, schools; as well as the family’s military history.
Chapter 14 is genealogy from the GRANDMA database received from the Steinbach Mennonite Heritage Village. It traces the family back to the 1500s.
This book also includes as much history as is available of David and Margaret’s parents: the Abram B. Thiessens and the Johan Loewens. Some of this history comes from records: passenger lists, census records, Gemeinde Buchen and death certificates. My mom’s first cousins and my second cousins were kind enough to provide family history for all of my grandparents’ siblings and their children. Their stories are told in Chapters 15-17. For the most part, these early generations continued to live in southern Manitoba. Some prominent people in the family include mom’s cousin A.J. Thiessen who was quite community-minded and instrumental in the progress of the Rosenfeld/Altona area. And on her mother’s side, Jacob Loewen served as a drayman in Rosenfeld from 118 until 1957; Peter Loewen was a minister in the New Spencer Bergthaler Church in Grunthal, MB.
Chapters 21-28 tell the stories of David and Margaret’s eight children. By this time many changes have come to pass and their lives are not as challenging as their parents’ lives were. This book ends with some personal memories that were shared. And I should not forget to mention that it contains around 300 photographs of the family.
Volendam: A Refugee Story, $25.00
Directed by Andrew Wall
DVD, 2020, 84 minutes
A feature documentary examining the story of the Russian Mennonite refugees who fled west with the retreating German Army during World War Two, desperate to escape the horror of Stalin’s Soviet Union.
The Mennonites, with nowhere to go, would end up stranded in refugee camps throughout Holland and Germany in an unfolding two-year saga. Eventually, a risky plan, involving the American Military, multiple governments, aid organizations and the Queen of the Netherlands would come together. It all would hinge on an old transport ship called Volendam…
Told through personal interviews, reenactments and never before seen archival footage, production began in 2018 and included travel to the Volendam and Neuland Colonies in Paraguay.
WINNER: Best Feature Documentary at the Winnipeg Real to Real Film Festival – Feb 20 – 23, 2020
We have a good selection of use books related to Mennonite history. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-204-560-1998 to place an order. Shipping, taxes and handling are extra. If you don’t find the book you are looking for – send us an email, the list is a sample of what we have.
List updated March 2021
Bergen, Peter and Sommerfeld Mennonite Church. History of the Sommerfeld Mennonite Church (2001) $30.00
Daniels, Rudy and others, eds. Nordheimer Mennonite Church of Saskatchewan (1975) $8.00
Dyck, Barbara and Timothy, eds. Jacob’s Journey: The Memoirs of J.E. Kroeker (1998) $12.00
Dyck, Harvey L., trans. and ed. A Mennonite in Russia: The Diaries of Jacob D. Epp 1851-1880 (1991) $25.00
Dyck, John, ed. Bergthal Gemeinde Buch (1993) $25.00
Eidse, Lenore and History Book Committee. Furrows in the Valley: A Centennial Project of the Rural Municipality of Morris 1880-1980 (1980) $45.00
Enns, F.G. Gretna: Window on the Northwest (1987) $25.00
Enns, Mary M. Mia: The Story of a Remarkable Woman (na.) $6.00
Epp, Frank H. Mennonite Exodus (1962) $25.00
Epp, Marlene. Mennonite Women in Canada: A History (2008) $10.00
Frank Froese committee. Froese Family Tree, 1871-1998: Celebrating 50 years in Canada (1998) $10.00
Friesen, Cornelius. Attention Deficit Disorder to the Call of God: An Autobiography of a Mennonite Boy Growing into Manhood (2006) $8.00
Friesen, Helena Goossen. Daydreams & Nightmares: Life on the Wintergruen Estate (1990) $4.00
Friesen, Rudy. Descendants of Cornelius Friesen (1986) $20.00
Friesen, Ted and Elisabeth Peters, eds. Memories of Grigorievka (1998) $20.00
Friesen, Ted. Memoirs: A Personal Autobiography of Ted Friesen (2003) $10.00
Giesbrecht, Agatha. Jacob Harder and Maria Abrams, 1788-1988 (1988) $8.00
Gnadenthal History Book Committee. Gnadenthal, 1880-1980 (1982) $15.00
Hague-Osler Reserve Book Committee. Hague-Osler Mennonite Reserve, 1895-1995 (1995) $20.00
Halbstadt Heritage Book Committee. Halbstadt Heritage: Halbstadt, Strassberg, Blumenthal (Houston) 1879-2005 (2005) $25.00
Harder, Leland D. and Samuel W. Harder. The Blumstein Legacy: A Six Generation Family Saga, Second Edition (n.d.) $15.00
Haury, David A. Index to Mennonite Immigrants on United States Passenger Lists 1872-1904 (1986) $25.00
