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Daniel Hege ’87

Vistula Mennonite Studies Project

The story of Mennonites in the Vistula Delta and river valley (what is now northern Poland) is one of the less thoroughly studied chapters of Mennonite history, especially in English. This is despite the fact that it is the fountainhead of the Russian Mennonite experience, which features so prominently in North and South American Mennonite story. The history of Mennonites along the Vistula river in eastern Europe deserves more intensive cultivation.

The "Vistula Mennonite Studies Project" focuses on the collection of archival material, and the translation and publication of historical texts about the Vistula Mennonites.

We have recently published a translation of H. G. Mannhardt’s Die Danziger Mennonitengemeinde [The Danzig Mennonite Congregation] (1919), a history of one of the leading congregations. You can contact the MLA to purchase a copy of The Danzig Mennonite Congregation: Its Origin and History from 1569-1919, translated by Victor G. Doerksen, edited by Mark Jantzen and John D. Thiesen (jointly published by Bethel College and by Pandora Press of Kitchener, Ontario). The price is $31.00.

We also are at work annotating a draft translation by Anthony Epp of Lincoln, Nebraska, of Wilhelm Mannhardt’s Die Wehrfreiheit der altpreussischen Mennoniten [The Military Exemption of the Prussian Mennonites] (1863). This is the central historical work on the Vistula Mennonite story, even though it is nearly 150 years old. We hope to publish this in 2009. (See this link for a Google Books scan of the German version.)

We also have had some accomplishment in the collection of archival materials. In spring 2007 we received 5 reels of microfilm from the Polish government archives in Gdansk containing the surviving records of the village of Heubuden/Stogi. This set of village records is the most complete of any of the Vistula Mennonite villages. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of material from before 1850; the bulk of the records are from 1840-1900. We plan to make a request for other Mennonite-related records from the same archives.

Donations toward this project to help with publication costs and future archival collecting are always welcome.

Contact the MLA.

Some additional links:

Other Vistula Mennonite-related links: