The Russian Mennonite Story

A new publication from the Centre for Transnational Mennonite Studies

Take a unique journey through the Russian Mennonite past with Paul Toews’ Mennonite Heritage Cruise Lectures. With nearly 100 historic photographs, this coffee-table book offers a rare glimpse into the prosperity, sorrow, and rebirth of the Mennonite story in Russia and Ukraine.

All proceeds from book sales go to the Paul Toews Professorship in Russian Mennonite History Fund.

Paul Toews was a professor of history at Fresno Pacific University. Toews published widely in the field of Mennonite history and devoted nearly two decades to locating, identifying, and reproducing tens of thousands of documents from Russian and Ukrainian archives. For sixteen years, Toews shared his interpretation of Mennonite history through these lectures with participants on the Mennonite Heritage Cruise in Ukraine.

Aileen Friesen is the inaugural J. Winfield Fretz Visiting Research Scholar in Mennonite Studies at Conrad Grebel University College. She has presented and published on themes related to Mennonites and Russian Orthodoxy. In addition to contributing an introduction, she judiciously edited Paul’s text and selected the pictures included in this book.

The Endowed Paul Toews Professorship in Russian Mennonite History will help ensure that people who study and teach the history of Mennonites in Russia and the Soviet Union are able to do so in a grounded, penetrating, and sustainable way.

Donations to the Paul Toews professorship can be made through the University of Winnipeg Foundation. (At the Foundation website, please choose the option “Other” and enter the fund name “Russian Mennonite History.”)

The Russian Mennonite Story
by Paul Toews with Aileen Friesen
Winnipeg: Centre for Transnational Mennonite Studies, 2018.

$39.00 CAD

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Our memories of Mennonite life in this region are etched with deeply contradictory images. On the one hand, we remember a resplendent culture .... We celebrate an idyllic pastoral existence .... These images have encouraged us to revere the Mennonite story as a golden age—an age of economic prosperity, political engagement, cultural richness, and religious vitality. But memories of a very different kind are also deeply embedded in our imagination—scenes of waste, destruction, and pillage, of fields, villages, and factories laid bare, accounts of starvation, torture, and death that are almost too horrific for us to remember ...