Historiography: Russia

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The Mennonites of Russia found early historians in the following: Alexander Klaus, Unsere Kolonien (Odessa, 1887), dealing particularly with the Hutterites; P. Hildebrandt, Erste Auswanderung der Mennoniten aus dem Danziger Gebiet nach Süd-Russland (Halbstadt, 1888), and D. H. Epp, Die Chortitzer Mennoniten (Odessa, 1889). The history and the sources pertaining to the Molotschna settlement were presented by Franz Isaak in Die Molotschnaer Mennoniten (Halbstadt, 1908). D. H. Epp wrote Die Memriker Ansiedlung (Berdyansk, 1910). The history of the Mennonite Brethren, in the framework of the total Mennonite history of Russia, was written in a nearly 1,000 page volume, Die Alt-Evangelische Mennonitische Brüderschaft in Russland 1789-1910, by Peter M. Friesen (Halbstadt, 1911); it is an extremely valuable collection of source material. Monographs appeared on subjects such as alternative service by A. Goerz (Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Forstdienstes der Mennoniten in Russland, Gross-Tokmak, 1907), Johann Cornies by D. H. Epp (Berdyansk, 1909), Die Mundart von Chortitza by Jakob Quiring (Munich, 1928), Unser Auszug nach Mittelasien by Franz Bartsch (Halbstadt, 1907).

S. D. Bondar wrote on the Mennonites in Russia in Sekta Mennonitov v Rossii (Petrograd, 1916). From a Communist point of view A. Reinmarus (Penner) wrote Anti-Menno (Moscow, 1930), V. Schirmunski, Die deutschen Kolonien in der Ukraine, Geschichte, Mundarten, Volkslied, Volkskunde (Moscow, 1928), and B. Bartels, Die deutschen Bauern in Russland (Moscow, 1928). At the beginning of the Communist regime articles and books on the "German Red Cow" (D. V. Elpatevsky) and the contributions of the Mennonites in agriculture and other economic areas appeared by S. P. Sorokin, K. Lindemann, and others.

Valuable historical materials pertaining to the Mennonites of Russia are contained in Mennonite periodicals and yearbooks such as Der Botschafter (1905-1914), Mennonitisches Jahrbuch (1905-1913, H. Dirks), Unser Blatt (1925-1928), Der praktische Landwirt (1925-1926) published in Russia, and Unser Blatt (1947-1950) published at Gronau, Germany, by the Mennonite Central Committee for the Russian refugees.

The most fruitful and significant contribution in the realm of research and the publication of monographs, studies, and materials pertaining to the Mennonites of Russia was begun after the emigration from Russia, particularly after World War I. The first phase of this movement of Mennonites to America and their descendants of the prairie states and provinces has been studied and presented by numerous American writers such as C. Henry Smith in The Coming of the Russian Mennonites (1927), Georg Leibbrandt and E. H. Correll in the Mennonite Quarterly Review (October 1932, January 1932, July 1935, July and October 1937), in From the Steppes to the Prairies (1939), Carl Dawson in Group Settlement . . . (1936), Heinz Lehmann in Das Deutschtum in Westkanada (Berlin, 1939), and in numerous other books and articles. Gustav E. Reimer and G. R. Gaeddert presented Exiled by the Czar: Cornelius Jansen and the Great Mennonite Migration, 1874 (1956), and E. K. Francis featured the Mennonites of Manitoba in In Search of Utopia (1955).

