"/> Mennonites and the Holocaust | Bethel College, KS
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Jacqui-Ann Doig, R.N., ’07

Mennonites and the Holocaust

Conference: March 16 and 17, 2018,
Krehbiel Auditorium, Luyken Fine Arts Center


The history of Mennonites as victims of violence in the 1930s and 1940s, particularly on the territory of the Soviet Union, and as relief workers during and after the Second World War has been studied by historians and preserved by many family histories. This commemorative and celebratory history, however, hardly captures the full extent of Mennonite views and actions related to nationalism, race, war, and survival. It also ignores extensive Mennonite pockets of sympathy for Nazi ideals of racial purity and among some in the diaspora an exuberant identification with Germany that have also long been noted. Now in the last decade an emerging body of research has documented Mennonite involvement as perpetrators in the Holocaust in ways that have not been widely known or discussed. A wider view of Mennonite interactions with Jews, Germans, Ukrainians, Roma, Volksdeutsche, and other groups as well as with state actors is therefore now necessary. This conference aims to document, publicize, and analyze Mennonite attitudes, environments, and interactions with others in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s that shaped their responses to and engagement with Nazi ideology and the events of the Holocaust.


Friday, March 16, 2018
8:30 - 9 a.m.
  • Welcome to Bethel
    President Jon Gering
  • Introduction to the Conference
    John Thiesen
Krehbiel Auditorium, Luyken Fine Arts Center
9 - 10:30 a.m. Session One: Pre-War Denominational and Organizational Themes
Moderator: John Sharp, Hesston College
  • “Anti-Semitism and the Concept of ’Volk’: The Mennonite Youth Circular Community at the Beginning of the Nazi Dictatorship”
    Imanuel Baumann, Haus der Geschichte Baden-Württemberg
  • “Mennonite Scholarship in the Third Reich: From Knowledge Production to Genocide”
    Ben Goossen, Harvard University
  • “An Illusion of Freedom: Denominationalism, German Mennonites, and Nazi Germany”
    Jim Lichti, Milken Community Schools, Los Angeles
Krehbiel Auditorium, Luyken Fine Arts Center
10:30 - 11 a.m. Coffee Break  Luyken Fine Arts Center
11 a.m. Keynote Address: "Neighbors, Killers, Enablers, Witnesses: The Many Roles of Mennonites in the Holocaust" (free and open to the public)

Doris Bergen, University of Toronto

Krehbiel Auditorium, Luyken Fine Arts Center
noon Lunch  The Caf, Schultz Student Center
1:30 - 3 p.m. Session Two: Soviet Union
Moderator: Jessica Klanderud, Tabor College
  • “Survival and Trial: The Post-War Experience of Chortitza Mennonites”
    Erika Weidemann, Texas A& M University
  • “The Mennonites under the Nazi Regime in KGB Documentation, Ukraine 1941-44”
    Dmytro Myeshkov, Nordost-Institut (Lüneberg)
  • “The Mennonite Search for Their Place in the Struggle between Germany and USSR”
    Viktor Klets, Dnipropetrovsk University
Krehbiel Auditorium, Luyken Fine Arts Center
3 - 3:30 p.m. Coffee Break  Luyken Fine Arts Center
3:30 - 5 p.m. Session Three: Mennonite-Jewish Connections
Moderator: Rachel Waltner Goossen, Washburn University
  • “Soviet Mennonites and Jews”
    Peter Letkemann, Winnipeg
  • “Jewish-Mennonite Relations in Gabin, Plock County, Masovian Voivodeship, Poland, Prior to and during World War II”
    Colin Neufeldt, Concordia University of Edmonton
  • “The Fate of Mennonite and Jewish Settlements in Soviet Ukraine”
    Aileen Friesen, Conrad Grebel University College
Krehbiel Auditorium, Luyken Fine Arts Center
5 - 6:30 p.m. Dinner The Caf, Schultz Student Center
7:30 p.m. Film: Friesennot
(free and open to the public)
Krehbiel Auditorium, Luyken Fine Arts Center
Saturday, March 17
8:30 - 10 a.m. Session Four: The Netherlands
Moderator: Dawn Yoder Harms, Lead Pastor, Bethel College Mennonite Church
  • “Dutch Mennonite Theologians and Nazism”
    Pieter Post, United Mennonite Church of Heerenveen and Tjalleberd
  • “Dutch Mennonites and the Yad Vashem Recognition”
    Alle Hoekema, Professor Emeritus, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
  • “From War Criminal in the Netherlands, to Mennonite Abroad and Back, to Prison in the Netherlands”
    David Barnouw, Research Emeritus, Dutch Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies
Krehbiel Auditorium, Luyken Fine Arts Center
10 - 10:30 a.m. Coffee Break  Luyken Fine Arts Center
10:30 a.m. - noon Session Five: German Mennonite Responses in Theology and Memory
Moderator: Kip Wedel, Bethel College
  • “German Mennonite Theology in the Era of National Socialism”
    Arnold Neufeldt-Fast, Tyndale Seminary
  • “Judaism as Argument: German Mennonites between Anti-Semitism and the Old Testament God“
    Astrid von Schlachta, Mennonitischer Geschichtsverein
  • “Selective Memory: Danziger Mennonite Reflections on the Nazi Era, 1945-50”
    Steve Schroeder, University of the Fraser Valley
Krehbiel Auditorium, Luyken Fine Arts Center
noon Lunch  The Caf, Schultz Student Center
1 - 2:30 p.m. Session Six: Personal Impacts
Moderator: Heidi Regier Kreider, Conference Minister, Western District Conference (Mennonite Church USA)
  • “The Missing Pieces of Our Narratives”
    Connie Braun, Trinity Western University
  • “A Usable Past: Soviet Mennonite Memories of the Holocaust”
    Hans Werner, University of Winnipeg
  • “Family Responses to the 1930s and ’40s in West Prussia”
    Joachim Wieler, Fachhochschule Erfurt
Krehbiel Auditorium, Luyken Fine Arts Center
2:30 - 3 p.m. Coffee Break  Luyken Fine Arts Center
3 - 4:30 p.m. Session Seven: Literary Responses
Moderator: Jon Weier, Western University
  • "Readings from Silentium: and Other Reflections on Memory, Sorrow, Place, and the Sacred"
    Connie Braun, Trinity Western University
  • "A Mennonite Wife, A Jewish Husband, and the Holocaust," Dramatic Reading from "Heart of the World" Play and Discussion
    Helen Stoltzfus, Black Swan Arts & Media, Oakland, California
Krehbiel Auditorium, Luyken Fine Arts Center
4:30 p.m. Conference Conclusion Krehbiel Auditorium, Luyken Fine Arts Center
5-6:30 p.m. Dinner The Caf, Schultz Student Center


John Sharp, Hesston College, Hesston, Kansas, Mark Jantzen, Bethel College, and John Thiesen, Mennonite Library and Archives, North Newton, Kansas



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The first twenty registrants from MC USA and MC Canada are free of charge.
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Includes lunch and dinner both days

Includes lunch and dinner Friday

Includes lunch and dinner Saturday

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