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Featured Article: "Ens, Gerhard (1922-2011)"

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Gerhard Ens (1922-2011)

Gerhard Enns: teacher, minister, and radio broadcaster; born 4 August 1922 in Gnadenthal, Baratov Mennonite Settlement, Ukraine, to Gerhard (1893-1990) and Helen (Sawatzky) Ens (1894-1992). He was the eldest child in the family. Together with his parents, he immigrated to Canada in 1923. In 1950, Gerhard married Annie Niebuhr (8 February 1923 – 24 April 2015), with whom he had five children. He lived for much of his life in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he worked as a teacher, editor, and radio host for a Low German program. He died at Donwood Manor Personal Care Home in Winnipeg on 13 February 2011.

Although he was born in the Soviet Union, Gerhard Ens spent most of his life in Canada. Together with his family, he moved to Reinland, Manitoba in 1923, where they spent the next 11 years living in a renovated machine shed. Gerhard studied at a one-room school in Reinland for eight years before completing the next two years in Gnadenthal and the final years of schooling at the Mennonite Collegiate Institute in Gretna, Manitoba. He attended Normal School in Winnipeg to become a teacher, later studying in summers to achieve his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education.

During the Second World War, Gerhard Ens worked on farms for some time before transferring to Portage la Prairie to work as an orderly in the hospital there. He lost his teaching certificate due to his status as a conscientious objector but was later able to get his license back when he appealed to his local government official.

In 1946, Gerhard Ens went to teach at the Mennonite Collegiate Institute, where he had taught before the war. He worked there for the next 31 years, including ten years as the principal of the school. During a summer school session in Winnipeg, he met Anni Niebuhr, daughter of Johann Niebuhr and Anna Krahn. They married on 19 August 1950 and settled in Gretna, where their five children were born.

Gerhard Ens was a founding member of the Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society in 1958 and continued to pursue his interest in Mennonite history for many years. In 1972, he was asked to produce a Low German radio program in celebration of the centennial of the Mennonite settlements in Manitoba. He continued to volunteer his time to broadcast these programs for the next 34 years, first in 15-minute segments and then in half-hour slots. By the time he retired, he had produced over 1,400 programs, which aired on three radio stations.

In 1977, the family moved to Winnipeg, where Gerhard Enns began working as an editor of the German-language newspaper Der Bote. He was instrumental in helping to run the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach. In 2008, he received an award of excellence from the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada for his work in helping to advance Mennonite history.

Meanwhile, Gerhard Ens was deeply involved in his church, helping extensively with preaching at the Sargent Avenue Mennonite Church in Winnipeg, where he gave over 2,000 sermons. He was ordained in 1958 and was involved in working with the Conference of Mennonites in Manitoba. In 2008, he moved to Donwood Manor Personal Care Home as his health began to fail, and he died there on 13 February 2011. Anni died on 24 April 2015.

Gerhard Ens was a dedicated historian and church leader whose work helped to promote the study of the Mennonite community in Manitoba. Through his work and his personal life, he was an example of commitment for others to follow.


Dyck, Barry. "The Legacy of Gerhard Ens." Web. 21 February 2017. https://www.mysteinbach.ca/blogs/4934/the-legacy-of-gerhard-ens/.

Friends Funeral Service "In Memory of Anni Ens." Web. 21 February 2017. http://friendsfs.ca/book-of-memories/2118180/Ens-Anni/obituary.php?Printable=true.

Goldsborough, Gordon. "Memorable Manitobans: Gerhard Ens (1922-2011)." Web. 21 February 2017. http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/people/ens_g.shtml.

The Mennonite Historical Society of Canada. “Gerhard Ens. Web. 14 February 2017. http://www.mhsc.ca/index.php?content=http://www.mhsc.ca/mhsc/award.html.

Stoesz, Conrad. "Gerhard Ens (1922-2011): Historian, Minister, and Educator." Preservings 31(2011): 85-87.

Stoesz, Conrad. "Gerhard Ens: Historian, Minister and Educator." Web. 14 February 2017. http://www.mennonitehistorian.ca/37.1.MHMar11.pdf.

Author(s) Susan Huebert
Date Published February 2017

Cite This Article

MLA style

Huebert, Susan. "Welcome to GAMEO." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2017. Web. 19 Jun 2018. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Welcome_to_GAMEO&oldid=148855.

APA style

Huebert, Susan. (February 2017). Welcome to GAMEO. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 June 2018, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Welcome_to_GAMEO&oldid=148855.

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