Hofer, John. The History of the Hutterites, Revised Edition (1996) $6.00
Horndean Reunion Committee. Horndean Heritage (1984) $20.00
Janzen, Helen. Memories (1985) $5.00
Jantz, Harold. Canadian Mennonite Brethren, 1910-2010: Leaders Who Shaped Us (2010) $12.00
Klassen, Doreen Helen. Singing Mennonite: Low German Songs among the Mennonites (1989) $20.00
Klassen, Elizabeth Suderman. Trailblazer for the Brethren (1978) $8.00
Klassen, John C. And Jake Krueger. ASM: Alternative Service Memoirs (1995) $20.00
Klippenstein, Frieda Esau. A Cultural Landscape History: Neubergthal National Historic Site, A Mennonite Street Village on the Canadian Prairie (1997) $10.00
Kreider, Robert S. and Rachel Waltner Goossen. Hungry, Thirsty, a Stranger: The MCC Experience (1988) $10.00
Kroeker, Nettie. Far Above Rubies: The Story of Helena Wiens (1976) $8.00
Kroeker, Rena and George. A Pilgrim People Volume II: Johannes J. Dyck 1885-1948, Johannes J. Dyck 1860-1920, Johannes D. Dyck 1826-1898 (1994) $25.00
Neufeld, Dietrich. A Russian Dance of Death (1977) $5.00
Neufeld, Herman A. Mary Neufeld and the Repphun Story: From The Molotschna to Manitoba (1987) $20.00
Neufeld, Mary. A Prairie Pilgrim: Wilhelm H. Falk (2008) $10.00
Neufeld, N.J., H. F. Klassen, and Peter H. Mierau, eds. UFA: The Mennonite Settlements (Colonies) 1894-1938 (1977) $5.00
Peters, Jake. Mennonite Private Schools: In Manitoba and Saskatchewan 1874-1925 (1985) $6.00
Plett, Delbert, ed. Old Colony: Mennonites in Canada 1875 to 2000 (2001) $15.00
Redekop, Calvin. Strangers Become Neighbors: Mennonite and Indigenous Relations in the Paraguayan Chaco (1980) $4.00
Reimer, Gustav E. and G.R. Gaeddert. Exiled by the Czar: Cornelius Jansen and the Great Mennonite Migration, 1874 (1956) $15.00
Rempel, George. Rempel Family Book: Faith of our Fathers (2000) $45.00
Snyder, C. Arnold, and Linda A. Huebert Hecht, eds. Profiles of Anabaptist Women: Sixteenth-Century Reforming Pioneers (1996) $25.00
Snyder, Peter Etril. A Painter’s Harvest: The Works of Peter Etril Snyder (1986) $15.00
Studer, Gerald C. Christopher Dock: Colonial Schoolmaster, The Biography and Writings of Christopher Dock (1967) $15.00
Stumpp, Karl. The German-Russians: Two Centuries of Pioneering, Jubilee Edition (1971) $10.00
Toews, John B. Lost Fatherland: The Story of the Mennonite Emigration from Soviet Russia, 1921-1927, Studies in Anabaptist and Mennonite History No. 12 (1967) $5.00
Urry, James. Mennonites, Politics, and Peoplehood: Europe – Russia – Canada, 1525 to 1980 (2006) $18.00
Urry, James. None but Saints: The Transformation of Mennonite Life in Russia, 1789-1889 (1989) $20.00
Visser, Piet and Mary Sprunger. Menno Simons: Places, Portraits and Progeny (1996) $20.00
Voth, Norma Jost. Mennonite Foods & Folkways from South Russia Volume II (1991) $12.00
Ward, Lynne. David Heinrich Friesen & Family, 1720-2001 (2002) $25.00
Bargain Books from the CMU Press
Not exactly “hot of the press…” but here are some great books for an even better price! They are even in very good condition.
All bargain books are $5.00
Adolf Ens. Becoming a National Church: A history of the Conference of Mennonites in Canada (2004)
Anna Ens. In Search of Unity: Story of the Conference of Mennonites in Manitoba (1996)
Esther Epp-Tiessen. J.J. Thiessen: A Leader for His Time (2001)
Esther Epp-Tiessen. Mennonite Central Committee in Canada: A History (2013)
Henry Poettcker. A President’s Journey: The Memoirs of Henry Poettcker (2009)
Lisa Weaver, Julie Kauffman, Judith Rempel Smucker. On the Zwieback Trail: A Russian Mennonite Alphabet of Stories, Recipes and Historic Events (2011)
T.D. Regehr. A Generation of Vigilance: The lives & work of Johannes and Tina Harder (2009)
Text To Terabyte Project
The Text to Terabyte Project is made possible by Otto Klassen’s gift to distribute his films. This is a joint project between the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies and the Mennonite Heritage Archives of Winnipeg. Both centres are national archival centres and have seen demand for services grow. At the same time they are facing new challenges and opportunities with new electronic possibilities.
You can help preserve and make accessible records held at the centres that God’s story in the life of the Mennonite and Mennonite Brethren Community. For a donation of $30 ($25 will be receipted) you can choose of Otto Klassen’s fascinating documentaries. For $60 choose 2, for a $90 donation choose 3 etc. Please note that shipping costs will be added to the total if needed. They make great gifts for family and friends.
