Neuendorf (Chortitza Mennonite Settlement, Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine)

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Neuendorf (later named Shirokaya, now known as Shirokoye, coordinates: 47.913417, 34.901583) was established in 1790 by 38 Flemish Mennonite families. The settlers came from Prussia and may have named the village after Neuendorf in West Prussia, even though none of the settlers came from that village. Located in a broad valley, it eventually became one of the largest villages of the Chortitza Mennonite Settlement. The rich black soil resulted in successful farming.

By 1795 there were 37 households in the village. In 1801 a total of 60 households were recorded, with 150 males and 142 females. By 1808 there were 48 families owning a Wirtschaft and 16 without, with 181 males and 171 females for a total of 352 inhabitants.

The first church building was constructed in approximately 1835 and was actually a reconstruction of the first wooden church building from the village of Chortitza that had been dismantled to make way for a new church building in that village. The first church building was eventually replaced with a larger and finer church building in 1873. It served the villages of Neuendorf, Schönhorst and Neuhorst. The building was demolished in the 1950s. Neuendorf also had a village school. Church services were held on a weekly basis in the late 1830s in Neuendorf, Chortitza, and Osterwick.

There were numerous commercial and industrial establishments in Neuendorf, including a general store, a lumber yard, a grain merchant, and a number of flourmills, including a steam-powered mill (Heinrichs brothers). The Orphans’ Administration (Waisenamt) for the Chortitza Settlement was located in Neuendorf.

By 1909 there were 45 farmyards and the Mennonite population was 887. In 1910 the village name was changed to Shirokoye. The population in 1914/18 was 1,050, making it the third largest Mennonite village in the Chortitza Mennonite Settlement. In 1918 there was a total of 200 farms: 45 were full farms (65 desiatines), 16 were half farms (32 desiatines), and the others were occupied by "beiwohner" (about 18 desiatines). In 1920 there were 1,536 German residents in the village.

During and immediately following the Revolution of 1917 Neuendorf, like other villages in Chortitza, suffered severely. Many battles raged here between the Russians and Germans during World War I, as well as during the Revolution. Many of the inhabitants succumbed to epidemics, and in 1919, 13 residents were killed.

After the Civil War land was confiscated and incorporated into a collective farm, operating a mill for grinding grain and corn, and a dairy, which processed milk from six villages for butter. A number of Neuendorf families immigrated to Canada in the 1920s, and by 1923, the village population had dropped to 1,350 German residents. Between the years 1929 and 1941, a total of 123 residents were exiled, including 53 in 1930 and 41 in 1938. Daily living conditions deteriorated significantly during the 1930s. While older homes were built with fired bricks, newer homes were only built with dried clay and straw bricks, using straw as a roof cover instead of roof tiles. Many barns were torn down by the government, and fences were all removed, most likely for fuel.

Before June 1941 there were a total of 1,781 Neuendorf residents: 1,712 were classified as German, 68 as Ukrainian, and 1 as Jewish. The total number of families was 387. By 1942 the population had been reduced to 1,655, with all but 24 being classified as German (the other 24 were Ukrainian). Households without a male head numbered 133.

The German army arrived in 18 August 1941. At that time, a semblance of order was restored, as was church life. Those who remained were taken with the German army when the Germans retreated from Ukraine in 1943. Like the residents of other Chortitza villages, they were made German citizens upon their arrival in the Third Reich and young men were conscripted into the army. After the German collapse half of the Neuendorf Mennonites (702) were forcibly repatriated by the Soviets and sent to Asiatic Russia. Of those that were able to evade Soviet authorities in Germany, 408 immigrated to Paraguay, 281 immigrated to Canada, and 31 remained in Germany.


Friesen, Rudy P. with Edith Elisabeth Friesen. Building on the Past: Mennonite Architecture, Landscape and Settlement in Russia/Ukraine. Winnipeg, MB: Raduga Publications, 2004: 152-161.

Thiessen, Franz. Neuendorf in Bild und Wort: Chortitzaer-Bezirk, Ukraine 1789- 1943. Espelkamp, Germany: F. Thiessen, 1991.

"Village Report for Neuendorf, Chortitza Colony, Russia, 1942." Translation by Anna G. Rempel, Dora Epp, Helen Friesen, and Erna Goerzen.

Author(s) Richard D Thiessen
Date Published October 2020

Cite This Article

MLA style

Thiessen, Richard D. "Neuendorf (Chortitza Mennonite Settlement, Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. October 2020. Web. 26 Feb 2024.,_Zaporizhia_Oblast,_Ukraine)&oldid=169407.

APA style

Thiessen, Richard D. (October 2020). Neuendorf (Chortitza Mennonite Settlement, Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 February 2024, from,_Zaporizhia_Oblast,_Ukraine)&oldid=169407.

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