Fast, Hermann (1860-1935)

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Hermann Fast: minister and teacher; born at Gnadenfeld, Molotschna Mennonite Settlement, South Russia on 14 April 1860, the thirteenth of fourteen children of Isaak Fast, who had come to Russia from the Marienburger Werder, Prussia. Two of his older brothers, Abraham and Isaak, became leaders in the Templer Church. Herman married Elisabeth Gorinovitsch (6 June 1862, Kiev, Ukraine - 27 February 1916, Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada) on 22 June 1887 in Riga, Latvia. Hermann and Elisabeth had five children: Nickolas, Maria, Olga, Ernest, and Constance. Herman's second wife was Zinada Alimova, whom he married in December 1923 in Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan. Hermann died on 22 March 1935 in Perdue, Saskatchewan.

For four years Hermann attended the Ohrloff Vereinsschule and received catechetical instruction under Elder Bernhard Harder. After this he returned to Gnadenfeld where he graduated, after three years, from the Zentralschule. In 1878-79 he taught school at Rudnerweide. The next year while teaching at Lutheran school in Berdyansk he had a conversion experience after which he attended the Bible school of St. Chrischona near Basel for three years.

After his return to Russia in 1883, he taught for two years at the Musterschule of Halbstadt. In 1885 he went to Feodosiya, Crimea, where he preached in a Lutheran church and studied the Russian language. Here Countess Schonnenlov of St. Petersburg invited him to become the tutor of her grandson, a position that he held between 1886 and 1894. In 1887, in the Baptist Chapel at Riga, he was married to Elizabeth Gorinovitsch, of Russian Orthodox heritage who had been a private tutor at Halbstadt while Fast was teaching there.

In 1892-93 he accompanied two English Quakers, Joseph Neive and John Bellow, to the Caucasus to visit exiled Evangelicals, serving as an interpreter. Because of this and other religious activities he was watched by the Russian police. In 1895 Fast and his wife, together with the widow of the poet N. A. Nekrassov, settled on an estate near Simferopol, Crimea, and lived there until 1897. Since the police were watching him here also, he accepted the invitation of F. W. Baedeker to go to Rumania, where he taught a private school in Constanta and served as a minister of a German Baptist church in Dobruya.

In July 1901 Hermann and Elisabeth Fast immigrated to Canada and settled in Petrovka, a Dukhobor village north of the Saskatchewan River. Here he and his wife continued their religious work among the Russians, carrying on farming, and teaching for a time in the Quaker-built school of Petrovka. He also represented the British and Foreign Bible Society, traveling to various provinces in Canada. Herman worked with David Toews in establishing the German-English Academy of Rosthern and was the only teacher in 1905-1906, the school's opening year. Because he could not teach English, he had to leave and was succeeded by David Toews. He returned for a term as principal in 1912-13 and was again succeeded by David Toews. 

In Petersburg, Russia, Fast was a member of the Baptist Church, but in Canada he was a member of the Waldheim (Saskatchewan, Canada) Mennonite Brethren Church. During the last years of his life he lived in Perdue, Saskatchewan. Elder David Toews said at the funeral of Hermann Fast, "He served the Dukhobor village as organizer, counselor, and minister to the welfare of their souls. He was a true child of God, not bound to a denomination but in all races and tongues found brothers and sisters."


Fast, Hermann. "Autobiographie" Unpublished.

Fritschi, Sophie. Biographie von Hermann Fast. Zurich, 1949.

GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry anDatabase of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 7.0 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2012: #741794.

Author(s) Cornelius Krahn
Richard D. Thiessen
Date Published November 2012

Cite This Article

MLA style

Krahn, Cornelius and Richard D. Thiessen. "Fast, Hermann (1860-1935)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. November 2012. Web. 19 Jun 2024.,_Hermann_(1860-1935)&oldid=91749.

APA style

Krahn, Cornelius and Richard D. Thiessen. (November 2012). Fast, Hermann (1860-1935). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 June 2024, from,_Hermann_(1860-1935)&oldid=91749.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 315-316. All rights reserved.

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