from Galacia, Prussia, and Russia to Württemberg
Horst Klaassen’s booklet, “Die Backnanger Mennoniten,” begins with the flowering of Anabaptism in 1525 in Switzerland and the Netherlands which then converged from two simultaneous movements into one and spread eastward as a result of persecutions and official suppression. Klaassen summarizes the development of innumerable faith-based communities across lands now in parts of Poland, the Ukraine, and Russia. He traces the lives and tumultuous experiences of thousands during World War II, ending with the diaspora of Mennonites across the globe, but focusing on one town in Germany, Backnang, where they found peace and a chance to rebuild their lives. Many of those scattered beyond Backnang now reside in the English-speaking world of North America and elsewhere, making an English version of Klaassen’s work advantageous in keeping the story alive.
Importantly, Klaassen tells of the role of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) coming to the rescue of refugees stranded in a variety of camps in Western Europe, offering to build residences for them in the 1950s. Backnang is one of them. Numerous men of conscience volunteered for Pax – an MCC program for conscientious objectors – and served in Backnang.
__________________ >> A note from Ervie Glick to fellow former European Paxmen:
It’s a new book about the Siedlung you already know of, Backnang. It’s written by a member of the Backnang church, Horst Klaassen, who is no longer living. Mario Wenger and I translated it from German so that English speakers in the US and Canada would have access to Klaassen’s chronicling of a significant segment of Mennonite heritage. He begins with the origins of Anabaptism in 1525 and traces its spread eastward to Slavic speaking lands, detailing the settlements and faith trials of each community by name, and then following their escape during WWII with Russian forces hot on their tails. The story culminates with an account of MCC’s role, including Pax, in building the village. They will celebrate 70 years in 2021, they tell me.
The book is available online at amazon.com KDP. Google it and enter the title. It should pop right up.
Paperback — November 14, 2020