Prior to 1922 – Mennonite Germans were asked to settle in the open territory that Russia had just won from the Turks when Catherine the Great was the Czar. That open territory is now known as Ukraine and the Crimea. These Germans were hard working and very talented farmers, engineers, manufacturers, food processors, builders and educators. They lived in communities of small villages connected by roads to create a larger colony. Dad’s family was in the Molotchna Colony along the Molotchna River in south east Ukraine. Gnadenfeld was founded in 1834 under Czar Nikolai I one of the last village settled in the colony.
1912 – Dad’s mother is born in Gnadenfeld, Ukraine. His father is born several years earlier in a Mennonite settlement in the Crimea.
1922 – Mennonite Germans are asked to leave their homes by Vladimir Lenin. The philosophy of the new communist government in Russia did not want a religious settlement in their new order. Most of these Mennonites in the south east area of Ukraine emigrated. Dad’s family did not under an optimistic idea that things would stabilize and get better.
1935 – Dad is born in Gnadenfeld, Ukraine in the same home his mother was born in 1912.
1941 – Germans enter Soviet Union.
1943 – Dad’s family leaves with a wagon train headed out of Gnadenfeld.