By David G. Rempel
In this bright and interesting examine, David Rempel combines his first-hand account of existence in Russian Mennonite settlements through the landmark interval of 1900-1920, with a wealthy portrait of six generations of his ancestral kinfolk from the root of the 1st colony - the Khortitsa payment - in 1789 to the country's cataclysmic civil war.
Born in 1899 within the Mennonite village of Nieder Khortitsa at the Dnieper River, the writer witnessed the upheaval of the subsequent many years: the 1905 revolution, the quasi-stability wrought from Stolypin reforms, global conflict I and the specter of estate expropriation and exile, the 1917 Revolution, and the Civil conflict in which he persisted the total horrors of the Makhnovshchina - the fear of profession of his village and residential through the bandit horde led by way of Nestor Makhno - and the typhus epidemic left of their wake.
Published posthumously, this publication deals a penetrating view of 1 of Tsarist and early Soviet Russia's smallest, but so much dynamic, ethno-religious minorities.
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Extra info for A Mennonite Family in Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union, 1789-1923
Because many of the wealthiest Danzig Mennonites were unable or unwilling to sacrifice their property, a majority of the original settlers in Khortitsa were families with modest resources. Their lack of capital was bound to make their early years in a new homeland difficult, even if conditions had been more favourable. 2 Those who owned wagons travelled overland, while the Russian government transported the remainder by boats and wagons. Reaching Riga, each family received the first 100-ruble payment, as promised.
There was a saying in the Khortitsa Settlement that thanks to Cornies, if authorities in any of The First Three Generations of Rempels 23 Molochnaia's villages ordered every householder to open his front and rear door at a given hour, one could have seen through every house from one end of the village to the other. Instead of this fate, Nieder Khortitsa remained one of the settlement's most beautiful villages until the Russian Revolution and ensuing tragedy devastated the region. It boasted an attractively asymmetrical layout, with a large, slightly uneven quadrangle in the centre.
We called the preacher, Preacher Rampel (Predja Rampel), the auctioneer Out-caller Rampel (Utroopa Rampel), and the photographer Aufnehma Rampel. 2 Although their nicknames indicated a diverse group, all Rempels shared several character traits: they held strong personal views and convictions, were self-assertive, chafed at demands to conform - traits which despite a clannish nature often led to intrafamily contention. Another trait our extended family shared was the pleasures of the table. And since there were no taboos against moderate drinking at special social occasions, some enjoyed an occasional drink of beer or 'strong water' (vodka or schnapps) from a bottle labelled 'Father's medicine' (Voada sieneMeditzin), kept in the parents' bedroom corner cabinet.
A Mennonite Family in Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union, 1789-1923 by David G. Rempel