Heinrich Jakob Braun: minister and publisher; born 30 April 1873 in Alexanderwohl, Molotschna Mennonite Settlement, South Russia, to Jakob and Helena (Baergen) Braun. He was the seventh of ten children. On 7 October 1899, he married Maria Peters; she died in childbirth, and the next year, Heinrich married Maria’s sister, Helena. After her death in 1941, Heinrich married Martha Siever in Germany. Heinrich had no surviving children from any of his marriages. He was a leader in the Mennonite Brethren Church, as well as participating in various inter-Mennonite projects. He died in Nierstein, Hessen, Germany, on 24 June 1946.
As a child, Heinrich attended school in Alexanderwohl, completing his basic education before being tutored privately for several years. He became an apprentice teacher in Kleefeld in 1887. After helping on the farm for two years, he began a series of tutoring jobs in 1889, and in 1894, he was selected by the church to begin pastoral training at the Hamburg Baptist Theological Seminary. He graduated in 1899 and returned to South Russia, where the next year he was involved in formulating the Mennonite Brethren Confession of Faith. On 2 September 1901, he was ordained as a minister by the Rückenau Mennonite Brethren Church.
On 7 October 1899, Heinrich married Maria Peters, daughter of Isaak Peters of Nikopol. She died in childbirth early in 1902, and the child died soon afterward. On 27 February 1903, Heinrich married his first wife’s younger sister, Helena, and although the couple never had children of their own, they helped look after many children of missionaries who were out on their assignments. Heinrich and Helena purchased two farms near Nikolaipol, possibly using Helena’s money.
In 1903, Braun became a partner in a printing business, reorganized in 1908 to form the Raduga Publishing Company; it issued a wide variety of materials, including the newspaper Friedensstimme and P. M. Friesen’s Die Alt-Evangelische Mennonitische Brüderschaft in Russland (1789-1910). He kept church statistics for several years and in 1910, he was elected treasurer of the Foreign Mission Account of the Mennonite Brethren Conference. Heinrich was also involved in planning the 1908 and 1909 Bible Conferences in Halbstadt and participated in several committees, including the Glaubenskommission (Faith Commission, later the Kommission für Kirchenangelegenheiten [KfK]) of the Allgemeine Bundeskonferenz der Mennnonitengemeinden in Russland (General Conference of the Mennonite Congregations in Russia). He trained for mission work, was involved in examining candidates for foreign missions, and also wrote articles on topics related to Mennonite Brethren identity for the magazines Friedensstimme and Der Botschafter.
When a place opened up in 1918 for a second teacher at the new Bible school in Tchongrav in the Crimea, the Mennonite Brethren Conference appointed Braun to the role. He taught there for the next three years, and he even donated some of his own books to the school when teaching supplies were scarce. In the fall of 1921, he abruptly resigned and shortly afterwards fled from Russia, eventually joining his younger brother in Oberursel, Germany. His wife left Halbstadt in 1923, first moving to Canada before joining Heinrich. Over the next years, they frequently sent relief packages back to the Soviet Union.
In 1924, Heinrich used his own funds to travel to Paraguay to explore the possibility of establishing Mennonite settlements in South America, and on his return, he submitted a report to the Mennonitisches Studienkommision. He pursued natural and herbal medicine in Germany, as well as giving lectures on Christian education for the Evangelische Schulgemeinschaft.
Heinrich Jakob Braun was a dedicated teacher and church worker who freely used his own resources to help people in need. Through his many activities both within and outside the church, he had a profound effect on his family and the surrounding community.
Braun, Heinrich J. Bundes-Statistik der Vereinigten, Taufgesinnten, Mennonitischen Brüder-Gemeinde in Russland, Nikolaipol, 1905-1906.
Braun, Heinrich J. "Mennonites or Baptists." Friedensstimme (5 May 1910): 3-5; also in Botschafter (25 May 1910): 4 and (28 May 1910): 3; translated into English by Abe J. Dueck in Moving Beyond Secession: 177-122.
Dueck, Abe J. Moving Beyond Secession. Winnipeg and Hillsboro: Kindred Productions, 1998: 7, 12, 14, 16, 57-59, 64, 67, 68, 70, 72-75, 78, 81, 83, 84, 86, 87, 92-96, 100, 101, 111, 117-122, 132, 137, 141, 143, 145, 146, 148-150, 152, 158, 166.
Friedensstimme (3 September 1914): 5.
Friesen, Abraham, Santa Barbara, USA, personal family history.
Friesen, Peter M. Die Alt-Evangelische Mennonitische Brüderschaft in Russland (1789-1910) im Rahmen der mennonitischen Gesamtgeschichte. Halbstadt: Verlagsgesellschaft "Raduga", 1911: 450, 530, 534, 536, 542-545, 568, 598, 659, 661, 670, 672, 673, 722.
Schroeder, William and Helmut T. Huebert. Mennonite Historical Atlas. Winnipeg, MB: Springfield Pub., 1990: 122.
Peters, G. W. Foundations of Mennonite Brethren Missions. Hillsboro and Winnipeg: Kindred Press, 1984: 39.
Reimer, Margaret. The Story of the Crimea Bible School, translated by Edwin Reimer. [Ontario : M. Reimer, 197-?]: 6, 11, 21.
Toews, John A. History of the Mennonite Brethren Church, ed. A. J. Klassen. Fresno, CA: Mennonite Brethren Board of Literature and Education, 1975: 103, 113, 381.
 Additional Information
1955 ArticleHeinrich Jakob Braun, b. 30 April 1873 at Alexanderwohl, South Russia, was a leading representative of the Mennonite Brethren of the Molotschna settlement. Braun was graduated from the Hamburg Baptist Seminary, was a minister, a director of the Raduga Publishing House, and owner of two large estates. After the Revolution (1922) he left Russia to make his home in Germany, where he practiced healing. In 1924 he made a trip to South America to investigate settlement possibilities for Mennonites in Paraguay. He undertook this project entirely at his own initiative and on his own expense but submitted a comprehensive report to the Mennonitische Studienkommision delegated by the Mennonites of Russia to investigate settlement possibilities. He died 24 June 1946. His major achievements lay in the realm of promoting the publication and distribution of Christian literature among the Mennonites and others in Russia.
Author: Cornelius Krahn
|Date Published||September 2010|
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Huebert, Susan and Helmut Huebert. "Braun, Heinrich Jakob (1873-1946)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. September 2010. Web. 24 Jun 2017. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Braun,_Heinrich_Jakob_(1873-1946)&oldid=91216.
Huebert, Susan and Helmut Huebert. (September 2010). Braun, Heinrich Jakob (1873-1946). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 June 2017, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Braun,_Heinrich_Jakob_(1873-1946)&oldid=91216.
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