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The term Rußländer (Russlander / Russlaender) developed in Canada. It identified the Mennonite emigrants from the Soviet Union who arrived in the 1920s, and distinguished them from the 1870s immigrants who were called Kanadier. The differences between the two groups, created by their distinct experiences, sometimes caused suspicion and tension. The Rußländer in Russia had been part of the Mennonite commonwealth which up to the Bolshevik Revolution (1917) was wealthy, and had created an impressive array of churches, schools, health care centers, and financial institutions. They had worked out an arrangement with the Russian government whereby their young men performed alternative service either in forestry work or in the Red Cross. The Rußländer had experienced World War I, the Russian Revolution and Civil War, and anarchy. Some had used arms to defend themselves. All had lost their possessions.

In Canada, Rußländer tended to see Kanadier as less cultured, less well-educated, and not as economically progressive. During the 1930s and 1940s the Rußländer established Bible schools, high schools, colleges, and other institutions across Canada. Their members also took control or at least exercised strong influence in some of the organizations founded by Kanadier, for example the Conference of Mennonites in Canada, the Mennonite Collegiate Institute at Gretna, Manitoba, and various Mennonite Brethren institutions.


Epp, Frank H. Mennonites in Canada, 1920-1940: A People's Struggle for Survival. Toronto: Macmillan, 1982: 242-245, 416-417.

Author(s) John J Friesen
Date Published 1990

Cite This Article

MLA style

Friesen, John J. "Rußländer." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1990. Web. 11 Aug 2022.

APA style

Friesen, John J. (1990). Rußländer. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 11 August 2022, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 783. All rights reserved.

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