Path of Thorns: Soviet Mennonite Life under Communist and Nazi Rule

Path of Thorns: Soviet Mennonite Life under Communist and Nazi Rule

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Overview

Under Bolshevik and Nazi rule, nearly one-third of all Soviet Mennonites – including more than half of all adult men – perished, while a large number were exiled to the east and the north by the Soviet secret police (NKVD). Others fled westward on long treks, seeking refuge in Germany during the Second World War. However, at war’s end, the majority of the USSR refugees living in Germany were sent to the Soviet Gulag, where many died.

Paths of Thorns is the story of Jacob Abramovich Neufeld (1895–1960), a prominent Soviet Mennonite leader and writer, as well as one of these Mennonites sent to the Gulag. Consisting of three parts – a Gulag memoir, a memoir-history, and a long letter from Neufeld to his wife – this volume mirrors the life and suffering of Neufeld’s generation of Soviet Mennonites. In the words of editor and translator Harvey L. Dyck, “Neufeld’s writings elevate a simple story of terror and survival into a remarkable chronicle and analysis of the cataclysm that swept away his small but significant ethno-religious community.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442614208
Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Publication date: 01/15/2014
Pages: 476
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Harvey L. Dyck is a professor emeritus in the History Department at the University of Toronto.

Table of Contents

Maps

Introduction and Analysis, Harvey L. Dyck

PART I. MY PATH OF THORNS

PART II. ‘TIEFENWEGE (TRAGIC PASSAGES),’ 1929-1949

Section One: New Directions and Shattering Experiments, 1928-1939

Section Two: World War II, Bolshevik Collapse and German Occupation, 1941-1943

Section Three: The Great Trek, 1943-1944

Section Four: Germany’s Collapse, 1944-1945

Section Five: Allied Occupation and Emigration, 1945-1949

PART III. AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL LETTER TO WIFE, LENE

NOTES

What People are Saying About This

Mark Jantzen

Path of Thorns is a chilling and personal reminder of the immense suffering imposed on inhabitants of the Soviet Union by both Stalin and Hitler as well as a testament to the impossible moral dilemmas faced by those who were sucked up into the maelstrom of this history.”

Sergei Zhuk

“Jacob A. Neufeld’s fascinating memoirs vividly reveal the various experiences of Russian (Ukrainian) Mennonites from the time of Stalin’s collectivization campaign in Soviet Ukraine, through World War II, to the Mennonite exodus from Soviet territory to Germany and then to Canada. This book will be a remarkable historical source for those who are interested in the everyday life of a small religious minority which survived not only the ‘inferno’ of Soviet modernization after the N.E.P., but also the hell of the war and tragedy of repatriation from one country to another.”

From the Publisher

“Jacob A. Neufeld’s fascinating memoirs vividly reveal the various experiences of Russian (Ukrainian) Mennonites from the time of Stalin’s collectivization campaign in Soviet Ukraine, through World War II, to the Mennonite exodus from Soviet territory to Germany and then to Canada. This book will be a remarkable historical source for those who are interested in the everyday life of a small religious minority which survived not only the ‘inferno’ of Soviet modernization after the N.E.P., but also the hell of the war and tragedy of repatriation from one country to another.”

Path of Thorns is a chilling and personal reminder of the immense suffering imposed on inhabitants of the Soviet Union by both Stalin and Hitler as well as a testament to the impossible moral dilemmas faced by those who were sucked up into the maelstrom of this history.”

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