Mennonite Colonies or Colonists are terms used in referring to Mennonite settlements, particularly in Russia. A. Klaus, author of Unsere Kolonien (1887), uses this term for all foreign rural settlements in Russia as seen from the Russian government's point of view as an attempt to settle unoccupied lands with permanent foreign settlers to serve as models for the native population, a policy which was begun under the reign of Czarina Elizabeth (1741-1762) around 1750. The borders were closed to immigrants in 1819 with the exception of some Mennonites. The Russian colonization policy was described by Ehrt, Das Mennonitentum in Russland (Langensalza, 1932) 25-26.
The modern usage of the term to mean a "group of people transplanted from a mother country to another country but remaining subject to the parent state and country" is not quite accurate in the case of the Mennonites in Russia. The so-called "daughter colonies" in Russia were a result of a natural expansion sponsored by the mother settlements (colonies), to some degree promoted by the government. The Mennonite settlements later established in America (Manitoba, Mexico, Paraguay) were actually "colonies" of the mother settlements in Russia in a somewhat similar sense though never so called.
The term "colony" was not only used to designate a large compact settlement, but also sometimes to refer to single villages. The Hutterite Bruderhofs in Russia were referred to as "colonies."
All foreign settlers in Russia were referred to by the government as "colonists," while the Mennonites usually spoke of themselves as "Mennonites" or "Germans" (Dietsche) and of other foreign settlers as "colonists." In order to avoid confusion it is best to speak of the Mennonites in Russia as "settlers" and "settlements" rather than "colonies" and "colonists."
Ehrt, Adolf. Das Mennonitentum in Russland: Von Seiner Einwanderung Bis Zur Gegenwart. Langensalza: Julius Beltz, 1932
Klaus, A. Unsere Kolonien: Studien Und Materialien Zur Geschichte Und Statistik Der Ausländischen Kolonisation in Russland. Odessa: Verlag der "Odessaer Zeitung", 1887. Available in full electronic text at http://books.google.ca/books?id=m65DAAAAYAAJ
 Cite This Article
Krahn, Cornelius. "Colonies, Colonists, Mennonite." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 11 Dec 2013. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Colonies,_Colonists,_Mennonite&oldid=79798.
Krahn, Cornelius. (1953). Colonies, Colonists, Mennonite. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 11 December 2013, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Colonies,_Colonists,_Mennonite&oldid=79798.
Herald Press website.
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.