Berdyansk (Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine)

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Berdyansk (Berdiansk, Ukrainian: Бердянськ, translit. Berdyans’k, Russian: Бердянск, Berdyansk), district, city, and Mennonite church. The Berdyansk district is located in the eastern section of Taurida, Russia (now Berdyansky Raion, Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine), in which the Molotschna Mennonite settlement was located. The city of Berdyansk, a harbor on the Sea of Azov, had a population of 32,420 in 1910 (ca. 125,000 in 2001). This town was founded in 1735 and incorporated 100 years later, at which time it grew rapidly because of its strategic location for exporting the produce of the large wheat-producing Mennonite and German settlements.

Among the first Mennonites to move to Berdyansk was Abraham Sudermann, Caldowe, Prussia, in 1845, who built and operated a treadmill there. Being a minister, he started to gather a congregation which was first a subsidiary of the Pordenau Mennonite Church, then independent 1865-1876, under Elder Leonhard Sudermann, and later a subsidiary of the Gnadenfeld Mennonite Church, and after 1914 of the Rudnerweide Mennonite Church.

Some of the outstanding members of the congregation were Leonhard Sudermann, Cornelius Jansen, and Heinrich Ediger, printer and mayor. The Mennonites in Berdyansk were mostly businessmen dealing in grain, etc., who formed a "colony" within the city with their own administration and schools. In 1909 there were 109 taxable members, whose property was valued at one million rubles.

The small Mennonite colony of Berdyansk played an important role in the spiritual, cultural, and economic welfare of the surrounding Mennonite settlements. Cornelius Jansen and Leonhard Sudermann were friends of the evangelist Eduard Wüst and Quakers, who visited the Mennonite settlements. Both were also strong promoters and leaders of the great migration of the Mennonites from Russia to the prairie states and provinces in the 1870s.


Ediger, Heinrich. Erinnerungen aus meinem Leben: Erlebtes und Gesammeltes. Karlsruhe-Rüppur (Baden) : Im Selbstverlag des Verfassers, 1927.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 164.


Map:Berdyansk (Ukraine)

Author(s) Cornelius Krahn
Date Published 1953

Cite This Article

MLA style

Krahn, Cornelius. "Berdyansk (Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 21 Apr 2024.,_Ukraine)&oldid=144808.

APA style

Krahn, Cornelius. (1953). Berdyansk (Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 April 2024, from,_Ukraine)&oldid=144808.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 276. All rights reserved.

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