Siemens, Jacob John (1896-1963)

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Jacob John Siemens (23 May 1896-12 July 1963) was born near Altona, Manitoba and baptized and married in the Bergthal Mennonite Church. J. J. Siemens was the primary idealogue of the consumer and producer cooperatives, credit unions and agricultural societies among the southern Manitoba Mennonites in the 1930s and 1940s. For Siemens, cooperatives were mutual aid and Christian love in practice. He communicated his vision through a great variety of adult education programs, e.g., the Rhineland Agricultural Institute in Altona, which taught Christian ethics and Mennonite history alongside agriculture courses. He also inspired numerous young Mennonites to become missionaries for cooperatives in Manitoba and beyond. The Bergthal Mennonite leadership rejected his vision as too socialistic and insufficiently orthodox. The resulting pro- and anti-cooperative division in much of the area between Altona and Winkler influenced both church and community very negatively. He left the Mennonites and moved to Winnipeg. He died after an unsuccessful venture into politics as a member of the New Democratic Party (NDP), filled with a growing sense that the cooperative movement was weakening in its prophetic and educational task. He was buried at a Unitarian church. J. W. Fretz credited him for best exemplifying rural mutual aid and Frank H. Epp eulogized him as a latter-day Johann Cornies.


Dyck, Henry. "Jacob John Siemens and the Co-operative Movement in Southern Manitoba 1929-1955." M.A thesis, U. of Manitoba, 1982.

Epp, Frank H. Mennonites in Canada, 1920-1940: A People's Struggle for Survival. Toronto: Macmillan, 1982: 363-67.

Author(s) Rodney J Sawatsky
Date Published 1990

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MLA style

Sawatsky, Rodney J. "Siemens, Jacob John (1896-1963)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1990. Web. 18 Jul 2024.,_Jacob_John_(1896-1963)&oldid=77769.

APA style

Sawatsky, Rodney J. (1990). Siemens, Jacob John (1896-1963). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 July 2024, from,_Jacob_John_(1896-1963)&oldid=77769.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 821. All rights reserved.

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