The largest wave of emigration of Mennonites from Russia after the Revolution (1920-1925) stimulated and resulted in many publications in Germany, Canada, and the United States. Adolf Ehrt's Das Mennonitentum in Russland . . . (1932) is one of the best studies of the economic and social life of the Mennonites of Russia, containing a very valuable bibliography. Prior to this a popular summary with maps and illustrations had appeared, entitled Die Mennoniten-Gemeinden in Russland (1921), which had previously been published in the Dutch language. D. Neufeld wrote three booklets pertaining to his experiences during the Russian Revolution. The Deutsches Ausland-Institut of Stuttgart published numerous books on the German element in Russia including the Mennonites. Of special value is the yearbook Der Wanderweg der Russlanddeutschen (Vol. IV, 1939), which contains many maps and statistics. Otto Auhagen, who as a German agricultural expert in Moscow witnessed a flood of refugees coming to that city in 1929, described their fate in his book, Die Schicksalswende des Russlanddeutschen Bauerntums in den Jahren 1927-1930 (1942), which appeared in the Sammlung Georg Leibbrandt, in which Hans Rempel's Deutsche Bauernleitung am Schwarzen Meer was also published. (The whole edition was destroyed during the war.) K. Stumpp's Bericht über das Gebiet Chortitza .  .  .  (1943), which contains extremely valuable statistical material and a map of the Chortitza settlement in Russia before the German invasion of Russia (1941), also appeared in this Sammlung. Die Deutschen Siedlungen in der Sowjetunion, a series Für den Dienstgebrauch, lists all German settlements of European Russia and shows them on maps (Sammlung Georg Leibbrandt, 1941). W. Quiring's Russlanddeutsche suchen eine Heimat 1938) and Deutsche erschliessen den Chaco (1936) deal with the Canadian and Russian Mennonite immigration to Paraguay.

During this period of interest in genealogical research, much valuable material was published in Germany in books and periodicals pertaining to the German element abroad, which usually included the Mennonites. Some of the German periodicals which regularly carried articles pertaining to the Mennonites of Russia and their descendants were Deutsche Post aus dem Osten, Mitteilungen des Sippenverbandes der Danziger Mennoniten-Familien (edited by K. Kauenhoven, Göttingen), and Mitteilungen der Niederländischen Ahnengemeinschaft (Hamburg). The latter, compiled by K. Kauenhoven, published in 1939 the most exhaustive bibliography on the Mennonites of Prussian and Russian background available (I, 1939, 66-109).

Among the Mennonites of Russian background in Canada and the United States the literature pertaining to their history in Russia and their new country is increasing steadily. A valuable study of the Mennonites in Russia was made by David Rempel (doctoral dissertation, Stanford University, 1933), "The Mennonite Colonies in New Russia," which contains a valuable bibliography. The Mennonitische Volkswarte (1935-38) and the Echo-Verlag (1944- , Steinbach, Man.) published much material along these lines. The series of books of the latter publisher included histories of the following settlements: Terek, Zagradovka, Trakt, Molotschna, Kuban, Central Asia, and biographies of Cornies, Heese, and Wiebe. Der Bote (Rosthern, 1924- ) and Die Mennonitische Rundschau (1880- , since 1923 in Winnipeg) contain much valuable information about the Mennonites in Canada, South America, and Russia. The Altona Echo and the Steinbach Post carry information pertaining to the Mennonites of the 1870s in Manitoba, as well as Mexico and South America. In the United States the following periodicals have devoted considerable space to the Mennonites of Prussia, Russia, Poland, the prairie states and provinces, Mexico, and South America: Mennonite Life (1945- ), Mennonite Quarterly Review (1927- ), Hillsboro Journal (Vorwärts), and Mennonitisches Jahrbuch (1948- ).

The most helpful bibliographies on the Mennonites of Northern Germany, Poland, and Russia can be found in Mitteilungen der Niederländischen Ahnengemeinschaft (1939) written by K. Kauenhoven, in the books listed above written by Robert Dollinger, Heinz Münte, Friedrich Nieper, Adolf Ehrt, in C. Henry Smith's Story of the Mennonites (revised edition 1950), and in every April issue of Mennonite Life since 1947 and in the Bibliographical and Research Notes of the Mennonite Quarterly Review. Regarding publications pertaining to hymnody, art, cooking, periodicals, yearbooks, etc., see the literature under the respective articles. For a list of bibliographies and catalogs see Cornelius Krahn, "The Historiography of the Mennonites of the Netherlands," Church History XIII (1944) or Mennonite Quarterly Review XVI (1944).

Author(s) Cornelius Krahn
Date Published 1956

Cite This Article

MLA style

Krahn, Cornelius. "Historiography: Russia." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 17 May 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Historiography:_Russia&oldid=134954.

APA style

Krahn, Cornelius. (1956). Historiography: Russia. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 17 May 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Historiography:_Russia&oldid=134954.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 765-767. All rights reserved.

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