Home Arts & Culture Mennonite memoirs – Stories of our forebears

Mennonite memoirs – Stories of our forebears

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Uncommon Providence: A daring escape from the Soviet Gulag
Harold J. Dueck

Xulon Press, 2008
269 pages


Jacob Dueck’s handwritten journals provided the source material for his life story, written by son Harold. At 19, Jacob experienced conversion and set his life upon a new path of honest dealings and nonviolence. Regarded as a counter-revolutionary for his conscientious objection and itinerant preaching, Jacob, with his wife and young family, left the Soviet Union via a long journey across Asia to China. Continued political and military turmoil spurred the Duecks’ emigration to India where the story ends with their becoming MB missionaries to the Telugu.


Through the Window of the World I Experienced the Miracles of God
Hilde Plett née Polnau

148 pages


Plett’s memoir is permeated with thankfulness as she looks back on the intervention of God in her life, through childhood in Poland, the tumult and displacement of World War II, and immigration to Paraguay, where she received Bible training and engaged in mission work.



Susanne Remembers: A Mennonite Childhood in Revolutionary Russia
Susanne Willms Thielman with Philip Sherwood

Judson Lake House, 2009
166 pages



Reading Susanne Remembers is like flipping through the family album while grandma tells stories of her youth. Original photographs, watercolour illustrations by Selma Turner, maps, and sidebars augment Thielman’s presentation of the Willms family story, laid out as a coffee-table book. Woven through Susanne’s stories of her childhood in the Soviet republic of Ukraine in the 1920s, months-long emigration to “freedom” in Canada, settling first in Coaldale, Alta., then in Abbotsford, B.C., are sketches of Mennonite history, a brief genealogy, and diary entries.



Beyond the Exodus
Lena Bergen Friesen

267 pages


Friesen drew on her father’s and her own journals to recount the family’s story, from Isaac Bergen’s decision to move to Canada with his wife and young daughter shortly after his baptism in Ukraine, to his death in Saskatoon after a farming life near Glenbush, Sask. Friesen’s vignettes of pioneer life are enlivened by her dialogue. Through settlement in a new country, two remarriages, and the marriages of the eldest of his children, these stories highlight Isaac’s trust in God.

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