Einlage (Chortitza Mennonite Settlement, Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine)

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Einlage (Kitchkas) was one of the largest Mennonite villages of the Chortitza settlement on the right bank of the Dnieper, province of Ekaterinoslav, Ukraine, established in 1789 by Prussian Mennonites, who named the new village after the one some had come from. Soon after the settlement a flood of the Dnieper River made it necessary to transplant the village to a higher level. Again in 1927 the whole village was moved because of the Dneprostroi power dam which put the village level under water.

Before World War I the village had a population of some 1,500 and about 7,500 acres of land. Because of the favorable location of the village, business and industry, in addition to agriculture, became essential activities of Einlage. Steam-driven mills, factories, and businesses were established and some of the Mennonites became well-to-do. During 1902-1907 the second small Katherine Railroad was built through Einlage, greatly promoting industry and business. At that time one of the largest arch-span supported bridges of the world was built here across the Dnieper River; it was destroyed in the two world wars.

One of the earliest industries was the wagon factory of Heinrich Unger (1786-1855), active during the first half of the 19th century. His son Abram Unger (1825-1880) was the first Mennonite to construct spring wagons. Abram's son, A. A. Unger, enlarged the factory considerably. Johann Friesen established a factory which produced the first grain reaper among the Mennonites (possibly the first in the Ukraine) in 1879. The firm Koop and Co. bought and enlarged the Friesen factory, producing motors, machinery for steel roller flour mills, etc. The early Dutch windmills were replaced by the large flour mills owned by Heinrich Unger, Kornelius Martens, and others. Einlage also had lumber yards and carpenter shops and a number of business enterprises.

When in 1910 the centennial of the Einlage school was commemorated, the school was housed in its fourth building, which had four large classrooms, a library, and four teachers. By 1927, 42 teachers had taught school in Einlage. In addition to the general Mennonite-supported and controlled school, Einlage had a private school during the middle of the century which was taught first by Kaspar Hausknecht (1838) and continued by Heinrich Heese (1846-1868). Among the other outstanding teachers of Einlage were Gerhard Loewen and J. D. Rempel. The Revolution changed the Mennonite school completely and when Einlage was resettled (1927) it became a state school. Although the teachers remained predominantly Mennonite, the school soon became a tool of the Soviet state in promoting Communism. During the German occupation (1941-1943) the school was resumed by Mennonites.

The Mennonite congregation of Einlage met for a long time in the school and was a part of the Chortitza Mennonite Church, without an elder of its own. In 1900 a modern brick church was built in Einlage at the cost of 16,852 rubles, which was torn down in 1929 by the Soviets. Einlage was the center of the beginning and spread of the Mennonite Brethren of the Chortitza settlement. The Einlage Mennonite Brethren Church started in 1860 and erected a church building in 1904. Some of the industrialists of Einlage were members of this church and generous supporters of the cause. Not far from Einlage at the beautiful spot where the Dnieper River divided to form the Chortitza island owned by Mennonites, there was the Mennonite Sanatorium Alexandrabad and the Bethania Mental Hospital.

During and immediately following the Revolution of 1917 Einlage suffered severely. Many battles raged here between the Russians and Germans during both world wars, as well as during the Revolution. Many of the inhabitants succumbed to epidemics. A total of 100 persons died thus in 1919-1920, besides many who were murdered. In 1921, 56 persons died of starvation (figures according to J. D. Rempel). When American help reached the village, rehabilitation and reconstruction began.

In 1926 the Soviet government decided to raise the water level of the Dnieper by building a power dam to make it navigable and to produce electricity. This necessitated the removal of Einlage in 1927. The new Einlage had 27 Mennonite and 16 Russian farmers each receiving about 45 acres of land. The construction of the power dam and the Soviet philosophy determined the course of the new village considerably. Up to 40,000 laborers were drawn to this project and settled near Einlage; this resulted in the development of a number of industries. Soon Einlage was forced to farm its land collectively, producing grains and fruit and raising vegetables, hogs, and dairy products, which found a ready market in the vicinity.

The exile of Einlage Mennonites to the Far North or Siberia came to a climax on 30 July 1938, when two trucks of men were taken away, of whose destination no one ever heard. By 1941 a total of 245 Mennonites had been sent to forced labor camps. When the German army invaded the Ukraine, the Soviet authorities managed to evacuate only 23 persons eastward. During the brief time of occupation the former Mennonite way of life was somewhat restored. Einlage was taken by the Germans on 18 August 1941, and was abandoned early in October 1943. On 29 September 1943, 997 Einlage Mennonite laborers were evacuated by the Germans by train, arriving in Danzig on 9 October. Twelve hundred and thirty-five Einlage farmers followed on wagons, making the total population evacuated to Germany 2,232. From here many were sent into industries at Zoppot near Danzig, Dresden, and other places. Automatically they were made German subjects and the young men forced into the army. During the final stages of the war many perished in the bombing of Dresden. After the German collapse most of the Einlage Mennonites were forcibly repatriated by the Soviets and sent to Asiatic Russia. Those that succeeded in remaining in Germany finally reached Canada and Paraguay.


GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 5.05 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2008: #219660.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 547.

Rempel, Johann David. "Einlage." Unpublished manuscript in Mennonite Library and Archives, Bethel College (North Newton, KS): SA.II.1228

Rempel, Johann David. Einlage, Chronik des Dorfes Kitschkas, 1789-1943, edited by Heinrich [Heinz] Bergen. Regina, SK: Heinrich [Heinz] Bergen, 2009.

Stumpp, Karl. Bericht über das Gebiet Chortitza: im Generalbezirk Dnjepropetrowsk. Berlin, 1943.

Author(s) Cornelius Krahn
Date Published 1956

Cite This Article

MLA style

Krahn, Cornelius. "Einlage (Chortitza Mennonite Settlement, Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 29 Sep 2023. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Einlage_(Chortitza_Mennonite_Settlement,_Zaporizhia_Oblast,_Ukraine)&oldid=169287.

APA style

Krahn, Cornelius. (1956). Einlage (Chortitza Mennonite Settlement, Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 29 September 2023, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Einlage_(Chortitza_Mennonite_Settlement,_Zaporizhia_Oblast,_Ukraine)&oldid=169287.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 172-173. All rights reserved.

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