Mennonite Side

Aboriginal Frisians

From Wikipedia the Frisians are part of the Nordwestblock which is a historic region linked by language and culture.

Roman times

The Frisii, began settling in Frisia in the 6th century BC. According to Pliny the Elder, in Roman times, the Frisians lived on terps, man-made hills. Frisia at this time comprised the present provinces of Friesland and parts of North Holland and Utrecht.

Middle Ages

By the 8th century the Frisian kingdom spread to the coastal areas North of the Eider River which was under Danish rule. The Frisian languages were spoken all along the southern North Sea coast. Today, the whole region is sometimes referred to as Greater Frisia or Frisia Magna.

The Byzantine Procopius described three peoples living in Great Britain: Angles, Frisians and Britons. During the 7th and 8th centuries, Frankish chronologies mention the northern Low Countries as the kingdom of the Frisians.

The Frisan Freedom or Karelsprivilege

In the late 700s, the Frankish king Charlemagne put an end to Frisian independence and imposed the Lex Frisonium on them, stratifying Frisian society into the feudal structure of nobility, freemen, serfs and slaves. After Pope Leo III‘s expulsion from Rome by the city’s nobility, Charlemagne mustered his forces to retake the city.

An army including 700 Frisians, led by Magnus Forteman, reconquered Rome and the Vatican. Charlemagne, now crowned Holy Roman Emperor, offered Magnus Forteman a position of nobility – which he rejected, instead requesting freedom for all Frisians – which Charlemagne affirmed in the Karelsprivilege. The story was inscribed on the walls of churches in Almenum, Ferwâld and Aldeboarn. In 1319 the Karelprivilege was entered in the register of William III of Holland.

Move to Prussia 1550 to 1700

From Freesia the Mennonites traveled to Prussia and became the Vistula delta Mennonites established in the mid-16th century in the Vistula river delta in Poland. The Mennonite community played an important role in the drainage and cultivation of the Vistula delta and the trade relations with the Netherlands. With the end of World War II and the flight and expulsion of Germans the Mennonite settlements in the Vistula delta ceased to exist.

Plautdietsch language

The language of my grandparents in Manitoba was Plautdietsch language, a mixture of Dutch and the local Low German dialect, originates from the Vistula delta and is still used by Mennonite communities worldwide.

Chortiza Yugoslavia 1700 to 1890

In the late 18th century a significant number of Mennonites emigrated from the Vistule delta in Poland / Prussia and formed the nucleus of the Mennonite settlements in Russia, while many remained in the region after the annexation of the region by Prussia in the Partitions of Poland.

The Russian Mennonites of my family left Russian before the Revolution and escaped the persecution of Stalin in the Holodomor. The Mennonite service committee was formed as aid to the victims of the Holodomor. I remember my Aunt Elma and Grandmother telling me stories about their knowledge of the starvation and them sending bags of flour to cousins in the Ukraine. Years later receiving letters confirming the flour was received and that they had survived.

My branch of the family avoided the Six Turbulent times by migrating to Manitoba Canada in the late 1890’s

The Six Turbulent Times

Mennonites perished in great numbers in Russia from 1917 until the 1980s. A summary of the six turbulent times;

  1. The Civil War of 1917 – 1920 and the famine of 1921 – 1922
  2. The liquidation of kulaks and collectivization, 1928 – 1933 of which the holodomor was an integral part.
  3. The purges and exiles of 1936 – 1940: 62,000 Mennonites forcibly moved north and east throughout the USSR, almost all the German settlements dissolved, over half perished, survivors mistreated.
  4. Evacuation eastward at the beginning of World War II, 1941
  5. Evacuation westward by the German Army, 1943
  6. Repatriation by the Red Army in 1945

Once-prosperous communities disintegrated. Never since the days of the martyrs have the Mennonites suffered so much as during the twentieth century in Russia.

The Holodomor 1932-1933

Stanislav Kulchytsky, was the deputy director of the Institute of Ukrainian History at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (NAN), a noted researcher of the Holodomor. Kulchytsky states that the Holodomor in Ukraine was a genocide, and “terror by famine.”

The Holodomor was aimed at destroying “part of the Ukrainian nation in order to terrify the rest.” 3.5 million Ukrainians were killed during the man-made famine, in addition to another million in Russia, mostly in the Kuban region, populated mostly by Ukrainians. A million and a half people also starved to death in Kazakhstan.

Stanislav Kulchytsky’s The Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine: An Anatomy of the Holodomor (CIUS Press, 2018)

The following article presents meticulous research that unveils the mechanism of the Holodomor as a man-made famine, which was launched in Ukraine by the Soviets as a punitive and controlling measure undertaken to discipline and suppress peasants who rebelled against the Soviet programs of collectivization.

Kulchytsky explains the Holodomor: from the origins of the Soviet Union to the development of sophisticated programs that were designed to secure the stability and unequivocal dominance of the totalitarian regime, masked, however, as a “universal virtue” for all Soviets.

The work can be read as a confession of the scholar who lived through all stages of ideological indoctrination whose task was to raise scholars who would devotedly serve the regime. Kulchytsky opens his book with his personal story of how he started investigating the Holodomor under the Soviet Union: required by the Communist Party officials, the research went into a completely different direction and yielded the results that the Party could not foresee.

The book is the evidence of scholarly integrity and resilience against the Party’s demands of obedience. This essay sheds light on how the Soviet Union, that was built at the expense of millions of lives, lasted for decades; and why today there are attempts in Russia, which considered itself the main heir of the USSR, to revive the “glory” of the Soviet Union.

Kulchytsky shows the mechanism of the totalitarian regime; and takes us one step closer to understanding how the USSR emerged and developed.

Kroeger clocks

You can find a history of the clocks my grandfather made at the The Virtual Museum of Mennonite clocks. Numerous Kroeger clocks are on display at the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Winnipeg. My grandmothers great grand father made this clock in 1780

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Arthur Kroeger

This clock resided in Morris Manitoba for many years and was cared for by the last Canadian Mennonite clock maker Arthur Kroeger. I met him in the late 80’s at my grandparents house and went to his home to discuss clocks. This history came with the clock. It was written by Arthur Kroeger in the late 70’s.

Manitoba 1890 to 1950

In Canada they settled in the East Reserve.

My Grandmother the “white sheep” of the family, with her mother seated center and assorted Jacobs, Cornelius, Peters, sisters and brothers in law

Grandfathers tractor

The “Twin City” built by Minneapolis Steel & Machinery Company shown above. The company began producing stationary steam engines and researching gasoline engine designs. MS&M had a large boost when it received contracts to build Case and Bull tractors, in addition to its own Twin City brand.

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“Grader Toews” worked on the roads from Steinbach Manitoba thru Morris to Emerson Manitoba in the 1920’s to 1930’s.

Frisian to Mennonite history PDF

Frisian-to-Mennonite-1 is a draft compilation of my families history, I have a page long list of typo errors to fix and then need to repost.