Klassen, Peter J. (1889-1953)

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Peter J. Klassen

Peter Jacob Klassen: a General Conference Mennonite Church (GCM) minister and an outstanding Mennonite poet and literary artist; born at Spat, Crimea, South Russia on 7 June 1889 to Jakob Peter Klassen (1857-1902) and Neta (Goertzen) Klassen. Peter married Liese Loewen (22 September 1892, South Russia - 17 January 1992, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), daughter of Isaac and Agatha (Enns) Loewen, on 3 January 1910. Peter and Liese had 11 children: Peter, Arthur (died young), Lillian, Arthur, Oscar, Frieda, Elsie, Eleanor, Rudy, William, and Heide. Peter died on 19 July 1953 in Yarrow, British Columbia, where he was buried.

Peter attended secondary school Spat, Crimea, where he later taught. In 1910, he married Liese Loewen and entered business. During 1916-24 he was again a teacher, but he also made numerous trips to Moscow to represent the Mennonite constituency. He was active as a youth leader and choir director. On 3 July 1923, he was elected minister of the Ebenfeld Mennonite Church and was ordained by P. Wiens. After teaching a year at Arkadak he immigrated to Canada in 1925 and lived for a while in Rosthern and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. In 1928 he purchased a farm at Superb, Saskatchewan, and served as minister of Superb Mennonite Church from 1928 until 1948. In 1948 he moved to Yarrow, British Columbia, where he spent the last years of his life.

Peter J. Klassen, although struggling with sickness and want nearly all of his life, was an outstanding writer. J. H. Janzen said of him, "He is the one who is most widely known in German literature and is the only [Mennonite] poet who has received high honors and an income for his literary work." In 1951 the Canadian Mennonite Conference published 5,000 copies of his Verlorene Söhne because of its significance in promoting the Mennonite peace principles. Many of his stories appeared in installments in Der Bote. He was also a constant contributor to Der Kinderbote for the column "Onkel Peters Ecke." Klassen used the pen name "Peter Quidam."


Als die Heimat zur Fremde geworden,wurde die Fremde zur Heimat: Eine Erzahlung von dem seltsamen Geschichten Starkmutiger deutscher Menschen, die das Schicksal meistern. Winnipeg, MB: National Publishers, [1933?]. 170 pp. Originally published in Der Nordwesten.

Grossmutters Schatz und andere Geschichten, Gedichte und Fabeln; Illustrationen von Arnold Dyck. Superb, SK: Selbstverlag des Verfassers, 1939. 132 pp.

Heimat einmal: eine Erzählung aus Russlands jüngster Vergangenheit. Yarrow, BC: Columbia Press, [1940?]. 2 vv.

Der Peet. Geschichten vom Peet und seinen Kameraden. Superb, SK: P. J. Klassen, 1943-49. 4 vv.

Die Heimfahrt. Superb, SK: P. J. Klassen, 1943. 88 pp.

Fünfunddreissig Fabeln. Superb, SK: P. J. Klassen, 1944. 74 pp. The book includes fables written by Ivan Andreevich Krylov (1768-1844) translated by Klassen.

Die Geschichte des Ohm Klaas: "wenn die Stunden sich gefunden, bricht die Hilf' mit Macht herein". [Yarrow, B.C.?]: Selbstverlag des Verfassers, [ca. 1947]. 130 pp. Also published in Regina in 1947 and reprinted in 1986 by the Mennonitische Post, Steinbach, MB.

Verlorene Söhne: Ein Beitrag in der frage der Wehrlosigkeit. Winnipeg, MB: Christian Press, [1951]. 110 pp. This book was dramatized by Esther Neufeld ca. 1990.


Der Bote (19 August 1953): 6.

GRANDMA = GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 7.05 ed. Fresno, CA: " California Mennonite Historical Society, 2013: #476670.

Janzen, J. H. "The Literature of Russo-Canadian Mennonites." Mennonite Life 2 (January 1946): 24.

Rempel, J. G. Fünfzig Jahre Konferenzbestrebungen, 1902-1952, 2 vols. Steinbach: Derksen Printers, 1952: v. 2, 344 f.

Author(s) Cornelius Krahn
Richard D. Thiessen
Date Published June 2014

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Krahn, Cornelius and Richard D. Thiessen. "Klassen, Peter J. (1889-1953)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. June 2014. Web. 18 Sep 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Klassen,_Peter_J._(1889-1953)&oldid=143050.

APA style

Krahn, Cornelius and Richard D. Thiessen. (June 2014). Klassen, Peter J. (1889-1953). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 September 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Klassen,_Peter_J._(1889-1953)&oldid=143050.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 192-193. All rights reserved.

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