Otto has over 50 films to his credit in various languages including English, German, Low German and Spanish. The following are currently available.
To participate please contact the Mennonite Heritage Archives at email@example.com or 1-204-560-1998.
- Remembering Our Mennonite Heritage
- Prairie Pioneers: The Mennonites of Manitoba (1874-1974)
- Remembering Russia 1914-1927: War and the end of Mennonite Tranquility
- Remembering Russia 1928-1938: Collectivization and Mass Arrest
- The Great Trek: Part 1 (1939-1943)
- The Great Trek: Part 2 (1943-1945)
- The Burden of the Soviet Star
- Pioneers of the Chaco
- Personal Experiences of Mennonites from Russia
Remembering Our Mennonite Heritage – SOLD OUT
…traces the origins of the Anabaptist-Mennonite movement and the migration of the persecuted Anabaptist believers to Polish-Prussia in the 16th Century. 250 years later, over one half of these Prussian Mennonites respond to an invitation of the Russian Tsars to settle in southern Russia (in what is now Ukraine) during the years 1789 to 1836; and in central Russia from 1853-1870. The “golden years” of this Mennonite Commonwealth came to an end with the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. 2007 production, 45 minute DVD.
Prairie Pioneers: The Mennonites of Manitoba (1874-1974)
…is Klassen’s first full-length film produced in 1974. The film recreates various aspects of pioneer life, such as the building of sod huts (zemlin), and the arrival of Russian-Mennonite settlers at the junction of the Red River and Rat River in 1874. It also includes footage of Manitoba Centennial Celebrations of 1970 in various Manitoba Mennonite communities, including the first ever visit of members of the Royal Family – Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and Prince Charles – to a Mennonite village in Canada and the visit of rime Minister Pierre Trudeau to Steinbach. 1974 production, re-mastered in 2007, 43 minute DVD.
Remembering Russia 1914-1927: War and the end of Mennonite Tranquility
The Mennonites in southern Russia, present-day Ukraine, had become affluent. They worked hard in their tight-knit communities, bound by a common language and faith. That all changed with the beginning of World War I in 1914. A bloody civil war in 1917, churned through the country and ended the Mennonite way of life. Farms, enterprises and churches were expropriated and families died at the hands of marauding anarchists. As their world crumbled thousands of Mennonites fled to Canada. 2006 production, 43 minute DVD.
Remembering Russia 1928-1938: Collectivization and Mass Arrest
This DVD documents the spiritual battles and sufferings of Mennonites in Soviet Russia from the introduction of the first Five-Year Plan in October 1928 to the end of The Great Terror in 1938. Soviet plans for the complete collectivization of agriculture, and the closing of all churches struck a hard blow to the traditional Mennonite way of life. Thousands fled to Moscow; others into China. Of those who remained, many suffered the fate of exile to the forests and mines of Northern Russia, Siberia, and Kolyma. Hundreds died during the terrible famine of 1933. Thousands of men and even some women were rounded up by the secret police and exiled to labour camps or simply shot. 2007 production, 52 minute DVD.
Note: also available in German
The Great Trek: Part 1 (1939-1943)
Otto Klassen uses rare archival photographs and film footage from the German Bundesarchiv to document the effects of the Soviet-German Non-aggressive Pact (August 1939), the German invasion of the Soviet Union (22 June 1941), and the subsequent two-year occupation of Ukraine on Soviet-Germans and Ukrainians in general and on the Mennonite villages of the Khortitsa and Molochna Settlements in particular. 1992 production re-mastered in 2007, 35 minute DVD.
The Great Trek: Part 2 (1943-1945)
Otto Klassen uses rare archival photographs and film footage from the German Bundesarchiv to document the westward retreat of over 350,000 Soviet-Germans and Mennonites in Fall of 1943, their resettlement in German-Occupied Polish territory, and their eventual flight from advancing Red Army forces in the early months of 1945. 1992 production, re-mastered in 2007, 39 minute DVD.
The Burden of the Soviet Star
After the Russian Revolution, famine, and the Great War, Stalin’s communism was an even harsher burden especially for those exiled to labor camps. The camps were in isolated areas where conditions were notoriously horrible.
Pioneers in the Chaco
The harsh environment of the Paraguayan Chaco did not scare off the Mennonites who moved there from Canada in the 1920s. With their faith they forged a path into the wilderness which others would soon follow. The heirs of these pioneers have been reaping the rewards based on the pioneers’ courage. (45 minutes) (2009)
Personal Experiences of Mennonites from Russia
A presentation of four (4) short Otto Klassen Productions featuring speakers such as Dr. Marlene Epp, Professor of History, University of Waterloo; story-teller Peter J. Dyck, teacher Gerhard Ens and others on Mennonites who experienced trauma and terror during early Soviet communism through to World War II. (45 minutes)